Publisher TLM Partners and developer Madlife Divertissement have announced that asymmetrical two-player co-op puzzle game Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is coming to Nintendo Switch in addition to PC with a release date of February 8, 2022. Zorya: The Celestial Sisters will retail for $24.99 on Switch and PC via Steam and Epic Games Store (EGS), and PC will also offer a $29.99 Stellar Edition, which includes a soundtrack and digital making-of art book. We got to be part of a hands-off preview to check out Zorya: The Celestial Sisters on PC, and it’s shaping up to be a pretty novel two-player experience.
And to be clear, this is a strictly two-player experience, like Hazelight Studios’ It Takes Two from earlier this year. One character plays as Solveig, the sun goddess, and the other as Aysu, the night goddess, in order to solve a wide variety of puzzles across 42 levels involving light and shadow. Solveig has a vast, top-down view of a level because her role is to physically move the sun from morning to evening, which shifts the shadows from left to right. This is useful because Aysu, who has a much more zoomed in and typical third-person view of levels, can only walk in shadows and will be sent back to the beginning of the level if she steps in the light. Solveig must use shadows to create a path for Aysu to reach the end of a level. Naturally, challenges will increase in complexity over time, and at one point there were mirrors involved, bouncing light across the levels for various effects.
During the preview for Zorya: The Celestial Sisters, I was initially worried that Solveig would get all the meaningful gameplay and that Aysu would just be dead weight, waiting to do things. Fortunately, that’s seemingly not the case. Aysu has her own assorted things she can interact with, such as switches that can open new paths. For example, one switch summoned a large pillar out of the ground, which created opportunities for huge new shadow paths. Aysu can also step on pressure plates with various effects, and she can push objects if they are attached to rails. Finally, there are occasional enemies like the Aries that will try to push Aysu into the light, but if Aysu can push them into the light instead, Solveig can zap them with light. That leaves the Aries stunned (but not destroyed) for a while.
Story-wise, Solveig is trying to help Aysu return to the sky so they can be reunited and restore night to the world in the land of Viraj. The Aries are enemies in this game because they are upset with the gods for letting the world become ruined and cold. They try to push Aysu into the sunlight because “they’re not happy.”
I asked the development team for a ballpark estimate of how long they think a playthrough of Zorya: The Celestial Sisters will take on Switch and PC, but since they know their own game so well inside and out, they couldn’t give a definitive answer. They think it will last at least a couple hours, but Ren Vickers of TLM was emphatic that it will take considerably longer than that for the average duo of players. Plus, each of the 42 levels has an optional extra hidden collectible, which sometimes adds extra puzzle-solving steps, so the game is likely to provide a good value.
Ultimately, Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is intended to provide a soothing experience for Switch and PC players. “We didn’t want the experience to be stressful,” explained Madlife Divertissement. Likewise, they aimed for “childish wonder” with the graphics and music. Incidentally, the original idea for the game came from a university project, a Ubisoft Montreal Game Lab Competition that it actually won, and things just developed from there. Now we have a full-blown co-op game coming in a few months.
On both Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam and EGS, Zorya: The Celestial Sisters will offer local co-op by splitscreen or online play, and it will also be cross-platform, meaning Switch, Steam, and EGS players can all play together without incident. Furthermore, a “Friends Pass” ensures that only one player needs to own the full version of the game in order for both players to enjoy full access to Zorya for a shared playthrough. That means that, if you buy the game, your best friend in another state doesn’t need to also buy it in order to play with you.
I walked away from the hands-off preview for Zorya: The Celestial Sisters highly optimistic about Nintendo Switch getting such a unique two-player co-op game, especially since Switch has missed out on a couple pretty cool two-player-only games already. The fact that it offers cross-play and a Friends Pass is even better.
Watch out for Zorya: The Celestial Sisters on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam and Epic Games Store upon its release date on February 8, 2022.