PREVIEW: Caveblazers


Caveblazers is a 2D side-scrolling, rogue-like, platforming adventure. You are tasked with traversing through a cave of “unimaginable power” seeking riches and glory. The game reminds me a lot of “Risk of Rain”, and even looks a little similar. It also reminds me a bit of of “Rogue Legacy” due to some mechanical similarities. The game can be difficult and like most rogue-like titles, there is some sort of progression even when you die. The levels are all procedurally generated, with items and power-ups being randomized as well, offering a different experience every play-through.

Status: Released

Developer:  Rupeck Games

Publisher: Rupeck Games

Genre:  Action Roguelike Platformer

Release date: 1 Apr, 2016

Type: Single Player

 

Art is subjective, and although some people have grown tired of the pixel art-style, I have not. This type of graphic style is something I personally enjoy and appreciate. The graphics are really well done and the design choices seem to flow well with the overall theme of the game. The objects, enemies and terrain, although simple, have a surprising amount of detail within them (for a 2D pixel-style game). The animation quality is also unexpectedly smooth. Movements and attacks look (and feel) great. The game is colourful where it needs to be and the visual effects are also decent. The only gripe I’d have about the art-style is the character design. Although the characters within the game have to match the pixel-style of the game, I feel they look too pixel-y and blob-y even within the scope of this title. Again, it’s more of a minor personal thing that has no real bearing. As the game is 2D, it is not too demanding and can run fine on systems with a lower tier graphics card and CPU.

The sound assets are decent. The noises of fighting enemies, metal clashing, arrows being fired and all other environmental sounds sound great but aren’t anything amazing. The background music is also quite decent. The sound assets don’t get repetitive or annoying, and music within the stage changes as you progress through the game.

The gameplay is really solid and challenging at the same time. You move through the cave with your WASD keys, jump with the space bar and fire off your bow with the arrow keys. You have a melee attack that uses the right CTRL (control) key as well, though the combat is really basic and simplistic. These controls may take a while to get used to, and there is no option to rebind them, though it is also encouraged to play this game with a control-pad.

As you travel through each stage you fight different types of enemies with the equipment you have. You can find new equipment to replace your standard bow and dagger by breaking chests and crates along the way. You can have an inventory screen where you can swap different equipment out and manage your usable items. Your usable items will mainly consist of bombs (which you can use to break terrain) and potions. The potion effects are hidden to you when you first collect the item, though once you use it, you’ll know what the potion does if you ever collect it again. You can also find rings to boost your various stats as well as an “ability” item that; once charged, can unleash a special attack or effect. You can also pick up treasure/jewels that can be used at certain statutes to purchase items or buffs.

Your character can also acquire “blessings” scattered throughout the stage that lend them passive abilities for the duration of their life. There is a pseudo-multiplayer aspect of the game as well which has random AI players join into the stage and conduct their own adventure. They can also pick up items and blessings within the level, but can also be recruited to help you on your adventure. Every few stages, you’ll encounter a boss monster which you must defeat in order to move on to the next stage.

You die when your health points reach zero, and you take various amounts of damage depending on what enemy or attack hits you. Upon death, your score is calculated based upon the amount of enemies you slayed, how far you were able to travel, and what items/treasure you were able to pick up. The score kind of works like an experience bar, and it progressively accumulates over time. Once your score has reached certain amounts you unlock new “perks” and costumes for your future play-throughs. The costumes are purely cosmetic but the new perks you get boosts your stats in some way or start you off with certain bonuses or items. You can only equip one perk at a time.

Final Personal Remarks:

The game is fun, but can be difficult at times. My biggest concern with the game is that the controls are not comfortable for me. I can’t get used to the keyboard settings as firing the bow and arrow with the arrow keys for the respective direction, and having the control key as the melee button is really unnatural to me. I would have preferred a single button for the bow and having the arrow just fly in the direction your character is facing, and with no rebind-able keys, it’s kind of annoying. The control pad is a little better though I still have the un-comfort of the directional bow and arrow.

The other issue I have with the title is that friendly AI sometimes take a while to recruit, and you have prioritize chasing them down so they don’t take all of your power-ups, instead of exploring the level. I know that it can be argued that it’s part of the game, but it’s something I found a bit annoying. Also, when you finally do recruit the AI, they die very easily to spikes (as they aren’t that smart) and are pretty much just used as meat shields (which die) during boss fights. I know the game is in early access so I do assume that the AI will get better.

After all that being said, I do enjoy the game and I think it’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy rogue-likes and this title is no exception, customizing your character with different equipment, building up stats and collecting blessings with different abilities is great, and beating the bosses is very satisfying. It’s one of those games that; even after you die you just wanna keep going and try again to see if you can get stronger, and beat your previous progression.

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