Hot Take: Caveblazers

Caveblazers is yet another indie game that describes itself as a randomly generated rogue-like platformer. The indie development scene is currently quite full of games that have randomly generated levels, are pixelated, have ‘rogue-like’ elements and are 2D platformers. Most of these end up falling into obscurity. In fact, there are few indie rogue-likes that ever really get footing and actually last in the market. Binding of Isaac, Darkest Dungeon, Spelunky, and Minecraft come to most peoples’ minds whenever we think of successes. Caveblazers takes many mechanics from those and tries to make them into something new. The game is nothing short of a solid experience, with a few caveats.

In Caveblazers you play as a dude who finds a random cave, and when you enter there’s an old man that tells you to “stay out!”  This is where your adventure begins. The further you venture down into the cave the more things around you begin to look and feel different. Every two or three levels the aesthetic changes into something different than the last. For example the first two levels are just dirt and grass. Then the next area is all stone and feels sort of like a temple. In between different zones is a random boss that is actually very well thought out and realized, and a huge highlight of the game. All of the areas are destructible and have monsters crawling through them, and the AI is so relentless in their attacks that you’ll have no place to hide. Scattered throughout the labyrinth of monsters and platforms are random pick ups of weapons, blessings, potions, bows, rings, etc. Each of these items have different stats and will either encumber you more or help you more. It’s all so randomly generated that sometimes your runs through the cave will end on the first level and sometimes they’re so good you can get pretty far down into the spooky depths. Though it’s randomized it all makes perfect sense, and it doesn’t make the game’s moment to moment gameplay feel lackluster.

The gameplay feels hectic but overall it just feels like its out of your hands. There’s no way to truly win in Caveblazers unless you get very, very, very lucky. Your skill as a player is actually not a huge factor in the game at all. In so many other games in the genre you’re able to fight your way through whatever is thrown at you with just the base equipment. Caveblazers isn’t like that at all; it’s almost completely impossible to fight your way through the labyrinth without very good drops, which almost rarely happen. All of the mechanics are very derivative of other games in this genre, Spelunky, Risk of Rain and Rogue Legacy come to mind. It uses the level generation and platforming of Spelunky mixed with the horde like combat from Risk of Rain and then adds the worst part of Rogue Legacy, the super randomness.

Now, I’m not saying that copying other games is a bad thing at all — literally everything on this planet Earth has been copied into oblivion. But what makes a product unique, even if it does wear its influences on its sleeve, is if the game executes said mechanics with a different but well-executed twist to it. Caveblazers  has tweaked these proven mechanics so little that it makes it sit at such a weird place to me. It’s fun and I enjoyed my time with it but I couldn’t stop myself thinking about those other games. It’s a bit different and all too familiar at the same time. It recently came out of Early Access, but I think it could have used some more time to bake and maybe work on its mechanics. Tone back the random elements and really turn everything else up to a 10. The future is bright for the game though, as they’re still working on updating and changing everything as I’m typing this, such as adding a multiplayer mode. Who knows what the future has in store for Caveblazers, but I know that I will be watching with hopeful intent as the creator Rupek Games continues to mold the game into a more complete package.

This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher.

Author: Zach Quest

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