Caveblazers, an iconic indie game currently still under development by Rupeck Games, is set in a fantasy land. A game which is available in the steam early access section for £3.99. Caveblazers was put onto the early access section because the company wanted the players to be involved with the development, to me this shows what a great company it is because it shows they are creating something that the players will truly enjoy. This is what most big companies who produce AAA games fail in doing, they fail to listen to the community. The plot for Caveblazers is powerful but simple, you embark on a journey into a cave which is said to hold ‘unimaginable power’ however it becomes clear that after you meet the first character, no one makes it out of the cave alive. Will you become the first?
First of all Caveblazers is a game like no other I have played, it has a feature which lead me to believe that my game had other people playing in it, even though the game was clearly stated as a single player game. This feature is called pseudo-multiplayer, it means that it’s basically a fake multiplayer. How is this achieved? During your time venturing into the cave you will come across characters which are the same as yourself, these are people who have also become lost in the caves searching for this unimaginable power. They act as if they are other players because they can do everything you do, and I mean literally anything, they can drink potions, climb walls, collect money and items, attack monsters as well as attack you. Also they are able to run away from you and during battle they can heal themselves. For me this is AI to its highest capabilities, this is something that most games lack and this feature should be more common in my opinion. This feature could have easily gone wrong though, for example if the AI was stronger or weaker than you it wouldn’t seem like another player. Luckily, Rupeck Games aced this it along with many others.
Caveblazers has unique graphics, it uses a pixel look for the game, making it look like any retro game you used to play. Honestly, when I had first seen this I was unsure of what to think, graphic styles like this in modern games isn’t rare but it can be done wrong. For example sometimes the game won’t suit that type of graphic style. However, Caveblazers does suit this graphic style, I couldn’t see a game like this with a graphic style like Limbo. Also graphics aren’t what make a game, it is how it runs which truly makes the game worth playing or not. Caveblazers runs perfectly, hitting a maximum of 60fps (on my laptop, it could hit more if you have a better PC or it might be capped at 60fps) which is great. Even when everything gets chaotic it still runs perfectly fine, I pushed this game to its limits, I did what would usually drop frame rates in games and nothing effected it, I got a fluctuation between 40fps and 60fps (and all the numbers in the middle), but that’s to blame on my laptop not the game itself. I’ve been in situations where everything is exploding, all the monsters have ganged up on me and I’m still running it at 60fps, even some AAA games aren’t able to handle that much going on at once.
Moving on to one of my favourite features in any game, randomly generated levels. Yes you heard me correctly. Caveblazers has randomly generated levels, every time you die you will start in a new area with the layout completely changed, no two versions of a level are the same. This is a great feature because you can never learn a level and the enemies, so when you re-spawn and it has changed and provides a new challenge for you. Also a tip from me is to explore every level thoroughly, you never know what you might find. While I’m on the topic of the levels, another great feature is the use of bombs. See a blocked off area with a blessing inside? No problem, use a bomb. But be careful that you don’t blow up any platforms, otherwise that could put you in a spot of bother if you need to jump between places. The bombs are a great way to get you out of sticky-situations.
What are blessings I hear you ask? These are essentially power-ups for your character, these will either improve aspects on your melee, bow (and the arrows) as well as give you ghosts or many other things. These will help improve your combat skills against harder characters and bosses, the blessings usually take away a flaw in your weapons (for example they will stop gravity coming into effect on your arrows. Blessings are literally what it says, they are a blessing to your character, try and get as many as you can before going to face a boss because they will pay off. Once you start collecting multiple blessings, you will feel like a God. You can walk into battles and not be afraid of being killed instantly. Be warned these blessings can be collected by the other characters as well, so try and beat them to it or stop them before they reach them. A key thing to know about blessings, apart from the fact you can accumulate as many as you want, is that when you go into the orb you are given a few seconds of invisibility from anything surrounding you. This is only while you absorb the power, so bare in mind that once you stop glowing white you are vulnerable to anything trying to attack you.
Now for the inventory, if you are a RPG player or have had any past experience with an RPG you will notice the inventory is in an RPG-style with the grids and the two sections (an armoury and your blessings). For me this is a nice touch to the game, RPG inventories are great, they are clear and organised, also hovering over an item will give you some stats and a little description of the weapon or item. This is great because you can compare items to each other and see which is better to use. Weapons in this game can be found inside chests and crates, they will be an improvement from your starting weapons but when you start gathering more weapons, some won’t be as good as the others. Some swords have bleeding effects on and others have a fire effect, this is the same for bows. So in the end you will be able to pick whichever you desire out of your collection and which ones will be useful for you. As far as I am aware you can’t bind effects because they are just on the chosen weapon. You also collect potions throughout your adventure, each one will have a different effect on you, most will increase melee damage or will increase a certain aspect of your ability. Potions in the game are named by their colour, e.g. black potion, this gives a sense of mystery towards what the effect will be. Just like any other RPG I’ve played, you can heal yourself from foods and a potion; you start off with an apple which gives you +20HP back and then you are left to find your own food in the caves. Bare in mind though, you will want to save your food for the most dangerous situations, you don’t want to be wasting a scarce resource.
Continuing with the RPG theme you get magic items in the game, these can be used to slightly improve your stats, and other items you can pick up such as skulls and orbs. You will come across various orbs, each with their own abilities, you can obtain some that will electrocute everything within the space. Others will make everything that goes into its area fly upwards clearing your path of any enemies that might be frustrating, and there’s many more to discover in the caves. There was one item which I came across in the cave and it helps for money if you’re struggling with it or if you feel like going on a spending spree, a transmogrification parchment. This will turn everything around you (not living things) into gold, allowing you to get as much gold from that area as you want, so pick the place to activate this carefully.
Boss fights in this game are challenging. Just how they should be! They are also creative, they look abnormal and bizarre, which isn’t bad at all. The first boss provides a creative approach on how to kill it. Without ruining too much for you, just remember that use what is trying to kill you to your advantage (nice little riddle there for you). The appearance of the first boss, looks like it has just come straight out of The Evil Within, a horror and creepy aspect to a boss in a game like this was unexpected. Also it was challenging and for a game like this, it was surprising how much I had to think about killing the boss. To be truthfully honest I expected the boss to be simple and be able to continuously attack him. Never have I been so wrong in my life. The boss does require some logic and it is difficult, so make sure you get blessings and get the best weapons you can to take him on.
Caveblazers is honestly one of the most exciting, fun-filled and challenging indie games I have played. Visually, the game surprised me, I am not usually a person who enjoys the pixel style but the whole game feels like a retro game with modern aspects, and that is what made the game interesting. The pseudo-multiplayer is the best feature, and for me it brings Caveblazers above any other indie game I have played, it still surprises me now when I play the game that this is just AI and not real people. This is also because they all play differently, some will flee from you, others will run straight to you and attack you. It is an astounding feature in a game and it is truly unique compared to any other indie game I have played. It surprises me how this is still in development and it isn’t a finished game yet, I can’t wait until it actually is finished to play the full version.
I have played the game for 6 hours and I found no flaws at all, it is one of the most well made games I have seen and it is full of features which improve your character. Finally, it includes my favourite feature for games, randomly generated levels, and in this type of game it is great because every feature is randomly generated and you can’t learn where the blessings or the chests will be. Something I forgot to mention is also the gore that’s involved in the game, for a pixel game there is very good attention to detail when you kill an enemy, there is blood on the walls and limbs flying everywhere. For a horror enthusiast like myself this is a bonus part of the game which is phenomenal. This is a fantastic game and Rupeck Games deserve as much credit as they can get, especially since it is only in the Alpha stages.