Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: The Deep Cave

Welcome to another installment of The XBL Indieverse Reviews. Today we'll focus on a very original Xbox Indie platformer called "The Deep Cave" by PennyBridge Studios. This game is one of the most challenging platformers you'll find on the Xbox Indie marketplace, but it is also very fun and enjoyable, especially to gamers who enjoy hard games.

The Deep Cave 80 MSP

 The Deep Cave
  •  Rating
  • Developer – Penny Bridge Studios (jijaweb)
  • Genre – Platformer
  • XBL Marketplace URLThe Deep Cave
  • Release Date – 11/23/2010
  • Try or Buy?Try Before you Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP
"Retro 8-bit action!!! This is a story about a little boy. He starts his journey by falling down a deep hole. Will he survive the ultimate danger? There are three different endings in the game. Keep your skills together if you want to see them all. "
--Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I. Story Line

The Deep Cave starts off with players controlling Pi, the main character in this game--the little 8-bit guy--that has jumped down into a cave being attracted by a bright light. Pi believes there's something powerful down below in the caves, and it has drawn his attention.

All throughout this game we converse with Pi in a humorous dialogue and eventually we learn more about the mysterious bright light that has lured our hero down into the deep cave. Will Pi unlock the secrets to the luring luminescence or will he be trapped in the darkness forever? Players find out in this fun retro adventure.

 Image from The Deep Cave

II. Game Mechanics

This game functions like most Xbox Indie platformers in terms of game mechanics--players must jump across obstacles, gaps in the level, etc. What sets this game apart from traditional platformers, though, is that it's extremely punishing to new players.

Similar to the Xbox Indie "BoneD: Dead Men Don't Jump", this game utilizes a system that rewards players who are used to the dynamics of platformers and punishes players who are not. Although I myself find this humorous and original, and it makes me want to continue playing to improve my score, this may be a turn off for most players.

The object of the game is to beat stages by crossing them without dying--stages can be multi-leveled and are arranged in different ways. Players can't touch certain areas (such as spikes) or get hit by enemies or they die. There is no health, players simple die on the first hit, but there is an infinite pool of lives.

This game puts heavy emphasis on trial-and-error, and you'll want to expect dying A LOT before you actually beat a level. This mechanic is similar to the Xbox Indie platformer "Aban Hawkins & The 1000 Spikes" in that there is a giant amount of lives and players must expend dozens of lives just to figure out what the best solution is.

Since gamers are somewhat forced to carefully plan their strategies or use trial and error, this game becomes sort of a puzzler. Players must be very focused and pay attention to everything around them or risk dying and starting all the way over again.

 Image from The Deep Cave

III. Unique Features

This game has a few unique features for an Xbox Indie platformer, the first of which that players will instantly recognize is the nostalgic 8-bit feel that brings players back to the hey-day of gaming. These low-res graphics allow gamers to be transported back in time to the great arcade-style platformers.

The games stages are also very unique--every single progressive stage is different and varies in it's own way--sometimes there will be stages that are upside down, sometimes the will be normally set, etc. This new level of variety offers for a unique experience with each stage.

Another unique element that this particular Xbox Indie has is the incredible level of challenge and difficulty, which is brutal and truly an achievement to complete. This game is by far one of the hardest platformers, and its so goofy and wacky that you don't mind dying a hundred times or so.

The music in this title is a nice upbeat mixture of looped beats and chiptunes that bring the player into a whole new atmosphere of gaming. The tracks are pleasant to listen to and bring a calming effect to players that may be frustrated by the difficulty of some stages.

 Image from The Deep Cave

IV. Critique 

The Good

It's Original. The Deep Cave brings a whole new style of Xbox Indie platformer to the marketplace, and also introduces us to a zany new character that players control throughout the journey. While there are no power-ups or items, there doesn't have to be; the game is a hybrid of puzzler and platformer, putting emphasis on perfect timing.

Graphics. I really like the low-res, retro graphics in this Xbox Live Indie Game, especially in some of the middle stages and the cave stages. They're entertaining, humorous, and bring a light-hearted spin on the incredible brutality that is associated with some of the puzzle-stages themselves.

Save at Any Time. As tough as the game may be for some, there is a single function that helps players out, and that is the ability to save your progress at any moment in the game. This is especially useful once you've finally completed that seemingly impossible stage, and don't want to have to redo it all the way over.

The Bad

It's Very Challenging. The fact that players can expect to die many times over on any given stage makes this game very difficult, especially in the later stages that take upwards of thirty tries to complete. This practice does come in handy, though--playing a standard platformer after mastering The Deep Cave will most likely guarantee a full conquering of that game.

No Power-Ups/Items. I would have liked to see power-ups and certain items that would reduce the amount of strain and pressure that players may feel when playing this game. Overall the game is more puzzling than it is a platformer, and these features could add some new mechanics that would overall provide for an easier playing experience for new gamers.

 Image from The Deep Cave 

V. Wrap-Up

Overall  the Xbox Indie platformer The Deep Cave is a great buy, especially for veteran platformer fans that are looking for an extremely challenging title. This game is one of the most difficult games to master, but if a player should master it completely, they will be able to defeat most platformers without any problems, especially when it comes to timing perfect jumps.

For more information on The Deep Cave and the developer visit Penny Bridge Studios' website.

The Deep Cave
Click to download the Free Demo!
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That concludes The XBL Indieverse's Review of "The Deep Cave", a unique and very original platformer/puzzler hybrid that combines many different elements together to bring a very challenging yet enjoyable Xbox Indie gaming experience. I would recommend this title to all gamers who love classic platformers that are notoriously difficult, and beating this game is truly an achievement.

Thank you for joining us, and be sure to stay tuned for more articles like Reviews, Interviews, New Releases and more more!

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