At first glance, I didn’t think much of Caveblazers. On the outside, it looks like a cross between Risk of Rain (which I didn’t care for all that much) and Spelunky. However, The Yogscast have taken their first foray into publishing very seriously, working with Rupeck Games in a creation that is meticulous and feels very polished even though the developers themselves have said there is more to do post-release.
Currently, Caveblazers is a single-player, action-focused roguelike that puts you in the role of an adventurer who sets out to explore a newly discovered cave. This cave is said to hold unimaginable power, but no one has managed to explore its depths quite yet, until you that is. Being a roguelike, Caveblazers is uniquely generated each time you play, with different items, weapons. and cave layouts to explore. In future updates, local multiplayer is going to be added, as well as a host of other free content that will be put into the game. According to a video from the Yogscast, they are also considering options to implement online co-op as well as the already mentioned local co-op.
Caveblazers has a massive amount of weapons, items, and equipment to find; from runes (which provide various effects) to rings (that provide passive bonuses and ranged or melee weapons to fit any playstyle). Along the way, you will be joined by AI characters that are adventuring through the cave as well. These are temporary companions as they can die, but there are plenty more out in the caves to find even if one or two pass on. The “advanced path-finding” system in Caveblazers allows your allies to find you no matter how far you move from them. At the same time, this also allows enemies to track you down as well, so you’ll need to be careful of that as you explore.
Caveblazers also has daily challenges (in the vein of Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac Rebirth) that are the same for every player, and have their own leaderboard. Every run is randomly created, but you are on even ground with other players so you can see just who can reach the top of the leaderboard.
Between each section (usually two cave levels), there is a boss. These bosses appear at random and are all unique. Each one has their own attacks that you will need to learn in order to defeat them; which leads to the common roguelike mechanic of permadeath. Once you die, you return to the entrance of the cave and start anew, with an entirely new run and cave to explore. This allows you to use what you’ve learned in order to progress even farther the next time.
Death is inevitable and will happen to you often. Between having to test out potions for their effects, the sheer number of enemies you will encounter, and the overall difficulty of the game itself, you will die a lot. However, with the tight controls and developed combat elements, it never feels unfair. Caveblazers is a challenging experience, but with every death, I found myself eager to try again and delve further into the depths of the caves.
There are all sorts of things to find in the caves. From secrets to ancient relics, to altars (which are all randomly generated on any given run) there are aspects of the game that can help you or hinder you. There is also an overarching story that unfolds as you progress through the levels, though getting to know the whole story is likely to take a while. The discovery of new weapons, items, and blessings (passive bonuses scattered throughout the levels) is a large part of the fun of Caveblazers. I enjoy the combat, as intense and frantic as it can be at times, but my favorite part is the platforming and exploration elements. While the first few levels will aesthetically look the same, there is always layout variety and you may even run into a few things you’ve never seen before at the very beginning of a run.
You also may find yourself unlocking perks, which provide different loadouts or stat bonuses at the beginning of a run. Some may provide you with healing items at the start of each floor or may affect your stats and what equipment you start with. My only real issue with Caveblazers is that while the adventurers in the cave are meant to be fun, and are meant to give you assistance, they are also incredibly dumb and tend to die well before you get to a boss where they might actually be useful. I also found myself struggling with a few crashes here and there, but overall Caveblazers is a polished, well-crafted game.
One part of Caveblazers I found highly useful, was the Journal. Every time you encountered a new item, blessing, enemy, or altar (as well as a variety of other things), the Journal records it. This enables you to be able to refer back to these things you’ve unlocked or seen on future runs. This makes it easy to spot things you may not remember seeing before, in order to look them up. It seems as though the developers at Rupeck Games took a page out of Enter the Gungeon’s book with the Journal, and it is incredibly helpful at times.
Overall, Caveblazers is a blast to play. There are little references littered throughout the game about other pop culture elements (including a Yogscast reference or two) that are fun to discover and always keep things fresh. The gameplay isn’t unfair, (no more than it should be anyway), and I found myself easily sinking in countless hours of gameplay just to see how far I could get and what new things I could unlock.
If you are a fan of roguelikes, or just enjoy action platforming then give Caveblazers a try. It is very action focused and feels fresh and new each time you dive into the depths of the cave. With this being the first title the Yogscast has successfully published, I can’t wait to see what they set their sights on next. Rupeck Games did a fantastic job with Caveblazers.
A Steam code of Caveblazers was provided by Yogscast Publishing for the purpose of this review