Friday, August 8, 2014

The Watchlist: Cavern Kings

Title: Cavern Kings
Developer: Vine
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing late 2014
Inspired by action-packed games like Vlambeer's "Super Crate Box" and the increasing difficulty aspects in "Risk of Rain", Cavern Kings aims to explode with special effects in classical arcade fashion and create interesting synergies with its powerup system.
Cavern Kings isn't coy about its inspirations. Risk of Rain, Super Crate Box, even a little Spelunky, the influences are clear but Cavern Kings doesn't feel like a ripoff or derivative. I lost an hour to the beta; this is a fun challenging action platformer with a lot of potential and promise.
In Cavern Kings, you have one destination: down. Armed with randomly selected ranged and melee  weapons, you tunnel your way through the ground into increasingly difficult arenas, filled with enemies and hazards of all kinds. Collects gems and gold from crates and defeated enemies allow you to unlock chests, maybe granting you a new power up or a new weapon to the overall armory. Similar to Risk of Rain, power-ups stack, so an especially successful run might end with your guy able to triple jump, fire missiles at random, be protected by a shield, or countless other permutations. Take too long, and a massive grinder begins descending from above, forcing you to move on or die.
Gameplay is fast paced and frantic, as you desperately evade and shoot the enemies encroaching from all sides, blast flying worms out of the air, decimate the arena with TNT, jump over saw blades and spikes. Your arsenal is varied and satisfying to use, from the blade-throwing Sawdriver and Nailgun to the ground-pounding Kinetic Fist. Even the Shovel is an effective weapon; each feels different, requires different strategies, and the power-ups only allow for more diverse play styles. 
Cavern Kings is currently in beta, with more enemies, playable characters, weapons, power-ups, levels, and bosses to come. You can download the beta here, support the game on Kickstarter, and vote for Cavern Kings on Steam Greenlight.

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