There Was a Caveman

There Was a Caveman is one of the most remarkable games I’ve played for IGC. That doesn’t necessarily make it a good game. It’s a fairly bland platformer that is sort of a punisher, but kind of too easy to be that as well. There’s very limited genuine “challenge” here, since most things that kill you are of the out-of-nowhere, “ha, GOTCHA!” variety. If dodging an obstacle isn’t reasonable, all you’ve made is really just a tarted up version of Ralph Baer’s 1978 electronic game Simon. Memorize the location of one obstacle, die on the next, memorize the location of two obstacles, die on the next, memorize the location of three obstacles, etc, etc.

Now, for those calling me a Bristol Palin-sized-hypocrite because I made three ultra-hard Mario Maker stages, hey, guilty as charged. But I did have a point to them: it takes no talent or creativity to make such stages. I proved that myself. I did discover one thing when making those stages though: it’s very cathartic to create punisher stages. Like, I felt better about myself for all the times someone made fun of me as a kid. “Oh yea Becky, well let me add a few more fireball-spitting piranha-plants to this stage. NOW WHOSE SWEATER IS UGLY YOU BITCH??”

The problem is, while I had fun making those stages, I’m guessing they weren’t all that fun for most people playing them. Each has under a 2% completion rate (two of them are at under 1%). I also got sent dozens of extra hard stages and I really didn’t feel compelled to beat any of them. Really, if you’ve played one “get revenge on world” based-level, you’ve played them all.

What does any of this have to do with There Was a Caveman? Because what’s here has all the potential to be something better than it is. It looks fairly nice. The caveman theme is eye-catching and fun. But what really stood out to me was how it plays like the role-call of an all-star game of dick moves. Think of just about any unfair, annoying design choice a platformer can have in its level design and chances are it’s probably in here somewhere. Not over-done or anything. Just enough to be remarkable. And it also doesn’t really start to ramp-up until two very dull opening stages (hey, at least it scales!). If there was a dick-move platforming trope drinking game, you would die of alcohol poisoning before game’s end. Here’s some of the highlights.
2015-10-09_00013
Out of place shmup section, though this one moves really slow and doesn’t put up much of a challenge besides staying awake. Take a drink.

2015-10-09_00015
Underwater swimming stages complete with NES Ninja Turtle-like lethal seaweed (or possibly coral in this case). Take a drink.

2015-10-09_00017
Don’t forget the insanely tight squeezes you’re expected to make with the swimming controls. Take a drink.

2015-10-10_00002
Insta-kill acid buffered by spikes that you have to overcome using double jumps or air dashes that control just fine instead of perfect. Just fine sounds fine, but if just one time the controls seem to not respond, the game kind of screws you. A few times I’m almost certain I didn’t get the extra jump that I still should have had. Take a drink.

2015-10-10_00005
Stages in the dark except one little tiny circle showing you and a little bit of the level around you. Take a drink.

2015-10-10_00007
Stages in the dark except one little tiny circle showing you and a little bit of the level around you with an out-of-sight skeleton raining projectiles on you from above that you can’t possibly anticipate or reasonably be expected to dodge on your first attempt. Take a drink.

2015-10-10_00006
Stages in the dark except one little tiny circle showing you and a little bit of the level around you with an out-of-sight skeleton raining projectiles on you from above that you can’t possibly anticipate or reasonably be expected to dodge on your first attempt next to disappearing/reappearing platforms (the blue things in this pic) straight out of Mega Man with insta-kill spikes beneath them you DICK HEAD! Take a drink. Oh and not pictured: at the end of this section there was an enemy hidden in the grass on a platform you couldn’t see when you began the jump that you would inevitable bounce off of the first time and fall back to the start of this section. Dog food manufacturers who specialize in bully sticks don’t make dick moves this large. Take another drink.

2015-10-10_00008
Stages in the dark except one little tiny circle showing you and a little bit of the level around you where you have to make a blind leap-of-faith jump not knowing where a safe landing spot is, with insta-kill slime waiting for you if you miss, which of course you likely will at least once. Take a drink.

2015-10-10_00010

Stages in the dark except one little tiny circle showing you and a little bit of the level around you where you have to make a blind leap-of-faith jump not knowing where a safe landing spot is, with insta-kill slime waiting for you if you miss AND THEN putting the safe zone directly below the starting platform, which nobody in their right mind would ever have anticipated? Okay, now you’re just fucking trolling. Take a drink.

2015-10-10_00012
Stages in the dark except one little tiny circle showing you and a little bit of the level around you where you have to ride a slow-moving platform across an insta-kill river of slime while dodging slimeballs (as in balls made of slime, not lawyers. Sorry Reggie). Take a drink.

2015-10-11_00002
Ice stage. Take a drink.

2015-10-11_00003
Make it two drinks. Fucking ice stages.

2015-10-11_00006
Stage called “GUTS” that doesn’t feature an Aggro-Crag. This is more of a cock tease than a dick move, so no drink.

2015-10-11_00010
Auto-scrolling “falling” stage with very slippery controls and lots of insta-kill spikes scattered about. Take a drink.

CREX51AUcAAM0bL.jpg large
Hard to spot thanks to noisy background projectiles. Can you spot the projectile that causes damage to the player in this screenshot? Look closer.

Fuck this shit

Quick note: in motion, it’s slightly easier to spot the objects when they move. However, telling what is the deadly projectile and what isn’t that easy. I have to admit that I was initially dodging the other debris that turns out was non-lethal. While I appreciate a developer went out of his way to add some nice touches like the crumbling rocks, they look just like the other rocks and come from the same location, making it unclear if they’re to be avoided or not. So take a drink for that, and then take another drink for the other rock (the one that actually does hurt you) not standing out enough.

That’s just a sampling. Really, nothing here is terribly offensive or anything. It’s just boring, samey punisher-type stuff that’s been done to death with nothing particularly original. It looks fine. Better than fine in fact, other than the noisy background causing some visibility issues. And it controls fine. Occasionally clunky but better than average. It certainly stands out too. Again, no game I’ve played represents the kind of level designs that drive people like me nuts quite like There Was a Caveman. I wish I could say everything between the dickery was fun, but it’s really not. I like retro platformers, but this one is too much like a, um.. one of those prehistoric people.. name is escaping me at the moment.

headerThere Was a Caveman was developed by Nauris Amatnieks
Point of Sale: Steam

$6.29 (normally priced $6.99, aka TOO MUCH) said “ugh ugh I’m dying you idiot” in the making of this review. Gotta love me!

Advertisements

About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

One Response to There Was a Caveman

  1. jbevan70 says:

    Oy. Too many people are taking influence from the Souls and Kaizo games and making games that are more about frustrating the player rather than delivering an enjoyable challenge.

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: