> # Welcome to GameGrinOS v1.01 > # How can I help you? > # Press ` again to close
Hello… | Log in or sign up
Cavern of Dreams Review

Cavern of Dreams Review

I grew up on 90’s platformers, spending hours upon hours lost in the dizzying and fantastical worlds of Super Mario 64 and the Banjo-Kazooie series. I even dipped into the slightly less popular titles, like Bomberman 64 and Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Hell, I even gave a substantial bit of time to the Disney adaptations A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue. Safe to say that I played a lot of old-school platformers back when they weren’t considered old-school, so when the opportunity came for me to dip into Bynine Studio’s Cavern of Dreams, I dived in headfirst.

We’re introduced to the hero of the story, Fynn, a young dragon seeking to gather and rescue his still egg-bound siblings from a malicious adversary deep within the titular Cavern of Dreams. Bynine Studio has gone for quality over quantity with its choice of levels, giving us four vibrant and vivid worlds to tour in search of these siblings. These range from the more calm wooded autumnal Lostleaf Lake to the chilling eerie lands of the deviously named Wastes of Eternity. Each of these levels is connected through the main hub world, the Cavern of Dreams.

ss a5f6035a116f62d6e2ff4a9b5f50c9e27d6a9c9d.1920x1080

You gotta break a couple of eggs to make an omelette...

With no combat aspect, the heart of Cavern of Dreams gameplay instead focuses on its colourful worlds, chock full of secrets and surprises, meaning that exploration of each nook and cranny is needed. You’ll meet a splendid cast of weird and wonderful characters through the levels that need your help with various things, like opening a pathway or retrieving an item, and will usually require you to find the needed item hidden in the level or calculate how to tackle a surprisingly abstract puzzle. Most of these challenges will need to be tackled with Fynn’s mobility-based moveset, which can be expanded by locating more of your siblings’ eggs and taking them to the Sage in the hub world. From unlocking the ability to get greater heights on your leaps by timing a press of the jump button when landing from a previous jump to allowing Fynn to float across larger gaps with the help of his flapping wings, these abilities will grant you access to previously inaccessible areas.

While combat may be absent, Cavern of Dreams is not devoid of dangers, with harmful creatures and falls into endless pits posing a significant threat. You don’t take damage if you’re hit, but you’re ricocheted a distance, which could knock you off the precise platform you’re on, and “dying” by falling off the level will reset you back to the last door you entered, which could very well have been at the very beginning of the level. Although I can see the lack of a health system or combat as a method to foster a tranquil yet engaging gameplay experience, some of these resets after falling to your “death” can become rather frustrating, especially after a gruelling and precise segment of platforming.

ss 1ef0b40ec7bb2cce09e417b4f54f39e217a1351b.1920x1080

Don't you just hate it when your ice accuses you of some foolish malarky?

The previously mentioned eclectic cast of characters inhabiting each world helps cultivate that sort of whimsical atmosphere that platformer fans are accustomed to. You’ll find everything from sentient trees and raging creatures trapped in ice to chatty dumplings who are in desperate need of Fynn’s help, and although they don’t hold a candle to the burping pirate hippos or thirsty grumpy camels from titles of yore, they still deliver a satisfying zing of silly humour.

From a presentational perspective, Cavern of Dreams pulls out the stops to emulate its influences, with a nostalgic soundtrack playing a pivotal role. You’ll have a more relaxed acoustic guitar-laden theme for Lostleaf Lake that reminds me of the soundtrack to The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, to more ominous tones in the Wastes of Eternity level. Each world's theme also has multiple versions tailored to the location that you’re in, changing as you explore. Visually, Cavern of Dreams has a blurred filter on by default, helping to recreate the look of being played on an old CRT screen, but you have the option to switch this off in the settings menu, allowing you to see the crisp, sharp, low-poly models. Bynine Studio has clearly put effort into its character and world visual design to represent a bygone era without sacrificing charm or making it look low-effort.

ss 8112e7a330472f1f59243c21b3d5faa450a5ce91.1920x1080

We really want to sell that 90's platformer aesthetic...quick, slap a smiley face onto the SUN. That'll do it.

With a playtime of about eight hours to go through the full story and find all the collect-a-thon items, Cavern of Dreams is a relatively short experience, but overall provides a satisfying journey from start to finish — even if some of the platforming sections can get a bit tedious. Some might find issues with the finer aspects of Fynn’s motion or the period-accurate camera controls, and Cavern of Dreams might not be the perfect title as a whole. Still, it acts as a sincere dedication to the scores of its influences.

Cavern of Dreams is an invitation to the past. It’s an opportunity for us to get lost in those surreal fever-dream-induced levels that took our breaths away many years ago once again. It’s an invitation I will clutch onto tightly, the same way I clenched to a fresh new Nintendo 64 game all the way home to play for the first time in my childhood.

7.50/10 7½

Cavern of Dreams (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Cavern of Dreams hearkens to a more innocent era of videogames, providing a short and sweet adventure that’ll have you brimming with nostalgia. Although rough around a few of its more minor edges, there’s still a substantially poignant experience to be had.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Pezh J.

Pezh J.

Staff Writer

Making money but the bank won't believe me

Share this: