There’s a reason you subscribe to some developers’ Itch.io feeds. Ismael Rodriguez is a prime examplewho released the wonderful Under the Ocean last year. An update for a new free one pinged into my email Game, toy caversand I’m just so happy about it.
Created for the ongoing Itch Game Jam, Lost Relic Games, toy cavers takes physics swinging ropes from Under the Ocean (which you should get right away!), and instead of applying Using her as oxygen tubes, this time she’s used as a tether between two pixel characters working together to explore a cave system.
Don’t be fooled by the incredibly simplistic presentation. (Do not lease because it also blooms beautifully.) This is a game you can enjoy right away, but as you play you will master it. Any clockwork Character has choices and you switch between them by alternating your swings. Once you have control of one you can move them platform style including jumping on walls as I decided they are very spikey shoes. The other is pulled behind on the rope.
Pin one with their pickaxe, however, and the other can then swing on the leash a little improbably, allowing them to hurl through the caves and slam a pickaxe into another wall. This is how you start having the two characters work together to navigate your way through pits, dodge spikes and majestically carve your way through cave chambers.
It is in the art of swing where mastery lies. It’s technically playable on the controller, but I’ve had some real issues getting the jump to work properly, so I suggest sticking with mouse/keyboard controls. Here you’ll move them with WASD, and it will take a little practice to get the rope swing controls just right. Once you do, wow what a treat it is to skillfully switch between the two to clear obstacles, climb pillars and dodge those pesky pink spikes.
Most of the game’s levels are set in dimly lit caves, but light up in the area where your toy explorations stand. This creates some nice effects on the six-Color scenes and adds an extra element of exploration as you want to make sure you know what you are jumping on. (However, the game is extremely forgiving, with infinite lives and a checkpoint on each screen.) When you do, experimentation with the leash and some really nice moments of achievement pushes you forward.
Each area also has an optional coin to collect, placed in a spot that’s particularly tricky Maneuver. I was so damn pleased with myself when I found out how lowering one of the characters into a hole above a pit of spikes to collect a golden trinket.
This is a ridiculously solid game for a week Entry to the Game Jam! Even for one that is free. Of course, since this is Itch.io, you can pay for it if you can. I would recommend it. There’s a good hour of fun here if you take your time and get all the coins. I am very happy to have discovered this.