Every day for a week I played Caveblazers‘ daily challenge and recorded my attempt. I called it the Daily Death and posted them to the RPS Supporter program, but now I’ve now made all five videos available to all. Come watch me struggle to talk while fighting orcs in a roguelike platformer.
Caveblazers [official site] has grown on me a lot since I first played it, to the point now where it’s pretty much the only game I’m playing. Some of my frustrations with it have faded as I’ve grown better at it or come to understand some of its systems more, and my appreciation of the things it does well has increased also. Basically: it got better the more distance I got from playing Dead Cells all the time. Not because Caveblazers is worse than Dead Cells and it needed that distance, but because Caveblazers is its own thing and I needed the distance in order to see it that way.
Today’s daily didn’t go great, due to a particularly tough set of starting traits and because of my hamfisted attempts to deal with bats and those blue, jumping, exploders. I was having a bad day, I guess.
I like games that have ‘game-breaking’ items. By which I mean, games with certain items or facets that seem so wildly different or powerful that they seem like they’d break the game, only they don’t. The jetpack in Spelunky is one example. It allows you to hover over all the enemies and spike traps that had formed so much of the game’s challenge beforehand, effectively skipping parts of each level… But if you’ve ever used the jetpack, you know it’s not quite so simple. You’ll still fall on some spikes and die.
The Xanadu Blaster reduces your move speed and jump height substantially, and only does 3-5 damage, but fires “extremely” fast and with such force that it can propel your character around. This means you want to have your back against the wall and just let rip while enemies come into your path, and it means you can use it to fly. A little like a jetpack.
It’s doesn’t quite let you skip anything, and old challenges remain, but it’s so absurdly different to anything I’ve ever encountered in Caveblazers that I’d count it in that game-breaking category. It broke my perception of what I thought the game’s limits were. Here’s today’s video:
The thing about weapons like these is that they’re so good that I desperately want them again as soon as I’ve died. In Spelunky, that’s possible: if you play well, gather enough money, and find your way to black market, then you can probably get a jetpack. That’s great. You find it once by accident and then it becomes a sub-goal, and a new motivation to keep playing. Caveblazers offers no similar path towards securing its weapons. You get them as random drops, or you don’t get them at all. That’s a real shame – I’ve played hours and hours of Caveblazers now, this is the first time I’ve seen this weapon, and I might never see it again before I lose interest in the game…
I’ll let you in on a secret. I think my love affair with Caveblazers is coming to an end. It’s been a few weeks now of playing only this, but last night I started booting up other games in search of something different to play. That’s a sign.
I think it’s because, while I’ve definitely got better at the game, I haven’t made substantial advances in how far I’m able to get through its levels. I’ve still never beaten a second boss on a single life, and more importantly, there are particular kinds of boss I’ve never beaten at all. Since which boss you face in each instance is randomised, and since defeating those bosses requires a different set of skills to the rest of the game (learning their attack patterns, mainly), getting better at fighting them is much, much slower than the progress I’ve made at learning all its other systems.
I’m still having fun in the two ‘worlds’ I’ve been able to reach, but I know the contours of their enemies and items so well now that it’s a little less exciting than it was.
Which doesn’t mean I no longer like the game, or will no longer play it, but I’ll probably stop playing it quite so much. There will be time for other games.
(I’m back on the Dead Cells.)
Today’s is maybe the shortest video yet, as I survived only eight minutes and into level two this time around. I find the more I talk, the less well I do at the jumping and fighting of the game. I’m also, as discussed yesterday, finding that my enthusiasm for the game is beginning to wane. That might have contributed to my haphazard performance.
Only one day left. I’ll try to make that a good one.
A couple of days ago, someone in the comments asked why I never drink the potions I collect during each run. They’re unidentified liquids that have unpredictable consequences: they might boost your stats or replenish your health, or they might set you on fire, poison you, slow you down. The actual ratio of good:bad is around 50/50, with only a handful of the bad risking your life, but those aren’t the reason I don’t drink them.
The reason is that the good aren’t good or interesting enough to compensate for the risk. In the roguelike Brogue, I’m obsessed with potions, because their unpredictable outcomes almost always make the game more interesting. In Caveblazers, it’s either, “Oh, I’m inconvenienced or dead,” or it’s “I’m better off than I was before, but only slightly.” There are no instances in the game where the latter justifies the risk of the former.
It’s been a week and I am still kicking this game. This game I obviously love.
Thanks to anyone who watched and commented on the posts this past week. I am not a natural at this, or comfortable doing it, but it’s been fun. I’m going to go play something else now.