Cavern of Dreams

released on Oct 19, 2023
by Bynine

Cavern of Dreams is a mysterious, surreal adventure game inspired by N64 classics. You play as a young dragon who's just lost all of his unhatched siblings! You have to explore the Cavern of Dreams and the many strange worlds it's connected to, solving puzzles and facing adversity to rescue them...

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A really faithful feeling throwback to N64 collectathons. The worlds were fun and varied, and the movement interesting. I did have some frustrations with the controls, but in a way isn't that the most faithful it could be to an N64 classic?

One big surprise for me is that I found myself kind of interested in the lore. There's not a ton of it, but the cute-with-dark-undertones feeling almost reminded me of N64 Zeldas.

I liked this game and thought it was a fun call back to N64 platformers, but it didn't capture the same magic as the retro games did for me. The levels were still fun and had some good elements to the platforming and unique mechanics, but the controls felt a bit janky at times with the more involved movement options (even though I liked them in theory). Some of the collectibles were a bit too cryptic to find with the given hints as well. It was fun that there were easter eggs to find upon finding all the eggs and also it was nice to have for finishing the encyclopedia.

This review contains spoilers

Really fun exploration-based platformer, and a perfect ~7-hour length! Not too hard in either platforming or puzzles; both provided just enough friction to be quite satisfying... overall a very smooth ride from front to back, disregarding the final boss which was extremely annoying.

Sorta early on I discovered a way to jump really high, much higher than the high jump you eventually unlock, which allowed me to skip a few sections / complete some challenges easily. The timing was difficult at first, but I could do it reliably by the endgame. It was really gratifying to find what felt like hidden movement tech!! (or at least tech that isn't explicitly told to you). Cavern of Dreams seems to promote small revelations, like the ways areas can preview each other, or when you first put it together that you can carry an item from one area to another. My super-high-jump discovery felt like an extension of that, and it felt rewarded too, beyond being able to bypass some challenges — e.g., I was able to go up on the level boundary/walls in the green wing of the Gallery of Nightmares, and there was a sign with a message from Luna up there! I realized after getting all the eggs and unlocking the flying ability that maybe the sign was placed for wings-having players to find, so it was neat to find it early.

Anyway, I had a lovely time playing this.

I started off playing this game expecting it to maybe be just a cute nostaglic throwback to the N64 era of 3D platformers, and it did start out that way, but by the end I found myself so enamored with the experience, and grateful for all the love woven within it

the endgame for me was definitely the best part—unlocking [redacted] and being able [redacted] just fully delivered on so much of the game's promise. the most fun hours I had, bar none

my biggest critique lies within the first majority bite of the main plot. you're given your basic objective (find/rescue your siblings) and then mostly nothing to begin to explain the world, the characters, the relationships on a fundamental basis until basically the last level. there was an initial foundation-setting with the game missing at the beginning, that then made it feel like playing a very pretty tech demo instead of a fleshed-out universe

and I say this as someone who was collecting the encyclopedia entries throughout. it wasn't enough. by the time I finally able to even understand the basics of the cavern of dreams as a world, the game was quite literally over. I retroactively was then able to appreciate all the different sub-worlds and characters, but I wish that had been the case while I was in those places initially.

basically, a cinematic or two at the beginning with a bit more ground level dialogue could've gone a long way to make the experience more immersive and the later plot payoffs more engaging

on a visual design basis, the game is a real treat. the autumnal tones in the first level are warm and inviting, the castle design in the third level is equally intriguing and chilling, and the gallery of nightmares had me fully clenched and expecting a last act swerve into creepypasta horror. I've always respected the willingness of older platforms to lean into the uncanny and frightening, and found myself wondering if this game would—it did, and in my perspective it's the scariest and most effective I've ever played. good work, I can never witness a flickering light again

will eagerly keep an eye out for any future games from the developer

Very nostalgic throwback to the likes of Banjo Kazooie. Quite a short game, and nothing revolutionary, but I had a good time with it.

A great retro 3D platformer. Big fan of the visuals and N64 aesthetic. Game is a bit cryptic. Fell off of playing, came back and could not figure out what to do to proceed. Didn't really care to or feel like attempting to look it up, maybe I'll come back to finish it one day. That said, it's more of a me issue, game is pretty solid and fans of 3D platformers, especially ones that try to scratch the retro nostalgia itch, will enjoy it.