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Review

Cavern of Dreams (Switch) Review

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There is always a lot of nostalgia for the N64/PSOne era 3D platformer. Whether it’s remasters, remakes, or Nintendo’s own Expansion Pack offering, there’s plenty out there if you want a blast from the past. Cavern of Dreams, while inspired by this era of games, is a whole new game to evoke the same feeling, so let’s check it out!

Cavern of Dreams begins by introducing you to Fynn the Dragon, a small dragon whose egg-bound siblings have been taken by a bat called Luna and scattered across the land. It’s up to Fynn to rescue the other Dragons‚Ķ and that’s about it! There isn’t much of a story here, or at least not an overt one. Which is a good and a bad thing if you’re looking to tip the hat to a particular era of 3D platformer. It works well because it’s not a big story-driven game by design; you’re told at the beginning what you need to do, and occasionally, there might be another character to drop some dialogue. The downside is that it can feel like it’s missing a bit of personality by keeping dialogue and story to such a minimum. The worlds feel a bit lonely for little Fynn, with barely a peep from the main villain. The N64-era games often had some kind of story to go with the collecting and platforming, and it feels like even a little more personality in this game would’ve gone a long way.

Cavern of Dreams effectively captures the look of an N64/PS1 era 3D platformer/collectathon. There are three areas outside of the main hub: The Cavern of Dreams. The autumn-coloured Lostleaf Lake is a good starting world, then delving into the more industrial-themed world of Airbourne Armada. This world stands out for being set inside a talking sentient airship, which introduces an interesting gimmick that changes how you interact with that area. The last world is Prismic Palace, the ice world, which also manages to capture the frustration of ice levels/worlds. It may have done the job a little too well as it’s the least fun of the worlds to have towards the end.

Fynn has a small move set at the start, consisting of a jump/double jump and roll. As you rescue more of your kin you eventually unlock a tail whip, the ability to glide, and a ground slam/horn dive. Fynn’s jump is intentionally not very high, keeping many ledges just out of reach. If you jump again with the right timing you’ll do a double jump to clear some of those just out of reach spots. Fynn’s roll technique is a little fiddly as it doesn’t really move you any faster if you’re on a level or uphill surface. Then, downhill, you never quite know how the trajectory will work out; it all depends on if you get a burst of momentum. It’s not something you will need to rely on much, but it’s a shame it’s not of more use.

The team here at Bynine Studio have done a great job nailing these retro platformers’ look and feel; they could easily fit among the classics. The sharp polygonal visuals really pop without the blur filter; however, if you want to try and recreate that more foggy blurry look from the 90s, then it’s just a menu toggle away. However, keeping the filter off lets you appreciate some 90s-inspired visuals with all the benefits of current displays.

As I’ve already mentioned, Cavern of Dreams does a pretty good job at recreating the feel of the old 3D platformers, placing itself in a niche. You have your players who pine for the days of Banjo-Kazooie, Spyro and Croc that they played back in the day. You also have the players who yearn for those old-school games because of how fondly others remember them. There is a good 3D platformer here to satisfy both parties to an extent, managing to avoid some of the old tedious moments from back in the day, but not entirely.

Cavern of Dreams is a time capsule back to the 90s 3D platformer heyday, capturing the look and feel of the era. Fynn’s adventure to rescue their siblings doesn’t overstay its welcome and avoids falling in the same collectathon trap similar games can fall into. While Cavern of Dreams could do with a little more guidance, the world’s aren’t large enough that you’ll get lost. It’s a fun game for players looking to enjoy a new game with a classic feel.

Rating: 3.5/5

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The Good

+ Captures the 90s 3D platformer look and feel
+ Doesn’t overstay its welcome

The Bad

- Misses some of the charm of the older games
- Getting to the different worlds/areas could be more intuitive

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Cavern of Dreams is a time capsule back to the 90s 3D platformer heyday, capturing the look and feel of the era. Fynn's adventure to rescue their siblings doesn't overstay its welcome and avoids falling in the same collectathon trap similar games can fall into. While Cavern of Dreams could do with a little more guidance, the world's aren't large enough that you'll get lost. It's a fun game for players looking to enjoy a new game with a classic feel.

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About The Author
Paul Roberts
Lego enthusiast, Picross Master and appreciator of games.

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