Cavern of Dreams (Nintendo Switch) Review

Retro Youth!

Cavern of Dreams, from developers Bynine Studio, is both a homage and love letter to the simple, mascot-driven, 3D-platformers of the past – specifically, the Nintendo 64’s past. The developers have decided to emulate some of that systems best platformers, not just in design, but in visuals as well.

It’s a risky feat as while love for the N64 has grown during its retro years, Nintendo’s fantastic little 64-bit machine didn’t exactly set the market on fire, despite some truly amazing games. So, taking a nostalgic stab with a game meant to emulate that period in game design with a potentially small target audience, is a bit of a leap of faith. Thankfully, Cavern of Dreams isn’t just a faithful recreation of retro designs, it’s a rather great little platformer to boot. One full to the brim with child-like wonder and oodles of cute charm.

Players are plopped into the scaly wings of cute-enough-to-have-a-plushie-of-himself Fynn, a very young dragon whose unhatched siblings have all gone missing. Braving the eponymous “Cavern of Dreams” and its surrounding worlds, Fynn has to rescue his siblings from an art- and egg-obsessed witch who has scattered his brothers and sisters across the cavern.

The Cavern functions as a hub world, with its twisty, turny paths leading you to new areas and worlds to explore. Scattered across these realms are Fynn’s siblings, along with some lore cards to collect and mushrooms to feed your siblings once they hatch. There’s just enough collectibles to keep you exploring every nook and cranny, but not enough to feel overwhelming or tedious.

Beyond the act of being a good big brother, collecting Fynn’s sibling’s gift you with new abilities and “Hearts” required open up new areas of the Cavern. Fynn starts off with a basic jump move and a roll – which are key to completing a fair amount of the game – but each new upgrade comes some body modification. Fynn grows a tail to smack down walls, wings to glide through the air and ride air currents, a horn to smash through broken floors and boost yourself higher into the air, and even bubbles to put out fires or slow down enemies.

The environments have been perfectly designed to make use of Fynn’s abilities. The platforming feels expertly-tuned to get you from A to B and back again without ever frustrating you, while light puzzles make use of those aforementioned abilities and a little planning to break up the manner in which you collect eggs. Whether it’s putting out fires to open up castle gates, or manoeuvring a living aeroplane to create paths to areas you couldn’t reach before, Cavern of Dreams makes certain that you’re constantly doing something new in between all the exploration.

Cavern of Dreams Visuals

In terms of the visuals and level design, Cavern of Dreams perfectly encapsulates the look and feel of the N64 and PSOne-era of platformers. For the most part, it’s a brightly coloured affair, replete with some stunning, sun-kissed vistas and twisted architecture, all contained within a small play area. The camera can be a problem in tighter spaces though.

Now one of the N64’s notable visual features – or limitations – was its blurry textures, due to how the machine or the games filtered textures. The developers have managed to replicate this effect as well but, unlike the N64, it’s an option you can toggle on or off. As much as I like that emulated look, I think Cavern of Dreams looks far more stunning with this blur feature disabled.

Cavern of Dreams Platforming

Wrapping up, the best thing that can be said about Cavern of Dreams is that is captures the fun and joy of the games that inspired it. While there’s a lot to keep you engaged, Cavern of Dreams is also never too challenging or overwhelming. Its simple but addictive gameplay is perfectly suited for those wanting to jump on the nostalgia train, and it’s also perfectly suited for younger gamers who might be jumping into platformers for the first time. It’s consistently charming, showcases oodles of personality from its characters, and remains fun throughout its runtime.

Cavern of Dreams was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PC.

Cavern of Dreams (Nintendo Switch) Review

Cavern of Dreams (Nintendo Switch) Review
8 10 0 1
8/10
Total Score

The Good

  • Old-school platforming
  • Cute character design
  • Fun and unchallenging gameplay
  • The classic N64-style blur filter can be disabled

The Bad

  • Camera can be a little finicky in tight areas
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