An adorably baby dragon has many siblings—all yet unhatched—who have fallen into the Cavern of Dreams. Now the dragon must go down into the cave and find them, though the nature of the cave and its many strange environments means you'll need to look high and low for them all.
That's the pitch for Cavern of Dreams, an indie platformer with a demo that just hit Steam and looks like it could have fallen right out of the late '90s era of collectathon platformers like Banjo-Kazooie: Games more focused on exploring and puzzle-solving using special powers than on fighting baddies.
Playing the demo took about thirty minutes—there's a full playthrough on YouTube and I'll embed it below. I liked how the movement was executed, not slavishly devoted to the sometimes-sluggish controls of the N64 era but not too crisp and modern either. There are also neat touches, like the rolling, that I thought felt particularly well-implemented. The camera could use some work, but what's a '90s 3D platformer without a bit of frustrating camera control?
Much like its clear inspirations, Cave of Dreams is really focused on a presenting a weird vibe and whimsical creatures to meet as you explore the world and solve puzzles. I love how surreal the whole thing is, with strange colorscapes and odd lighting that wouldn't have actually been possible back in the day suffusing everything—a touch I appreciate. It's all well and good to use an older aesthetic, but taking advantage of modern techniques to improve it is a key step.
It's one to keep an eye on for those who want games like Banjo-Kazooie, Croc, Psychonauts, or the more recent Yooka-Laylee platformers. An underserved genre, to be sure, but a welcome one.
Cavern of Dreams is developed by indie dev Bynine Studio, who you can follow on Twitter and find on itch.io. You can find the Cavern of Dreams on Steam. Here's that playthrough of the demo I promised, straight from the developer: