The Lost Cave of the Ozarks is a platforming game, as basic as the year is long, it has a couple puzzles and boss ‘fights’ as well but it’s really just a platformer. You play as two different characters, an old man in the 1980s, I think anyways, and a young boy from 1880. You start as the boy escaping a tornado only to fall into a cave system, and from there, the story is about him trying to escape and his fantastical journey. Occasionally, time jumps to an old man in the late 1900s giving a tour of the same cave, and at the end of the tour everything is tied together.
I’ll start with the issues the game has then hit the good the game has, cause bad news comes first always. The game has some control issues, inputs on the controller are sometimes ignored and other times delayed far too late to be of any use. These control issues caused my death a number of times which is annoying, so it just needs some tweaking to get it where it needs to be. You also have a stamina bar and it SUCKS, big time. There are a couple chase scenes with things that speed up as you run from them, the first one is the tornado right at the start of the game. The issue is if you run out you walk super slow and it takes a while to get any back, there’s no meter or anything, the light on the lantern gets dimmer and dimmer as his stamina is destroyed but that does fuck all of good. It feels like the dev got used to playing the game and knew when and how long to run and how long to not run to beat this stuff and they wanted it to be a little difficult for themselves, the problem with that is we don’t have that same experience. Trying to get through the chase sequences sucked, they made me angry even numerous times.
Some of the jumps are stupid hard. You have to jump right on the edge of something off to the side and immediately turn back to climb on something above you. That’s not easy in a game with control issues; it’s not easy just in general either. I think the dev again, got used to the difficulty, so he felt it was too easy and ramped it up some, forgetting that we haven’t played this every day for like a year or so as it slowly got harder and harder, we don’t have that practice. The last issue is that the game doesn’t save whether you’re in full screen or not, which doesn’t sound like a serious issue, but there’s no options in the main menu just continue and new game. The game starts in full screen mode but, for some reason, it was significantly larger than my screen, I could see about 60% of the screen when it was full, and when I flipped it out of full screen it fit my screen perfectly. Oh yeah, there’s also no screen resolution options only full screen on/off, so I didn’t get to watch the first whole chunk of the game’s intro cause you don’t have access to the options until after the intro stuff is over, so I have no idea what the entire starting cutscene is about.
Now onto the good stuff now that all the bad shit is out of the way. The game has an interesting design to it, in the old man chunks of the game everything looks normal, but in the young boy chunks of the game, which makes up most of the game, it has lots of bright vibrancy. The boss fights are all mini-puzzles that are generally fairly fun and easy to solve. There’s hints to collect, one in each level for the young boy, which are fun to look for but hard to find sometimes, I’m still missing a couple of them. During the boy’s section you don’t just see his story either, as there’s also another story that unravels as you continue the game. Whether it’s real or fantastical thinking on the boy’s part, who knows, probably fantastical thinking, but I don’t care. Most of the platforming isn’t bad, and there’s a couple parts that have puzzles to solve during them which are actively fun to do. And the game isn’t too long, you can beat it in a few hours without any real issue. Also, the minimum requirements are wrong, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, and usually that’s a bad thing, not this time. It says it needs a win10, an i5-8400, and 8GB of RAM, I played it on my Win7, using an i5-2320, and it never went above 4GB of RAM as far as I’m aware of.
I spent about two and a half hours to beat the game, even with the trouble I had with the control mechanics. The story was okay, the few puzzles and boss fights where okay, and I like the concept they had behind the game as a whole. However, there wasn’t much game here, and thanks to the control issues, what game was there, was really annoying to play. I think if they can tweak the controls a bit, fix the display weirdness, give you options at in the menu so you can bypass the display weirdness if it happens for you, give some meter to show stamina, and give you MORE stamina or make the chase sequences not as shitty hard (either way works really), then this game would be at least suggested from me. So story is great, concept is great, gameplay… not so much. I will be keeping an eye on this dev though, I think he’ll tell some good stories; I just hope the actual gameplay improves in future games.
The Lost Cave of Ozark was developed by Rubber Garden
Point of Sale: Steam, Itch.io, Gamejolt
A review copy of the game was provided by Morgan Adam Miller, the developer.
darkmikasonfire does not award The Lost Cave of the Ozarks The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.