It’s kind of amazing, it was a rather light release week with only nine new games in our weekly round-up, but I’ve been going back and forth all day because at least half of those would all make worthy Game of the Week winners. Much like The Highlander though, there can be only one, and this week my gut is pointing me towards a game that just keeps delighting me over and over, and when I think I can be delighted no more, it does it again. It’s Caves of Lore, an old-school inspired RPG that is the passion project of solo developer Michael Robins aka TILTGames, and so far it has left me with my socks fully and completely knocked off.
Where to even start? I guess I’ll cheat a little bit and steal the developer’s own description from the App Store: “Caves of Lore is a turn-based, pixel-art, fantasy CRPG that combines elements of environmental exploration and character interaction with tactical, grid-based combat.” This game has a major old-school feel, but somehow feels modern and crisp. Possibly due to some of its fancier lighting and graphical tricks, despite being a fully pixel art game. But also there’s just a snappiness to the experience that, to be frank, makes this a whole heck of a lot more fun for me to play than say something like the original Baldur’s Gate. Let the flaming begin!
Don’t get me wrong, those classic CRPGs are legendary in their own right, but they are notoriously complex to navigate and can be overwhelming to someone who’s not already well-versed in those types of games. Caves of Lore feels like a game that wants to keep that experience of building a party, building out your characters, exploring an interesting world, and battling against all kind of cool enemies, but streamlined in a way that makes it more approachable to “normies” like myself. I’ve always WANTED to love classic CRPGs, but try as I might I just could never find my groove with them.
Anyway, I don’t want to make it seem like Caves of Lore is dumbed down or anything. This game is still kicking my butt left and right, and there’s still a staggering amount of depth in terms of character building and whatnot. But the magic here, at least for me, is the ability to get drawn into the experience without getting bogged down. Also it feels like a game that was built for mobile, despite it first being released on PC about a year ago. The touchscreen controls and UI navigation are excellent, and it’s an easy game to dip in and out of for as long as you feel like. There is SO much more for me to still dig into with Caves of Lore, and hey, eight bucks for a mobile game ain’t nothing, but I’d be really surprised if anyone who likes this type of RPG ended up being disappointed after picking this up.