Epic Games Store weekly free game review: Cave Story+ is a fun little puzzle-platformer

This throwback to retro Metroidvanias is free to redeem until September 7.

by Jeremy Cheong

Gamers looking to go on a nostalgia trip should be quite happy with the Epic Game Store’s free game of the week, Cave Story+.  When the original Cave Story was released in 2004 by its solo developer, Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, it became quite a hit due to how polished it was.

Cave Story+ is essentially the enhanced PC version that features an alternative script, a remastered soundtrack, upgraded ‘HD’ graphics and the option to change the graphics and soundtrack to the classic or remastered styles. You can actually play the game with remastered graphics and the classic soundtrack or classic graphics with the remastered soundtrack. It is just nice to have options.

In terms of its story, Cave Story+ sees you playing as an amnesiac who finds himself in a cave on a floating island that is inhabited by sentient, rabbit-like creatures known as Mimiga. These creatures are being hunted by the evil and mysterious villain known only as the Doctor. As we have all come to expect in a game like this, you then become the unwitting saviour who, in the course of his adventure, discovers who he is and why he was there in the first place.

So if you have played other Metroidvania platform-adventure games, Cave Story+ will be very familiar to you. There are 15 levels to explore, and you basically have to traverse from the beginning to the end of each one to progress the story. In between, you will be blasting enemies, solving puzzles and gathering some new gear here and there to help you out. Overall, the movement and platforming feel really tight and responsive, so it’s easy to gauge your jumps and make minute directional changes.

The game has very charming old-school graphics which bring each level’s theme to life.

Combat may seem simplistic at first, but actually takes a fair bit of twitch gaming skills as you will need to run and gun and avoid enemies that usually outnumber you. Enemies have various different types of attacks, but they are quite easy to predict, so it is all about timing your movement and attacks. Boss battles are also quite challenging because, like most games in this genre, bosses tend to switch up their attacks after you have damaged them to a certain health level. In total, you will face over 20 bosses during your adventures on Mimiga Island.

Other than just going through the story, Cave Story+ also comes with a few challenge modes, namely the Machine Gun Challenge, which is unlocked by default; the Nemesis Challenge, which is unlocked by completing the game with the Nemesis weapon in the inventory; while the Sanctuary Time Attack, Boss Attack and Wind Fortress challenges are unlocked by getting the best ending. These are fun to go through after you have completed the story and would like to do a speedrun of sorts.

Like most Metroidvanias, there are plenty of secrets hidden around the levels.

Overall, there is quite a lot to love about Cave Story+, especially if you are a fan of old-school Metroidvania games. It has really charming graphics, a bopping soundtrack, tight and challenging gameplay and tells a neat little story. Since it is totally free from now until September 7 on the Epic Games Store, it is definitely worth giving it a go.