Played on PC
More than one game has emerged on the wave of nostalgia. This is especially true for classic RPGs or “old-school” shooters. But the spirit of platform games with “Dandy” or “Shogi” rarely makes itself felt. Still, some people sometimes remember him. Like Demagog Studio, who clearly took inspiration from something like good old The Jungle Book and The Lion King when developing The Cub. This isn’t the grinding, precision-controlled platformer popularized by Super Meat Boy or Celeste, but a gentler, cinematic adventure. Of the modern analogies, Rayman Origins or two-dimensional releases of the unsinkable Mario come to mind. Unfortunately, The Cub’s writers lacked both the enthusiasm of Ubisoft and the boundless imagination of Nintendo.
In the not-too-distant future, humans have brought the Earth into a major catastrophe. Once again. With pollution, a leaking ozone layer, rampant conflict, and big corporations lying to save the Earth, The Cub’s prediction is eerily plausible despite its caricature. Humanity found salvation in the sky – a handful of survivors escaped on rockets that successfully reached Mars, where they settled. But I don’t want to let go of my cradle so easily.
Years later, a research team returns to Earth to investigate the situation and assess the chances of reclaiming the planet from raging nature. In addition to the overgrown flora and wild fauna, the Martians also encounter a mutated baby – the protagonist of The Cub. Although most of the remaining population on the planet died out, some still managed to adapt to the new conditions and the poisoned atmosphere.
The story itself is unremarkable and sparse on events – for the most part we have to run from scientists in spacesuits trying to dissect the hero and figure out how he manages to breathe in such conditions – but the presentation isn’t bad. The game world envelops you with a cozy picture. The industry is bursting with pixel art and anime style, but classic western animations are unfairly forgotten. “The Cub” is reminiscent of cartoons from the 1990s and early 2000s, such as “Atlantis.”
The game tells the story of humanity’s extinction through landscapes and images. Destroyed skyscrapers on the horizon, abandoned bunkers, a highway clogged with wrecked cars – everything is a reminder of the former greatness of humanity, which ended in catastrophe and flight. The cartoon character doesn’t disturb the dark scenes. Just look at the mountain of withered bodies at the breach in the wall around Alphaville, the last of the fallen cities. The imagination immediately paints a frightening picture of desperate people literally jumping onto the embrasure in the hope of breaking through to the rockets flying into the sky – the only chance for salvation.
At the same time, the artists managed to harmoniously mix a melancholic atmosphere with deliberate silliness. They constantly make fun of modern corporations like Google and SpaceX. Our Mowgli of the post-apocalypse era looks in surprise at a stack of gold bars next to the body of a would-be robber decomposing and is perplexed by the scenes from the Brazilian series on television. For the young protagonist, the fragments of ancient civilization are simply curiosities and his life is simple and even fun. What kind of sadness are we talking about when a large and juicy beetle buzzes in front of your eyes? Looking for lunch!
The world is brought to life with a lot of love, which is not surprising since The Cub is actually the third game in the series: it continues the entertaining golf puzzle game Golf Club Nostalgia and the tactics game Highwater. Demagog Studio obviously loves experimenting with genres, but unfortunately platform games aren’t very well suited to it yet.
The cub is a classic representative of the genre: with jumps, tendrils and dangers to jump over. It contains interesting ideas. For example, there are initially episodes that can be completed in different ways. But the game fails due to important mechanics – movement feels neither intuitive nor fluid. The feeling of flow is constantly disrupted by annoying errors. It’s not always clear why the hero doesn’t hold onto the corner of the platform or why he simply crouches instead of using a running attack. Although you seem to be pressing all the right buttons.
Interesting situations with a Gulkin nose. The process practically does not go beyond the scope of a “jump over the abyss”. In several episodes you have to escape from dangers, be they human pursuers or crazy robots. But the whole difference is that here any mistake, even a second of hesitation, will result in a loss and you will have to start the section again. And the moments where you have to run from one safe zone to another while the villain’s back is turned are embarrassing, if you can even call them a parody of hide and seek.
In addition, The Cub sometimes manages to irritate even in small things. Collectibles such as newspapers and teddy bears are scattered around the world. To absorb them, you sometimes have to deviate from the plot route. However, if you suddenly die, in many cases perfectionists will have to be distracted again to replenish the collection.
Gameplay and storytelling cannot always divide the player’s attention. In the first few minutes, our hero finds an astronaut’s helmet that is tuned to the Nostalgia radio station. There, a host from Mars talks about the news or interviews guests – it seems like a great way to delve deeper into history and talk about the hardships of colonizing a new planet. These stories only distract from the process. In quiet moments this isn’t disturbing, but sometimes the broadcast is overshadowed by a tense chase scene.
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Demagog Studio definitely deserves praise for its unique fantasy world atmosphere and willingness to conquer new genres. But unfortunately, aside from its attractive style, The Cub just can’t stand out from its competitors – even thirty years ago. Mowgli or Aladdin could at least repel the enemy.
- attractive style of hand-drawn cartoons of the nineties and early 2000s;
- an interesting mix of melancholic mood, childishness and post-irony.
- Lack of management disrupts the sense of flow;
- simple gameplay.
Beautiful 2D animations brought a pleasant change to the pixel art that the genre is filled with.
Radio “Nostalgia” delights with pleasant tracks in the style of lo-fi and chillwave.
Single player game
We run, jump, admire the view.
Estimated completion time
A cute but extremely straightforward platformer where even the basic mechanics sometimes fail.
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