Cavern of Dreams – Review
Follow Genre: 3D puzzle platformer
Developer: Bynine Studio
Publisher: Super Rare Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Cavern of Dreams – Review

Site Score
Good: Nearly perfectly emulates the N64 and PS1 era
Bad: Doesn't fix the issues that plagued that very same era
User Score
(0 votes)
Click to vote
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

If you have fond memories of the mid-to-late ‘90s, when the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 1 reigned supreme and Mario, Crash, and Spyro were king, you might want to take a look at Cavern of Dreams, the latest offering from indie developer Bynine Studio. The game is a loving tribute to the aforementioned era, and it might just be the closest thing to digging up your old console from the attic. While Cavern of Deams isn’t out on consoles (yet?) you can already head on over to Steam to try out its retro goodness… or you could of course read our review first before taking the plunge.


In terms of narrative, Cavern of Dreams keeps things as simple as they should be. The plot revolves around a young dragon named Fynn. His unhatched siblings need to be rescued from a mysterious villain, who has kidnapped them and scattered them all around the world. Fortunately for our plucky protagonist, he isn’t alone on his quest, as a fairy is more than happy to help and encourage him. There isn’t all that much more to Cavern of Dreams’ narrative beyond this basic premise, but this feels appropriate for what the game attempts to be.


If there’s one thing that Cavern of Dreams absolutely nails, it’s its retro aesthetics. Models are deliberately low in polygons and a blur filter is also applied for more retro goodness. The result is a game that looks like it stepped straight out of the N64 or PS1 era. While this might not excite younger players, anyone with fond memories of that era is going to absolutely love Cavern of Dreams’ visual presentation. The only element that breaks the immersion is the 16:9 aspect ratio, and we would have loved a 4:3 mode, but even as is, Cavern of Dreams is unapologetically accurate to what it wants its visuals to be like. Should you prefer your graphics less authentic and more crisp, you can turn off the retro filter, allowing the visuals to really pop, although we preferred sticking to the crusty authenticity of the default settings.


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Cavern of Dreams lacks voice acting, as this wasn’t something that was prevalent back in the ‘90s. Likewise, the game’s soundtrack keeps things catchy but simple, as do the ambient sound effects. Everything fits the overall atmosphere, but there isn’t a whole lot to be said about Cavern of Dreams’ soundscape as a result.


Retro-inspired 3D platformers like A Hat in Time or Yooka-Laylee understood what made classic titles like Super Mario 64 or Spyro the Dragon so good and applied those elements to a modern interpretation of the genre. Cavern of Dreams is different in this regard. Rather than just taking inspiration from yesteryear’s staples, Cavern of Dreams blatantly copies what it can, resulting in a title that is a dead ringer for an actual 3D platformer from the mid-to-late 90s. That’s not a complaint in the slightest. There is a reason why those games are so beloved to this day, and if there is anything Cavern of Dreams proves, it’s that this kind of game design still holds up. The game is far from perfect, but for the most part, Cavern of Dreams’ flaws are by design, in an attempt to lovingly emulate its sources of inspiration.

Taking control of Fynn, you’ll need to navigate different environments and solve simple environmental puzzles. Initially, you have access to a very limited moveset, consisting of different ways to roll and jump. As you collect more dragon eggs, new abilities are unlocked, allowing you to be more precise in your platforming. Each level largely follows the same template: you’ll need to reach one or more eggs, but in order to get near them, you’ll need to deal with obstacles that block your path. You may need to make a tree grow, for example, so that you can jump from it to cross a chasm, or you may need to solve a puzzle involving door switches spread out across the level. Cavern of Dreams’ puzzles aren’t necessarily difficult or obtuse to figure out compared to more recent games, but they still capture that nostalgic satisfaction of figuring things out on your own without having to resort to a guide.

Combat is notably absent in Cavern of Dreams, in that enemies are invulnerable and you’ll need to avoid them rather than attack them. This doesn’t mean that you can’t die if you leave enemies alone: the game’s other pitfalls are… well, literal pitfalls, as well as other stage hazards. Precision platforming is key here. Fortunately, with no time limit present you can take your time to overcome what the game throws at you. Cavern of Dreams isn’t a very long title in the first place, clocking in at roughly 5 hours, so you might as well take your time and enjoy it while it lasts. That said, some of the jankier aspects of N64-era platformers do make their not-so-welcome return here. The camera often feels clunky, and controlling Fynn takes some getting used to, especially when trying to master some of the trickier jumps. Using a controller is highly recommended, as mouse and keyboard inputs proved to be more frustrating than fun. Additionally, the game doesn’t always tell you where to go next from the hub area, instead leaving you to figure it out for yourself, which can get confusing. Fortunately, the individual level designs are clever and fun. As a whole, Cavern of Dreams feels somewhat incomplete, however. Things like boss battles or a more focused story campaign would have gone a long way here, especially to justify the €13 price of entry. That isn’t overly expensive, mind you, but given Cavern of Dreams’ limited replay value, this isn’t a game we’d recommend as an impulse purchase. Depending on your personal appreciation for N64-era platformers, this is either a must-have game or something to completely avoid. We firmly fall in the former camp, and if you’re still on the fence, there is a free demo, but if that can’t convince you of the game’s merits, nothing we can tell you will change that.


As a time capsule, Cavern of Dreams does what it needs to do exceedingly well. Its audiovisual presentation is nearly perfect and the gameplay feels appropriate as well. However, the downside is that it doesn’t avoid some of the issues that plagued the games it takes inspiration from. This means that Cavern of Dreams probably won’t land well with anyone who isn’t wearing nostalgia goggles. This is a game you’ll either hate or love, and you probably already know which category you fall into

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.