The initial concept of 80 Seconds Cave is quite simple – a fast-paced 2D platformer with a race against time. However, 80 Seconds Cave delivers just a little bit more than it initially appears, and the biggest draw to the game is the narrative aspect that it brings to the table.
Developed by Florian van Strien and released in July 2013, 80 Seconds Cave takes a generic setting and an even more generic gameplay/art style, and adds some flare. Players control their character through randomly generated levels while they dodge dangers such as spikes, plant sharpshooters, and of course, lava. Players are given 5 lives to finish 4 levels (5 levels on Hard Mode), and 80 seconds to zoom through, hence the title. The controls are very straightforward, making it easy to get into. Only the arrow keys are used, so players won’t be confused and forget what key to press under pressure. The powerups, such as invincibility and extra time added, are simple but can be very useful.
The randomly generated levels are fairly well designed, though of course never quite reaching their full potential because none of them have been specifically built. Sometimes you can be unlucky and run into three sets of spiked plants in a row, but they shouldn’t cause a whole lot of trouble. Every second level is a Mario inspired water level, where the main goal is to just dodge the fish that are racing towards you. These are the biggest problem with the game, and being randomly generated doesn’t help it. Of course, you will be forced to play through one for every full game that you finish, and it seems to only be there to consume time and take away the players lives.
The most innovative feature in this indie game is the storytelling that only comes into effect at the end of the game. Everything that the player does is recorded and compiled into a paragraph recapping the player’s adventure. The name of the character you control, as well as the name of the historian who writes these stories are randomly generated every time you receive them, and it adds a level of individuality that makes 80 Seconds Cave stand out. Some of the statements can be unnecessary or repetitive, but this game paves the way for other indie developers to expand on the idea and improve on it.
The best thing to say about 80 Seconds Cave in the end is that it, though admittedly in a crude manner, blended the 2D Platformer genre with storytelling and narrative, something which has been done before, but not usually in such a quick and procedurally generated format. I hope to see more games travel down this route, as it is a great opportunity for indie games and AAA titles alike.
To finish off, here’s the rundown of my most recent playthrough on the Extreme difficulty level:
”The historian Thijis wrote the following about the great hero Adrian: ‘He started the first floor. It was a normal floor. He climbed a rope. He took a heart and felt better. After he took a special power-up, the water level started to rise. A powerup made him temporarily invincible! The hero found a powerup that gave him extra time. He completed the floor. He started another floor. He had to swim, because the floor was full of water. This part of the cave seemed to be a bit like a maze. When he looked around him, he saw spikes. Adrian hardly dodged some spikes. A powerup made him temporarily invincible! A powerup gave him some extra time. His health became better after taking a hearth. The hero completed the floor. He now entered another part of the dungeon. The floor was made of stone. Some spikes hit him. The hero saw spikes near him. A ball shot by an aggressive plant hurt him. He jumped into a spiky plant. Adrian found the end of the floor. He entered another floor now. He was swimming in water. There were a lot of dangerous fishes here. The hero saw spiked next to him. He found the end of the floor. He started another floor. The hero could feel hot magma near him. He saw spikes near him. He hardly dodged some spikes. Adrian climbed a rope. He had only ten seconds left! He took a powerup which gave him some extra time. He only had 10 seconds left! Adrian found the end of the floor. He had completed all four floors. He had completed his mission!”
You can download 80 Seconds Cave for free on Gamejolt.