There’s a reason you subscribe to some developers’ Itch.io feeds. Ismael Rodriguez is an excellent examplewho released the beautiful Under the ocean last year. In my emails pinged an update for a new one, free game, Toy speleologistsand I’m so glad it did.
Made for the constant Itch game jam, Lost Relic Games† Toy speleologists takes physics swinging ropes from Under the ocean (what you should) go right now!), and instead of applying them as oxygen tubes, this time using them as a connection between two pixel characters, who work together to explore a system of caves.
Don’t be fooled by the incredibly simplistic looking presentation. (Don’t lease, it’s beautiful in bloom too.) This is a game to enjoy right away, but learn to master it as you play. any timepiece character has a choice, and you switch between them through their alternating swings. Once you’re in control of them, you can move them platform style, including jumping them against walls, as I’ve decided they’re very spiky shoes. The other is dragged along by the chain.
However, pin one in place with their pickaxe, and the other can then, somewhat improbably, swing from the chain, allowing them to swing through the caverns and poke a pickaxe into another wall. This is how you start making the two characters work together to make their way through potholes, avoiding spikes and majestically making their way through the cave rooms.
It is in the art of the swing where mastery comes in. It’s technically playable on the controller, but I’ve had some issues getting the jump to work properly, so I recommend using the mouse/keyboard controls. Here you move them with WASD, and it will take some practice to get the rope-sling controls just right. Once you’ve done that, wow, what a joy it is to play, deftly switching between the two to clear obstacles, climb pillars and dodge those pesky pink spikes.
Most of the game’s levels are set in dimly lit caves, but brighten up the area your toy is in. This creates some nice effects on the sixcolor scenes, and also adds an extra element of exploration, as you’ll want to make sure you know where you’re jumping to. (The game is extremely forgiving, though, with infinite lives and a checkpoint on each screen.) Doing so will set you up to experiment with the chain and some really beautiful moments of success.
Each area also has an optional coin to collect, placed in an extra tricky spot maneuvers. I was so damn happy with myself when I found out how to lower one of the characters into a hole above a well of nails to collect a gold bauble.
This is a ridiculously solid game for a week game jam entry! Also for one that is free. Since this is Itch.io, of course you can choose to pay for it if you can. I would recommend doing this. There is a good hour of fun here, if you take your time and get all the coins. I am very happy to have discovered this.