Home / News / Caves of Lore Review: A Medieval Fantasy Exploration

Caves of Lore Review: A Medieval Fantasy Exploration

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Caves of Lore Storyline

Caves of Lore is featured as a turn-based, pixel-art fantasy CRPG, and is the impressive creation of solo developer Michael Robins that was recently released in 2023. Seamlessly blending environmental exploration, character interaction, and tactical, grid-based combat as an indie game. Now, players can enjoy the experience on both Android and iOS. In this Caves of Lore Review, we will explore the game features, storyline, and gameplay and provide a fair assessment.

Caves of Lore storyline lets you uncover the mysteries of the world

The storyline starts in the captivating world of Solmaria, where you start on an adventure in the shoes of a shepherd, initially tasked with finding a lost sheep amid the village’s mysterious mist. But here’s the twist, the mist messes with memories, and soon you’re on a quest tied to a creepy Dark Lord.

The story unfolds as you explore ancient citadels, face mutated foes, and dig into the secrets of Emerisk village, built on top of some seriously old ruins. The game keeps you hooked with a mix of NPC encounters, exploration surprises, and cool books that not only tell you about the world but also impact how you play.

Caves of Lore Storyline
Image via Mike Robins

Caves of Lore isn’t your average fantasy game as it’s all about blending a gripping story with the action you crave. You can expect that the mist messes with people’s minds, the village is built on ancient secrets, and there’s this looming Dark Lord causing trouble.

Your journey will have you digging into the mist’s origin, figuring out why memories are getting snatched, and uncovering the deal with a mysterious black cat. As you wander through the village and underground spots, the story unfolds naturally, keeping you on the edge of your seat with surprises that go beyond the usual fantasy game stuff.

The game showcases a heartwarming turn-based combat system

Caves of Lore presents a heartwarming and entertaining combat system that unfolds on a separate 6×14 square-tiled grid, initiating turn-based battles when encountered. The absence of action points simplifies the mechanics, allowing each character to move and act during their turn.

Caves of Lore gameplayCaves of Lore gameplay
Image via Mike Robins

The combat grid features up to four rows on the left for player characters and various starting positions on the right for monsters. Turn order is determined through initiative rolls at the beginning of each battle, with rare instances of ambushes leading to a unique starting position.

Although the game lacks difficulty settings, combat tends to lean towards the easier side, with occasional challenges arising when facing new enemy types. The absence of complacency is emphasized, as brute force may not always be the optimal strategy, keeping players engaged throughout their exploration of this captivating world.

The in-game Character Building is satisfying and innovative

Caves of Lore offers a satisfying and innovative character-building system that blends attributes, skills, and feats. The main character is created through a point-buy system, setting attributes with varying point costs and choosing a feat for a specific weapon or spell category.

Caves of Lore statsCaves of Lore stats
Image via Mike Robins

Attributes play a crucial role in modifying skills, with equipment and spells having minimum attribute requirements. Skill development is central to the game, with 15 general skills available to all characters and individual skills associated with spells and abilities. Skills improve through usage, and characters can master spells and abilities for unique bonuses.

The game introduces the compelling concept of Monster Lore, tying the acquisition of feats to the lore entries of defeated monsters, providing an engaging incentive for players to explore and understand the game’s diverse creatures. While character development leans towards a “learn-by-doing” approach, the game’s strengths lie in its variety, flexibility, and the gratifying progression of characters through exploration and skill mastery.

Caves of Lore offers beautiful Retro-pixel graphics and atmospheric audio

Caves of Lore features charming retro-pixel graphics that bring a sense of nostalgia to the game. The pixelated design not only provides a delightful visual appeal but also contributes to the immersive exploration of the mysterious world filled with caves, secrets, monsters, and loot.

The caves, intricately designed with attention to detail, create a captivating environment where players can discover multiple exits and face various challenges, all while enjoying the quaint beauty of the pixel art.

Caves of Lore graphicsCaves of Lore graphics
Image via Mike Robins

Accompanying the graphics is the atmospheric audio that perfectly blends with the theme. The soundtrack and sound effects play a crucial role in creating a mysterious and immersive atmosphere. As you navigate through the caves, you are accompanied by ambient sounds that capture the essence of exploration, encounters with monsters, and occasional interactions with NPCs or companions.

The combination of these retro-pixel graphics and atmospheric audio not only elevates the aesthetic appeal of Caves of Lore but also enriches the overall adventure by immersing players in the intriguing world enveloped in a fog of forgotten memories.

The game offers Controls and UI suitable for mobile

Caves of Lore impresses with its well-crafted mobile controls and user interface (UI). Despite its retro pixel-art graphics, the controls feel intuitive and responsive on mobile devices. The turn-based gameplay is seamlessly facilitated through touchscreens, allowing players to navigate environments, interact with characters, and engage in tactical combat without any noticeable issues.

Caves of Lore UI and controlsCaves of Lore UI and controls
Image via Mike Robins

The readability of text is well-maintained, striking a balance between providing information and avoiding overwhelming the player. The UI is clear and organized, presenting information in a concise and visually pleasing manner. This thoughtful design prevents confusion, allowing players to focus on the gameplay rather than struggling with a cluttered interface.

In summary, Caves of Lore’s mobile controls and UI showcase a successful blend of retro aesthetics and modern usability. The developer’s attention to detail ensures that players can easily immerse themselves in the game’s features, storyline, and gameplay, making for an enjoyable CRPG experience on mobile devices.

Caves of Lore offers actual Value for Money

Caves of Lore stands as a premium indie game offering exceptional value for its price range, typically ranging from $5 to $10. The game’s captivating blend of nostalgic aesthetics, innovative mechanics, and immersive exploration justifies its cost. The intricate retro-pixel graphics and atmospheric audio create a unique ambiance, providing players with a delightful journey through mysterious caves.

Caves-of-lore-gameplay-imageCaves-of-lore-gameplay-image
Image via Mike Robins

The character development, though presenting occasional challenges ensures a satisfying and engaging experience. The inclusion of diverse skills, abilities, and the intriguing Monster Lore mechanic contributes to the game’s overall value.

Considering the breadth of content, the variety in character building, and the immersive atmosphere, Caves of Lore offers a commendable and worthwhile investment for those seeking a premium indie gaming experience within the specified price range.

Final Verdict

Caves of Lore undoubtedly shines in its charming retro-pixel graphics and atmospheric audio, creating a nostalgic yet immersive environment for players. The innovative character-building system adds depth to the gameplay, with diverse skills and Monster Lore mechanics offering a unique twist to progression. The intricately designed caves present a sense of wonder, filled with secrets and challenges.

However, the learn-by-doing approach to character development, while interesting in theory, may feel cumbersome in practice, requiring players to engage with skills or spells they may not be naturally inclined toward.

Integrating new characters into the party can be a challenging process, especially when faced with characters seemingly designed for specific roles but starting with minimal skill investments. While these aspects may pose initial hurdles, the overall variety and flexibility in character-building contribute to a rewarding experience.

In summary from our review perspective, Caves of Lore stands as a visually enchanting and atmospherically rich RPG, offering a blend of classic elements and unique mechanics. While certain aspects may pose challenges for players, the game’s strengths in exploration, character progression, and overall atmosphere make it a worthwhile journey for those seeking an engaging and nostalgic gaming experience.

Gameplay Mechanics – 8

Storyline – 7.5

Character and Environment Design – 7.5

Graphics and Music – 7.5

Controls and UI – 8

Value for Money – 7.5

7.7

Good

Caves of Lore stands as a visually enchanting and atmospherically rich RPG, offering a blend of classic elements and unique mechanics.

That’s all from us for the Caves of Lore Review! Did you find our Caves of Lore Review helpful? Do let us know in the comments!

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