There is an entire world beneath our feet. The planet teems with life, some too small to ever be seen... or too reclusive. In Caverns, you can give Mother Nature a helping hand as you shape the terrain of an underground cave to discover 12* different species. More virtual sandbox than game, Caverns is still an exceptionally clever little piece of design whose creativity makes up for limited interaction.
The game is controlled with the mouse, clicking to paint blocks of terrain types. You can change terrains by clicking on different ones in the control panel at the bottom of the screen, or by tapping [C] to cycle through them all. Finding out the right conditions for each creature can be a little tricky. The little tar creature will spring forth from the ground on their own, for example, while the blue water creatures need to fall like water droplets. The cavern you start out in can be manipulated and carved out to make the grungy, dark, critter-ridden underground lair of your dreams. Do you think it would help if you Feng Shui-d the lava? We think Martha Stewart would approve.
Caverns was made in ten hours for a Ludum Dare theme, and as such is pretty basic. You're limited in what you can do, and if you're hoping to build an adorable teeming ecosystem of marketable little creatures you can hug and love and call George, you might be disappointed. You can't interact with the creatures directly. But for its presentation it's still big on charm and it's surprisingly fun to work with. Coming across the correct environment to get all the creatures happily coexisting is a challenge, to say the least. Oh little tar creature, why did you kill the tree creature? The tree creature that wasn't hurting you? The tree creature that took me forever to figure out how to grow?! Why can't you be more like little purple blob creature?
While it may be short, Caverns is still surprisingly inventive and worth a look if you're into experimental design. Fans of virtual pet-ish webtoys will also find a lot to like here. After all, who can say they've never wanted their very own cuddly, painful little critter made of burning lava to call their own? Liars, that's who!
*Update: Now with more species! (Version 0.85)