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Rating: 4.5/5 (35 votes)
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TrickyPeru, 1950. Strange signs have appeared in the misty mountains. You, a famous spelunker, head to the area to investigate them.. Such is the humble premise of Cavenaut, an exploration-based action-adventure game by Bruno Marcos. Don't think that the ruins of Machu Picchu will reveal their secrets so easily, however. Snake, Bat, Spike, and Spear stand in your path, and if you hope for mysteries to be unraveled, you must be quick of both mind and fingers.

CavenautViewing the area from a top-down perspective, move your character with the [arrow] keys. You're going to want to start by heading to the right to pick up the shovel, a useful tool that will help you clear out loosely packed dirt and other parts of scenery. Wield it (and any other items you find) in the four cardinal directions with [WASD]. While it's best to discover the mechanics of Cavenaut for yourself, generally you will explore ruins, finding artifacts which will unlock new areas for you to explore. In addition to the general darkness of unmapped territory (which goes away as soon as it is explored), hazards such as the pattern-following snakes, the random-walking bats, the straight-line shooting arrows, and extending/retracting spikes will kill you if you so much as graze them. Expect death, and lots of it.

With a challenge level that's brutal, but fair, Caveanut has the addictive quality of the most punishing of retro-styled games. Is every playthrough somewhat an exercise in masochism? Yeah, probably. However, frustration is counteracted by constant sense of progression. Death only sends you back to the beginning of the screen, and since each step you take will often reveal more of the danger within each room, it never feels like your efforts are wasted. At its best, Cavenaut feels like a magnificent long-lost Indiana Jones Atari game, capturing in equal parts the excitement and danger of exploring a place long hidden from human eyes. Cavenaut loses itself a bit in the mid-game, with a number of water-flow puzzles that require just a little too much pixel-perfect reaction time, and a few "Oh wait, that wasn't the friggin' final level?" moments. That said, Cavenaut is a very clever kind of game that takes its time in building to satisfying conclusion. You'll need a hundred lives to complete it, but they'll all be good ones.

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Well, I can safely say that I didn't expect that to go in the direction it did. The manner in which the gameplay develops is very interesting - the end being rather far removed from the start. No spoilers, you'll just have to play it! 1017 deaths - gets completely brutal once you reach a certain portion of the game, but I'm certainly glad I made it to the end.

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Well, since you finished the game, can you tell me if the part where

you have to fight 2 big alien(?) dudes to get 2 keys without saving in between

is the last part?

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No, but it is the hardest part in my opinion. Certainly the part which I had to repeat the most times.

It gets easier immediately after that as

there is a gun upgrade on the next screen.

After that there are

two more paired rooms with a key in each, but this is much easier due to the weapon upgrade.

Next you've got

a gauntlet of six main rooms arranged in a circle, with moving obstacles requiring much more precise timing than anything you've seen up to this point, but fortunately no enemies. All must be beaten to progress, but they can be done in any order and deaths do not matter.

And finally

The boss - same pattern as the right-hand one of the two rooms you're on, not hard to figure out but tricky to beat without dying. Then just a simple puzzle and you're out.

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Any game that requires the amount of timing that is necessary to navigate the water level of this game is a bad game. The controls are not that precise. Sorry... my experience of this game dwindled to an absolute zero after the 20-30th attempt to navigate a water sequence. This has moved beyond "skill" to a point of just bad design.

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eureeka Author Profile Page July 30, 2012 4:37 AM

I got to a point where I thought every screen was going to be the final screen, but it just keeps going and going. I was absolutely positive the area I'm currently stuck on was the finale, but by reading the comments here it appears as if there are a good 20 screens to go!

I'm completely stuck at

the two rooms full of aliens where you must destroy their equipment and then collect the key from both rooms without dying.

Without fail, when I do manage to get the key from one room I am killed the instant I enter the second room by an alien that is waiting at my precise entry point.

I was quite satisfied with the difficulty up to this point, but now I'm getting frustrated.

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@eureeka - that would be the same I mentioned above and on which edennov is also stuck. All I can say is

Remember that the positions of offscreen enemies are saved. Clear the left room of enemies, then go to and complete the right room, use the key in the right-hand lock and kill everything onscreen, then return left, clear that room, grab the key and dash back to the left-hand lock. As mentioned, there is

a better gun

on the next screen, which makes the one you're on about the hardest in terms of enemies.

@zzzzz - I'm afraid it gets much, much worse. The water cave is a walk (swim?) in the park next to the penultimate section in particular. I also had to go through it twice as I missed the first symbol and couldn't get back :/

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eureeka Author Profile Page July 30, 2012 1:45 PM


Thanks for the advice, I'll see how it goes.

I also missed the first symbol in the spike room and had to do the whole section twice!

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If you're really stuck in the rooms with the two aliens (or simply have no more patience after dying for the 417th time), there is a way to make things easier...

1. Make some progress in the rooms.
2. Press ESC and choose 'y' to save the game, then exit the game.
3. Find the savegame file in the same folder as the main program, and make a backup copy of that file.
4. Load the game, and choose continue. Your progress in the rooms will be exactly what it was earlier.
5. Try to make some more progress. Once you've gotten a little further repeat the above to save an updated version of your progress.
6. If you die, press ESC to quit. You have to save in order to quit, so go ahead and save. Exit the game, and then replace the newer savegame file with your backup copy.
7. Reload the game and try again.

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Ruesiken Author Profile Page July 31, 2012 1:52 AM

Oh those silly aliens, when will they learn that we humans are a destructive race; When entering the realm of our adventure games, we are proficient in: Breaking and entering, arson, larceny, cow tipping, heck we'll end up taking their potted plants if they weren't bolted down, (mind you we'd probably find a wrench for that too) that or just end up smashing all of their equipment.

For those edging on tilt at the water way... Stop now of you'll bust an aneurysm at the space ship.

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