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The Cub - Video Review

We explore a post-apocalyptic Earth in Demagog Studio's latest adventure title.

Audio transcription

"We all know it, the environment is at a turning point. We're teetering on a cliff where if we as a species don't start making serious and significant changes to the way we impact the environment, we could soon make irreversible damage. Some video games have taken the current environmental situation and built entire stories out of it, and this is precisely what Demagog Studio has done with its latest effort, The Cub. This is a game that explores a post-apocalyptic Earth, a world where the rich blasted off to Mars to evade a cataclysmic environmental disaster, before returning years later to conduct tests and experiments to determine whether the planet will ever become hospitable again. Oh, and to play golf too. The story itself revolves around a young boy who survived the disaster by being raised by a mama wolf, and then follows as this young boy avoids and evades Martian humans who want nothing more than to capture him alive."

"Essentially, think Planet of Lana, except instead of escaping robot forces, humanity is your biggest enemy. The core narrative of The Cub is a compelling and very on-the-nose one. It points fingers at the rich in how they treat and impact the rest of civilisation and the planet, all while showing the beauty of our world and how nature has reclaimed it from the expanding human species. It's not a complex story at all, it simply explores basic elements of this entire argument while weaving in emotional aspects such as additional characters like a human pilot who unknowingly left his wife to die on Earth while piloting one of the first rockets evacuating the planet. It also effortlessly manages to affirm that the real enemies to our planet and in this story is humanity, as even the most dangerous of wildlife simply serves as a basic environmental hazard and not a leading antagonist. The level design is also a highlight. The art style and the way this game is constructed works well together, and it does remind of what Planet of Lana looked to achieve. There are a broad array of biomes to travel through each with their own themes, hazards and mechanics and likewise the gameplay is built to be straightforward and simple, with just a few mechanics to master at the best of times."

"But this simplicity can be a bit of a double-edged sword. The Cub's additional activities and tasks are pretty uninspired. The idea of this game is to follow the main story and there really isn't any room to wander off the beaten path at all. Despite this, Demagogue has decided to incorporate a ton of collectibles to find, but as these are usually presented and placed right in the player's path, there's no thrill or reason to be excited about searching for them. Plus, these collectibles, which are effectively the only way to expand what the Cub offers, only add a little bit of depth to the world building, making them difficult to want to keep picking up as you continue your journey. When you match this up with the fact that the Cub seems to demand perfection in its platforming, you get a game that can be a little conflicting to actually play. What I mean here is that a lot of platforming elements have very little room for error. Despite the list of mechanics being very basic and the platforming itself being about as straightforward as it comes, if you don't land a jump perfectly or miss a leap by a millisecond, you'll die. For a game that is very simplistic in pretty much every facet, it's baffling that it requires near perfection and high precision to complete its platforming sections. With a short duration that's only a few hours long and very limited replayability, the Cub is an ideal game to work through in an evening or two, and for that matter, and considering the interesting storyline and pretty graphics, it's a decent showing from Demagog. It's a shame the game is held back by overly frustrating platforming and uninspired collectibles, because there is brilliance here and heaps of potential."

"Still, for what it's worth, the Cub will no doubt go down as one of January 2024's top indies."

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