Prehysterically Awful

HIGH The first boss fight is kind of okay!

LOW The jumping is awful, and it’s a platformer.

WTF I suspect that zero people playtested the rocket-pack sequence.

Jet Kave Adventure stands as a perfect example of just how key it is to get controls right before working on anything else. No matter how entertaining a game’s premise might be, no matter how colorful or delightful the art might be, if it doesn’t play well then none of it will connect. I wanted to enjoy enjoyed jumping and dashing through Jet Kave‘s prehistoric world, but it did everything possible to stop me from doing so.

This 2D platformer’s premise is instantly likable. An alien spaceship crashes on earth and its pilot heads off to harvest fuel from a nearby volcano. Unfortunately, this will cause a cataclysmic event, so it’s up to a local chieftain named Kave to use the jetpack he finds in the ship’s wreckage to stop to the villain’s plans. At least, that’s what the first third of the adventure seems to be about — I was unable to finish, so it’s entirely possible there are numerous plot twists still to come. Maybe Kave and the alien team up to fight ghosts? Sadly, I’ll never find out.

I ran into serious issues with the controls almost immediately. In order to make it past various platforms, Kave has to spend time wall-jumping and using jetpack boosts. It seems like offering two different ways for players to double jump should have made platforming a snap, but floaty physics and a complete lack of stickiness conspire to make every leap a frustrating chore.

Kave doesn’t solidly attach to walls when leaping against them, so bouncing from one to another is never smooth or intuitive. The HUD element representing how much fuel is in the jetpack is strangely hard to read, so judging how much distance can be covered in any jump is incredibly imprecise. Worst of all, Kave seems incredibly reticent to grab onto ledges. The world he explores is made of uneven stone and gnarled vines, so even at the best of times it’s difficult to determine exactly what part of a wall a jump and grab is supposed to be aimed at.

Even worse than the platforming are the chase and flight scenes. The flight sequence I played features Kave grabbing onto a primitive hang glider and tilting his way through a danger-filled cavern, and it was so poorly-built that I nearly gave up after failing it a dozen times in a row. Maneuvering the glider required a far softer touch than I could manage, which is strange as I’ve never had trouble with this type of play before. Regardless, I found myself unable to do anything but slam into obstacles over and over again.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was a vertical flying sequence which had Kave struggling to control his super-charged jetpack as he blasted straight up. This sequence is so shoddy that I have a hard time imagining that it was ever playtested. The camera is so close to the action that obstacles appear less than half a second before the player is supposed to dodge them, and while it’s technically possible to do, building a long sequence around doing it over and over again is just absurd. The only thing that the level has going for it is that the obstacles are always in the same place, so just like the infamous Battletoads speederbike level, it’s possible to memorize it and muscle one’s way through to the end. After twenty attempts to do just that I decided I’d had enough and said goodbye to Kave for good.

The shame here is that Kave looks good, and the cartoony dino-punk aesthetic is well-presented. The combat is perfectly functional, and the two boss fights I played were clever enough, although the fact they both revolved around the iffy wall-jumping led to many undeserved deaths.

Getting a few things right just isn’t enough when the core of play — the platforming — is this troubled. Jet Kave Adventure was so awkward and problematic that I had to stop playing. When I see games with problems, I usually want to offer suggestions on how things could have been fixed, but the issues here run too deep — all I can say to the developers is that I wish them better luck next time.

Rating: 2.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by 7Levels. It is currently available on Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Crude Humor and Fantasy Violence. Kids should be fine with this. Dinosaurs explode into consumable cuts of meat when killed and the local shaman is a little scantily clad, but by and large there’s nothing offensive besides the awful gameplay.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: In the first third of the game that I played, I encountered no important audio cues of any kind. All objectives are communicated through text. Text cannot be resized. Based on what I played, I would assume it’s fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

Daniel Weissenberger
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1 year ago

Completely agree on review. It has nice visuals but it’s unplayable and frustrating. Developer forgot that game should be enjoyable at first.