Review by Lolo_Guru

"Short, sweet, but with an inner depth that makes it stand above others of its kind."

Cave Story - Doukutsu Monogatari is a freeware action adventure game. It is extremely polished, and the best freeware game I've ever played. Easily beatable in under ten hours, but completely enjoyable all the way through, whether it be your first playthrough or your tenth.

Graphics - 9/10
The graphics are polished throughout the game, from the character sprites to the moving backgrounds. The important people and Mimigas during talking scenes have a character face portrait shown, which is a nice graphical touch. Their character sprites and face portraits match up very well, compared to some other games that use face portraits (like Final Fantasy IV). The weakest part of this game's graphics is monster designs. They aren't particularly unique and recolors are common, especially with those pillow enemies seen throughout the game. Boss designs don't have this problem, though.

Sound - 9/10
There are enjoyable tunes more or less throughout the entire game. It's a game worth keeping the sound on, for each tune adds to the game's mood. From the boss theme, to Balrog's theme, to the lively Mimiga Village music, to the slow graveyard theme... they're all worth listening to. Sound effects are relatively nice as well, the sound when something fires, the explosion sound you make upon death, the sound of being damaged, none of it feels out of place. The main reason Cave Story lost a point here is for reusing the bouncy title screen music later in the game in a place it personally felt out-of-place. A unique theme there would have been preferred.

Play Control - 10/10 if using controller, 9/10 if using keyboard.
This game is built for a game controller, though a keyboard can be used in lieu of it. However, I recommend you use a game controller if at all possible. In any case, regardless of what you use to control it, the controls are tight, and there is a wide variety of weapons to use. It all boils down to five or so actions, though: move, shoot, jump(and later hover), switch weapons, pause(use items). The only thing that was initially non-intuitive is to push down to talk to people, but that's figured out quickly and is never a problem again.

Story - 10/10
You wake up in a random cave with a few enemies without a weapon. You travel to the bottom of the cave and grab a gun from a chest in a room with a sleeping hermit. From there, you exit the cave... and the story begins. Dropping you off in Mimiga Village, a town filled with rabbit-like Mimiga, your quest really begins. The scope of your quest is given in bits in each area. The speech between characters (other than yourself, you're mute) tells you what's going on and what you need to do. What's more, is that this game has a complete backstory which you may or may not get to see, depending upon your actions.

Secret Content (Replayability) - 10/10
Three separate endings possible, Two bonus dungeons possible, many secret items, and over half the weapons are optional. The fact that you can't get every single weapon in one playthrough, combined with the multiple endings and other secrets promotes multiple playthroughs of the game. Not that you really need much of an excuse to replay something as fun as this.

Difficulty (Monster AI) - 6/10
Many monsters do not attempt to attack you until you either get close to them or attack them. Naturally, this means you can just avoid many battles if you don't fire. However, that's a moot point, seeing as with your weapons fully charged, enemies seldom take many shots to defeat. There's usually no reason not to go in there with your guns blazing.

Bosses, however, is where the game gets slightly more difficult. These bosses have their own life meter, and take a lot of abuse before going down. Therefore, dodging their attacks is the law of the land, as some of their attacks can do lots of damage. Most bosses have a variety of attacks, at the very least two, and there is at least one time you will be fighting bosses back-to-back without healing, upping the challenge even more.

Final Recommendation: Go download this game, pronto. It's less than 4MB, will keep you entertained through at least one playthrough, and it's seriously better than most commercial games out there today.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/16/07

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