Cybarian: The Time Traveling Warrior from Ritual Games
The Cybarian removes a powerful sword from a stone, which transports him to a semi-modern cyberpunk future. The narrative to retro platformer Cybarian: The Time Travelling Warrior doesn’t expand much past this, and there are no more cut scenes until you finish the game. Although it’s sparse, it does enough to get you started.
Travelling Back in Platformer History
The game’s broken up into stages containing the familiar fare of its inspirations. Stages provide moderate challenge, with plenty of fire traps, disappearing platforms, and even treadmill platforms like the ones found in Mega Man. And much like its influences you need to memorize stage layouts because there are no mid-level checkpoints. Thankfully, stages aren’t very long so it doesn’t become frustrating when you die and have to restart a stage.
I do feel, however, that stages themselves are somewhat uninspired. Stages have mundane corridors, familiar environmental traps…it all comes across as not very imaginative. The game doesn’t live up to the game’s fantastical opening cut scene, but then again its simplistic levels are akin to ones found in old school platformers. However, this could be an issue for those who’re well versed in the genre, because it doesn’t bring anything you’ve haven’t seen before.
Time Travel, Timed Attacks
The game tries to mix up the familiarity by making combat timing-based. This ensures that you have to be on your toes during each combat encounter, since enemies can do some serious damage if you don’t properly time your attacks to get the upper hand. This, mixed with your limited health, made the combat feel more engaging, and relies on your skill rather than button-mashing to succeed.
At the end of each level you fight a boss, which are by far the most fun and challenging sections of the game. They are very much like Castlevania bosses, where you have to memorize boss patterns and their attacks in order to beat them. They are tough, but thankfully if you die during these fights, you just start the boss fight over again, instead of restarting the level over.
The game also unlocks new moves after you defeat bosses, like the ability to dodge-roll or throw your sword, but these moves don’t have enough time to properly shine, because the game is over before you know it.
You can finish the game in two or three hours or even less, depending on your skill level. The game felt too short, and it left the feeling of a well-polished proof of concept instead of a full-fledged experience. And, unlike a 16-bit era game, there is no way to save your progress and no password system, so you have to beat the game in one sitting.
I state this as a warning if you’re not stellar at these games and would like to save your progress. I get the design choice behind this, but it might be a frustrating feature to those who don’t have enough time to finish the game in one sitting.
The game’s goal of creating a 16-bit style game are helped by the game’s pixellated sprites and evocative soundtrack. Visuals look great, as detailed characters exhibit smooth animation and environments feature a vibrant, varied color palate. The game’s chiptune music is punchy and fittingly energetic.
Cybarian: The Time Traveling Warrior is a good game inspired by older 2D platformers, and at times it might fool you into thinking it is one. But the game’s short length, familiar level design, and underdeveloped game play left me wanting more. Even with these issues, it was a fun bite-sized experience if you’re itching for a new retro-stylized platformer.
Cybarian: The Time Traveling Warrior is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Cybarian: The Time Travelling Warrior below: