By Marisa Alexander / July 31st, 2019
During ConnectiCon this year, I got to try out a game by Spirit Stone Studio called Cloak and Dasher. It is a simple speedrun platformer with a multitude of compact and quick levels. The end goal is to get through each level with the highest amount of time left possible as there is a global time limit. Interestingly, the game used to be called Escape Hero, before evolving into the game being looked at today. As a whole, how did the demo fare?
The game itself only has a few buttons for its control scheme. D-pad to move, one button to jump, and another to dash. The dash can be used mid-air as well as defeating enemies. The idea to dash into enemies goes beyond merely defeating them and into dashing into multiple enemies to traverse levels. Sometimes, in order to exit a level, you must reach a bat with a key. Along the way, you can collect gems in order to increase the amount of time you have.
The ability to dash into multiple enemies to reach out of the way platforms was very fun as well as maneuvering between traps. There was rarely a moment in the game that you are forced to stop. As a whole, the game wasn’t too difficult but still fairly challenging. During the demo, I was able to play through 23 levels, a mere fraction of over 100 levels planned, with over 6 minutes remaining.
Cloak and Dasher’s presentation was also well-done, with fluid spritework and the ability to see everything clearly. It is easy to see when enemies are alerted and are about to attack. Meanwhile, the dash had a clear start and end, allowing me to know how far it went. My only issue was that the environments got monotonous, having the same cave background and tileset. That said, if levels are grouped into specific sections, it can be expected that there could be more than one type of tileset. Another issue was that there was no transition between levels, so it was easy to be disoriented once the next level started. That said, I was told that there would be transitions in the final product.
Gameplay execution was also a bit rough. Moving in mid-air is a bit jittery, going a bit too far for my liking with a quick tap on the D-pad. However, the main issue is when going for the gems. Much of the time, it is fine to go for them. Yet, other times they are too out of the way for them to be worthwhile. Failing once to get them heavily outweighs the reward for getting them. The best way to help alleviate this I feel is to place a couple more gems along the optional paths, that way they feel more rewarding to retrieve, while still keeping the difficulty to collect all of them.
As a whole, Cloak and Dasher was a wonderful time. It is a simple platformer, but it nicely caters to those seeking a challenging and fast-paced game. With leaderboards, a level editor, and the ability to share levels online, the game at launch can be expected to be a grand time. Along with a couple tweaks here and there, it can only be all the better. It is coming to Steam at the very least, though no release date I know of. I am hopeful that Spirit Stone Studio’s game is a success story so they can bounce off to even better products. In the meantime, congratulations in winning the Best Digital Game award over at the convention!
Cloak and DasherplatformerspeedrunSpirit Stone Studio