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Before anyone points out the mistake in the title of our review – yes, we know that there were no cavemen around in the Jurassic period. You know who else knows that? Jet Kave Adventure developer 7Levels. In fact, the first thing players see upon booting the game is a notice stating that according to overwhelming scientific evidence, humans and dinosaurs did not exist at the same time. Inserting this pre-emptive protection against pedantry in place of the usual developer/producer logos was the first of several quirky design choices I’d find in my time with Jet Kave Adventure. It was also one of the less irritating.
Before taking the reigns of this retro, 2.5-D platforming adventure in earnest, players are greeted with an introductory animation and tutorials designed to set the scene: Exiled tribal chief Kave has a run-in with a strange, metallic alien. Being on the losing end of the encounter, Kave wakes up to find a jet pack left behind by the alien, the device teleports into place on the protagonist’s back and the first two words of the game’s title are ready to have the third.
One admirable aspect of this early section is the adherence to the game’s setting. Both the introductory animation and the tutorial controls are communicated in the form of cave paintings and no words are spoken between the characters, only gestures and thought bubbles expressing their feelings to the player.
The rudimentary presentation also extends to the menu, where all information is communicated by symbols and stone-etchings where possible. Unfortunately, the menus are so bare-bones that this title doesn’t seem to include any game options that would allow you to make basic accessibility changes such as turning off the regular vibration or changing volumes.
This last point is particularly important because the game’s adherence to the prehistoric theme is the source of its biggest failing – the soundtrack. Players may quickly notice when listening to the background tracks in the opening levels that a deep grunt can be heard every few seconds, and the more they hear them, the closer they sound to a belch.
You may think this is just present in the opening minutes, but that is not the case. Almost every level’s theme – whether accompanying a tropical beach, a mountain climb or anything else, will be polluted with these grunt-belches every few seconds. This is incredibly irritating and undermines the work put into composing the BGM.
The play structure is more Stone Age than alien. Players jump, climb and boost from the left of the screen to the right through a series of short levels, collecting shells (the in-game currency that can be used to purchase upgrades) and bashing any creature foolish enough to get their way in the journey from World 1-1 to World 4-9.
The moment to moment gameplay is well refined, with tight, responsive controls, varied creatures and hazards and fast-paced, fluid action throughout. Levels will regularly include new twists on the base experience in order to freshen things up and try to prevent the game from feeling stale. These sections produce varying results – for example, while chase sequences inject a much needed sense of urgency and thrill to the platforming, the hang-gliding sections never failed to elicit a groan.
As a whole though, Jet Kave Adventure suffers from a notable flaw – it’s ludicrously easy. In fact, the game is so forgiving it made us wonder 7Levels studios also doubles as a convent. Checkpoints are abundant and fully refill health as you pass, but health can also be refilled by eating food collected from smashed scenery and defeated enemies and most enemies are slow-moving and die in a single hit (or in rare, extreme cases, two hits).
Add in that most environmental hazards can either be swatted away with an attack or boosted through without suffering damage and that the leniency of the jetpack negates much of the danger from platforming failures and the result is that players can mindlessly breeze through the game.
This over-simplicity extends not just to the standard levels but to bosses, which are pushovers one and all. Even when facing down the two end-game bosses that stand between Kave and story’s finale with minimal upgrades, I was able to beat the first boss on my first attempt and although the next one took a second attempt, that first 30-40 second scuffle had shown me every trick it had up its sleeve so I was able to come out victorious taking only one hit in the process.
That being said, the game does offer additional challenges if one chooses to replay the levels, such as fulfilling speed-running, all collectibles and no-hit requirements, but based on the fact that at the time of writing, one week after release on Xbox – and keeping in mind that the game can easily be completed in under four hours – some of these feats have been achieved (according to the Xbox achievements system) by 0.00% of players, this just seems to go from one extreme to the other.
There’s definitely an audience for Jet Kave Adventure. It’s a competent, colourful budget title that could suit younger or inexperienced players and offer those players something really enjoyable – just as long as they play with the volume turned off. For anybody else, this is a yabba-dabba-don’t.
Jet Kave Adventure is available now on Xbox One and Series X/S, PC and Nintendo Switch.
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