GRAVE DANGER: ULTIMATE EDITION
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on January 14, 2016
I feel like going on an adventure today! And, while we're at it, why not go on an adventure with three wickedly fun and witty characters? So, let me introduce you to: Date the cowboy, Elliot the wizard and Malice the reaper! Together, this terrific trio of outlaws will have to make their way through treacherous dungeons and fight hordes of evil henchmen if they want to stay alive! But this might not be as easy as it sounds, because our heroes are in Grave Danger...
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girl, it is time to get dangerous with Grave Danger; a 2D platform / puzzle game. Brought to us by JB Gaming Inc, Spotted Shark Studio and JoinDots GmbH. Originally released on Steam in December of 2016, Grave Danger brought us a modern-day version and passionate love letter to one of the all time greats in the platform / puzzle genre: The Lost Vikings. Like in that game, Grave Danger lets you take control of three characters, each with their own special abilities! The main objective of each level is to get all three of your characters to the exit in one piece. Now, fast forward two years to 2018 and witness the release of Grave Danger: Ultimate Edition, containing 10 new levels and other awesome goodies. And now, as of June of this year, even Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch owners can join in the fun, with a Xbox One release planned for Q3!
Now, reaching said exit is naturally not just a matter of walking from point A to point B without obstructions. Quite the opposite, actually. Every level is filled with enemies, traps and other things that are generally bad for your health and it is up to our three heroes to make use of their abilities and work together as a team, in order to overcome the dangers that lay ahead! So, how does one overcome said dangers? Well, by utilizing each character's abilities to help the other characters get past certain points. One character might need to get past an obstacle, but one of the other characters is needed to clear said obstacle by making its way to a certain switch and standing on it or something like that. This means that you will need all three characters to do what they do best in order to reach the end of any given level...
Let's take a look at the characters first! When we first start playing the game, we meet Dante; a cowboy with an attitude and a truly itchy trigger finger. He can use his gun to obliterate enemies and his spurs to climb walls, letting him reach higher areas of the level. He also has a dash move which lets him dodge falling obstacles. He can also use this dash to get a running start and jump further than he normally would. Next up, we meet Elliot the wizard. Now, Elliot can shoot magic orbs at enemies, use his shield spell to damage enemies as he flies through them and he can double jump, making him ideal for reaching somewhat higher ground and getting across medium large gaps. Lastly, we meet the third wheel on our outlaw tricycle: Malice, the reaper. This charming floating skeleton wields a mighty scythe which he can throw, in a boomerang style, at enemies. He can also float across wide gaps and drop spirit bombs on enemies.
I did notice a few minor issues while playing Grave Danger on the PS4, mainly in the background and collision area. There were quite a few time where I intended to jump on top of a moveable block, only to land halfway down said block. And, while playing the game in split-screen mode, the background centered on player 1, which resulted in the player 2 screen showing the edges of the background image, or even just white. Now, this didn't mean I could not finish the level, it just meant that I had to get a bit more creative (and, at times, a bit lucky) to overcome the obstacles that were in my way. So, these minor issues do occur from time to time, but they are in no way a game breaker. Plus, I suspect that these issues are probably easily fixed by a patch or update.
The comic style graphics and dark, but humorous setting of Grave Danger make playing the game a truly fun experience. And the fun even doubles when you invite a friend over and brave the dangers together in co-op the game's co-op mode. This mode allows you and a friend to switch between characters as you work together in order to reach the exit. An upbeat soundtrack is your constant companion as you run, jump, shoot or glide your way through the levels, which are nicely intricate in design and look really, really cool! The enemies all look cool and are strategically placed to pose an additional challenge while trying to reach your goal.
Now, a platform game wouldn't be any good if you couldn't die, now would it? Well, in Grave Danger, you can die or, more to the point, you will probably die multiple times before reaching the exit. Unlike the game Grave Danger is loosely based upon, when a character dies, you will not need to start the level all over again. Instead, you must return the spirit of the deceased character to your last checkpoint, represented by graveyards that are scattered across the levels. As soon as your character passes such a graveyard, a tombstone will appear for that specific character, meaning that when you die, you'll have to make your way to said graveyard in order to resurrect yourself. Depending on the graveyard that acts as you last checkpoint, this can mean that you'll need the help of the other characters to make your way back to the point where you died.
So, after all traps are crossed, all bullets have been fired and all spells have been cast; what can I say about Grave Danger? Well, for one, that it is absolutely a really fun game to play! Personally, I have always been in love with The Lost Vikings and Grave Danger continues where that game left off. Cool characters with an attitude, fun conversations at the start and end of each level and a more than decent challenge when it comes to both puzzling as well as platform gaming make Grave Danger a game that I will surely be playing for some time! It looks good, is intricately crafted and plays like it should; Grave Danger is a truly fun and challenging ride into dark and foreboding silliness, and I absolutely love it!