Mid-Michigan's Bigger Dealer With Better Deals
Title: Cally's Trials
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
Release Date: 14 Jun, 2016
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A fun little game with weapons that level up, not very complex, maybe a little overpriced. Overall, if you just want a fun little time waster, buy it; if you want immersion or difficulty this is not for you.. Although Cally's Trials has quite a few negative reviews (and I do agree with some of them on some of the issues) I still found myself enjoying the game so far and I find it to be a cute little platformer game and was worth the 2 bucks that I spent on it.. Cally's Trials is an action platformer that has 110 levels to go through with some boss battles here and there. Even a LOT of weapons you can pick up and level up over the course of the game. The story isn't anything special, you play as this girl who's parents have been kidnapped by an evil doctor looking dude because he is evil and you have to rescue your parents. This game does start off nice but the further you go on you realize some really annoying mechanics. But then that leads to my first problem with this game...
Leveling up you weapons doesn't make sense how it works, we would know that when we level up something in a game we expect that thing to be better right? However in this game you will do a lot of button mashing with certain weapons to kill off enemies fast. When you level up weapons some might have better damage and what not but you still feel like your button mashing the same amount of time you did before, and worst when you get to a certain level it changes the weapon a bit and makes it seem much better but the damage is reset to like a default state... So does this really seem like a proper "level up" system?
The beginning of the game has this annoying as h*** character who plays a guitar and has to tell you everything about the game in case you haven't realized something earlier. Every time you run into this character the game cuts off into a cutscene with the character dialogue that gets annoying since it happens often that makes me want to be with Navi the Fairy from OoT instead! The character with the guitar has a store where you buy abilities like a triple jump or sword upgrade or shortcuts to certain levels. However the currency in this game is insane because everything costs a lot of coins that makes you have to grind for like 2 hr. to get one of the more expensive things. And whenever you fall on spikes, bottomless pit\/water and get a game over you loose some money as well. Until the game decides to bring you to the beginning of the game to the store because you can't access the store anywhere else which is a terrible design choice for a shop in games IMO.
Now to me the most BS thing with this game is that whenever you get a enough game overs you restart all the way back to the beginning of the game. Thank god you still get to keep all your weapons and certain amount of money. Though like I said the last paragraph everytime you get a game over you loose money and gets worst the more you have. The only way to warp to certain levels like I said is to buy shortcuts at the shop which cost a LOT of money and it takes forever to get a good amount of money.
The one thing I really enjoyed from this game is the soundtrack which honestly is really good that I would listen too every now and again that I do recommend you pick up the soundtrack!
Conclusion: Cally's Trails isn't a terrible game, it has what it takes to be a good action platformer but it fails later on into the game when you realize some stupid design choices that makes the game annoying at some points. I only suggest you pick this up if you are into this genre and what to get some easy achievements but do pick up the soundtrack cause its really good.
Rating: 4\/10. Cally's Trials is a typical "jump n' shoot" game that's cute but flawed. I got the game on sale so I don't feel like I overpaid for it, but $6.99 feels a little steep considering what you're getting.
For starters, the plot as well as everything else as you'll see is fairly simply. The evil Herbert (whoever that is) has kidnapped Cally's parents and it's heavily implied this isn't the first time. It's up to Cally to enter the caves to defeat Herbert and rescue with support from a guitarist named Lloyd.
There's a reason the story reads like this. While I'm not too upset over this...this game is technically Cally's Caves 2 which I did not know at the time as this is the first Cally's Caves game I've played. I bring attention to this because this game was released on Steam after Cally's Caves 3 which may lead some people to believe Cally's Trials is some kind of prequel set before CC3 when in reality it is a re-release of the second game which originally came out on iOS and Android. I'd prefer the game was just called Cally's Caves 2 to be upfront about what game this actually is. It doesn't help that it also creates confusion that CC2 and Trials are two different games when they are literally the same.
The actual gameplay of Cally's Trials however, is straightforward and then some. Simply jump pass any obstacles and shoot enemies to clear the way. After going through an overwhelming number of rooms per stage (I'll get into this in a bit), you are confronted with a boss. You repeat this process 6 times until you reach a small number of extra rooms that are considered more challenging than anything up to that point (this translated into a few rooms that forced you to master your unlockable triple jump) with a surprise at the end....that ended up just being a promotional for Cally's Caves 3.
I know I'm kinda making it sound bad, but I should emphasize that Cally's Trials is not a bad game. It just isn't a particularly stellar or groundbreaking game. In fact, I'd compared Cally's Trials to the Ratchet and Clank series as it kinda feels like what Ratchet would be like in 2D (we don't talk about Going Mobile). Cally is equipped with a sword which can be upgraded with money at Lloyd's shop. The sword can destroy projectiles and is Cally's only melee weapon.
Guns were obviously the main focus as Cally has lots of them that she collects throughout the caves. Each gun can be upgraded through continuous use against enemies. The guns also transform at certain levels and gain new abilities like faster fire rate, more damage, bigger bullets, and so on. Sound familair?
The guns are relatively balanced with some of the earlier ones being notable weaker which is understandable. I did find the Blade Gun and Ice Gun to be the most useful and the Spike Gun made the bees easier to deal with as well as providing some engaging platforming opportunities. I did find the Bomb Gun to be oddly underpowered considering it's the last gun in the game. The additional explosions don't do any damage and while it is the strongest gun in terms of pure damage, you can kill enemies faster with the Blade Gun or Boomerang due to simply getting in more hits at a much faster rate, That said, I'd argue the worst weapon in the game is the Laser Gun. It just kinda...exists, it's not particulary powerful, and I THINK it goes through walls, but I think that was just me exploiting some weird collisions in the game.
Speaking of which, before getting into the enemies, lets cover a few oddiities in the game. You can get stuck on walls by essentially jumping into them. You aren't permanently glitched into it or anything. It just comes off as the walls and such being made of several squares and Cally can kinda stand in the walls, if that makes any sense, and occassionally needs to be nudged out. There's also a coin multiplier in the game to make buying stuff easier that doesn't really operate well. It works, but if you buy the x5 multiplier and then go back and buy the x2 multiplier...that NERFS your multiplier from x5 to x2 and it's irreversable. You need to either buy the x2 multiplier first or ignore the x2 after getting the x5. They should've made it so you couldn't buy the x5 without buying the x2 especially since this is how the game treats every other upgrade you get from Lloyd.
Enemies in Cally's Trials aren't too bad, but they could use some work. I don't know if Cally's Caves 3 addresses this, but many enemies do roughly if not exactly the same thing and feel a lot like reskins than anything else. The bears, wolves, and knife bandits all walk back and forth. The bandits will stab if you get in front of this, but that isn't enough to not make it feel like there's essentially 3 versions of one type of enemy in the game. There are enemies that shoot projectiles, flying enemies, and so on so there is a bit of variety here and there, but there should have been more to them. Like, the bandits could have only taken damage in the back and deflected bullets with their knives if hit from the front. Certain enemies could have been immune to hitstun. Aside from certain enemies being sensitive to certain guns (ex: the bats can be killed in one hit by the Ice Gun), there wasn't too much done to make enemy encounters feel unique.
This sadly spills into what I considering the weakest part of the game. The bosses just aren't imaginative at all. Each boss has a set pattern, walk back and forth while shooting a whole bunch of stuff (the first boss doesn't even shoot anything). You're encouraged to not just run up against a boss and attack from a distance and thanks to the angle you often enter a boss room in, the Bow feels artificially stronger since bosses tend to be centered below you and the arrows from the Bow have a downward arc. Even Herbert just hurls as many projectiles as possible while weaving back and forth across the stage. It just isn't very interesting and enemies in this game aren't exactly low on health.
That's ultimately Cally's Trials biggest issue. I finished everything in around 12 hours and I can say that half way through the game, things were getting old. The repetition wouldn't be so bad if there were collectibles (something Cally's Caves 3 has) or something else of value to do, but all you ever do is gain experience to level up and money to buy more upgrades. Once you're fully upgraded, none of the chest mean anything because nothing of value is in them anymore. It's just more money. It also doesn't help that the game also wants you to buy checkpoints to reach later levels without grinding from the first cave all the way to the last boss. Even the achievements are centered around grinding.
One last criticism I want to lay out here is that each "world", for lack of better words, really started to last too long. They could have taken some of the levels and split them into about 8 or so different worlds and gave them some kind of central theme other than "random part of the cave". The rooms just start to mesh into each other pass a certain point both in terms of level design and visuals. Considering that you have to start a world from the beginning if you die to an enemy, it would be nice if 5 - 10 minutes of lost time wasn't on the line. I didn't find the game to be particularly hard, but that just made it all the more clear to me how long the levels were lasting.
All that said, the art is your typical pixel art style and I did like some of the animations, especially on the Knife Bandit. The music is solid though it would have benefited from being themed around the levels which themselves didn't have any themes to there designs. One of the tracks even sounds like "bad ending" or "game over" music and it just plays randomly like every other song that's just cycled throughout the game on a playlist. Sound design is perfectly fine. Nobody talks or grunts or anything though bees making a loud buzzing sound after dying was a little odd to me.. for less than 10 bucks its hard to go wrong. People give this game alot of unwarrented hate it is a port of a mobile version of
cally's caves 2 so you have to frame that into context before talking poorly. all in all a good game not a great one but good
enough 6\/10. I've played Cally's Cave 2 on iOS, which basically the same game. With that said I see a lot of downside in this Steam version and that ruined overall gameplay experiences.
When compared to mobile version
-This version have disabled the ability to teleport and buy items freely from your pause menu.
-Weapons are far weaker than mobile version.
-The upgrading cost are also higher.
-And lastly this Steam version cost more, when you can play the mobile one for free (w\/ option to remove ads for only 0.99 USD) even though a lot of DOWNGRADE I mentioned earlier.. REVIEW UPDATE:
This is an update to my previous review (which I left below). I initially did not like this game nearly as much as Cally's Caves 3\/4 for a number of reasons, mostly the fact that there are no check point levels so if you die you get sent back to the very beginning of the game. You can purchase short cuts to the beginning of each world, but that's it. That's still kind of a gripe, but after taking advantage of an exploit at the end of world 1 I was able to quickly level up both my weapons and Cally so I had 14 hit points instead of six. Once you defeat Mama Bear and exit the level to enter world 2 go back through the door to the Mama Bear boss fight. You can just stand on the first ledge behind her and keep shooting her in the back. This feels cheap and it's definitely a form of cheating but since doing this I find the game much more enjoyable.
I think I ruined this game for myself by playing Cally's Caves 3 and 4 first. This game is okay, maybe a 4\/10, which sucks because I considered 3 and 4 to be 8 or 9\/10's, I loved them! After playing this one for about an hour I don't think I'll ever open it again, thankfully I got it while it was on sale.
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