Grave Danger is a puzzle platformer that has you solving puzzles by switching between characters. Fans of ‘Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons’ will feel a familiarity with the concept.
You start off playing Dante Stone, who has arrived on a stolen train, let that sink in for a bit. You’re a cowboy outlaw who just stole a train! Not many games will give you an entrance like that.
Dante comes with his unique skillset, he has a six-shooter, can grapple onto walls and structures as well as a very useful ‘dash’ skill that can help boost your jump if you use it just before jumping. The real fun begins when you meet the other characters. Elliot the Wizard who can double jump and shoot spells (that can be charged up to have a stronger impact) and Malice the not so grim reaper who can hover in the air and throws his scythe as if it was a boomerang flying through the outbacks of Australia.
The game doesn’t do as good a job explaining the skills as it does with Dante when it comes to Elliot and Malice. So much so that I still don’t know what one button does other than just make them ‘glow’. It’s a little detail that could have empowered Elliot and Malice and feels like a missed opportunity.
What the game gets right, however, is the fluidity of movement. Each jump, hover or double jump feels precise and controlled. You never feel like you’re sliding when you stop running or when you try to avoid death at all costs. In fact, that’s another thing the game has done a really cool thing with – Death.
Well, not ‘Death’ per se but the checkpoint system. In a game where you end up with three characters in three different locations simply letting them respawn would have been just too easy. The checkpoint system in the guise of the graveyard has you bring your ‘soul’ back to the graveyard and only then letting you respawn.
Why is this a smart thing? Well, once you are ‘alive’ again you may need your friends, who are almost done with their own little puzzles, to come all the way back and guide you through some puzzles that will require skills specific to those characters. It’s that little minute detail in the checkpoint system that makes ‘Death’ in grave danger, aside from impacting your final grade in the level, so very dangerous. This, especially in local co-op will have your friends groaning and throwing the controller at you from pure uninhibited frustration.
The enemies in the game are quite harmless in the beginning but act more as obstacles in the puzzle world than something that you seek out to clear the level off. Sometimes they simply just block your path and you need to get rid of it, very few times do you actually feel like you’re fighting for survival.
The game tries to be funny, and at the start, it does a fairly good job. You can see me chuckling in the video above but as the game goes on, the humour starts to feel tiring and overall something that could have evolved and changed but instead tends to bang on with the same corporate-esque jokes that fall on tired ears. Scratch that, exhausted ears.
Thankfully the eventually tiresome jokes are kept to only the beginning and the ending of most levels, giving the game the opportunity to focus on the puzzles that progressively get harder, the smooth movement and the frustrating deaths that all lead to a feeling of triumph when you figure out a puzzle on how to get the three of them across a seemingly endless chasm. It’s that sense of reward and excitement to see what the game throws your way next that will keep you going back to Grave Danger time and again!
Grave Danger is Available on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/555720/Grave_Danger/