Developed by Decemberborn and published by Elden Pixels of Alwa’s Awakening fame, Cathedral is an 8-bit Metroidvania that follows all the tropes of the genre. In the end, it isn’t anything you have not seen before but that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t worth taking.
Playing as a non-speaking knight on a quest to open a large door in, you guessed it, a cathedral, you eventually start to gain abilities to unlock new areas of the map. Killing common enemies rewards the player with gold which can be used to purchase items, making tedious backtracking a little more tolerable. Of course typical hazards like pits and spikes will get in your way but so will the occasional block puzzle reminiscence of any Mega Man game – and you know how much fun those were.
It is appreciated that the game doesn’t hold the player’s hand in terms of challenge and direction but got annoyed when I simply just didn’t know where to go. Sure, there are mission objectives found in the overly complex menu screen but not having an indicator or compass regarding what to do next made exploring more unpleasant than it needed to be. In fact, I put the game down for a few days and totally forgot where I was going or what I needed to do, hoping the game would remind me, but alas, it was not to be.
The quest is also lengthy taking around 20 hours to complete and the 8-bit visuals are decent but not great. The knight’s basic walking animation, for example, is a little janky but still has charm. If you played Alwa’s Awakening and Alwa’s Legacy, you’ll know exactly what to expect here. In fact, there is even an Alwa cameo that fans should appreciate.
Cathedral has moments of entertainment but the difficulty shouldn’t be understated. After dying with one-hit kill rising lava my half dozenth time in a row, I had to put it down for a while for fear of rage quitting forever. Also, with so many other Metroidvanias on the eShop and Steam, this action platformer does little to stand out. If you can’t get enough of contemporary retro games like Shovel Knight and like challenge in your length quests, Cathedral should be on your radar.
Also available on PC.