Grit your teeth and chomp into this dental-themed roguelike in our Cavity Busters review!
So, I heard you liked The Binding of Isaac? Do you also enjoy that feeling of getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist? (No? Just me?) Then hop onto Steam or boot up your console and pick up a copy of Cavity Busters, a bullet-wading hellscape roguelite that delivers on its unique premise and robust gameplay.
Wait, does my mouth really look like this?
Cavity Busters was created by SpaceMyFriend, who are currently working on a game called Bubble Gum Fisticuffs. (Way to stick to a theme!). The game’s selling point is how it artfully balances a risk vs. reward play-system, as well as well-synergized mechanics. So if your mouth is watering and you’re chomping at the bit for a stylish roguelike, find out more in our Cavity Busters review.
Cavity Busters Review – Gameplay
There be no plot here. Or rather, only an establishing premise to set up the fun! You play as Gummy the Soft, a piece of gum (that uses teeth as it’s projectiles) that has to fight against the plaque and cavities that abound. It is a wonderfully grotesque premise, and I say that in the most loving way possible. Props to the writers for shoving essentially all the mouth-related puns known to man into this tight package.
The gameplay here is denser than a sugar-laced sticky date pudding. It’s a lot to take in at the beginning, and the feeling of being swamped by things bouncing around took a while to go away. This is a tooth-grittingly tough game, but it’s so fun once you get, you really *get* it. In terms of toolset (or toothset), you’ve got your main bread and butter, which is tooth throwing. This is your primary offensive move, and it can be charged by pressing down for more damage (it going slower), or the usual attack (which is quicker).
Chew on this!
Teeth can be slung around like a boomerang if you press the recall button with the correct timing. If you can line it up, it’s super rewarding to watch as you pingpong through multiple cavities. The wall-run and jump are classic staples of the genre, and make an appearance here. The jump especially is satisfying, as the level you’re playing on becomes zoomed out, and then you slam down on to your bacteria laden foes.
You can also do a mini-matrix roll to swoosh past the bullet-y hell you find yourself in. Digging is also a thing, where you can get shovels to dig through wall and hopefully find spicier items (and secrets) to add to your arsenal. If you don’t have a shovel with you, a bit of your healthbar is nicked off.
There’s a cool risk-reward mechanic with upgrades, called ‘diseases’. You can contract diseases from upgrades that you find, but they also have negative status effects, as well as positives (a la Returnal), that are able to be cured by using cash or your healthbar. If you don’t pick up an upgrade, then enemies get tougher. It really keeps you on your toes and makes each run different.
Probably the mechanic for me that sparked the most joy was the ability to slow, as well as freeze, time. You can initiate slow down time by jumping or wall-running, by concurrently readying the dash. If time is slowed down for long enough with the jump, you can freeze it. This lets you essentially move to another spot on the level, granting you the power to swoop away from danger.
Some of the encounters certain are a mouthful!
All in all, it’s a very mobile game, with the controls being snappy and responsive. Everything gels together so well, making for a kinetic, fluid experience. Because the controls are this good, it feels fair and satisfying to fail, and then learn from your errors, rather than it just feeling like a fluke of the game itself.
I will say that I wish the tutorial was paced slightly better, as some information wasn’t clear, or got lost along the way, but it’s a minor complaint. There are plenty of accessibility options to make newer players/those looking for a more casual pick-up-and-play style feel welcome. You can adjust such things as how much health you have, or get a boost in strength.
Cavity Busters Review – Presentation
The package here is all grotesquely cute. Your little gummy buddy stares into the deep abyss with it’s vacant holes for eyes. The levels are themed around the various parts of the body, and are appropriately gross. All the sounds are squelchy and crisp. It’s all very creative, and a theme that I haven’t really seen anywhere else in the videogame landscape. Some of the bright colours will really burn your retinas.
I usually enjoy more ornate, traditionally pretty artstyles, but there’s so much charm here that it didn’t matter for me. But others might not dig the freak-out vibe they were aiming for here. The OST by Ben Ridge (Overcooked, Sheltered) is zany, and has a slight crawly horror-vibe, using plenty of synth, (it gave me slight gooseflesh listening to it), which was most likely intended.
The hard-hitting horror vibes of “Ortho” will make your teeth chatter!
Factory Lobe is eerie, and unnerving, yet playful, perfectly suiting the game’s aesthetic.
Cavity Busters Review – Conclusion
Cavity Busters is a game that really does deserve your attention. A mix of thought-out, synergized toolsets, fluid, responsive controls, and a fun, gross-out premise should hook any player looking for a fresh, rewarding experience by developers who clearly love the genre and know how to tweak and innovate it.
So, why should you play Cavity Busters?
- You want a roguelike that brings something new to the table through a fantastic blend of ingenuity from developers who know their stuff
- You want to be slightly creeped out by all the wonders of the body (I know you do)
- All the mouth puns you could desire right here
- You’re a fan of The Binding of Isaac
But why shouldn’t you play Cavity Busters?
- No plot to be found here
- The artstyle may not be your cup of tea
A review code on Nintendo Switch was kindly provided by Jandusoft for the purpose of our Cavity Busters review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out our other roguelike reviews and join the Qualbert.com Discord to chat with us about all things roguelike!