For those open to thoughtful interactive fiction within virtual worlds, The Cub proves a memorable trek worth embarking on
As a young boy separated from his family in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that Earth has become, you take control of The Cub in Demagog Studio's latest platforming adventure. Set within the same dystopian universe as Golf Club Wasteland and Highwater, The Cub sees humanity having fled to Mars, leaving the planet in a state of overgrowth and decay. Now, a lone child struggles to survive amid the ruins, with unwanted attention from visiting Martians threatening to end his journey prematurely.
From the start, The Cub immerses players in its striking retro-futuristic visual style. Ruined cities reclaimed by flora provide a sense of nature reclaiming what was once its own. Neon signs flickering against the gloom offer subtle storytelling, narrating the hubris and excess that potentially led to societal collapse. Within these environments, The Cub navigates with agility, whether leaping between platforms or swinging from vines. Movement controls smoothly to platforming challenges, allowing fluid navigation amid the foliage and foliage-choked structures.
Enemies will give chase, forcing quick thinking to evade detection or conjure distractions. In tense moments, finding an opportunity to strike proves rewarding. Elsewhere, stealth elements ask for cautious advancement and careful use of sound to draw guards away. Overall, The Cub provides steady platforming fun across its approximate three hour runtime.
What elevates the experience beyond mechanical competency is the engrossing atmosphere and stylistic flourishes. Radio Nostalgia from Mars returns as a persistent radio broadcast, playing both tunes and fictional announcements that expand upon the game's retro-sci-fi setting. Tracks change dynamically depending on location, whether above ground or delving into subterranean passages. Similarly, the young boy's behavior, from childlike mannerisms to interaction with interactive objects, brings further life to the protagonist.
Small touches continue building an enthralling world. Environmental details tell stories of what rose and fell. Found collectibles flesh out remnants of past eras with that same witty sense found in the previous installments. Meanwhile, the Cub's survival serves as a lingering reminder of humanity's fall from grace, pondering both the folly of our actions and the potential resilience of nature. These thematic undercurrents resonate deeply amid gameplay that, while not rewriting the platforming rulebook, delivers steady entertainment through its approximately four hour runtime.
Unfortunately, some technical hiccups hold The Cub back from greatness. Visual clarity could be improved, with better signposting of exit points. Meanwhile, later challenges border on frustrating due to unclear cues. However, within Demagog's striking dystopian playground, The Cub weaves an impactful tale of survival that lingers long after credits roll. While it may not reinvent the wheel, fans of the developer's craft or the post-apocalyptic fiction will find much to appreciate within this bold new adventure.
The Cub takes players on a journey of survival amid the ruins of our world. Leveraging its developer's artistic strengths, it crafts an evocative narrative through exploring the foliage-choked urban sprawls. Its striking vision helps The Cub carve an identity within the crowded genre. For those open to thoughtful interactive fiction within virtual worlds, it proves a memorable trek worth embarking on. I do recommend this game. Thanks for reading!
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a review copy provided by PR. The Cub is out now on PlayStation, Switch and PC.