Cathedral is a new Metroidvania retro platformer from publisher Elden Pixels and developer Decemberborn Interactive. The games visuals are what caught my attention with them having been built on a custom engine by the team. It gave me classic NES vibes as well as reminded me of Shovel Knight and between those two things alone I had to check to see what it was all about.
Cathedral casts you as a nameless knight who in classic fashion finds themselves awaking inside a cathedral with no idea on how or why they are there. Not exactly an original setup there but I really have no problem with that at this point. From here you’ll be exploring this Metroidvania world inside this cathedral uncovering all kinds of hidden secrets along the way. Your overall goal is to find a few magic orbs that will open the pathway for you to take on the evil boss at the end.
Like any good Metroidvania game you have a map that you can open as you explore that keeps track of how much you’ve discovered in each area you visit. I’m a completionist by nature so I’m always looking to get that 100% next to each area and it was very satisfying trying to do that in this game. There are chests to find, enemies to defeat, traps to avoid, puzzles to solve, and new abilities to gain as you venture on. It is very easy to die in this game as you start off with just three health hearts and the enemies and traps can easily drain them. If you die, you’ll be sent back to the nearest checkpoint and lose a small portion of the coins you’ve collected as well. Not only that but enemies that you defeated will respawn as they do anytime you venture back to an area you already cleared. I know some people don’t like this but I don’t so much mind it as if I find a game can become boring if it becomes too empty. You can also help yourself not lose as much of your money by storing it in a bank in the game although there is a limit to how much you can store.
You can help yourself avoid death by gaining new abilities and making yourself stronger. Shops provide a way to buy better armor or buy useful potions. You can also obtain better weapons like swords and a crossbow. Abilities you can obtain include things like an object that lets you identify dangerous spikes better. Then there are the scrolls you can find of which you can equip three at any given time. These provide small bonuses to you like giving you a double jump, cause you to take slightly less damage, or give you a chance to take no damage at all upon being hit. Many of these extra things you can gain can be acquired through completing side quests in the game. I felt like I was rewarded each time I did one and you can easily keep track of them with the in-game quest log. Between all these things to find and the various side quests to take on there is a lot to discover and keep yourself busy with in this game.
The retro visuals of Cathedral are something I enjoy as it takes me back to many classic games I played when I was young but it also isn’t wholly original when so many indie games go for this look. Still, everything here looks great but it’s a shame the OST wasn’t enjoyable. A lot of the times the background music just didn’t feel right for what was going on and was even annoying at times. Trophy hunters on PlayStation will find 40 trophies to hunt down here including a Platinum. This list should be easy for anyone who seeks out everything in the game but a couple specific ones can be a bit tricky.
Cathedral is an enjoyable retro styled Metroidvania but also doesn’t do a lot new that we haven’t seen before in the indie space. It will challenge you and there is a ton of secrets to find, puzzles to solve, and quests to busy yourself with as you explore this world. If all that sounds up your alley then you’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of this.
*Cathedral is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.