Switch version tested
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In 2018 indie developer Ritual Games had a vision, a time-travelling warrior, a retro-inspired platformer and a massive sword. Let’s be clear, you had us at time travel. Born was Cybarain: The Time Travelling Warrior which would initially release on the Steam platform after exceeding its Kickstarter goal of just £500 in 14 days. Now Ratalaika Games are back once again like an NPC stuck in a loop porting this neon cyberpunk adventure to all current-gen consoles, even the PlayStation Vita. It’s kinda their thing if you hadn’t worked it out by now so we ask ourselves is this the next Back to the Future or Black Knight?
The story is centred around the titular Cybarain, a muscle mountain of a man that looks like the love child of Arnie and Hulk Hogan. The game opens with a series of still images, ripped straight out of the NES guidebook of storytelling, detailing that semi-important backstory bit. You can easily skip it on a second playthrough though or even the first if you live dangerously. It’s the usual affair, ancient scriptures tell of an all-powerful sword that if located will grant unrivalled powers to those who wield it. After searching the land high, low and high again Cybarain eventually lifts the Sword of Ages and disappears into the title screen.
You guessed it, this magical sword gifts the power of time travel as we are transported into a futuristic world. A world filled with in-your-face colours, super cool looking bad guys that will do anything to halt your progress and to top it off gigantic hard as hell bosses that fill the screen as they run through their sequenced attack patterns. Set over four stages this is a short but gruelling adventure and draws on all-time greats Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Final Fight and then pretty much any cheesy 80’s action movie for inspiration.
Levels while being well designed and pretty visually with vivid retro greatness are initially daunting. Even on the lowest difficulty setting the game is crushingly unforgiving but do not fear, a little time spent with it and suddenly things begin to click into place. All of the enemies have set attack patterns and set weapon reach, learn and master these aspects and the game opens up. Yes, you have to perfectly time every hit, skip and jump but practice makes perfect. Controls are fluid, buttons are laid out logically and there are no performance issues on the Switch. Simply put Cybarain provides straight-up hack and slash platforming at its finest.
Besting a stage will earn our hero a much-needed upgrade in the move set department. I spent a lot of the first level thinking to myself it would be much easier with a block or jump attack, low and behold that’s exactly what comes into play. Albeit in the form of a dodge roll, projectile attack and jumping attack. There aren’t a lot of options available, the two of note are the difficulty settings and the ability to turn off the scanlines, which actually detract from the game’s beauty. Choosing hard mode unlocks all of Cybarain’s special abilities from the get-go at the sacrifice of those much-needed heart containers but it does make the game a little more palatable when starting out. On the audio side, Cybarain is a solid affair. The sound effects are punchy while the soundtrack hits all the right notes. The final level is an epic boss battle that once bested will throw a tidbit of story in your direction along with the final upgrade so it’s worth finishing if you can.
Cybarain: The Time Travelling Warrior is a short yet challenging experience. If you enjoy mindless platforming action from the NES era then the game is definitely worth a look. Safely retailing in the budget price range it’s visual and soundtrack are on point. It’s not without a number of issues though. The difficulty might put off the wider audience, even on easy, but it’s biggest being that it is very short and holds little in terms of replayability. Cybarain is no classic Back to the Future yet equally nowhere as bad as Black Knight, it can comfortably sit in the Timecop tier.
TBG Score: 6.5/10
Platform: Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation4, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 21/06/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Arcade, Platformer
Developer: Ritual Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop