If you’re familiar with Demagog Studio, chances are it’s through their critically-acclaimed debut – Golf Club: Wasteland. That game introduced players to a doomed vision of Earth, deserted by the ultra-rich who fled for Mars. Now, Demagog is back with The Cub – a new adventure in that same haunting, neon-soaked world.
In this platformer follow-up, you play as a child left behind after the “Great Ecological Catastrophe.” Raised by wolves, your character has adapted to the post-apocalyptic landscape. The rich “Martians” once thought Earth was uninhabitable, but here you are – parkouring through the ruins. When an expedition from Mars discovers traces of your survival, they launch a ruthless hunt to capture and study their impossible find.
Like Wasteland, The Cub stands out through its style and vibe. The levels are vibrant wastelands: collapsed buildings, mutant wildlife, traps around every corner. And the whole time, you’re tuned to Radio Nostalgia – Demagog’s signature fictional station. Its eclectic music and survivor testimonies create an audio backdrop like no other.
With simple but challenging platforming inspired by 90s Disney classics, The Cub invites you on a chase across the end of the world. Strap on your headphones, and let’s see if you can evade exile to the red planet.
Run, Swing, Jump – Don’t Look Down!
The Cub’s core gameplay will be familiar territory if you played platformers in the 16-bit era. The controls focus on running, jumping, swinging, and climbing as you navigate precarious ruins. It’s easy to draw comparisons to classics like Aladdin and The Lion King. However, while those games shone through animation and set pieces, The Cub stands out more through level design.
The challenge comes from traversing environments where death waits around every corner. You play as a fragile child who can’t take a single hit. Nimble fingers and quick reflexes are a must as you leap over spikes, evade hostile wildlife, and swing across collapsing scaffolds. With an array of hazards and enemies, you’ll die often at first. Thankfully, the checkpoints strike a fair balance – frequent enough to avoid frustration.
While responsive controls keep you moving fluidly, the platforming feels “floaty” at times – almost hard to judge. Expect some missteps as you line up long jumps between shifting platforms. Gravity might also catch you off guard, turning would-be landings into fatal plunges. With practice, though, you’ll gracefully chain together wall runs, rope swings, and well-timed dodges.
More than rising to challenges, you’ll explore to uncover secrets. Spread across decaying cityscapes lie artifacts offering glimpses into the past: discarded toys, motivational tapes, confidential documents. Like the landscape itself, these tell a story about how the world ended. Finding collectibles also leads you to scale rusted fire escapes, squeeze through vents, ride abandoned mine carts – you name it. Some puzzles open new paths, but mostly the crevices hide post-apocalyptic knick-knacks.
While no environment overstays its welcome, a few seem confusing to navigate at first. Identifying the critical path forward can be tricky when there’s so much to see. With time, though, you’ll learn to spot subtle visual cues pointing toward the next precipice. Just hope there’s something to grab onto when you take that leap of faith!
Hunted on a Doomed Earth
Like any good thriller, The Cub wasted no time pulling me into its dangerous world. Parkouring through an abandoned zoo, I first met the Martian scientists by narrowly dodging their hi-tech snares. Their goal soon became clear: capture this impossible human survivor for study back on Mars.
Over the radio in my salvaged helmet, I could hear the Martian news back home. At first they denied rumors of a tribal child on Earth. But with proof now before them, the publicity-hungry expedition leader aimed to make history. What drove them was equal parts scientific curiosity and callous colonialism.
Much as I ran for survival, the landscape told a deeper story. Faded advertisements, confidential memos, desperate goodbye videos – relics everywhere spoke of the “Great Ecological Catastrophe.” As climate disasters loomed, the ultra-rich had retreated to the safety of space while Earth’s masses perished.
Now, this new generation survived against the odds in the ruins – adapted through tragic necessity. The child I played could endure toxic air that masked explorers struggled to breathe. Through wall-scrawled artwork, I glimpsed the culture emerging here: totem figures, mystical cave paintings, stylized Wolves raising orphans.
Demagog paints this realm beautifully while asking difficult questions. As threats multiply in reality, will society make similar choices? If Earth becomes unlivable, who gets left behind? It’s chilling and thought-provoking if you probe the world’s layers.
Of course, some collectibles just provide wry laughs, like discarded takeout bags renamed “Burps.” And fans of Golf Club: Wasteland will enjoy direct references bringing these titles together. Ultimately, though, it’s the moment-to-moment danger that sells the ride – avoiding deadly plants or mechs while uncovering more about life and loss. The Cub sticks with you through imaginative worldbuilding as much as white-knuckle action.
A Feast for the Senses
While its gameplay stands on its own, The Cub’s presentation steals the show. From color palettes to character designs to the soundtrack itself – Demagog built a world that feels simultaneously retro and refreshing. Effort clearly went into each artistic choice, rewarding you with style and substance in one neon-soaked package.
Just glancing at screenshots showcases the visual feats. Blending 2D and 3D techniques, environments pop with depth and liveliness. Overgrown urban landscapes collide with vibrant hues and dynamic lighting straight out of a comic book. It modernizes a perspective many associate with pixel art in games long past.
The same care extends to characters, playing with proportions in ways distinct from Disney’s heyday. The child you control moves with impressive fluidity given the dangers constantly underfoot. Whether clambering up vines or swinging from streetlamps, the silky animation sells the parkour fantasy. The Martians chasing you also showcase creative liberties – cartoonish explorers juxtaposed against detailed mechs and frightening wildlife.
And then the soundtrack hits. From the opening beats, Radio Nostalgia’s underground hits captivate. Each track rides an eclectic wave: lofi hip hop one moment, pop-rock anthems the next, even the occasional ballad woven through. Songs somehow feel both familiar and novel – like artifacts from a future rediscovered.
The immersive audio centers around DJ Klaus’s charming broadcasts direct from Mars. His offbeat musings, false starts, and deadpan humor make you feel part of this living society. Dramatic reenactments lend context to the disaster on Earth as well as life for those who “won the lottery” to flee. Top-notch writing and voice talent truly sell the illusion.
Together, the sights and sounds blend beautifully. Tense swells in the score accent desperate getaways as destruction rains down. Muffled beats from your helmet create periods of isolated focus between breathtaking vistas. Like its forebear Golf Club: Wasteland, atmosphere is arguably The Cub’s main attraction – and it more than delivers.
Short But Sweet
At just 2-3 hours long, some players may wish for more from The Cub. While brevity lets the experience stay focused, I reached the emotional finale wanting another level or two. Additional challenge rooms could also extend replayability for those chasing high scores or speed runs.
Still, the game makes the most of its runtime, constantly throwing new ideas at you across distinct chapters. Very little feels repetitive even on repeated plays. There’s also decent incentive to revisit levels thanks to hidden collectibles.
My only request would be the ability to see which levels still have secrets you missed. Scouring every nook and cranny without guidance gets tedious after already finishing the story. Some platforming sequences could also use polish – landing the most precise jumps relies more on luck than skill.
Yet at under $10, it’s easier to forgive the rough edges and brevity. What’s here remains stylish, imaginative entertainment crucially worth experiencing. Whenever blockbuster franchises disappoint, titles like The Cub remind us of gaming’s true potential – transporting players to inspiring new worlds.
For fans of Demagog’s first foray especially, another chance to revisit this haunting version of Earth proves invaluable. The Cub continues building intrigue and emotion around the studio’s apocalyptic stage, hinting at more untold stories in the future. If we get a new title set here every couple years, sign me up to stay invested!
Welcome to the End Times
When the final notes of The Cub’s soundtrack played, I felt sadness that my journey was over – but immense satisfaction from what I’d experienced. Demagog Studio clearly poured passion into this game, evolving their signature style into a thrilling adventure. For fans of strange, imaginative indies, its beautiful corpse of a world begs to be explored.
By focusing gameplay on childhood escapism, the haunting post-apocalyptic setting strikes deeper. Parkouring across crumbling rooftops as a tribal orphan, you view the apocalypse through innocence rather than nihilism. Hints scattered throughout subtly reinforce larger themes around societal collapse. It’s a triumph of environmental storytelling.
That lore and pathos wouldn’t land as strongly without Demagog sticking the landing elsewhere too. The Cub looks, sounds, and feels transcendent when the elements connect. Level design prioritizes verticality over scope while offering plenty of risky, reactive challenges. Radio Nostalgia’s mix of chilling news reports and catchy tunes makes every dash feel cinematic. And the stylized visuals breathe new energy into a genre often mired in pixel art.
While controls occasionally feel “floaty” and missing collectibles prove tedious to re-find, the positives far outweigh any flaws. At 2-3 hours, it’s short but packed with ideas and variety that encourage replayability. The story emotionally satisfies while clearly building to future chapters someday. Ultimately, The Cub represents independent gaming at its finest – existing wholly on its own creative terms.
Demagog knocked it out of the park by refusing to retread ground, instead remixing classic ingredients into something bold. If you crave memorable adventures beyond the usual franchises, this heartfelt love letter to outcasts belongs in your library. The rich have abandoned Earth, but creative minds like these ensure gaming still has endless worlds left to craft.
The Cub is a passion project bursting with style, atmosphere, and challenging platforming action. Its fully-realized post-apocalyptic setting becomes a parkour playground, telling an emotional story through both gameplay and environment. A few rough edges aside, Demagog delivers an easy recommendation for imaginative indie fans.
- Gorgeous and imaginative art style
- Great music and atmospheric soundtrack
- Rich environmental storytelling
- Creative post-apocalyptic setting
- Smooth, fluid animation
- Challenging and fun platforming
- Occasionally floaty controls
- Can be hard to spot next path forward
- Brief overall runtime
- Missing quality of life features