Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Cavity Busters Is A Disgustingly Good Time
Cavity Busters is a game about a mouth. A very complex, disgusting mouth. You play as a creature named Gummy the Soft, a periodontal little fella who is tasked with defeating a collection of teeth warriors called the Pearly Knights. With guile, dexterity, and one powerful molar projectile, you descend down this esophagus of hell to overcome only the most nauseating of challenges.
More like Ultra-Icky Spitlight uhh… Scumday. Good art is supposed to evoke emotion and feeling. And unfortunately, disgust is a feeling. But the use of grossing out the audience is a fine line. All too often, though, a gooped up game ends up feeling more like a Garbage Pail Kids card rather than an artistic expression. While I can’t quite pinpoint where that line is, there’s something about Cavity Busters and its style of gross that filled me with intrigue as well as revulsion (in a good way)
It’s no secret that Cavity Busters is heavily influenced by The Binding of Isaac. Both in visual aesthetic as well as gameplay. Like Isaac, this game explores a lot of nasty nooks and crannies, though Cavity Busters is obviously themed more towards dentistry than nursery. It’s not exactly a horror game, but I believe their use of disgusting subjects could be a learning tool for aspiring developers.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
The Binding of Isaac is the best comparison to how this game is played. Cavity Busters is a similar roguelite, where you crawl through a dungeon room by room, dispatching foes with projectiles in order to gain items that boost your character. But where Isaac ends with just the size and shape of projectiles, Cavity Busters has a whole host of new abilities.
Your little gingival man is quite powerful. Cavity Busters introduces several new abilities that would make Ed McMillan wish he’d thought of them. The first is that you have a single tooth which is used as a boomerang. Gummy can also run along walls, leap into the sky, elbow drop onto an enemy, and the biggest boost to why I love this gameplay, a dodge roll.
The style was what first stuck out for me. Cavity Busters has an incredible visual style, cartoonish representations of revolting matter. This remains one of my favorite parts of the game. It’s disgusting but intriguing; a testament to how great the art of this game is.
It’s also extremely fun to play. The gameplay of Cavity Busters is probably three times as fast as Isaac, and I would probably consider it closer to the hectic chaos of Nuclear Throne. There’s plenty of replayability with the number of items, and while it was always a challenge, it never felt unfair.
While I love the style, Cavity Busters has a few things that troubled me. Mainly, just how complex it all is. Isaac is pretty straightforward; shoot creature, take loot. Cavity Busters has so many new features that I almost didn’t know what to do with them all. Sometimes I would leap in the air and forget how to land. A few times I attached myself to a wall and zoomed around on accident. These issues are, of course, on me. With a little more time I feel like I could get the hang of it better. But complexity is not always a plus for some people.
How To Fix It:
As a matter of fact, Cavity Busters has already implemented the fix I would have suggested. There’s a whole host of accessibility options for players of all skill levels—even those with as little skill as me. On the flip side, there’s a bunch of difficulty options too, for those who enjoy the “hell” part of bullet hell games most of all. Cavity Busters can meet you at whatever challenge you’d like
One of the most profoundly upsetting games I’ve played was Discover My Body. Such a candid destruction of a person’s body was extremely disturbing. Cavity Busters is on the opposite end of this spectrum, more like Amateur Surgeon. You explore a bizarre world of orifice and organ, gaining diseases and dispatching unholy creatures of bodily fluid. It’s silly and fun, but also gross. Sphincters open abound, nodules and cysts are all around, and it’s a delightful array of disgusting that feels like playing a transcendent piece of abject art.
You can buy Cavity Busters for yourself on Steam by clicking here.