CreaVures Review
5.7our score

This week I got to play CreaVures (2011) by Muse Games. Muse is responsible for a couple other games, but is most well-known for Guns of Icarus (2010).

CreaVures is a puzzle platformer where you play as different forest animals 2 at a time in order to get past each objective. While it had a lot of potential, CreaVures really undershot my expectations and could stand to be considerably better. In reality its most noteworthy features are the fact that it supports 6 different languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, and Italian) and both PS3 and XBOX 360 gamepads. I’ll address both the good and bad of the game in this review, but in the end it’s a pass for me. Hopefully by the end of this review you’ll understand why and thank me for saving you the trouble.

Language selection menu. One of the most impressive parts of the game.

Language selection menu. One of the most impressive parts of the game.

GRAPHICS DJMMT - Graphics

The graphics are the strongest aspect of this game. The backgrounds are quite impressive with a number of beautiful nature settings. Very minute details of objects such as leaves, flowers, rocks, and so on are included and noticeable. The colour scheme is very good, having a fantastic yet believable feel to it. The animal renders are very nice as well. They have feathers, scales, fur, and other physical attributes that give them a very realistic appearance even in the midst of a world where crocodiles are orange and giant sloths are green and purple. The bosses look great, especially the final one. You can literally count the details and not because there aren’t a lot of them.

My only complaint about the graphics in general is that it’s a bit too dark overall. Now obviously I could manually alter this with my computer’s settings, but I shouldn’t have to do that. But I do completely understand why it’s dark. The point of the game is that the forest is dying and sinking into darkness. It only makes sense that the general feel would be a bit darker. But honestly you lose a lot visually from the often stunningly detailed backdrops without the presence of stronger lighting.

Beautiful forest backgrounds and animals.

Beautiful forest backgrounds and animals.

The CreaVures look phenomenal as well. I was really happy with their in game appearance and their respective credit shots. Each one is quite detailed and wholly different from anything else in the game. For the most part the movement graphics are pretty smooth with only a few minor hiccups. It has a slightly noticeable gravity lag when hanging and jumping, but other than that the whole game looks pretty clean.

But I will say that I was very unhappy with one of the levels in the Swamp because on multiple occasions the screen was almost completely covered by what I assume was a tree in the foreground. This mechanic, which may or may not have been intentional, was not appropriate for this game. There are moments in some games where this can be used effectively, but this game is not one of them and this moment was not the right moment because it didn’t add to the gameplay in any way. It merely annoyed me and came off as an accident or render error. But all in all, the graphics are pretty solid.

Meet the CreaVures. Well their backs anyway.

Meet the CreaVures. Pokey, Glidey, Bitey, Zappy, and Rolly. Well their backs anyway.

GAMEPLAY DJMMT - Gameplay

Sadly the gameplay in CreaVures is subpar. The game is your basic platformer with puzzles and collectibles. There are 2 types of collectibles (essence and motes), both of which look very similar and neither of which have any special effect on the gameplay. Motes are never actually mentioned anywhere in the short amount of text, while light/essence is the point of the story.

You are given control of 5 characters, each of which has special abilities starting with Bitey who plays the first couple levels by himself. As you progress through the game and collect more characters you are able to switch between them at checkpoints, limited to using 2 at a time. The abilities are all different so at least there is a variety of gameplay styles, but most of the abilities are very specific and only usable in certain situations. So while you do have the freedom to use whichever 2 characters you want, there are a number of situations where you really don’t have a choice for at least 1 of the 2 in use. And sometimes the game will lock a character in use to deal with such a situation.

Pokey (left) and Bitey (right). The first 2 playable characters.

Pokey (left) and Bitey (right). The first 2 playable characters.

The puzzles are not very hard. Most of them are more about doing and less about solving. The game leaves little to your problem solving skills because the cutscenes come in whenever you reach a new obstacle. That new problem is always solved by the next character added to your team which is shown in the cutscene. The puzzles are almost always solved for you beforehand.

You don’t have a life bar but you can die either from falling once you enter literally higher levels such as the canopy or taking too much damage from enemies (other animals) or dangerous obstacles such as thorns. But dying in this game means almost nothing because you respawn at the most recent checkpoint which is literally seconds from where you are. There is basically a mandatory checkpoint after each individual puzzle/section of the 18 very short (10 minutes or less on average) levels.

. . . the puzzles are almost always solved for you beforehand.

I say mandatory because you literally can’t progress through the level without making each character touch the checkpoint. And to top it all off, all your progress made after the checkpoint will be saved when you die. If you were to traverse to an out of the way location for a collectible and then die on your way back you would respawn with both characters at the checkpoint and still have the collectible you died trying to get. It’s actually more convenient to die than to go back to where you need to go. And since there’s no death counter there are literally no consequences from dying in this game other than having to occasionally retrace your steps at certain tricky points where you keep missing a jump.

Essence Flowers

Essence collectables.

As I stated earlier the game supports both XBOX 360 and PS3 gamepads. That’s essentially the best part of the gameplay in my opinion. I played it with a PS3 gamepad in combination with a keyboard. There were times when certain commands weren’t working properly so I had to use the keyboard. These issues seemed to clear up after the tutorial though so it wasn’t a huge problem. Gamepad play is far superior to keyboard play in this game; the keyboard map is awful and not accessible via any menus or options so you have to just figure it out for yourself if you don’t play through the tutorial in keyboard mode.

The physics in this game are off. Way too often do you over-shoot your jumps. This becomes most apparent when vine swinging, which in my opinion is one of the most important ways to tell a good platformer. Even when you have almost no momentum, your CreaVure will often shoot past the platform you’re aiming for which makes absolutely no sense. Along with this problem, there’s a lot of latency in the command entry at times. Now you could say that it’s my gamepad, but trust me it’s not.

The game just doesn’t always respond properly to your inputs. This could be due to the fact that you cannot do multiple things at the same time. For example, in the game you can climb higher or lower on vines and you can change the side you’re hanging on all with separate buttons. But you cannot change sides while climbing higher or lower. The game will simply ignore your second command.

Checkpoint.

Checkpoints.

As with most platformers you will subconsciously hold a directional button/joystick down before you jump because of cognitive reinforcement from playing other games, especially if you have any experience with console platformers. But in this game that can actually harm you because it won’t always accept the second (jump) command properly while holding a direction even though the tutorial says that it will. Also take into account the game was coded for left and right/up and down movement, but not really diagonals. This is likely the main reason for the many control issues, but I don’t know why the physics are off.

The combat, if it can be called that, is pretty boring. You don’t really harm other animals in this game. You just scare them into letting you pass. Then after a while they get back up so if you try to back-track you have to scare them again. Only 3 of your 5 CreaVures can actually scare animals so you have to always have at least 1 of them in your party. You can also dodge through enemies which is basically what you end up doing for the most part anyway because some of them are really not worth the trouble to scare. The boss levels are basically the same as normal levels except the boss is in the background causing distractions such as throwing rocks at you or blowing wind to make the already weird physics even weirder.

The combat, if it can be called that, is pretty boring.

As far as interactions between CreaVures, there are things that may be seen as good or bad from person to person. You can move past other CreaVures without bumping into them, which I consider a plus especially when you have 2 characters on the same vine or platform. CreaVures don’t follow each other even on straight, obstacle free paths, and you can’t pass a save point without both active members being present so you have to manually walk 2 different characters through the entire game. Only Glidey the bat, the final CreaVure, can directly interact with other characters by jumping on their head and flying them across gaps.

Glidey (top) carrying Pokey (bottom).

Glidey (top) carrying Pokey (bottom).

If I had to describe the gameplay in one sentence I would say it’s a less complicated and more straight forward (boring) version of The Cave. It’s biggest flaw, physics issues aside, is the fact that it’s simply too easy. The game holds your hand from start to finish, making all the puzzles unchallenging and death a progress mechanic as opposed to an unwanted outcome with real consequences.

SOUND DJMMT - Sound

The sound in this game is decent. The quality is pretty good and the sound effects are well done. Each CreaVure has a “voice” of its own as well as a special sound for its ability. The characters have sound based personality traits which are displayed through purring, attacking, and interacting with each other during gameplay and cutscenes. There are also good sound effects for collecting light/essence.

And let’s not forget the other animals you interact with. Some of them don’t make a peep like the constantly flying dragonflies. And some of them are obnoxious green monkeys that never stop yelling. While there is some noticeable latency with the controls, I didn’t feel the sound to be lacking in this way. The sounds match up perfectly with what happens not what you enter which means that the latency issues are not reflected in the sound mechanics.

Bitey

Bitey’s technique is really a yell more than a bite.

While I was happy with the sound quality and the sound effects, the music fell short for me. Boss levels have special music and additional action based sound effects in the background, while the rest of the game has the same short, continuous soundtrack. It’s not bad music. It’s actually very well made and extremely appropriate. Just some nice, light, easy listening music. But there’s only 1 track. The game just repeats the same couple minutes of music over and over again. It’s like hearing a lullaby which can and quite possibly will put you to sleep. Muse definitely got the quality down, but CreaVures needed a bit more effort as far as number of tracks.

Final Boss.

The Final Boss.

WRITING DJMMT - Pencil

The writing in this game is kind of disappointing. The basic story is that there is a forest that is dying and thereby losing its light. The darkness, which doesn’t even really play a factor in the game until about halfway through, has gotten all the animals in the forest on edge. For some reason this means that this one animal, Bitey, is responsible for collecting the light essence of the forest and returning it to the second “boss” after journeying through 5 different regions of the forest (floor, trunk, swamp, cave, canopy).

During his journey, he gets stuck at a number of different obstacles and is joined by other animals to help him on his quest. The initial plot of the forest dying and needing help is not bad at all. It’s been done before, but that’s ok. But the only thing explained throughout the whole game is that the forest is dying and that the light needs to be collected. That’s really it. We aren’t told why the forest is dying. We aren’t told why this one specific animal is responsible for collecting the light and returning it to the boss. We aren’t told why the boss is the right figure to return the light to. And we aren’t told why the 4 other animals choose to join Bitey on his quest.

Screenshot from Zappy introduction cut scene.

Screenshot from Zappy (middle) introduction cut scene.

We are told how and for what reason they were needed at the moment they did, but that’s all you get. The cut scenes are cute and they look pretty good. But they tell us very little about the general plot. They’re mostly used to introduce characters and their abilities and then end the story, which again is very vague from start to finish. All the written text in the game is done as tutorials to help introduce new gameplay with the addition of each new CreaVure.

It’s only in the beginning tutorial that we’re actually told anything about the overall plot and it too is part of the tutorial. And all it tells us is literally that the forest is dying and that you need to/can collect the light/essence of the forest. Literally the written plot, which is by no means the only way to tell a story in a video game, but in this case is all you get, is a total of 5 sentences.

Spoilers

This is Bitey. Your journey will take him deep into the forest. The once vibrant forest is dying. Its vital light, the essence of the forest, is fading and the darkness is spreading. Collect as much essence as you can to return light to the forest.

That’s literally all the background information you’re given about the plot of the story. The rest of the written text is tutorial information. And the rest of the plot is summed up in cutscenes, which as stated earlier tell you basically nothing. By the end of it I was just glad that they showed the CreaVures give the light to the final boss, even though we aren’t told why he/she is the one to give the light to. But the forest appears to go back to normal and the CreaVures get to sit together in the moonlight in what appears to be a happy mood so I assume that means they saved the forest.

Ultimately it’s an example of lazy writing. Muse gave me just enough to justify the game being in the order that it is, but in no way convinced me that this was a story that I should care about. The reason that the game was able to support 6 different languages is that the writing is so sparse. We’re talking an hour per language to translate, tops. And since it’s just plastered over the background in white text it’s not that hard to implement. The general idea is fine, but it lacks depth and substance and sometimes that makes all the difference.

No explanation of why the CreaVures give the light to a giant animal that was just trying to hurt them.

No explanation of why the CreaVures give the light to a giant animal that was just trying to hurt them.

REPLAY VALUE DJMMT - Replay Value

Technically this game has a decent amount of potential replay value. There are 3 difficulty levels so assuming you play it on normal, you can then play it again on Hard and Challenge modes. I didn’t replay the game completely on either of these modes, but I did play a few levels of each and as far as I can tell the only difference between modes is the number of enemies. The amount of collectibles and even where they’re located is exactly the same. In most games, more enemies and/or harder enemies is enough of a reason to replay a game. God of War for instance was notable partially for its extremely difficult God mode and how it compared to its normal mode. But the same motivating factors do not apply here.

Since you don’t actually kill enemies in this game, nothing actually changes about how you deal with them. You still just scare them into letting you pass by safely. Even in the harder difficulties the only difference is the number of animals you have to scare and their density in a given area. It’s no more difficult because if it. Just more time consuming. Unless you plan on beating the game without actually stopping any enemies, it’s pretty much pointless to replay CreaVures on different modes. Even the achievements don’t require multiple playthroughs to obtain them all. Without looking at the list, I acquired 19/21 achievements in one go on normal. And the last 2 would be easy to do as well if I actually cared.

Difficulty and level selection screen.

Difficulty and level selection screen.

While difficulty levels don’t mean much in this game, the characters you use and how you choose to solve puzzles do. As I mentioned before, in many, but not all cases, you can choose to use the characters you want which means that you can beat the game in a number of different ways, focusing on certain CreaVures and ignoring others barring mandatory character puzzles. There are potentially a large number of ways to replay many of the levels in order to shorten your completion time, but ultimately they won’t add much to your overall experience so the replay value is more intrinsic than practical.

As per usual, I think a game should provide you with no less than an hour for each dollar you spent on it. You can get through this game in 3 – 4 hours tops on a first playthrough. So with even 1 more play through you’ll meet that criteria since the game is only $4.99. But in my honest opinion, I would never want to replay this game. Once was enough and I really can’t see myself ever considering playing it again.

Finishing the game was the most impressive achievement in my book.

Finishing the game was the most impressive achievement in my book.

CONCLUSION DJMMT - Conclusion

For me, CreaVures is lacking in basically every area except graphics. It’s too easy (not simple) and actually quite boring. I literally fell asleep while playing it and writing the review. If you’re a non-experienced platformer then I’d say it’s a good place to start because it will walk you through the process, but any veterans of the genre will find it extremely disappointing.

By the third world I was much more interested in just getting to the end than actually playing the game and I had just about lost all interest in going out of my way to get the collectables. It’s much better as a cute and discreet way to get a non/casual gamer girl to jump into platforming than it is for legitimate gaming. In conclusion I say pass. While $5 isn’t a lot, it’s more than it’s worth unless of course you do have a casual gamer girlfriend or sister and need something for her to play.

Muse Logo

If you’re still interested you can buy CreaVures on Steam.

DJMMT - GF Stamp of Approval

Pros:

  • Good graphics.
  • 5 different interchangeable playable characters.
  • Supports 6 languages.
  • PS3 and XBOX 360 gamepad support.
Cons:

  • Too easy.
  • Bad physics.
  • Noticeable latency/non-responsiveness in controls.
  • Boring/non-existent story.

System Requirements

PC:
OS: Windows XP or later
Processor: 2 GHz CPU
Memory: 512 Mb (1 GB for Windows Vista)
Graphics: Dedicated Video Card w/128 Mb of Video Memory
DirectX®: 9.0c
Hard Drive: 400MB
Sound:DirectX 9.0c compliant video card

MAC:
OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
Processor: 2 GHz CPU
Memory: 512 Mb
Graphics: Dedicated Video Card w/128 Mb of Video Memory
Hard Drive: 400MB

the author

Writer at ManaPool. By day, DJMMT is a struggling college alum surviving by making pizza in Wisconsin and looking for better work. By night, he's a top shelf gamer. His favorite genres are platformers and real time action RPGs. Want to have a long discussion about any topic in gaming? Me too. Send me a message and let's talk.