Cathedral review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Also On: Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher: Elden Pixels
Developer: DecemberBorn Interactive
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Cathedral, a classic 8-bit styled Metroidvania game released on Switch and PC back in 2019, just recently made its way over to the PlayStation 4, bringing with it some solid puzzles, platforming, and exploration along for the ride. Developed by DecemberBorn Interactive, the PS4 version of the game doesn?t bring anything new to the table, but if you (like me) missed the Switch release entirely, then you may find Cathedral worth a look as we enter what looks to be a bit of a dry spell for big releases this year. 

Cathedral boasts that it has over 600 rooms to explore across its interconnected map, a claim that I?m willing to believe considering how large the overall map grew as I made my way through the game. While doing a solid job of maintaining its 8-bit aesthetic, it?s pretty clear that Cathedral is also a game that couldn?t have existed back in 1988, in part due to the character animations and world design, and also because it sort of liberally cribs ideas from other like-minded games in the genre. Your immediate reaction upon first booting up Cathedral will likely be that it looks kinda sorta similar to Shovel Knight, due to the actual design of the knight you?ll be controlling, and some of the abilities (pogo-jump attack) that the knight possesses. That said, Metroidvania as a genre is filled with games that borrow ideas from predecessors, so it doesn?t feel particularly egregious here.

It also helps that Cathedral tries to blaze its own path, with plenty of NPC?s to interact with, quests to take on, a couple of different upgrade systems, and a decent variety of enemy designs to encounter. Combat in Cathedral is also pretty challenging throughout, at times maybe a little cheap during precise platforming sections, but I think I prefer that to a complete cakewalk approach.

Cathedral also has a solid host of puzzles and secrets to uncover, making use of a variety of tools and skills you?ll acquire throughout. I also found little need to revisit areas with new abilities, which is sort of nice for a change in this style of game, as I was able to constantly progress and see new things without a lot of backtracking involved. Cathedral also doles out new abilities just often enough to keep you engaged, and the death penalty system of losing 10 percent of your gold upon death isn?t so harsh as to make death frustrating, but offers enough incentive to ensure you keep an eye on your health. 

All in all, I enjoyed my time spent with Cathedral, but with the sheer glut of indie developed Metroidvania?s on the market, including some fairly big-budget ones at this point, it is a little hard to recommend Cathedral over other like-minded titles. It?s a solid one of those games, but solid isn?t necessarily enough to propel it to the top of the must-play pile. If you?ve got a little time on your hands, and you haven?t already given it a shot on Switch or PC, then I think it?s worth a look. But if you have yet to play any number of critically acclaimed Metroidvania titles on the market, then I?d be a little hard pressed to suggest Cathedral over those games. 

Note: Elden Pixels provided us with a Cathedral PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B