The Bitmap Brothers is one of those companies that their sole mention forces you to stand up and solemnly put a hand on your chest. I mean, where to begin? Xenon? Speedball? The Chaos Engine?! Gods??!! Based in the UK, they were the rock stars of the golden age of computer gaming: a cool and hippy company that couldn’t release a bad title even if they tried to (hey, even Magic Pockets was good!). Most of their games have indeed become staples in gaming history but one of their most unique achievements regrettably remains overlooked to this day. And it is my job as the caretaker of this blog to let you know about it: this is Cadaver, and it’s definitely one of the coolest names ever conceived in videogames.
The game casts you as Karadoc, an odd-looking dwarf in a quest to infiltrate a dangerous castle and kill an evil necromancer (Dianos) who has been causing mischief and deserves a spanking. Who cares really, the story is very secondary, although The Payoff (an expansion pack with a limited release) was a bit more elaborated in this regard. The basic idea in Cadaver is to find your way into Dianos’ sanctum and obliterate him. Karadoc will have to explore sewers, dungeons and many royal chambers of the castle. We’re talking about several hundred rooms here, making the whole play quite extensive. The game exhibits the characteristic graphical style from Bitmap Bros. which became famous (and unmatched to this day) with Speedball, sort of like heavily glossy cartoons, all in glorious isometric perspective. Did I mention just how much I love the isometric perspective? If you want to know, you should read my write-ups of D/Generation and The Immortal. This is my third isometric pick yet and there’s more to come.
Cadaver is, first and foremost, a very lighthearted RPG. It’s practically a classic adventure really because you don’t have to worry about stats, there are no NPCs to interact with, battles (if you can call them that) are minimal and the gameplay mostly relies on puzzle solving. And these are some pretty devious puzzles too which ranges from standard use-item-on-item to sorting out complex mechanisms that require your utmost concentration. One recursive puzzle is the necessity to stack up all kinds of objects (boxes, bones, rocks, junk) to reach higher places. In fact, the engine behind Cadaver is quite versatile, allowing you to move most objects and perform many actions with them. This gives the gameworld a very lively and dynamic feel, as well as making Cadaver quite possibly one of the most complex pure isometric games to date. Even so, the whole experience is incredibly addictive and you find yourself always looking forward to see what secrets has the next room in store for you. Add to this countless of loot, many hidden things, multiple solutions to puzzles, a rocking soundtrack (the best tune from Bitmap Bros in my opinion) and you got yourself a truly legendary title. Not to be missed.