Developer: Jordan Pearson
Price: Free
Version: 3.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

We all know even the widest and deepest network of caves ends somewhere (even if that “somewhere” is, for all we know, straight into the tentacle-lined maw of Cthulhu). But as far as video games are concerned, caves can seemingly go on forever.

Such is the case with Cally’s Caves 2, an action/platforming game by Jordan Pearson. Cally, a young vest-wearing heroine, must save her parents from the grasp of Dr Herbert by spelunking through over one hundred caverns. It’s a long, difficult undertaking, but luckily Cally is well-armed and carries an air of competence along with her array of weapons. It’s probably not a coincidence she heavily resembles Penny, the girl genius from “Inspector Gadget” who’s constantly working behind the scenes to get her biomechanical uncle out of hot water.

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Each level of Cally’s Caves 2 is teeming with enemies and traps, including bears, ninjas, cigarette-smokin’ dudes that fire off handguns at random because why not, bees, skeletons, spikes, lava, and water (Cally never took swimming lessons).

Cally tackles each stage by jumping and shooting. There are weapons galore to sift through, and players are bound to find something they love. The assault rifle rattles off a constant stream of lead, the shotgun spreads bullets in a wide funnel, and the boomerang cuts through enemies. The more use a weapon gets, the faster it levels up, allowing it to deal more damage. Generally, longer-range weapons do less damage than short-range ones, and part of the fun is trying out each firearm to see what works best in each situation.

Cally’s Caves 2 is action-packed, and wrecking everything with a different array of guns is great fun. Players can even access previously blocked-off areas with new weapons, giving the game a bit of a “Metroidvania” flavor.

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Cally’s Caves 2 also bears a curious trait: The game gets easier the further in the player goes. Cally gains more life as she levels up, and the more hearts on-hand, the better. If there’s one huge flaw in this adventure, it’s the lack of recovery time after suffering a hit. A single enemy can put an end to Cally in a bare second. Worse, there’s no death animation – just a “jump scare” screen of Dr Herbert that’s creepier than the infamous “GAME OVER – RETURN OF GANON” screen from The Legend of Zelda II for the NES.

Regardless, Cally’s Caves 2 is worth pushing through. It successfully combines exploration and firearms, which is all anyone can really ask out of a mobile action game.