The Cub Review – Breathe With The Wild

So you've finished a round of golf - now what? Search for any signs of life perhaps? What on Earth is The Cub? A platform game out on the PS5 from the 19th January 2024, that's what.

There’s a reason that The Cub bears a striking resemblance to Golf Club: Wasteland – that’s because it’s by the same team, Demagog Studio and published by Untold Tales, but that’s all been said before. This little corner you’ve just stumbled upon is the review for the PS5 version.

Earth is a wasteland; the rich have left for Mars, only to return to play a spot of golf across the rooftops of a derelict apartment block or a totalled bus. As ignorant as man is, they don’t realise that there’s a little person present who lives off the land and under the protection of wolves. I also mentioned Mowgli in that preview linked above.

The Cub isn’t a repeat of the demo, though the latter does exactly what a demo should do and gives you an appetite for the full game by showcasing the mechanics. Naturally, you won’t see everything in a demo either – the full game has a few tricks up its sleevies including a nod to the previous game. I just wish it wasn’t over so soon.

The Cub PS5 Review - I'm on a boat
I’m on a boat. Source: Screen capture

According to the playtime indicator, The Cub only took an hour to complete. Really? That can’t be right, but without an adjudicator other than my wife telling me I’ve been playing too long and that she wants to get on Crunchy Roll, I’ll have to take this as fact. If it weren’t for some of the trickier sections of the game, this would feel even shorter.

As a side-scrolling platform adventure, you take a nomadic child above and below the surface to rile up some invading Martians. They begin to realise that you can breathe in the atmosphere without apparatus, while they can’t, forcing them to capture you, open you up, and play with your bits. Steady there – it’s scientific, don’t you know.

There are three main pursuers, each with their niche in apprehending you, which is good fun, aside from one of the enemies who swipes at you with a net. The ‘hit area’ can be a bit off, and you have to restart at a checkpoint. And that, my friends, is the hardest part of The Cub: repeating areas until you get it right.

The Cub PS5 Review - In pursuit
In pursuit. Source: Screen capture

In hindsight, and after completing the game, I don’t think it’s that difficult. Now. At the time, I was yelling at the screen about fairness when in reality, you have to learn the patterns as if it were a Souls-like: dodge, dodge, jump. Or thereabouts. That isn’t to say that I did feel a bit pissed off when repeating a flying section and a scenario that resembled The Lion King

The family were all on board as I played the final two chapters while they were still eating dinner, ‘forcing’ them to watch. That’s exaggerated as the little one loved it, especially when the cub scratches his bum, burps, and falls to his death(!). The real surprise was with the wife as she started to ask questions about the story, and, without spoilers, when she witnessed the penultimate scenes, was borderline cheering.

The Cub is a satisfying experience, boosted by yet another excellent soundtrack broadcast from Mars. Some tracks are better than others, and they can get a little dark with some nursery rhyme-infused beats. I liked it, but others were creeped out. 

The Cub PS5 Review - Disco fever
Disco fever. Source: Screen capture

Let me steer you back to the beginning and remind you that the game is brief. After completing it, you can enter The Cave – a place where you can review the collectables scattered throughout the game, such as movie clips and satire, plus the music tracks associated with each chapter. It’s a shame you can’t fast-forward to your favourite bits, though.

Besides the collectables, there isn’t much replay value if you aim to drag out gameplay over a weekend. That said, The Cub is a fun platformer that looks the business and sounds it, too. When all hope is lost, and you wonder how you’ll cram another 60+ hour game into your life, consider this attractive platformer, then get your arse to Mars.