I talked about Gedda Cake previously on this blog, but I hadn’t been able to check out the demo yet at that time. And seeing as developer Flannel Bear Games launched their Kickstarter for Gedda Cake last week, now seems like the perfect time to give it a try. At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign is roughly 25% funded, so they have some ground to cover before the campaign closes on August 11th, 2022. I enjoyed the demo enough to back the full campaign and hope that you’ll give it a look as well.
Gedda Cake is a pixel art 2D metroidvania action-platformer. That genre is super saturated these days, but I think this game is bringing enough to the party to make it stand out. While this one is a much less traditional dragon game than I’d like to talk about on this blog, the lore and charming playable characters makes it worth a look.
Disclaimer: This will contain some light spoilers for the demo, if you care about that sort of thing.
MEET THE DRAGONS
In this game, you play as six young dragon siblings (Galacteon Draconis). Obviously, they aren’t exactly what most people picture when they think of dragons — there’s no leathery wings or razor fangs here. But those of you who prefer dragons with lots of personality over mindless beasts will find a lot to love here. So far, four of the playable characters have been revealed, and the remaining two will be shown off during the rest of the Kickstarter campaign.
The Galacteon Draconis of Leadership, attuned to the element of fire.
Gedda is the lazy brother and the leader. He is driven by food and just mentioning the word “cake” is enough to make him act. If it is edible, he is after it.
Gedda is the first playable dragon you meet. He’s round and red, with a belly that reminds me of Totoro, making him immediately endearing. But under his chubby exterior lies an explosive fire breath which can propel him backwards into dangerous situations in the game. He’s more of a drake than a proper dragon, with four limbs and no wings, but no less adorable. He seems to care very little about the plight of his missing siblings, only jumping to action at the mention of his lost cakes.
The Galacteon Draconis of Humility, attuned to the element of water.
Piccky is the difficult sister and the fancy one of the group. She does not have patience with anyone besides Saline and is known for her snarky comments.
The other available character in the demo, Piccky, is drake adapted to life in the water. She wastes little time and energy explaining things to her brother; a lady of her stature has more important things to do. Her animations especially help show off her somewhat frilly personality, with her fancy little fan and her penchant for striking poses. Unlike Gedda’s more aggressive playstyle, Piccky fights with more precision and grace. Even if she’s a bit on the prissy side, she holds her own in combat.
The Galacteon Draconis of Stability, attuned to the element of earth.
Grabbu is short-tempered, reckless, and is not known for using his brain often. He is all about punching first, and punching even more later.
Having not had the chance to play as Grabbu yet, all I can comment on is his design. He is more of a lindwurm, with a snake-like body and two forelimbs. I also like how he almost a bit Viking-inspired, judging by his horns and fluffy shoulders, and his apparent love of a good glass of (root?) beer. Everything you need to know about his personality can be summed up by this clip:
The ‘rocks-for-brains’ earth type is a bit of a played out stereotype, but at least the devs seem to be leaning hard into it and making it fun.
The Galacteon Draconis of Serenity, attuned to the element of ice.
Catchoo is easily stressed, anxious and scared of almost anything. All she wants is to stay in her comfort zone. She is beloved by all her siblings.
Catchoo, the fourth playable dragon, was just revealed and she is the most adorable of them all! She’s a little fur-covered dragon, with horns like a Bantha and a cozy little ruff around her neck. And she has the cutest name. Much like myself, Catchoo loves tea, a good blanket, and comfort foods. And unlike her siblings, she is not made for hand-to-hand combat, preferring to attack enemies with ice magic from afar. Her playstyle is drastically different than anything we’ve seen so far, so I’m excited to see how that impacts combat in the full game.
Sacaritis are another race of small, salamander-like creatures that serve as caretakers for the dragons and the world of Sugria. Each playable dragon has a Sacariti companion, who have distinct personalities that play off of their respective dragons. Sinder, bottom left above, keeps Gedda moving in the right direction, while Saline, bottom right above, is a more polite bridge between Piccky and the other characters. Sacaritis take up residence in the game’s main city of Salamandria, which will be slowly rebuilt as you rescue them around the world.
SWEET, BUT A LITTLE BIT STICKY
The game is set on the sugar-coated lands of Sugria, with at least 10 sweet-themed areas ranging from a chocolate jungle, a syrup cave, and an ocean of flan. In this universe, sugar is the most powerful source of energy from which all life ultimately formed. The Galacteon Draconis — children of the origin dragon — have lived and grown on Sugria for eons, until the other races grow tired of serving them. With most of the dragon siblings imprisoned and The Cakes (their food and energy source) hidden away, it’s up to the last sibling, Gedda, to rescue his brothers and sisters and get the cake.
While I have some questions regarding the morality of playing somewhat deified dragons to fight off other races that are in revolt, the story has just the right amount of cheek and charm without feeling cheesy. The worldbuilding is well thought out while at the same time leaving enough for the player to fill in with their own imagination. All of the characters seen so far have distinct and interesting personalities. I want to give special props to the writing and dialogue; plenty of indie games try too hard to be witty with drawn-out, quippy dialogue that just ends up somewhat grating. Gedda Cake, however, strikes a wonderful balance of being charming without wasting the players’ time. And as a bonus, each individual character has their own adorable dialogue noises.
Graphically, the game’s pixel art style is, for the most part, gorgeous and cohesive. The world is vibrant, with hints of sugary sweets like lollipops and strawberries scattered through the background. Characters have absolutely adorable designs and animations, like Gedda’s round little belly that jiggles when he walks. Fighting animations are dynamic; it feels like there’s a lot of weight and action behind the movements. But I’m not a fan of Piccky’s running animation. The way her tails curls under makes it look like she’s propelling herself along the ground with it. (Update 8/29/2022: The devs have let me know they’ve updated Piccky’s run animation based on this feedback, and it looks a lot better!) Overall, the game is a joy to look at, full of bright colors without being garish, and things like enemy elemental type and race are easily readable.
Some enemies, in particular these plants that shoot rocks at the player, blend in with the background too much and are difficult to see. I couldn’t count the number of times I ran right up on one without realizing it was there. There’s also some slight readability issues where some things like doors and log platforms look like background objects, but you do learn to spot and understand them quickly.
My last graphical complaint pertains to the game world: on a planet made entirely of sugar, with syrup mines and chocolate jungles, I would like to see the aesthetics lean more in the direction. We get some of that already, especially with the cupcakes you eat to restore health, the power pickups being cakes, and sugar cubes being the currency of the world. But I think the devs could push that further and create something even more unique. Occasional background trees could look like marshmallows or something, or we see some pink and blue cotton candy clouds. I don’t think it would even hurt to add more unnatural colors to some trees, rocks, grass, etc. Maybe future level design could provide more of this, but I don’t think it could hurt to inject more liquid sugar sweetness into these early levels.
Gedda Cake‘s core gameplay mechanic is switching between characters, each with their own playstyles. This occurs quickly and smoothly once you get the hang of it, and by the end of the demo, swapping between the two available playable characters starts to feel very satisfying. The first two dragons are distinct enough in their mechanics that it’s generally clear when you need to switch, and the game takes advantage of both their playstyles. With six characters total in the full game, I hope the rest continue to be so distinct and useful.
Other main mechanics of the game include an elemental system and a day/night system. Each dragon is attuned to a specific element, as are Sugria’s many enemies. You need to play smart, swapping characters strategically as they are more or less effective against different elemental matchups. You’ll take double damage from a type you’re weak against, while also not being able to cause any damage yourself. Swapping characters is quick and easy enough that it blends smoothly with this elemental system, and it forces the player to not stick with only one dragon. This interplay really strengthens the core combat mechanics. The day/night system is simple enough, with the player able to fast forward time at rest points. The change is not simply a visual one, however. Tougher enemies (and sometimes even entire boss fights) show up at night.
My first playthrough of the demo was honestly a bit rough, especially at the beginning. Gedda has a playstyle that makes fighting enemies on small platforms difficult, given his tendency to thrust forward when he attacks. The earliest areas didn’t necessarily feel like they were made for him and the way he plays. Difficulty is a core part of this game anyway, but the beginning felt especially punishing. Things started to feel a lot smoother once I unlocked the second character. However, between trying out the demo and writing this article, the devs took in a lot of feedback and made some tweaks to these beginning areas. The difficultly curve felt much better to me on a second playthrough. This new version of the demo is live now, so I encourage anyone who had tried the game previously to give it a second look and see how it feels.
A few last points on how the game plays: one, it’s more difficult than I expected, given the cute aesthetic and theming. But that’s not a bad thing; for the most part, it felt fair, and most difficult situations could be overcome by slowing down and approaching the problem differently. There are three difficulty levels (I was playing on the normal difficulty), as well as extensive assist options for those that want or need it. The only real issue I had with difficulty in the end was that sometimes it was hard to see offscreen enemies, like the plants or the final boss, both of which fire projectiles at the player. Not being able to see where those projectiles were coming from was definitely frustrating. I also started the demo with keyboard controls which was a mistake on my part (as I play way more often with a controller), but controllers are well supported and the game felt much tighter once I swapped off of my keyboard. I had some issues with overall game polish, like Gedda hitting his head a lot while jumping, or platform hitboxes extending past corners. The level design can feel a bit claustrophobic, almost like there’s not quite enough room between floor and ceiling. The platforming overall was a weaker part of the game for me, but I don’t feel like it negatively impacted my experience in any extreme way.
Finally, I do want to give special mention to the devs handling of the game so far. I’ve provided feedback about the demo on their Discord, and they are receptive and responsive. I’ve seen them already implementing suggested changes. I also appreciate that they went into the Kickstarter campaign with a fully playable demo and such well thought out lore and game mechanics. That really gave me confidence in backing their campaign (coming from someone who very rarely backs Kickstarter projects), even with the anticipated October 2025 delivery date. But hopefully that gives Flannel Bear Games plenty of time to flesh out this game and provide the polish it needs to really make it shine.
Gedda Cake is not a high-flying, fire-raining, dragon-riding kind of dragon video game. But it does have cute, lovable draconic characters packaged with a fun new spin on the metroidvania platformer. The amount of sugary sweet charm oozing from this game has me very excited for its eventual full release.
Wishlist the game or download the demo from the Gedda Cake Steam page. The Kickstarter campaign is live now thru August 11, 2022. Follow the game’s progress on Twitter, or check out their Discord to provide feedback and chat with the devs. Gedda Cake is currently slated to release in October 2025.