Crisis not yet averted? Check out our Crisis Caverns Island Guide.
Hey Poptropicans! It’s been a few weeks since Poptropica Worlds released – and with it, Crisis Caverns Island. We’ve shared our thoughts about Worlds, and now, it’s time for us to delve into its first and only island adventure. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s pop right in…
Storyline & Characters
Let’s begin with a simplified summary: You arrive at Caldera State Park and soon find out there’s a supervolcano here that’s on the verge of eruption. Being the
nosy curious Poptropican you are, you poke around and eventually find yourself going deeper and deeper into the caves until at last you are captured by “mole people” who live underground. You also encounter the chthonians, monsters who have declared war on the mole people and are causing the tremors that may soon lead to a volcanic eruption. However, you help make things right, and by the time you pop back up to the surface, all is right with the world again. Well, sort of…
It’s really cool how Poptropica seemed to be inspired by subterranean fiction as a plot to this island, with vibes kind of like Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Subterranean fiction could offer a lot of ideas for a Poptropica island, like a lost world of dinosaurs, Middle-Earth, or even Wonderland! So… it’s a bit baffling that of all the possibilities, they would go with… mole people?
For those who’ve played this island, perhaps you’ll resonate with the thought that, although the premise is interesting, the way it all plays out feels somewhat lacking. There were many opportunities for further exploration of ideas, yet on the whole, the story felt rather rushed from one plot point to the next. The plot leading up to the mole people was okay, but it all went downhill after that. At that point, it was like trying to achieve the climax without first putting on a good foundation.
Looking at a few curious characters, here are some of our questions:
Who, really, are the mole people? Are they human – and whether the answer is yes or no, why do they look so strange, with greenish skin? Is the civilization above aware of their existence? If so, what do they think about them, especially now that they are aware after the quest? How did they get here? Even the first time we see the term “mole people,” it’s just a casual mention by one of the mole people. We also only see a few mole people – king, queen, guards. Where is the rest of the civilization? They are noticeably absent throughout the rest of the caverns.
Also, why chthonians? Their introduction is quite abrupt. You’ve barely met the mole king and queen when they start bombarding you about the chthonians, and we have no idea what they are. Plus, “chthonians” is a long word, and not one many of us are familiar with. Perhaps it would’ve been better to refer to them in simpler terms (beast, worm, creature). And we only had to perform one easy task to appease them, which seems less challenging than a typical Poptropica quest.
And at the visitor’s center, we learn of the missing Dr. Vincent Crispin, founder of Crispin Cave, who had spoken of an underground civilization (the mole people) that no one else believed in. He went too far in his investigations and never returned – but we never do find out what happened to him. Why didn’t we meet him in the mole people’s lair? Did he die – and if so, where is his skeleton? So many questions.
Each character had an interesting design; however, most characters in the park didn’t get as much screen time. Perhaps the park ranger could’ve given a tour deeper into the caves, and it would’ve been nice to see more tourists around the state park.
Despite these confusions, however, meeting the other characters along the way was pretty fun, both in their designs and witty lines. Standouts include the frenemy feud between Hazel and Beatrice, the two old ladies stuck in the cave (“Let’s go somewhere even more depressing: your house”) and the tourist boy who decries the big geyser as “Old Unreliable.” If only we could customize clothing from our new friends!
Something this island didn’t have, for better or for worse, was a good amount of going back and forth. Given the plot, it makes sense to keep going downward deeper into the caves, but it felt like it needed more exploring and going around.
The mechanics of this island also feel quite repetitive. Having the magnetic belt do the job for almost half the island seems too much. Also, the block-the-geyser mechanism gets repeated twice.
As far as game bugs, there definitely were a few. Some players have experienced bugs like not being able to grab the chthonian egg, the scientists at the park not giving the reward after the second island play-through, and more. Although Poptropica continues to work on fixing these glitches, they could have eliminated more of these issues prior to releasing the island to allow for a smoother player experience.
However, there were some high points as well. The room with the traps, like the statue that squishes you, evoked some Indiana Jones-esque feelings. Also, the slider mini-game is commendable. It really added a bit of a challenge to the island, and it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a slider game from Poptropica!
Overall, it feels as though the bugs and the repetitive aspects overweigh the positive parts of this island experience. Thus, the overall gameplay is so-so.
There’s no doubt about it: the visual style of Crisis Caverns is absolutely stunning. From the captivating crystals to the refined rock carvings, there is so much delightful detail to surround yourself in. The scenery is definitely a highlight of the island.
But despite the beauty, there’s one more crisis that can’t go unmentioned: all the gorgeous designs that were scrapped in the making of this island. It probably happens to every island during the creative process, but it seems this one was especially affected!
We’ve been seeing sneak peeks for this island since 2013, and the island was even declared canceled at one point, so it’s a miracle it’s finally made it onto the big screen of Poptropica Worlds. Along the way, however, a lot of cool ideas didn’t make the cut, but they’re definitely worth admiration:
So grand. Such a waste that these scenes never made it to the game!
All things considered, our final verdict for Crisis Caverns Island is…
We’ve been waiting a long time for Crisis Caverns, and with all the dazzling previews we saw as well as amazing experiences from past islands on Poptropica Original, our expectations were pretty high for the first Worlds island.
It’s clear, however, that the hype and anticipation from players led to a rushed production from the Creators – who had at one point decided not to work on this island due to ideas not quite working out. Although we are grateful that popular demand brought it back, the overall experience still felt somewhat lacking.
While it wasn’t a complete flop – indeed, the art direction continues to be beautiful as ever – other aspects of the island (plot, character, mechanics, bugs) leave quite a bit to be desired. So, we’ve decided to award it a 2.5 out of 5 crystals.
Thanks for reading our review of Crisis Caverns Island! What did you think of the island and this review? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
– the PHB team –