For fans of adventure games, Ron Gilbert is a widely known name. The creator of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island is regarded as a major pioneer for the genre. His newest adventure game, developed by Double Fine, takes place in a talking cave as a group of three adventurers try to find riches to fulfill each character’s personal quest. The end result is a game that embodies both old and new adventure games.
The Cave is the story of seven characters who have each come to the cave for their own reason. You choose three of the seven characters for each playthrough, resulting in a different experience depending on the outfit picked at the beginning of the game. Each of the seven characters have a unique animation style, and a special ability to help them get through the different puzzles. For each character, there is a unique area of the cave that is based on their past. For example, the Knight would like to win the heart of the king’s daughter and remove Excalibur stuck in the rock. These tailored areas are the most memorable moments from The Cave.
In addition to the unique areas of the cave reserved for our adventurers, each character has a special ability to help them through their designated section of our narrator, along with the other puzzles in the game. For example, the Monk is able to use his mind to move objects to his possession. This allows him to solve puzzles quicker that would otherwise take a few extra steps. As you play through the game multiple times, you’ll figure out the various ways you can solve puzzles with the different characters, which adds to the games replay value.
This is both positive and negative, depending on the areas of the game. The positive comes from each character having very unique puzzles to solve, and the fact that each character has their own ability to solve puzzles in multiple ways. The negative comes from the fact that once you know how to finish each puzzle, there is not much replay value. A first playthrough of the game can take between two and a half to three hours. With seven characters, each with a unique storyline, you’ll need to play through the game three times to get each narrative.
As there are three character which each playthrough, the game is perfectly set up for a co-op experience. Unfortunately for me, I was not able to play through The Cave through co-op as it features local co-op only. While playing on your own, the camera focuses on one character, and you can switch between any of the three characters at anytime by using the D-Pad. It should be noted that the computer AI does not control the other two characters. At first this may seem like it could be tedious to control all three characters. But at certain points in the cave, the game will move the other two characters up to the one that is under control. While in an area solving a puzzle, you are glad that the AI is not controlling the other two characters. One major gameplay mechanic is setting different characters in areas of the map to coordinate a move.
Visually, The Cave is a gorgeous looking title. You view the game from a side perspective, similar to older 2D platformer games. Some of the most impressive looking parts of the game are the backgrounds of The Cave. You’ll see some things that make you wonder why they are in this cave, for example the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The water effects are excellent as well. In the sections that you have to swim through, it feels like you are a bystander watching these adventurers swim in an aquarium. As animation goes, The Cave is excellent. Each character features its own unique animation style that fits the style of the personalities.
The Cave is a very straightforward adventure game. It features unique characters, areas of The Cave that talk about the backstory of said characters, a great sense of humor, and a setting that is gorgeous. What could have been an excellent game is marred by a cumbersome control system that takes sometime to get used to, and a lack of AI controlled characters to advance adventurers to new areas of The Cave. These annoyances aren’t enough to distract from the overall package, which is an enjoyable adventure game that fans of that genre will appreciate. Good luck spelunking, you’ll need it!
The Cave was developed by Double Fine and published by Sega for Xbox 360, PS3, WiiU, PC and Linux on January 22nd / 23rd. A retail copy of the PS3 version was provided to us by Sega for reviewing purposes.