Review: The Cave

Indie game studio Double Fine has been working overtime of late, producing its Kickstarted game that's currently dubbed 'Double Fine Adventure'. The Cave, created by Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame, is not that game, but it's still a robust, old-school adventure game.

NameAdventure game: The Cave
Summary:Good for a laugh, but you'll be tired of running back and forth by the end.
Games Info:Developer: Double Fine; Publisher: Sega
Classification:Not rated
Platform:Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Test Platform:PS3

Indie game studio Double Fine has been working overtime of late, producing both its Kickstarted game that’s currently dubbed ‘Double Fine Adventure’. The Cave, created by Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame, is not that game, but it’s still a robust, old-school adventure game.

The Cave is about seven adventurous characters who, for some reason, have to make their way through a talking cave. (It’s best not to question it.) The cave narrates the characters’ journey in an orotund voice, telling jokes and generally making you feel like an idiot when you die or can’t work something out. It’s one of the few games I can think of that has actually made me laugh out loud.

The Cave is an adventure game in the classic sense – there’s no combat and barely any difficult platforming. Instead, the challenge lies in figuring out the solutions to various puzzles. Usually, you start by finding the an item that goes with another item – like a fuse for an empty fuse box, for example – and that will unlock the next little puzzle to help you solve a greater problem.

Rather than using all seven adventurers, you pick three at the start of your journey. During the game, you hit a button to switch between characters. Many – if not most – of the puzzles involve you switching from one character to the next: you might have the monk holding onto a lever while the scientist walks through the gate it opens.

The characters you pick will influence the game’s story – there’s a level exclusively for the knight, and a level exclusively for the time traveller. You’ll need to use the matching characters’ special ability to solve many of the puzzles in those levels, which are slotted in between levels that everyone will play, regardless of which characters they pick. You might come across the entrance to the twins’ level, but you won’t be able to enter – because if you did, there’s no way you could complete it. Since there are seven characters, it’ll take three playthroughs to discover the backstory of every character.

There are two ways you learn more about your characters’ stories – from the collectible cave drawings you’ll come across on your journey, and from playing through character-specific levels. It becomes apparent rather quickly that even the most innocent-looking characters are not the nicest of folks, and The Cave evolves from something resembling a parody of The Twilight Zone into a black comedy.

The big problem with The Cave is that some of the levels are rather large, and every time you discover a new piece of the puzzle, or are simply trying things out to see if they work, you have to run back and forth, back and forth, retracing steps. It really does get tiresome – the time traveller’s level, in particular, involved running back to the very start of the level many, many times to use a time machine, which really grated on my nerves after a while. It would be a lot more helpful if there were checkpoints within the level that you could teleport to.

Despite that, The Cave is fun to play through for the handful of hours it lasts. Is it the most replayable game ever? Probably not – truth be told, the characters’ backstories are pretty similar tales of villainy and revenge. If you play through once, you get the point. Play through twice, and that running back and forth playing levels you’ve already completed is going to get really annoying.

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Tags Double Finethe cavesegagaminggamesindie

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Siobhan Keogh

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