As I mentioned in my preview of The Cave, I first came across this title while attending the Eurogamer Expo in September last year, up until that point I had been completely oblivious to the games existence, thankfully though after playing through the demo The Cave became a firm destination on my gaming map.
The Cave is a joint venture between the brilliant team at Double Fine, creators of the Halloween focussed-but-still-amazing-no matter-what-the-season Costume Quest, and Ron Gilbert, the legendary creator of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. It tells the story of seven adventurers who have journeyed to the titular Cave in order to plunder its depths and find what they have always wanted.
The game starts just outside the entrance to The Cave with our seven adventurers gathered round a fire, the first thing you’ll find out is that this particular story will be narrated to you by the Cave itself, yes, the Cave is a sentient life form that has been around of hundreds, nay thousands, nay nay nay hundreds of thousands of years, according to his introduction anyway. As you cycle between the characters the Cave will explain a bit more about them and then the choice is up to you.
As with Gilbert’s classic Maniac Mansion you are able to pick three of the seven characters to play with on your journey. Your choices are The Monk, the Hillbilly, the Time Traveller, the Scientist, the Adventurer, the Knight and the Twins. Each of the characters has a story to tell and each will get their own adventure within the Cave so in order to really see the game as a whole you’ll need to play it three times.
The Cave wear’s it’s heritage quite proudly, there are more than a few nods to not only Gilbert’s previous games, ‘New Grog’ is particular choice for Monkey Island fans, and a guest appearance from ‘Chuck the Plant’ from Maniac Manision, but also games in general, this is a very self-aware title and it has it’s tongue placed firmly in its cheek.
As you progress through The Cave you’ll visit a desert island, an abandoned mine, a carnival, and many other strange places, each of the characters has their own particular level, so depending on who you pick depends on the story you’ll be told. The characters stories are all quite dark and some walk a line of moral ambiguity, while others not so much cross it as do a running jump over it.
The Cave is essentially a platformer puzzler, the puzzles are very clever and will often leave you scratching your head, they can be tricky, but without feeling like they are deliberately obtuse, everything has a reason to exist and so in some cases it can be a matter of trial and error, the sense of accomplishment when a puzzle or section is completed is almost tangible.
Unfortunately the platforming isn’t as well perfected. While for the most part it’s flawless, after all the jumps are pretty standard and The Cave won’t let you die, the issues are noticeable when smaller jumps are required, an example during the Carnival level requires you to jump onto a moving Ferris Wheel, took quite a few attempts to perfect the jump.
The Cave isn’t just a single player game though, as is expected you can team up with someone else in local co-op to control one of the other characters. I did this with a friend and we both found the idea confusing, we weren’t sure who was in charge and if one character moves off screen then the camera follows them so Player 2 has to follow, no split screen so team work and communication is vital.
This is just a minor niggle in what is otherwise a really fun and playful game. The Cave harkens back to a time when the Point & Click was King, when games weren’t afraid to challenge you and didn’t hold your hand so tight it stopped the flow of blood.
- Clever and Funny story
- Rewarding challenges
- Platforming can be a little wide
- Co-Op is likely to cause arguments
- The non-character specific levels can get dull after first play through
The Cave is available now on practically every format apart from mobile ones. Prices will of course vary.
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Tim Bowers is the ex-Editor of Zero1Gaming, he also occasionally writes when he's able to string sentences together. He can usually be found waiting for Nintendo to remember about Samus Aran.