The Cave Review
A Double Fine adventure, but not Double Fine Adventure.
Adventure game veteran, Ron Gilbert, has been bouncing around from studio to studio for years, creating some of your favorite adventure games. Classics like Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, and The Secret of Monkey Island are among his past creations but today he’s landed at Double Fine and is ready to lead you into The Cave. Not that he wants to lure you into a dark area or anything, he just has a new game and it’s called The Cave.
The Cave is both the setting and a character in this adventure, narrating the story and offering sometimes smug observations about the player characters and their choices. The general story has players taking control of three of large group of adventurers hoping to explore The Cave, and learn some sort of truth about themselves.
Though you’ll be picking three characters to take on your journey, you’ll only control one at a time. The controls are simple, with each character being able to jump, interact with specific objects, and use a special ability. Your special ability can range from the Time Traveler’s short-distance teleport, to The Hillbilly’s skill that surrounds his head with a bubble, allowing him to breathe under water.
Most of the puzzles you’ll encounter in The Cave require two or three characters working in tandem to complete. When playing by yourself you’ll have to switch between characters using the D-pad. Since the puzzles don’t require the three to perform actions at exactly the same time, the character switching isn’t as awkward as it might sound. However, there are some puzzles that can be frustrating to solve since they expect you to perform actions you haven’t been told you can perform. It would be hard to explain further, without giving away the solutions to the puzzles I’m talking about but you’ll know them when you come to them.
As you progress through The Cave you’ll come upon sections that have been dynamically added in depending upon the characters you’ve chosen. Each character will have their own section and, as each plays out you’ll be able to learn that every character is a little bit deeper than the archetype they’re based on. The stories are presented in a generally light-hearted manner, but there is always a dark undertone that manages to make you feel bad for laughing, after it’s too late.
Some of the areas will repeat, but after you finish the game the good news is that you can jump back in with three different characters and you’ll find yourself up against a whole new set of challenging puzzles and a whole new set of stories to unwind.
The Cave does allow for two or three players to play together locally, but I don’t think you will want to go with this option. When playing co-op you can still only control one character at a time so the other two characters will have to sit there and watch you play, when your character needs to do something. Even if two characters are on the screen at the same time, you still won’t be able to control them simultaneously.
The Cave’s three character design could have lent itself well to co-op action but it was implemented in a lazy way and ends up being no fun at all. Online co-op could also have solved the problem of characters needing to be off-screen from each other. The same goes for split-screen for local play, but sadly Double Fine went with neither option.
The Cave is a fun and challenging adventure game that doesn’t get everything right, but still has a lot to love. The puzzles are well designed, for the most part, and the stories often take mild, unexpected, turns that will surprise you more than any elaborate Hollywood style twist. This isn’t a game you’re going to want to play with friends, but fans of the adventure genre will likely enjoy this particular spelunking expedition.
Available On: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC / Wii U