After 20 years of “The Cave” being stuck into his head Ron Gilbert (Yes, the same Ron Gilbert that made Monkey Island) has finally made this game a reality by working with Double Fine Productions. But how does this downloadable adventure/puzzler play out?
At the beginning, you select three characters out of a field of seven with each of them carrying their own little special ability from invincibility to a grapple hook. At the beginning, The Cave gives you a little back story to each of the characters. Depending on the three you select, the story that plays out and what you encounter on your journey changes. After selecting your three characters there is no turning back but you needn’t worry about the others. You can go back and choose another three once you have finished, this is great for re-playability as you can get a new story from it.
The story itself is very well written. Gilbert gives The Cave a great sense of dry wit which is almost guarenteed to make you at least crack a smirk. It also makes you want to stop and listen whenever the narrator is talking just to hear what remark he wants to make. But along with the writing being witty, the story also has a very dark tone in terms of the characters back stories which unfolds as you explore deeper into The Cave through discovering cave drawings as well as going through their respective cave areas.
The puzzles found in The Cave is nothing compared to what you would find in a game like Portal. Most don’t take long to work out and I only found myself going “well I’m stumped” twice. Although they are not mind bindingly evil in terms of difficultly, they are still difficult enough to keep you interested and your brain working above normal thinking capacity, a puzzler this still certainly is, just not a puzzler that will treat your brain like it’s b***h.
The main thing people will find frustrating is the amount of toing and froing you will be doing while trying to solve the puzzles. What doesn’t help is that the platforming elements are slow and frustrating. You’ll be finding yourself climbing more ladders than in the original Donkey Kong and the fact that you climb ladders so slow to the point where jumping up them actually works out faster only adds to the frustration. Also re-grouping is not possible unless you have left the current area and in some points, you’ll find yourself needing to regroup so instead you have to traverse across half the area just so one character can help out.
Overall The Cave isn’t a game you want to play for the puzzles or the game play but more a game you want to play for the story. You’ll want to replay this so you can learn all of the characters stories and what they done. While puzzles won’t be completely taxing, they still offer enough of a challenge to keep you interested. You could say The Cave is 2013′s Black Comedy; fuelled with wit, but contains a very dark undertone that will make you want to push on all the way to the end. One ladder at a time.