After reading a ton of favorable reviews on Double Fine's The Cave, and seeing that it was developed by Ron Gilbert--the man behind many of my favorite old-school adventure games, like Monkey Island--I decided it was time for me to check it out. And, it didn't hurt that it was a freebie for Playstation Plus members this past week, so what better time to take a trip into The Cave....
I found The Cave to be a fun, challenging, and refreshing reprieve from the dominatingRPGs and FPSs on the market, which have monopolized my gaming shelf the last few years. It combines puzzle-solving, teamwork, and a bit of platform elements with fun graphics, clever dialogue, and an entertaining narrator (the deep voice of "The Cave"). The puzzles are challenging but never to the point of complete frustration, and often require coordination of multiple character's actions to solve. One play-through with three of the seven characters didn't take all that long, so the game makes a nice little interlude if you're looking for something different or a short break from RPGs and other games with extensive content requiring a longer commitment.
The game maintains a mysterious, foreshadowing tone thanks to the narrator, lurking soundtrack and the quirky but slightly dark quality of the graphics. But not everything remains a mystery: the characters' back-stories are revealed as your adventure progresses, thanks to the discovery of "cave art" sites which unlock pieces of exclusive game art that collectively tell our characters' histories and mindset. Without giving anything away, the revelation of these stories ties in nicely with the narration and overall mood of the game, and are indicative that the game developers frame the storyline as a cautionary tale about greed, desire, and the unforeseen consequences of the characters' actions in their quests to obtain that thing which they desire most.
|The Hillbilly making his way through his |
Perhaps my favorite aspect of The Cave are the wonderful throw-back references to adventure games from LucasArts days....careful placement of grog machines and useless cans of corn at several stages in The Cave brought a smile to my face and fond memories of the Monkey Island series. Many components of the game, including the dark narration and the general illustration of the characters, bore the hallmarks of those early adventure games. I thought it was a nice nod to some of the outstanding games that blazed the trail for the adventure gaming genre.
Overall, The Cave is a fun and memorable addition to adventure gaming and to Ron Gilbert's accomplishments, definitely worthy of a play-through or two. I am now playing with The Monk, The Hillbilly, and The Twins and have not been disappointed--new content is plentiful and their stories are entertaining. If I had to find something negative about the game, the only feature somewhat tedious was the time consuming ladder-climbling and pre-positioning of the three characters to solve various aspects of the puzzles throughout the game. Some of the levels of the cave are fairly intricate and I felt that sometimes I spent way more time moving the characters around to the necessary rooms than I did actually solving the puzzles. However, I can understand how the seemingly extraneous movement would be unavoidable in many cases, and it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the game. Playstation Plus freebie or not, The Cave is a great little adventure game that you should check out!