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The Cave Review
developer: Double Fine Productions
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Jan 22, 13
|» All About The Cave on ActionTrip|
Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island - we all remember those names right? Veteran gamers should, anyway. Ron Gilbert, one of the key people responsible for creating such inspiring games, has now teamed up with the folks at Double Fine Productions to bring us The Cave, a nifty, new platform-oriented adventure and puzzle game. Yep, that's exactly what it is and there's no point in saying otherwise.
This game is all about spelunking. And you probably know all you need to know about spelunking. You don't? Well, look it up.
Damn it, will you give me some rope here!
Just travel back in time, and try again!
The story shapes rather neatly, and as absurdly, as you'd imagine, as you go along. You simply pick three out of seven available character stereotypes and just go with it. Players are able to choose from several heroes including Monk, Adventurer, Hillbilly, Scientist, Twins, Knight, and Time Traveler. No matter which character combo you opt for, the developers made it certain you'll have fun. It's also a decent challenge for your puzzle-solving abilities. One of the combinations we selected was: Knight, Time Traveler and Adventurer. The group provided an interesting mix of challenges, which, of course, became more difficult with each stride forwards.
Perhaps at this point we should explain that a lot of emphasis is put on combining the skills and abilities of the three heroes. Naturally, you can solve every puzzle in the game while operating the characters by yourself. However, from our experience, The Cave can be pretty cool if you jump into a game with a friend. For example, one player can distract a monster (a dragon, say), while the other tries to snatch the loot. The interesting thing is that the game will vary according to your choice of characters. This means that some areas, designed for other characters, are going to remain locked until you play with a specific hero.
The music, delightful sound-effects and the voiceovers are all key elements that fit rather well with the wacky, cartoonish art style. The Monkey Island style humor is present, as 'The Cave' itself begins spitting out wisdom in the form of cynical observations or disapproval, as you try to pull off some ridiculous or physically impossible stunt. It all bears the mark of the great Ron Gilbert, who's rightfully considered by many to be a God in the world of P&C adventure games. There's no doubt The Cave will you make remember classics such as Day of the Tentacle. There are some puzzles that require you to scratch your head a bit, although we didn't bump into anything we couldn't handle.
And all this time I thought keys were for... never mind.
As much as we'd like to enjoy this one all the way, spelunking and exploring the treasures of The Cave may get a bit tedious. In all of Double Fine's effort to reinvigorate our passions for old-school adventure games, like Monkey Island and such, there's little shown here to rekindle these passions. Apart from the aforementioned sporadic doses of zany humor spewed out by certain characters, there's little else that evokes the quality of Ron Gilbert's earlier work. The biggest problem lies in its questionable level design decisions. You can dash through some areas without doing anything, just because you don't have the appropriate character in your party. So, in order to access those areas, you'll have to wait for the next playthrough, at which time you're bound to witness the same areas and puzzles you've already completed in (at least) one playthrough before. Whether it's bad design or just a miscalculation, the game sometimes fails to engage players.
As it stands, The Cave is a reasonably entertaining product, giving you a sufficient amount of content for its price tag. While all the adventure and platform elements were fused well together, you'll always somehow find yourself expecting more. It almost seems like the devs were playing it safe, never going that extra mile, never pushing the limit in any way.
Ron Gilbert's touch is evident, the whole thing is stacked with plenty of zany Monkey Island inspired humor, smooth and uncluttered design, fun and easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics;
Level design and, well, we were hoping for more "adventure" when a name like Ron Gilbert is involved.
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