The Cave Review
Platformers are a dying breed in the video game world. So are puzzle games. So when a platform-puzzler like Double Fine’s and Sega’s The Cave comes along, it’s like finding a dodo bird at the end of a double rainbow. However, just because this hybrid is a rarity, is it also worth spelunking for?
Sprung from the creative minds of Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer, The Cave follows tells the tale of seven different characters (eight if you include the other twin). You would think that such characters as “The Scientist” and “The Warrior” were pulled from the doodles of a child, but each one plays to their clichés in a way that works in their favor.
However, none of the aforementioned characters in The Cave says anything, other than the occasional grunt. Rather, the lighthearted story of The Cave is handled through a witty narration from the cave itself, whose non sequitur break up the long bouts of silence. While more of these clips would be nice, there are enough to entertain players both young and old.
Despite the boatloads of charm The Cave has to offer, the meat of the gameplay itself is not for everyone. One part platforming and two part puzzle, each section requires the heroes to find their way to the next section of the cave. With objects strewn about and no clear indication as to what needs to be done next, there is a lot of trial and error at play here. This would normally be fine in and of itself, but the amount of backtracking can make problem solving downright frustrating. In addition, the placement of three characters needs to strike a perfect balance at any given moment, transforming a normally trivial solution to a puzzle into something that can be downright maddening. However, the multiplayer mode of this game alleviates this problem immensely, and comes highly recommended.
When the system does work, however, the puzzles in The Cave click like clockwork. Solutions are subtle enough without being obtuse, and the game (or rather, the cave itself) does what it can to alleviate what problems might come up with infinite lives, large text, and enclosed areas. The platforming also works as it should, with object interaction and jumping available across the board. The special abilities each character does what it can to break up the repetition, but some moves are far more interesting than others. When you compare breathing underwater to time manipulation, there’s just no contest.
Despite the fact that nearly every puzzle boils down to getting X number of items or getting to Y location, The Cave is engaging enough to grab your attention through the handful of hours needed to clear each scenario.
The Cave is a callback to days gone by, which is both its greatest strength and weakness. The humor presented here is as timeless as ever, but the gameplay is definitely an acquired taste. However, for those who like their games with even the slightest dash of humor, The Cave will satisfy.
The Cave is a diamond in the rough, one that could use a little polish but still has a unique shine all its own