Version tested: PC
Double Fine have some of the best talents the industry has to offer with Ron Gilbert being one of them so when The Cave was announced of course everyone was excited. I was hoping for some great platforming adventure time but sadly, I was disappointed to say the least.
The game features a talking sentient cave whose narration is probably one of the only things I enjoyed about the game. I thought it would be something like Bastion where the narrator will be there throughout the journey but he will run out of things to say after a short while and will only say something when you pass or reach certain sections and this is not good. The Cave brings together seven characters from which you can choose three to bring along. There are character-specific areas that utilizes their skills in the cave as well as general ones.
The Cave is first and foremost a side-scrolling platformer, that will be one of the main things you will do, platforming from one end to the other; moving your characters throughout the large levels and of course those ladder, those profanity-inducing ladders. It’s almost as thought they did it on purpose. That’s the only explanation I have. Climbing them and trying to get off the ladders while you keep finding yourself back on the ladder and when you finally get off the ladder you will now be hanging from a rope.
It’s all about solving puzzles to move on to the next area using objects you find and the skills of your chosen three. Some objects are useful and some aren’t but you won’t know until you pick it up and bring it along with you. This is probably the closest it gets to being an adventure and those that are used to playing them will find it easier, like filling a bucket with water to catch and extinguish dynamite. But there will be items like I said that are totally useless and since you won’t know until you get through a level bringing them with you, it becomes all about having the right character at the right place with the right item and since the levels are pretty huge, it will get a little frustrating moving your characters back and forth.
The idea of course is a great one, using three characters at once each with their own abilities to help get you through the level which also promises to add to its replayability allowing you to see and solve levels differently as you try out different characters but needing to move all three across the vast levels without too much of a clue as to what to do until you see it and not to mention all those damned ladders, it makes for a frustrating experience.
There are those of you that will be motivated to learn more about the characters and giving it another go with another three characters but sadly the stories themselves aren’t very strong while the characters that are involved in them you won’t really care for. The game also doesn’t have a load of charm going for it, humor is spread far and thin and when they present itself it’s only decent at best.
Be forewarned that the most agonising part of replaying this is the general levels you have to endure no matter who you bring and since it doesn’t utilise any of your character’s unique abilities, it’ll get dull fairly quickly. Made worse when you have to play a third time to bring along that seventh character.
The visuals are nice to look at, it’s Double Fine after all but the game mainly takes place in dark caverns so that’s a waste.
The Cave more often that not seemed to be confused, is it a platformer? Is it an adventure puzzler? It doesn’t seem to do any of them well. While the concept is intriguing to think about if they would have executed it differently, like say getting rid of the huge corridors of nothingness or fixing the bloody platforming, The Cave just falls short in every category it’s trying to mesh together. The game is just so frustrating (not in the ” I can’t figure it out way” but more of a “god this corridor is too long” way) and while is not thoroughly bad game, I can’t recommend it to anyone unless it’s on sale for at least half off. Not even to the most hardcore adventure aficionado.