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Review

The Cave Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

The Cave is a fun yet flawed adventure that challenges the mind, explores the human psyche, and raises a few laughs too.

'

On the surface, the characters of The Cave are your typical videogame heroes. The adventurer seeks treasure, the scientist seeks knowledge, and the knight must prove his bravery to win a fair maiden's hand. But as the story unfolds, it's clear that there's more to these characters than meets the eye. Each of them holds a disturbing secret, and it's only in the darkness of the cave--a sarcastic, cynical entity unto its own--that their true nature is revealed. The fact that these dark story elements are ably mixed with witty narration is a testament to the great writing on show here. The gameplay is a mix of platformer and point-and-click adventure mechanics, and is decidedly less impressive. There are some interesting puzzles to solve, and the platforming is suitably light, but a clunky camera and character switching system makes exploring the dark caverns of the cave too much of a chore.

That's down to having to control three characters at once during your journey. There are seven to choose from, each of them possessing a unique and often humorous backstory narrated by the cave itself, which hints at the dark discoveries you make during your travels. The trouble is, you have to individually manoeuvre each character across the 2D, side scrolling levels, switching between them using the d-pad. There are good reasons for doing this. Many puzzles involve having characters use objects in different places, such as pulling a far away lever to open a door, or using a hotdog to lure a monster away from his lair while your compatriots rush in to steal the treasure within.

But there are also many moments when you need to have all your characters together to solve a puzzle. And when they're spread out across a huge expanse of cave, it's a laborious process to bring them all together again. There's an element of Metroid-like exploration at play, which--given some of the discoverable story elements and objects scattered throughout the cave's tunnels--is deftly encouraged. But when you have to repeat the process three times with each character, that exploration soon begins to grate. Teaming up with friends for local co-op isn't much help either. Not only are some players left standing around twiddling their thumbs while others go off to explore, but the switching system that lets you take control of any player's character at will is a far too tempting way to grief them too.

Fortunately, the platforming that powers the exploration is kept light and breezy. There aren't any difficult jumps to perform, or vast caverns to traverse. And should the unthinkable happen and you die, there are no extra lives or game over screens to deal with: you simply float back to where you died and begin again. This helps keep the focus on exploring the cave, and solving its many puzzles. Those take the form of traditional item gathering and combining, and logic puzzles. The lack of an inventory means you can only carry one item per character, with everything you need being located within, or near a given puzzle.

Like many point-and-clicks there's a certain amount of videogame logic to overcome, but there's rarely a solution that's too out there for you to discover. You might have to combine a bucket with a puddle of water so you can catch lit dynamite, for instance, or dive into a pool of electric eels in order to charge a flat battery and power a tape recorder. Handily, objects that you can interact with are clearly marked, which means there's no need to run around each area randomly pushing buttons in the hope of picking up a hidden object. There are also many puzzles that require the use of all three characters, such as pulling three levers simultaneously to open doors, or using a time machine to change the past so another character can solve a puzzle in the present.

The puzzles are challenging, but not overly so, even if it takes a little while to get used to The Cave's three-person logic. You also have to take into account each character's special ability. For instance, The monk can pull objects towards him using telekinesis, while the twins can create a body double to interact with two objects at once. Depending on which characters you've chosen, there's often a second, easier solution to many puzzles by way of those special abilities, which gives the game a degree of openness missing from similar point-and-clicks.

Where the special abilities truly come into play are during levels tailored to a specific character. It's there that you learn the true motivations behind their adventure. These dark tales that are ethically questionable, but are told with a great sense of humor via the narration of the cave. Sure, you might not want to launch a nuclear missile that kills millions, or unleash a deadly dragon upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of a kingdom, but the cute styling of the characters, comedic voice acting, and the fact that their actions are so lamented by the cave itself mean you never feel too guilty about it all.

With seven characters to choose from, multiple play throughs are the only way to see everything the game has to offer. That does mean you have to repeat some puzzles before you get to the character-specific sections, but you can easily whizz through them a second time and get to parts that are new. Plus, the story elements and excellent narration are more than good enough to warrant another play through.

The Cave's puzzles are challenging, its story is well constructed and narrated, and its cartoon-like visuals and sprawling, morphing tunnels are pleasant to look at. Its mashup of elements from platformers and point-and-clicks fare less well, but if you can overlook those small flaws The Cave is a dark, yet humorous adventure that ably exercises the grey matter.

'
The Good
Ably combines humor with dark storytelling
Puzzles are fun and challenging
Funny voice acting
New puzzles and stories to discover with repeat play
The Bad
Controlling three characters at once is frustrating
Having to repeat puzzles in order to see the new ones
7
Good
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Discussion

55 comments
OHGFawx
OHGFawx

I have no idea why, but I play until I got all the achievements. It took 7 play-throughs , I did it in 2 days, I was sick of hearing the same jokes over and over by the end, and I will never play The Cave again.

outlawst
outlawst

I didn't heard the name Ron Gilbert(game creator) and a magazine called him a genius ! after playing the game,I find out why they called him a genius!that's all I can say.

FAIL_TR0LL
FAIL_TR0LL

Played a few hours with my brother last night. At times it definitely feels more like a single player game masked as a multi-player game, but the puzzles are really masterfully done.   

DAP2010
DAP2010

Havent played it, looks great. But seeing from the comments, and just from the trailer i think its obvious "7" isnt an accurate rating for this game. is it me or does this site give stupid ratings sometimes. a bit like how rotten tomatoes gives really weird ratings to good movies - so i switched to imdb. now im thinking im gonna start looking at ign or something else for ratings

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

I actually didn't like this game. I'm usually into Doube Fine games, but this was probably the worst $15 or so I've spent on a game this year! I was really disappointed.

Llednar7
Llednar7

I played the demo and loved it. Thinking about getting it later today

omplog
omplog

Genre "ACTION"!!! These people at Gamespot couldn't be more stupid. Its an Adventure game, I guess the don't listen to their own interview to Ron.

keyb0red
keyb0red

will check this out -- looks fun

WheelerJared
WheelerJared

ehh, I just got ps+ so I have a shitload of free games to play right now. :)

Poodlejumper
Poodlejumper

Really?  Looks like much more fun that most games that would get a 80%+ at Gamespot.

cip_raziel
cip_raziel

I like the game, but Trine 1 and 2 were better and 2 looked much better than this.

icebox53
icebox53

this game is amazing!!! :D

Kuribboh
Kuribboh

I'm in love. I love puzzles


snugglebear
snugglebear

I wish this hadn't come out at the same time as Ni No Kuni. I'm still playing it, but I'll have to wait. First world problems. 

CDNkilljoy
CDNkilljoy

its seems like if you have 15 bucks burning a hole in your pocket its not a bad way to spend a Saturday night, but i dont see myself doing multiple playthroughs for the achievements (if there are such achievements)

sethfrost
sethfrost

Why is a video ad running (INCL SOUND ON?!) when I visit this site?? It's like 1990s Websites all over again. Remember when clicking on a HTML site started a AVI-file to download and midi music ran over animated gifs. Good luck making money with web-ads when I stop clicking on gamespot-dot-com :( ... oh, and too bad The Cave sounds like a less polished version of Trine 1 or Unmechanical. Doublefine and all ...

x3lA
x3lA

The Fapcave

psuedospike
psuedospike

I had a couple lock-ups on the Wii U version today and the frame rate is pretty bad, but who cares it's a new Ron Gilbert comic Adventure game!

Stebsis
Stebsis

Really glad that this doesn't suck. Already preordered it so would've been a bummer :D Can't wait to play it, got the steam key from greenmangaming already but can't download the game yet.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I was wondering how controlling the three characters was going to be handled. Doesn't seem like it worked out too well.

musical_master
musical_master

Kinda reminds me of "Maniac Mansion" Will have to check it out.

jabutl02
jabutl02

I wonder if they drew any inspiration from Plato's allegory. Might make for an interesting discussion. 

Soulreavercross
Soulreavercross moderator

Despite the flaws (which I'm sure I can overlook), this game looks really interesting and has my attention. I may get it.

RogerioFM
RogerioFM

I never understood this, the fact that people from english speaking coutries have problems to pronounce some words of their own language.

ggregd
ggregd

It's nice to see they didn't resort to "retro" graphics.

AndCarlsen
AndCarlsen

Everything I've seen about this game looks great, I'll buy it. I'm able to look past the flaws.

jockleshmockle
jockleshmockle

I don't know about anyone else, but I am a huge fan of "videogame logic".  Get your realism out of my point-and-click adventure!

tmrtyn
tmrtyn

Great Review Mark :) I'm really dying to get my hands on this one.

Ford_Cruller
Ford_Cruller

Looks like a good time. Always happy to play a Ron Gilbert game!

SaudiFury
SaudiFury

sweet. can't wait to play this game. 

KBFloYd
KBFloYd

well trine 2 got a 6.5....so this is better than trine 2? :P

Lhomity
Lhomity

@DAP2010 "Accurate" is a word that has literally zero relevance when you're talking about the rating of a video game review. This review, like all reviews, is the opinion of one person. Accuracy has nothing to do with it. Whether you agree with a review is entirely up to you, but agreeing or disagreeing with a review doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the review.

Reviewing is not a scientific process, and reviewers do not check what other people are rating a game. All a reviewer can ever do is tell you what he/she felt from their own experiences. The score itself is only a vague summary of the reviewer's feelings that really only matters to people who don't like (or don't have time) to read reviews.

 Good luck ^_^

vaelien
vaelien

@DAP2010 Actually IMDB suffers from the fan/trolling syndrome. At least Rotten Tomatoes, had a lot of reviews to choose from. I personally go to IMDB for cast information, synopsis, maybe the trailer then go to Metacritic for a combined metascore. I also always check critics' and user score separately and then if I really want to check a movie I also check the reviews in Rotten Tomatoes

treava
treava

@musical_master Good eyes! The director of this game is Ron Gilbert who also created Maniac Mansion!

mtait01
mtait01

@RogerioFM  it can depend on the word... Some words that we say in England are different to how the Americans say it... and is different to how Australians say it.

obsequies
obsequies

@ggregd wouldn't have cared either way, its art..I find polygons overused

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

@AndCarlsen Specially if they're Mark Walton flaws, which mean they very well be anything - from non-existent to actual strengths. Anything *but* flaws, most probably.

inkyspot
inkyspot

@raydawg2000 If that is true, that's horrible.

I was going to get that game, but that is a deal breaker for me.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

@WCK619 It better be since the whole game is built around that. But I have all the faith in the world in Rockstar though. If they fail, the world will surely riot lol

bick420
bick420

@slayer1090 If you actually want people to understand you, then yes, there are correct pronunciations to all words. Feel free to say things in your "own way", but there is a correct way to say every word. Your comment makes no sense.

The Cave More Info

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  • First Released
    • Android
    • iPhone/iPod
    • + 7 more
    • Macintosh
    • Ouya
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Unix/Linux
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    The Cave is a 2D puzzle action and adventure game where players will assemble a team of three unlikely adventures that must descend into the mysterious depths to explore locations including a subterranean amusement park and a medieval castle, not to mention a fully armed and ready-to-launch nuclear tipped ICBM.
    7.6
    Average User RatingOut of 317 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate The Cave
    Developed by:
    Double Fine Productions,
    Published by:
    Double Fine Productions, Sega
    Genres:
    2D, Action, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Fantasy Violence