The Cave Review: An Enjoyable Trip Down Repressed Memory Lane
The Cave is like “Are You Afraid of the Dark” with better narration and more violence!
The Cave is a new platform, puzzle, adventure title developed by Double Fine studios and published by Sega; following some of their previous wacky titles, such as Stacking, Psychonauts, and Costume Quest. The Cave follows the obscure misadventures of seven wrongdoers who must face the skeletons in their closets whilst spelunking in a seemingly bottomless cave. However, this cave is no ordinary cave. This cave is self-aware, well educated, and has one of those deep sensual radio voices (Think Vincent Price meets Bastion’s narrator) which he uses to narrate your adventures as you delve deeper and deeper into his madcap depths.
You begin your adventure on the surface where you are given a choice of what three characters you will be taking on your expedition. You have seven choices of characters: the Monk, Adventurer, Hillbilly, Scientist, the Twins, Knight, and finally, the Time-Traveler. Each character has his or her own back-story which focuses on the evil in their hearts and their past; it is this evil that the Cave is feeding upon. The Cave uses the object of an individual’s deepest, darkest desires to attract them into its depths, but first, that individual must relive their darkest moments.
The Cave has so many stories…
The overall story a player encounters in the Cave is catered to the team of characters one picks in the beginning; each character has its own story and each story has its own level. The characters themselves are each different, not just in story and appearance, but they each have a different ability that opens up new paths and helps them to navigate through their specific level. There are also several other levels that appear regardless of your team. They also each have a gallery of cave paintings, dedicated to their story, that illustrate the details behind their betrayal, or deceit, or murder, or whatever thing they did. You will come across these paintings in random areas of each map, however, in order to get all of them, and find out what all the characters have done, you must beat the game multiple times. You can only take three characters, there are seven; do the math.
…With so many platforms and puzzles…
The gameplay is very traditional platformer fare: “jump here”, “move this there”, “pick that up”, “press this button to smell like a stinky old dinosaur”; the usual. However, there is quite a bit of puzzle solving involved. The game is sort of similar to a point and click adventure, in that you must use a specific item to solve a particular problem, but in a certain way; The Cave achieves this with style and comedy. While being teased and taunted by the pretentious cave you make your way through each level climbing ladders, pulling switches, and…. killing innocents? The puzzles are very fun, the stories are crazy, but the characters lack any real emotion. Sure, I suppose if the character is an emotionless sack he wouldn’t have much emotion, but it would have been nice to hear some dialogue from them at random moments, or between the characters. Still, the characters do seem to have some sense of identities (that sort of spawn from the cave paintings), regardless of how silent a protagonist they are.
…In so little time
The game is a bit short; taking only about 3 hours to beat, but that doesn’t take into account the different stories there are to witness. To beat the game with each character you would have to play the game three times (here comes math again), and it takes 3 hours to beat, but you have 7 characters; three characters, three hours, (OMG… Half-Life 3 confirmed…) 1 new character in the last run. So there is about 7 hours of unique gameplay in The Cave. There are also plenty of challenges and unique achievements to conquer also. I forgot to mention! The Cave also supports up to 3 player co-op; so, you and your friends can go play in a cave and do evil stuff! Good for you! But while you conniving jerks are spelunking in this elaborate maze of caves you will encounter a lot of fun puzzles and storylines that will keep you guessing and gasping all the way back to the gift shop. Also, have you seen an annoying clown?
The Cave just has so much love to give!
In the end, The Cave is only looking for you to learn from your mistakes, better yourself, and move on… and also he enjoys watching you do regrettable things that hurt you and those around you; he’s messed up like that. This game makes me think if they made a game based on “Are You Afraid of the Dark”, The Cave would be it. But I digress. The stories are fun, the characters are odd, the puzzles can be challenging, but they can also be elaborate and hilarious, and the voice acting and narration are very well done. On the downside the game is quite short for a single playthrough, but replaying it is highly encouraged because there are quite a bit of things to find during your adventures that you may miss in your initial run. Also, climbing ladders and jumping could be tweaked to be a bit less clumsy, but it is far from annoying. But there are plenty of good and evil times to be had; lives to live and lives to lose; lots of inimitable Double Fine antics and shenanigans that can only be found in….. The Cave.