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The Cave Review

Have you ever wanted to see what seven completely different characters would do if given the opportunity to go after their deepest desires? Of course you have, and The Cave lets you do just that. From Double Fine Productions, The Cave lets you see what those seven people want, and what lengths they’ll go to in order to obtain it.

Things start off simply enough. You’re outside the cave with a line-up of seven characters; a knight, a mad scientist, an adventurer, a time-traveller, a pair of twins (who count as, and play as one), a monk and a hillbilly. You get to pick any three of these fine specimens for your playthrough, with each possessing a different unique ability, which I’ll get to later.  Once selected, your three brave souls venture forth into the cave in question.
1
The Cave is a platforming puzzle game through and through, with most of your time spent jumping and solving puzzles: some easy, some not so easy. Unfortunately the controls will be one of your biggest enemies, with an option to use the mouse alone, keyboard alone, or both in tandem, it can result in some awkward moments where your mouse cursor stops you pulling a crate with the directional keys on your keyboard, or causes you stop jumping mid-leap and plummet to your non-death.

I say non-death, as The Cave itself will not let you die. It’s a talking cave, you see, and it makes sure to tell you each and every time you fall too far, or get trampled or any other host of nasty things, that you can’t die in here. You’re then spirited to a close by location to try whatever you were doing again. The Cave also serves as your narrator, as you guide your chosen three throughout the cave, explaining their stories piece by piece. Character stories can also be expanded through cave drawings you’ll find littered throughout the levels.
2
Even if the title makes you think of a standard dark, grotty setting, The Cave will surprise you, filled with gorgeous looking levels and characters, with each one sporting unique looks and animations. As mentioned previously, each character also comes with a special ability, for example the adventurer can swing over pits, while the mad scientist can bypass otherwise impassable doors using a computer terminal. Unfortunately these abilities only really come into play during each character’s personalised stage, where you’ll get a little more of their own story before moving back to the main game. Outside these stages the abilities will likely never be used again.

These themed stages for individual characters are the strongest points of the game, in terms of general interest and level design. It’s clear a lot of effort went into designing the cave as a whole, but these are by far the most interesting parts; which are unfortunately also very short. In our playthrough we opted for the scientist, the adventurer and the twins, which led us to a laboratory setting, an old tomb and the twins’ old house respectively.
4
As a platformer within a rather restrictive setting, there’s a lot of backtracking to be done, whether it’s running one character back and forth for whatever reason, or running all three characters, one at a time, to a specific location to solve a puzzle, there’s too much of it. Each level will require you to run back and forth with each character individually, with them only catching up on their own if you pass a certain invisible line at the beginning or end of a level. This leads to a tedium that can’t really be avoided on your first playthrough, as you have to figure out the layout and where people should be placed or where certain items are found.

With seven different characters, you’ll be required to play through fully three times if you wish to see all the ending sequences. The first playthrough will give you roughly four hours of game, with subsequent runs giving you around three hours apiece depending on how well you remember the trickier puzzles solutions, or how difficult you find the personal stages you haven’t done before.
3
As you may expect from Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame, the game features a distinct sense of humour throughout, with some downright strange occurrences for those who like to look a little further. I won’t spoil the how, where or why, but as an example, at one point you can find what will be described as an ‘Aroused Clown’. This humour is present everywhere, from non-player characters to the personal stories of your heroes. The Cave itself also has some fantastic dialogue at times.

Between the humour, the look and the pedigree of Double Fine, The Cave should be an easy recommendation, but coupled with the bad controls, the constant backtracking and the removal of any fear of failure, it suffers. The charm the game offers only goes so far, and the tedium of repeated playthroughs for a few different sections here and there isn’t enough to make it tempting to leap right back in when you’re done. The Cave is certainly not bad, but it could have been so, so much better.

7.50/10 7½

The Cave (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Have you ever wanted to see what seven completely different characters would do if given the opportunity to go after their deepest desires? Of course you have, and The Cave lets you do just that. From Double Fine Productions, The Cave lets you see what those seven people want, and what lengths they’ll go to in order to obtain it.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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COMMENTS

Platinum
Platinum - 11:47pm, 3rd April 2015

Nice review mate, very tempted to get this.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:47pm, 3rd April 2015

Seems like an interesting game but seems like something I'd play laying in bed on the xbox but I've heard that it's really buggy on consoles?

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Platinum
Platinum - 11:47pm, 3rd April 2015

Im gonna stick it on the laptop I think, looks perfect for it.

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:47pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

It is supposed to be very buggy on consoles. Bad frame rates to boot. No issues like that on PC, but if either of you buy, I recommend you choose one control scheme and stick with it; either keyboard, or mouse. Better yet, use a game pad to avoid the choice altogether.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:47pm, 3rd April 2015

I tend to use gamepads on platformers anyway. Out of interest, how long did it take to complete each character/playthrough?

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icaruschips
icaruschips - 11:47pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

I think I mentioned it in the review, your first run will likely be around the four hour mark. Any subsequent runs will be about an hour less, as it's all the same content except the personalised stages.

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Kaostic
Kaostic - 11:47pm, 3rd April 2015

Ah gotcha. I only skimmed read it so must have missed that bit. Might give it a look however, will probably wait for a sale.

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