I love graphic adventure games. My three favorites off the top of my head are Beneath a Steel Sky, The Neverhood, and Grim Fandango. Some newer ones have impressed me a lot as well, particularly Machinarium and Gemini Rue. This game comes from the mind of Ron Gilbert, a veritable god in the genre, so I simply couldn’t resist trying it as soon as possible. It’s worth noting that this game is not the Double Fine adventure game you saw on Kickstarter last year; that comes out later this year.
Amount Played: 3 hours; one full time through
There is a cave. You go into the cave. This concept immediately intrigued me, reminding me of Colossal Cave Adventure (the first text adventure game), and as a result every other adventure game I ever played. This didn’t necessarily set me up to expect some revolutionary game, but rather I knew that I was about to have a good time.
The cave itself is the narrator, and its voice is deep, soothing, and ominous. It stays with you throughout the entire game, revealing the plot as you progress through the trials within. There are plenty of jokes thrown in as well, and you have try pretty hard to exhaust the supply before you hear a repeat. There are other characters that speak as well, and they are all as entertaining though limited in the content category.
As for actual gameplay, you start out by choosing from one of seven characters, each with a unique back story. Once you select a character by highlight him or her and running into the cave, you can still toggle freely to the others and run them around as well. But, once you have taken three into the cave, you’re stuck with them. On a gamepad this is done with the D-pad, instead of simply cycling through them a la Trine. You can only move one character at a time, but when you reach the occasional unmarked checkpoint, your alternate characters will catch up to meet you there.
Throughout the game you must use all three characters you chose, as they have different abilities to solve various puzzles. Before you think this is a Trine ripoff, remember that director Ron Gilbert’s own Maniac Mansion (1987) made you switch characters mid-game to solve puzzles. What sets The Cave apart though is that each one of the characters has an entire zone dedicated to them to tell their story and use their abilities. One of my choices was the Monk, and his ability was only useful in his zone, though the other two, the Knight and the Adventurer, were needed for many things outside of theirs.
The environment is kind of laid out like LittleBigPlanet, but it’s nowhere near as fun to navigate and run through. The light platforming works well enough though, and collisions never caused me trouble. The backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous, and I’m mildly disappointed that this game is strictly side scrolling. All the puzzles are fairly easy, but I still got frustrated with two or three because I just didn’t take the time to think or look around before jumping in.
Supposedly there is three player local co-op, so I’ll have to try that when my buddies comes over this weekend. It’s definitely worth another two play-throughs to see all the content.
Here are some screenshots I took (and edited) for your viewing pleasure:
- Unique zones and stories for each of the game’s seven characters.
- Clever puzzles that never get too hard.
- Pretty visuals.
- Need to play a third time just to see the one character I missed.
The official trailer showing all the characters.