The Cave PS3 Review
Publisher: SEGA Developer: Double Fine Productions Genre: Puzzle Players: 1-3
Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox 360
Talking people, talking animals and talking cars, although until I played this game, I don’t think I had ever heard of a talking cave before. The Cave certainly has an odd premise for its storyline, although it turns out that the game itself is a lot less inventive when it comes to how it actually plays.
The Cave stars a total of 7 playable characters, all of whom remain mute throughout the entire game and are harbouring some dark secrets. Being that Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert was involved in The Cave, the game has some rather amusing dialogue. The Cave character himself basically narrates the story, and he’s sarcastically deadpan and often sadistic, which enlivens an otherwise set of very basic storylines.
The Cave is essentially a side scrolling puzzle game with platforming elements, and Ron Gilbert actually took inspiration from his own Maniac Mansion game, as you are able to switch to different characters in the very same manner as that game. If you have two other local players on hand, then it’s also possible to play cooperatively to help each other solve puzzles.
At the beginning of the game, you choose a trio of characters to take into The Cave for a journey of self discovery. In this way, the game is re-playable, as starting from scratch allows you to then take the other characters into The Cave. You’ll have to play three times to see all that the game has to offer, although why developer Double Fine didn’t just settle on a total of six characters is beyond me, as if you opt to play the game through for a second time, you are able to take a fresh trio of characters into The Cave, although if you want to see the lot, playing a third time will require the presence of two familiar characters along with a fresh third face, which dilutes the appeal of playing the game three times in a row somewhat. True, it makes the game last longer, but the third play through doesn’t have the same freshness as the first two plays because of this strange design choice.
Each character has their own sizeable area to be found in the cave, with a carnival area being the Hillbillies and a house being the twin’s for example. These areas are also where the character-specific abilities are at their most useful, with the scientist being able to hack computers, the monk is able to manipulate objects with his mind, the Hillbilly is able to stay under water longer than the other characters being some examples. You’ll also find out more about the characters in these areas, often with amusing and dark humour being behind their puzzles.
Puzzles are logical and more on the friendly side as opposed to the fiendish side. The three characters are able to carry an individual object (modern gamers are too dumb to use inventory systems, apparently), and they are also able to pull levers, climb ladders, pull on ropes and whatnot. Many of the puzzles obviously call for the trio of characters to work together; switching between characters to reach the solution, but there’s nothing here that will tax the brain, which will surely be disappointing for some.
Traversing The Cave has you climbing and jumping through it, although it never pretends to be a serious platformer. The jumping feels a little floaty and death results in you respawning not too far away, but it’s still a fun way to get around while you are solving puzzles, particularly due to the fluid and unique animations of each character.
Visually, The Cave has a lovely art style. The beautifully animated characters have a cartoon look, and the environments are also well designed and more varied than you might expect. It’s not a game that pushes any current console, although it’s still delightful and attractive to look at.
The Cave is an amusing and highly playable puzzle game. Reaching the solution to certain puzzles is often long winded, although there’s very little that will have many pausing for thought for long at all. That’s not to say that there isn’t some well designed puzzles, as they’re still a joy to solve. It’s also good value for money, although it’s still rather bizarre that 7 characters were settled on as opposed to 6 or even 9, but, with how replayable the game is, it’s hardly a huge complaint.