The Cave review

by Stephen Heller Featured

3 Comments 29 Votes 12432 Views 07/02/2013 Back to Reviews
What The Cave Got Right
  • + Great story
  • + Awesome Visual style
What The Cave Got Wrong
  • - Broken controls
  • - Frame-rate stutter on the PS3/Xbox 360 version

A Time Traveller, a Knight and an Adventurer walk into a talking cave. While that may sound like the beginning of a joke heard during the drunken hours of a seedy Saturday morning, it's actually an accurate depiction of my experience with The Cave. Funny man Ron Gilbert's latest release is a thought provoking platform puzzle adventure, and while it harbours the wit and charm that put this legendary creator on the map, it lacks the cultural impact of his previous work.

The Cave is filled with throwbacks to Gilbert's iconic works, which is apparent from the character select screen. There are seven characters (the same number as Maniac Mansion) featured in the game, each with a unique backstory and special power. Of those seven, players need to choose three to take into the cave - a magical labyrinth that holds the deepest desires of your chosen characters. For my first playthrough I set off with the Time Traveller, the Adventurer and the Knight.

Once entering the cave, players will be tested with a number of puzzles spread across interesting locations, all of which change depending on which characters you are using. With my three chosen characters I visited ancient pyramids, the future, prehistoric times and even a medieval castle. The puzzles themselves are challenging to a point where you tend to feel rather smart when you eventually work out how to press on to the next area.

The use of three active characters has its advantages when creating compelling puzzles. Players can switch between each of their three characters simply by using the D-pad (or numbers for PC gamers), which is often essential for completion. If you have three friends however, you can each control one of the characters locally which ensures everyone plays their part to progress the story.

Each character has their own backstory which is revealed via cave paintings which are found throughout the game. I quickly learned that my three characters all had questionable motives to be in the cave, and it soon became apparent that they only cared about themselves.

The narrative is what is truly interesting about The Cave. While Gilbert's trademark humour is front and centre, it manages to be a thought provoking process that leaves you to reflect on your character's tale. It's truly remarkable to see a game that isn't afraid to share a darker message by the time the game is over, with an ending that can either offer redemption or peril.

The game does have some gaping issues however. The platforming feels wrong, which is a major problem when you rely on those mechanics to explore the game world. Each character feels lofty and the controls are inaccurate. I quickly lost count how many times I jumped off a ladder in the wrong direction, or accidentally grabbed a rope when simply trying to move forward. It's not a deal breaker, but it really does hurt the experience.

The PC version is by far the best looking of the bunch, with silky smooth frame rates all round. However, the controls are by far the worse, with the keyboard and mouse feeling clunky and often resulting in wrong actions when dragging and using items.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions run into serious frame-rate stutter, particularly when arriving at a checkpoint or loading a new area. Once again, not a deal breaker, but The Cave isn't pushing graphical boundaries, so this should not be a problem.

The pace is also concerning, and one of the major reasons why I cannot recommend the game to the masses. While I personally loved it, I know a number of gamers won't appreciate the constant character switching when playing solo, the backtracking for items and the quirky humour.

The Final Verdict

The Cave isn't a genre defining experience, but the thought provoking narrative, quality writing and interesting characters make it more than worthwhile. Fans of Gilbert's past works or adventure games in general will love it, yet the masses will be mixed. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have your deepest desires? The Cave will test you until you have an answer to that question.

By Stephen Heller

Wii U version review

The Cave

Platform: Wii / PS3 / Xbox / DS / PC / WiiU
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Similar to: Stacking, The Secret of Monkey Island
 
Vote for this article Log in with Facebook

More Info on The Cave

The Cave The Cave The Cave The Cave The Cave The Cave The Cave
Game Profile: The Cave
The Cave Australian Release: When it's done

The Cave review Comments

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
The shonky platforming control is what's keeping me from getting into it. I might have to lean back and give it a go with my gamepad to see if it'll help with the feel of it.
I don't know why these new platform games are being coined as adventure games. Fair enough they have a rich story and stuff but still.

Jubilee said: I don't know why these new platform games are being coined as adventure games. Fair enough they have a rich story and stuff but still.



If you play The Cave you'll realise it's more like an adventure game than a platformer, despite the mechanics.

Post a comment

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
  • The Cave
  • The Cave
  • The Cave
  • The Cave
  • The Cave
  • The Cave
  • The Cave
  • The Cave
  • The CaveThe Cave Video

Recently Read

Featured PC Content

Favourite 2014 game so far?

Favourite 2014 game so far?

19/06/2014 Polls 23 37
The Minecraft door that won't open until the real Universe ends
Tano 16 hours News 3 8
Assassin's Creed: Memories hits iOS devices

Assassin's Creed: Memories hits iOS devices

Gryllis 16 hours News 0 3
A Riot! League of Legends finals set for PAX Aus

A Riot! League of Legends finals set for PAX Aus

Gryllis 17 hours News 1 5
Flappy Bird creator releases new game Swing Copters
Gryllis 20 hours News 5 7
Cubemen 2 for Wii U dated, includes cross-platform

Cubemen 2 for Wii U dated, includes cross-platform

Gryllis 20 hours News 0 7
MGSV: The Phantom Pain multiplayer gameplay reveal

MGSV: The Phantom Pain multiplayer gameplay reveal

Tano 23 hours News 0 1
Battlefield: Hardline hands-on preview

Battlefield: Hardline hands-on preview

Tano 1 day Articles 2 9
Metro Redux review

Metro Redux review

Gryllano 2 days Reviews 4 11

Community Content

Awesome Gaming Stuff of Tomorrow, Today!

Awesome Gaming Stuff of Tomorrow, Today!

01/08/2014 Blog 5 0

MMGN Updates

Status
Updating..
Username

dranny12 just unlocked the Welcomed achievement!

dranny12 4 hours ago
Username

barters81, randyy242 commented on The Minecraft door that won't open until the real Universe ends

barters81 14 hours ago
Username

DPhoenix, renagadez, Mik3y, Gryllis commented on Flappy Bird creator releases new game Swing Copters - and it's even more frustrating

DPhoenix 18 hours ago
Username

Raffy2170 just unlocked the Night Owl achievement!

Raffy2170 20 hours ago
Username

Raffy2170 is now Level 2!

Raffy2170 1 day ago