|System: PS3*, Xbox 360, PC|
|Dev: Double Fine|
|Release: January 22, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence, Blood|
Another “issue” with the game is its difficulty, though I use the word issue lightly. The puzzles in the game are not always obvious, and the game doesn’t really hold your hand. Yes, at times The Cave itself, acting as the narrator, will give you a hint or two, but even then a lot of the puzzles are real brain-benders. More than once I was forced to put the game down and take a break to regain my mental stamina. I’m also guilty of having to consult a FAQ more than once. In a way, The Cave treats its players the way old school puzzle games did, in a very hands-off manner. It expects you to come up with the solutions to its puzzles all on your own, so expect to get stuck repeatedly, maybe even as early as the first few levels!
The game has a quirky story, reminiscent of Double Fine games of the past, though there isn’t a whole lot of plot here. You’ll play through multiple puzzles at a time before the narrator comes back, and the characters don’t really talk at all. The back stories of the characters are mostly told through the puzzles you complete and the scenarios you are put in, but even then the game barely flirts with narrative. It’s very unlike Double Fine or Ron Gilbert’s other works, which are absolutely saturated with story. On the contrary, The Cave seems to be primarily about the gameplay.
Finally, as I said before, this is a puzzle platformer, which means there is platforming involved. Unfortunately, the jumping controls aren’t the best. Characters control loosely and their jumps are very floaty. In addition, they latch on to ledges as soon as they come anywhere near them—likely intended as an assistance mechanic—but to me this just feels awkward. You’ll struggle against the controls a lot in this game, and while you’ll eventually get used to it, it can be frustrating when you are trying to figure out whichever puzzle has just been put before you.
Despite its flaws, The Cave is a unique experience that explores a genre that few other games on the market dare to touch. Its cartoony atmosphere and characters mesh perfectly with the somewhat dark humor of the admittedly sparse story. The ability to choose completely different characters with completely different abilities for each playthrough compels you to play multiple times, regardless of the frustrating difficulty. The “Aha!” feeling you get when solving a puzzle easily offsets any amount of frustration you feel in the platforming itself.
Overall, The Cave is a great example of its genre and a good game in its own right. I highly recommend it for any fans of 2D games, puzzles games, or adventure games, or anyone simply looking to have another Double Fine laugh.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: January 25, 2013