Double Fine has earned themselves a reputation as weavers of entertaining and fantastic tales, with Brutal Legend, Costume Quest and Stacking securing their place and their audience; this is evident in their wildly successful Kickstarter, the result of which we should see in Q2 of this year. So when they paired up with Ron Gilbert of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island fame, they produced something that calls to the past of any long-time gaming enthusiast; The Cave.
The Cave takes place in a cave. Specifically, a very old, very talkative cave that holds within it the objet du désir of seven different characters. Amongst the cast are the Hillbilly, who seeks his true love in the Two Legged Woman; the Knight, who seeks a weapon of incredible might and the Twins, who just want to go outside and play. The writing in The Cave is truly enjoyable, in a darkly hilarious way.
Visually, we've come to expect a certain style of Double Fine; stylized and cartoonish, but effective at its purpose. The Cave is no different, and even the level serves to illustrate the characters personality. The Monk, who wants enlightenment, navigates through a Japanese temple. The Time Traveller, who is jealous, navigates through three versions of the same level at different periods in time.
Audibly, The Cave is really pleasant. The background music is somewhat sedate, taking a back seat to the recorded dialogue from The Cave. And the voice acting is sublime, giving players a narrator to add variety to the procession. The gift shop clerk at the beginning is particularly funny, but The Cave himself is a very clever character.
Gameplay is where the title kind of falls short. Employing some light platforming elements, the game is all puzzles; this isn't bad per se, but the puzzles are rather easy, and that is disappointing. One puzzle even has a website, in-game, that features that puzzles solution. While this was clearly done to make the title accessible, it would have been vastly improved with some very difficult puzzles, and hopefully future iterations of this title will take this suggestion and ramp up the difficulty.
A playthrough of The Cave can take a few hours, and that includes finding all of the cave paintings, which are storyboards for each characters history and motivations, and serve as the titles collectable items. Where this title makes up for this is in achievements. Each 'story' has a secondary achievement that will require more than one playthrough to complete, which turns The Cave into a scavenger hunt to find where these things can be unlocked, and not many of them are obvious. It is this that makes the title worth it's purchase price.
Overall, The Cave isn't a hardcore adventure or puzzle game. It is, however, genuinely fun, especially for those who actually know what Maniac Mansion was. To that particular gaming enthusiast, this is worth the 15 USD sticker price.
Spokanites can learn more at The Caves official website (scroll down). If anyone is wanting to play a game, I can be found on Xbox Live @OperatorJames. As always, thanks for reading.