The-Cave-Review The Cave Review

   23/01/2013 at 14:14       Chris OToole       5 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Double Fine, Sega, Steam, XBLA, PSN

So here it is, the highly anticipated first production from Ron Gilbert since returning to join his Monkey Island co-creators studio, Tim Schafer's Double Fine, purveyors of fine gaming morsels such as Psychonauts, Costume Quest and Brutal Legend. So is it a dream reunion or a match made in hell? Come closer, let us enter... The Cave!

The first thing to make an impression is the graphics, ostensibly 2D, they are actually fully formed 3D objects, which shift ever so subtly as the focus point of your character moves past, it's an excellent effect and it really helps the world of The Cave feel more grounded and solid. Of course this wouldn't matter a jot if the actual artwork was a sack of dicks, but fortunately that old Double Fine magic shines through, with some of the best backgrounds and character art we have ever been witness to. Seriously, this is brilliant work, imagine if all that beautiful concept art you see before and after a games release had been lovingly pasted onto the screen, and then brought to life with a wave of the blue fairy's wand. It's spectacular, bursting with character and full of neat animations that moulds it into one of the prettiest visual treats available on your downloadable platform of choice.

But enough of this drooling over the visuals, how the blinking flip does it play? Well first of all you have to pick your three characters from a choice of seven misfits. For our first run through we chose the monk, the Edward Gorey inspired twins and the adventurer. Each has their own unique 'power' which can be activated with a prod of a button, the twins can leave behind a ghostly version of them selves (handy if you need to pull a lever and hold it while you do something else), the monk can use telekinesis to manipulate objects and the lovely adventurer can use her grappling hook to traverse pits or hook up to higher platforms. You can find out yourself what the other lot do, it's fun.

The characters control pretty well, but they aren't blessed with pixel-perfect precision platforming prowess (try saying that one Sylvester the Cat!), but then again this isn't a platformer, it's a puzzle game, you use the dpad to switch between your rag tag trio and solve puzzles, some are easy, some aren't so easy, and some will have you head-scratching for a few hours between games until you get that eureka moment. Each character has their very own section to play through, which will take you about an hour, plus there are a couple of common sections which you have to puzzle through no matter which three spelunkers you choose. Of course the solutions to these common sections change up slightly with your abilities being a different mix, so you will want to replay this game at least once, though you'll have to complete it three times to see everything the story has to offer.

The Cave is a wonderful game, and one we restarted as soon as it was done, the character story sections are a joy, filled with many humorous touches of the kind only Double Fine seem to be able to do properly. We'd have liked to have heard a bit more from The Cave himself (he actually narrates throughout the whole game) as the voice actor's performance is a highlight, and we'd also have liked the option to skip those shared sections on subsequent playthroughs, but maybe that is partly because we were just too imaptient to learn why the twins just need to play out so badly, or just who in sam heck the knight actually is.

Overall though The Cave is highly polished, funny, and well worth your time, and at around a tenner is a bit of a steal. Give it a shot, and maybe next time Double Fine won't have to head to kickstarter to fund their adventure games. Major kudos must also go to Sega for taking the gamble of publishing this one, it's great!

Stars
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