Ah, mister Gilbert, how I’ve missed a good old adventure game conceived from your funny, twisted imagination. Me and my dad have always been huge fans of his work from the time he worked at Lucas Arts, with the Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion series being my personal highlights. Can he, with the help of the creative minds of Double Fine and Tim Shafer, reach excellence once again?
The Cave, Gilbert’s latest 2D adventure game currently downloadable on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U and PC, revolves around eight – well, two diabolical looking kids make a team, so it’s effectively seven – oddly looking characters, standing at the entrance of a ominous cave. They each are interesting in their own unique way: you’ve got a grumpy looking hillbilly, a small knight, an adventurer, a lumpy scientist, a peaceful monk, the aforementioned children and even a time traveler. But, as wildly varied as they are, they share a common goal: to find their personal fortune at the bottom of the cave.
This dank place is actually the most interesting character of the lot, commenting on everything that happens within his confines. His voice acting is spot on: a deep, dark voice with spots of humor and a razorsharp, somewhat vile edge. But, as the dangerous and deadly puzzles deep under the ground rack up, one must wonder: who is actually the bad guy? The talkative crevice or the mute group of people traveling its depths?
Large a group as it may be, you don’t take the entire team through the caves puzzles in one sitting. At the start of the game you can navigate three people through the entrance, the rest has to sit idle at the campfire. These three figures you choose always have to face six puzzles: three puzzles which are fixed and one unique puzzle for each character.
Suffice to say, these puzzles belonging to each character are the most wild and visually unique experiences to be had, with each room reflecting its characters personality accordingly. The monk, for instance, has to solve a couple of brainteasers in a monastery, the knight has to deal with a deadly dragon in a castle and the time traveler… well, travels through time.
The other three puzzles are a bit more mundane and get a bit stale after a while, especially when you take into consideration that you have to complete the game a minimum of three times to see all the endings, and then three times again to see all good endings. Because, for reasons that I’m not gonna spoil in this review, each character has their good and bad way to achieve what they want… rest assured that you’ll get a kick out of the writing if your humor is a bit on the dark, eerie side.
I will say that the writing is extremely good and chockfull of the humor you crave from someone like Gilbert. I will also say however, that the actual puzzle solving is not as good as it could be. This problem is solely the fact that each character can only hold one item at a time, and since an item is usually a solution to a problem a lot of backtracking is bound to happen. For instance: are you going to grab that axe or dynamite, or keep one character behind until you know which item you’re going to need further ahead?
Not all the puzzles suffer from this problem, but sadly two of the three fixed puzzles do require quite a bit of shoving stuff and items around, so the experience does grow stale after a while.
However, the game is good enough to complete three times, and this comes from a guy whose attention span is that of a goldfish. I actually completed the game three times in one sitting, but couldn’t get myself to finish it another three times.
With that being said, it’s a bit sad to see that so much genuine impressive writing and a beautiful, moody and colourful rendered cave being… tarnished by puzzles that never reach their full potential. Nevertheless, I would recommend this game for fans of adventure games and people craving for a good story on a rainy day. Just don’t expect Monkey Islandesque excellence.
Lasting appeal 6.0
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