GamingReview of The Cave From Sega

Review of The Cave From Sega

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You know you’re in for some noggin-scratching fun when Ron Gilbert shows up with yet another new idea to tickle your head muscle. As a huge fan of the swashbuckling adventures of yore, I dusted off my well worn spelunking gear and dove straight in.

I was not off to my best start. For a good couple of minutes I sat there, stupidly staring at the screen, blissfully unaware I was meant to be playing the game. After making some excuses, I chose my characters. From the seven available miscreants, only three are permitted at a time to enter the foreboding cave. I chose myself a Knight, a Hillbilly and a Scientist, fairly confident in thinking that they would cover a nice Venn diagram of obscure talents and traits.

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Comprised entirely of floaty platforming mechanics and plenty of mysteries to furrow one’s brow at, The Cave alternates frequently between the two, ensuring that neither your head, nor your thumbs get numb for too long. Heading on down into the shadowy depths, I came to realise that any real form of linearity was as absent as those poor four I had to leave behind before entering. With no real tutorial, you are left, unfortunately for me, to your own devices after the first section. Progression to some extent depends upon your character choices, in that different sections of the game require a specific individuals talent to advance.

These sole areas of the cave hold unquestionably, the most pondering puzzles of the game. Being unique to each character, they also house what little story surrounds them. How you press forwards in these segments breaths a little life into what these people are actually like; they are often not what you would expect! A chivalrous Knight can blur your perception of what made him chivalrous in the first place, or perhaps question your assumption that he even was at all!

Made for replayability, Double Fine Productions have made it so you can’t possibly see everything in one run. Demanding multiple ventures with alternate characters makes up for the slightly lacking completion time. Clocking in at around 3-4 hours per playthrough, you’ll still be getting your moneys worth, providing your (hopefully) insatiable lust for enigmas and dark humour doesn’t run dry.

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The art direction and overall presentation could draw you back in however. In typical Double Fine fashion, the design is unique, detailed and colourful. The dark sense of humour is genuinely funny; The Cave’s mockingly sincere quips make it very difficult to get frustrated after dying in a myriad of sarcastic ways.

Fortunately for you impatient people out there, the checkpoint system is gratuitously forgiving, often respawning you mere seconds away from your demise. It’s worth mentioning purely as the fall damage threshold is a little more punishing than you might expect. Especially worth keeping in mind due to the almost incomprehensible amount of rope climbing involved. However, to be fair, I would assume there is quite a lot of rope climbing involved with cave exploration!

Altogether, The Cave is probably exactly what you would expect from the inner workings of Ron Gilbert, the mash up of a 2D/3D adventure in a staunch visage of his earlier work is clear to see. The humour’s there, the joyous sensation of solving a particularly fiendish puzzle is there, as are a couple of knowing nods to loyal fans.

What’s not to like? Well, a couple of things I suppose. I would have preferred more interaction with the characters as their dark pasts are oddly a joy to behold, yet feel a tad underutilised and unfulfilled. The most baffling conundrum posed in the game however, is the inclusion of seven characters in a game where you may only chose three at a time. Still haven’t cracked that one…

4

Reviewed on PS3, also available on Xbox 360, Wii U and PC.

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