Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Double Fine
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
January 23, 2012

The Cave has been in development for over twenty years. Well, at least the idea has been bouncing around in veteran designer Ron Gilbert’s head for that long. The guy who brought you Maniac Mansion all those years ago has teamed up with Double Fine Productions ( Psychonauts ) to deliver this ingeniously designed – if somewhat tedious – puzzle adventure that is destined to test both your intelligence and your patience. If you play it with a friend, this game becomes much more appealing and far less annoying; playing co-op is highly recommended.

One might assume the inner workings of a cave to be mostly dark and dank. But of course, this is no ordinary cave; for one thing, it speaks, and for another, it features quite the assembly of surprisingly exotic locations. The animations are pleasant and nicely implemented, the detail is charming and diverse, and the cleanliness of the visual presentation in general is impressive. Too many of the various rooms and paths look a little too similar and not every last available tool is easily visible, but those are only minor drawbacks. Besides, the graphics play second fiddle to the design, as is the case with any hardcore puzzler.

The audio benefits from the quality narrator who plays “The Cave,” and the special effects are crisp and solid. The soundtrack is nice and even effective at times but for the most part, it takes a back seat to the gameplay. This allows one to focus fully on the task at hand but even so, I had hoped for a more frequent allotment of choice pieces. The narrator also repeats himself one too many times for my liking, but at least he’s competent. On the whole, the technical facets of the game are good without being great, clean and slick without being beautiful, and mostly devoid of glitches and hitches. In short, we’ve got a very stable foundation.

If you remember Maniac Mansion in the good ol’ days, you know just how devilishly ingenious Gilbert’s mind can be. In The Cave , we get an adventure that features high accessibility – control is never a problem, right from the start – and a significant challenge that steadily increases with every step we take. It’s a well formed quest that ditches the old-fashioned point-and-click mechanic in favor of the more modern and more fluid action system. Jump, climb, pick up stuff, and use a character’s special ability; that’s all you have to do, so it’s not complicated. The basic control is responsive and reliable.

There are seven total characters to try in the game, but you can only take three at a time with you into the cave. The cool part is that because each adventurer has his or her own special ability, and because only certain characters can gain access to certain parts of the cave, the experience is different depending on your picks. This adds plenty of longevity to a relatively short game. The other interesting part is that due to the fact that you can choose any three characters, there may be different ways of solving various puzzles. The extra depth afforded by this setup is appreciated; it goes beyond the concept you may have see in Trine , where three unique characters must work together.