The Cave is an adventure game created by Ron Gilbert, developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Sega. It is available now on the PlayStation Store for €12.99 and is a combination of basic platforming and challenging puzzles.
As the name suggests, the game is set in a cave, though it is no ordinary one. Anyone who enters has the chance to obtain what they desire most. There are seven characters who wish to enter this cave, three of which are selected at a time. These characters are the best part of The Cave. All of them are well designed and unique so you will enjoy trying each of them out. They each have their own special ability which allows them to access parts of the cave that no other character can. The twist is that their motivations and desires are early on shown to be much darker than you’d expect. Each character is on this journey for their own selfish reasons and seeing how far they are willing to go to achieve what they want is interesting and done with good humour. As you travel through the cave you can find stylishly illustrated pictures scattered throughout it that add to each character’s story, the cave itself adds its own wit to each situation too. It narrates the story and will comment on your actions as you travel further within it. This dialogue along with the mysterious visuals within the cave add a lot to the mystical atmosphere of it all, even the wisps of smoke that appear in the corner of the screen to let you know when the game is saving add to the theme.
The platforming required is very simple, rarely will you have difficulty performing a jump from one ledge to another and even if you do fall, you will immediately be revived not too far from where you had the accident, losing no progress. You control one character of the three at a time and can switch between them at any point. The other two characters will stand in their positions until you are ready to use them. The puzzles aren’t as simple, some are easy but most of the time it isn’t immediately obvious what you have to do. Each section that the puzzle is in is quite large, meaning you will need to walk around a lot before you can figure out what is required of you. Even when you know what needs to be done to solve the puzzle, there is a lot of backtracking to places you have already been to pick up an item you need to use at the opposite end of the section. This can be irritating when you have to swap between all three characters, moving them around points to solve part of a puzzle and then having them run back to another point they have already been to.
The points this becomes most tedious in are the parts of the cave you have to repeat on each playthrough. Three characters are selected each time and since there are seven in total you will have to play through three times in order to see each character’s story. This will also involve repeating the game with two characters you have already used. As mentioned earlier there are parts of the cave unique to each character but the rest of the cave is the same regardless of who is in your group. By my third playthrough I was bored of these sections. I knew how to solve the puzzles so it was just a matter of running back and forth to carry out the motions in order to proceed for the third time.
Local multiplayer is an option too, I did not get the opportunity to really try this out but it involves having all characters on the one screen. No split screen means you will still have to stand and wait while your partner performs their action at a different point in the cave, taking turns to solve parts of the puzzles.
While this description of the back tracking and repetitive nature of parts of the cave may put some off, if you have the patience for these downsides, then you will no doubt enjoy the more interesting puzzles you face with each different character with settings that range from a carnival to a nuclear laboratory. It is these interesting and unique settings and characters that had me going back each time in order to play and see all the sections The Cave had to offer.