WiiU

North America

The Cave

by Guillaume Veillette - February 1, 2013, 3:20 pm PST
Total comments: 11

8

A scientist, a monk, and a knight walk into a cave...

Anticipated by fans of the adventure game genre, The Cave is the brainchild of Ron Gilbert, one of the creators of such classics as Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island. The Cave attempts to marry point-and-click adventure-style puzzles with conventional 2D platformer mechanics, and while the game has more to offer fans of the former than the latter, the experience should prove rewarding to everyone who gives The Cave a chance.

The game opens with the narrator (the titular cave itself) setting the tone of the game by providing descriptions of the characters on the selection screen and hinting at the horrible deed each is about to commit in other to get "what they desire most.” It is immediately clear that the game has great dark, self-aware humor, written and delivered expertly. The playable characters (a scientist, a knight, a hillbilly, an adventurer, a monk, a time traveler, and a set of creepy twins) stay silent aside from grunts, with their stories related by the narrator and revealed through solving their respective levels within the larger, interconnected map.

It is worth pointing out that you choose three individual characters here, and not a team. Each character has his own story, his own unique ability, and a section of the large interconnected Cave he has exclusive access to. But you do not mix and match abilities. No combination of characters is more potent than another. In fact, the unique abilities seem almost an afterthought, with the real differentiator between characters being the types of puzzles encountered inside their level. The adventurer's section, for instance, has her doing platforming inside a tomb while her imperiled companions step on pressure plates to open the way for her. The monk's section is less mechanical, instead using brainteasers to block his path to enlightenment. The time traveler's section has you messing with causality in the past, present, and future. The type of puzzle you encounter in a character's level is as much a part of his identity as the unfolding story, and I am deeply impressed by this thematic coherency.

While classic adventure game fans will find lots to love in the Cave, platformer fans probably won't fall head over heels for the platforming. It serves more as a means to an end: 2D platforming is a better fit for console controllers than a pointer interface. The design doesn't get in the way of the puzzles and you won't find yourself cursing a character who refuses to stand where you want, but it's not inherently fun and it creates moments of tedious travel as you switch between characters.

The Wii U's unique features are neglected in this port: the touch screen just duplicates the character selection buttons, and the title isn't compatible with Off-TV Play. The basic Miiverse functionality can be useful when you are stumped, however, if charitable people happen to respond to your queries. Friends can use the Wii U Pro Controller or a Wii Remote and Nunchuk for local co-op, but poor implementation spoils the experience. This could have been a good way to alleviate the backtracking problems, if it weren't for the off-screen characters being absolutely incapable of performing any action.

Ultimately, it will be easier for fans of Ron Gilbert's previous works to look past the niggling flaws and appreciate the game, but anyone should be able to enjoy writing and puzzles of this caliber. Lose yourself in the atmosphere, discover the sordid stories of each character, and the game's problems just fade away.

Summary

Pros
  • Excellent, genuinely funny voice acting and writing
  • Impressive variety of puzzles
  • Some truly atmospheric music
Cons
  • Pedestrian platforming and some tedious travel
  • Unused functionality of the Wii U is a missed opportunity

Talkback

Disco StuFebruary 02, 2013

I've downloaded the demo but haven't played it yet.  I view not taking advantage of the Wii U's unique features as not a con.  It's definitely a pro when they are used, but ultimately I just want more games on the platform.  If that means some developers won't add unique features then I'm ok with that.  This is probably because I'm a single platform gamer, though.

RasFebruary 02, 2013

Framerate is consistently poor, making the whole game chunky to the point of being annoying.  I have seen that mentioned for the 360 version as well, so I guess its an inherent flaw.  The game is pretty good otherwise.  It's mainly figuring out how to use inventory items.

CalibanFebruary 03, 2013

The dips in the framerate seem to be from when the game is loading its micro-areas. Nothing a patch can't fix.

OblivionFebruary 03, 2013

Is the low framerate a problem on the PC version?

RasFebruary 03, 2013

That's not my experience.  It's jerky almost the entire time.  When it saves, you get slowdown, but the scrolling is choppy throughout.  This guy mentions what I'm talking about, and you can even see it in his video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwrp6AiqiD8

OreantaAlexandre Trottier, Contributing WriterFebruary 04, 2013

Yeah, I noticed that in the demo, too. I didn't really find it to be too much of an issue, but I see why it would bother some people.

Quote from: Disco

I've downloaded the demo but haven't played it yet.  I view not taking advantage of the Wii U's unique features as not a con.  It's definitely a pro when they are used, but ultimately I just want more games on the platform.  If that means some developers won't add unique features then I'm ok with that.  This is probably because I'm a single platform gamer, though.

I think it's a con in that off-TV play seems easy to implement and I really missed the feature while I was playing. Don't get me wrong, however: the score I gave the game reflects how I felt about the game itself. The cons are not a list of things I "docked points" for.

ShyGuyMarch 03, 2013

Just finished this. At least with three characters. I think that's enough for me for now. Great sense of humor, the Cave's narration is very well done.

It's not a good platformer and it's not even that great of a point and click adventure. The story here, or actually the moral of the story, is the games real driving force.

All of these characters are in Hell, aka "The Cave" for the bad things they have done. Their eternal punishment is to repeat their mortal sins over and over. The Cave rewards you with progress when you do bad things. The idol which each character covets is not the thing they needed in life, but they haven't learned that lesson even after they are dead. It's a bit depressing despite the humor of the game.

CalibanMarch 03, 2013

It's not a platformer. At all. Period.

Quote from: ShyGuy

All of these characters are in Hell, aka "The Cave" for the bad things they have done. Their eternal punishment is to repeat their mortal sins over and over. The Cave rewards you with progress when you do bad things. The idol which each character covets is not the thing they needed in life, but they haven't learned that lesson even after they are dead. It's a bit depressing despite the humor of the game.

Alternate endings. Did you try those? Of course you might have to play the game all over again for that lol.

ShyGuyMarch 03, 2013

I just saw a review that mentions alternate endings, but considering they are kind of hidden, they seem more like an easter egg rather than an actual change in your goals.

Plus screw playing the game six times in a row!

CalibanMarch 03, 2013

I think I put a total of 15 hours into getting every ending. It wasn't that bad once you learned a few shortcuts here and there depending on the used characters (the loose beast/hunter level can be done in 2 moves with the Monk). The alternate endings aren't anything special compared to the regular endings. I just felt like completing the game to its entirety. Besides for me the humor never got boring, so I enjoyed every moment of it.

Share + Bookmark





WiiU

Game Profile

The Cave Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Double Fine Produtions
Players1 - 3
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: The Cave
Release Jan 22, 2013
PublisherSega
jpn: Unmei no Dōkutsu: The Cave
Release Aug 28, 2013
PublisherSega
Rating15+
eu: The Cave
Release Jan 22, 2013
PublisherSega

Related Content

Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement