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Feb 1, 2013

The Cave PC Review

If you're a long time gamer, you must have played (and therefore loved) The Secret of Monkey Island and its first sequel, Lechuck's Revenge. Those games are both classic and belonging to a genre that sadly barely exists anymore (only Telltalle Games has kept the genre afloat, and while some indie developers also do it, their games usually lack the humor of the best classics). Those games, and others in the same genre, were the product of the great minds of Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer.

Decades later, both of them reunited to work together in a new project: The Cave. The Cave has NOT the same style of gameplay as the Monkey Island games, but it sure as hell has the same heart. It looks and plays like a platformer, but it's actually a classic graphic adventure in a clever disguise.

You see, even though you control characters by moving with the analog stick, jumping and using special abilities, this is no Mario, Megaman or Rayman. You don't jump on enemies or attack them with an equipped weapon (mostly). No, the focus of this game is on puzzles and humor, just like in the previous collaborations by Gilbert and Schafer.

Along the game, you're instructed, related, haunted and made fun of by the titular Cave, a sentient geographical accident who talks to you as you plow your way through it with three characters of your choice from a group of seven, each of whom has a slowly-revealed personal history and a particular useful special skill.

Interaction between these characters and each other, NPCs, creatures or objects found in The Cave is filled with the same kind of progression you might have felt while playing old graphical adventures (i.e. trying to grab every item you find in the hopes you might need it later, combining items with one another and an almost pathological disregard for the well-being of any character that is not under your control). As usual, you will reach a part where you'll be stumped for a while until it snaps on you and you'll feel dumb for not having realized the solution before.

The game reminds a lot of the first graphic adventure by Gilbert, Maniac Mansion, due to the fact that you switch control between three characters in order to achieve your goals and that there are things that only certain characters can do. This, of course, doesn't mean you will reach a point in which you won't be able to advance (something that could very well happen in Maniac Mansion) because you chose the wrong character. To avoid this, every part of the Cave has either several solutions, generic solutions that don't depend on a character's special abilities, or parts that simply won't show up unless you have a specific character in your party. This encourages several replays, since you'll get to see specific scenarios according to who is in your party.

The one point this game has against it is the lack of protagonists dialogue. Your characters are silent, which is a shame, because the dialogue of the protagonists used to be some of the funniest parts in Gilbert and Schafer's games, and specially because some of these characters look really interesting. That being said, the game still has enough humor and clever puzzles to make you love it as much as you loved those classic ones. And, if you haven't played those classic ones, go and find them now. The first and second Monkey Island games have been remade with new graphics for the PC, and they're dirt cheap, so there's no excuse not to play them.

In any case, get this game. Unless you're looking exclusively for gun-totting action, you won't be dissapointed.    
Verdict: 80/100

Genre Puzzle
Style Adventure Puzzle
Release Date January 22, 2013
Developer Double Fine Productions, Inc.
Publisher Sega of America, Inc.
Flags Downloadable Release


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