If you haven’t been in the gaming biz long or you’re just a gamer reading a review to find out if a game’s for you, then you might not know the name Ron Gilbert. I’ll save you the history lesson on the SCUMM engine; chances are you’ve encountered his work in the wildly popular ‘Monkey Island’ franchise throughout the years. In any case his return to the puzzle/adventure genre has been highly anticipated and is finally in form of “The Cave.”
The Cave has everything you’ve come to expect from a Gilbert game, humour and smart puzzle deisgn that have helped defined his unique style. But what really makes The Cave a gem is the characters. Of seven available protagonists (the knight, monk, adventurer, hillbilly, scientist, twins and time traveler) you will only play three on any given playthrough. Each character has a unique special ability, the scientist can hack locked doors for example, but better still is each playthrough is set in character specific locations so if you want to visit all of the cave’s locations you’ll need to play through a few times with all the characters.
The Cave itself narrates the story, explaining what its hidden caverns have to offer its unlikely guests. Once you’ve chosen your motley crew it’s time to get right into the action as puzzles start from the get-go. Puzzles start off easy, increasing in difficulty as you play but the curve of difficulty is not very steep and most average gamers are not likely to encounter much resistance. Puzzles can be time consuming, some requiring you to backtrack in order to find the necessary item(s) to solve the riddle. Multiplayer is a blessing and curse, allowing three players to contribute to solving a puzzle but not allowing them to spilt up to find items is a minor annoyance. All of this adds up to a puzzle game that requires critical thinking to solve a problem, the lack of an inventory system forces you to choose what you carry wisely or risk having to waste time backtracking throughout the cave.
Replay value on games like this are really hit or miss, you either want to or you don’t and that really comes down to what the title has to offer. The Cave has taken a unique approach to replay by adding not only character specific locations but also character specific puzzles. These features mixed with clever and humourous characters and narration provide for an enjoyable and satisfying gaming experience. Add in some future DLC characters that include their own areas and unique puzzles and you have countless hours of imaginative puzzle solving. The Cave is really worth spending your precious MS points on, it caters to every gamer with its adventure game style and humourous atmosphere, play the demo you’ll be hooked.
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