I am a great fan of games that don’t take themselves too seriously and The Cave is definitely one of these games. I found the humour, the plot and the story lines hilarious and a great deal of fun to play, which makes sense because creative director Ron Gilbert has also been the man behind some other hilarious classics such as Maniac Mansion and some of the Monkey Island titles.
The basic premise behind The Cave is that adventurers (spelunkers?) would enter the cave in search of themselves. The cave allows them to explore the darker aspects of their personality and there are some very interesting and amusing outcomes to their quest. The story and actions of the Knight, as an example, are definitely not one that you would expect, and though a bit dark in tone, it is great fun to play the game through with the character.
The ultimate objective of the game is to enter The Cave and to solve the various traps and puzzles to achieve your ultimate goal. There are seven characters and each character has different skills and are in search of different things. The Knight, again as an example, seeks a lost and precious sword, with Invincibility as his special power.
On the other hand, the Hillbilly is seeking true love and his special power is the ability to hold his breath underwater indefinitely. Then there’s the Time Traveller who seeks to change her present by making a change in the past – her special power is phasing through rocks or other obstructions.
There are other characters, too, including the Scientist, the Twins (played as one character), the Monk and Adventurer, and you’ll need to choose three of the characters to enter The Cave. These characters are then locked throughout the game. The puzzles and traps are solved differently depending the characters that you select and, in this way, the full game can only be explored with multiple play throughs of The Cave (obviously, choosing different characters for each game). Figuring out how each combination of characters can solve the challenges offered by The Cave is very interesting.
The first game I played, I chose the Knight, the Adventurer and the Monk and I played with my kids guiding me. Fortunately I had my kids with me because they managed to solve one or two problems that were totally stumping their old dad. The second game, I let my kids play by themselves and it was great watching them solve the puzzles in a different way to that which I had done. My kids are turning into quite experienced gamers now so they were quite adept at The Cave after just a few minutes.
The only problems that I came across while playing The Cave were that some of the puzzles are a bit too simple. Some puzzles had me stumped for a few minutes but, on the most part, solving the problems isn’t too tazing. Another problem that people might suggest is that there is too much walking around required. I didn’t really think so but I do know how impatient some gamers are. A hint here is to use one character when travelling and the other two will automatically catch up at various points.
Another problem with The Cave is that some of the characters are not as exciting as the others. For example, the Adventurer is a bit one dimensional and her special ability is not very useful. This is very easily resolved, however – simply do not chose those characters to play with. A good combination I found was the Knight, the Twins and the Monk.
The best part of the game for me was the humour of The Cave itself. The Cave is characterised by a deep and disembodied voice which, in my view, sounds a bit insane. One of the funny comments is that being a Cave “makes dating hell” and the mere concept of this had me LOL’ing (LOL – Ed). The Cave offers some useful hints and tips, but he is mostly there to make snide and sarcastic remarks about the characters and life in general.
I can recommend The Cave to all gamers of all ages. It’s a great game to play alone, with others or even watching others. In fact, I had just as much fun watching my kids play (and enjoying their unique problem solving skills) than by playing myself. As an adult gamer, I like the fact that there are games out there that are just fun to play. They are not serious and you can play for twenty minutes or a few hours just for the hell of it. I also greatly enjoy games with humour and The Cave reminds me quite a lot of Trine and Toxic Bunny. Give it a go, have some fun and you won’t be disappointed.