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Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.6


The Cave
April 2, 2013 | Ted Bade
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Requirements:

Mac OS X: 10.6.8 |†CPU: 1.8 GHz Intel Core Duo | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 1.3 GB | Graphics:†256 MB, ATI: Radeon HD 2600 Pro; NVIDIA: GeForce 8800 GT; Intel HD Graphics 3000

Review:

The Cave is an amusing graphical adventure created by Ron Gilbert, (who also created Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion) and Double Fine Productions, (known for Psychonauts). In this game you lead a party of three to explore the Cave, solving puzzles and learning the stories and dark pasts of the members of your group. It is fun, very entertaining, and well worth the time to play.

The Cave is interesting and rather humorous because, you see, the Cave is sentient. It narrates as you play. It has comments about a variety of things, but mostly about the humans that have ventured in and how they interact with their world. The comments the Cave makes are generally funny, often witty, and usually very sarcastic. There are seven characters waiting to enter and interact with the Cave. The Monk, the Hillbilly, the Twins, the woman from the future, and so forth. Each character has a story, something in their life that they wish to resolve and have come to the Cave for this purpose. Each character also has a special ability, something they can use to solve their special puzzle once inside.

The Cave is broken into two basic areas: common areas that all characters move through, and special areas - one for each of the seven characters. As you move your group of three characters through the Cave, you should encounter the common areas and only those areas that apply to the three you have in the party. Which means you can play through a couple of times with different characters to experience all the special areas. Itís just odd that they made seven characters, when there is a party of three. It would have been better to have nine for three runs or six for two full runs. While this game is fun to play, it isnít something that will bring you back several times. Once through for each character is probably it for most players.

As you explore the Cave trying to solve the puzzles in each area, you will find Cave Paintings, a cartoon image that portrays some part of the story pertaining to one character. As you collect them and as you explore the characterís special level, you learn what issue that character is attempting to resolve. You will come to some resolution of their issues, although it might not be the kindest for every character.

The puzzles themselves are somewhat fun to solve and often require more then one of the characters in the group to work together. Each area has several different tasks as well as a main task, not to mention the need to find a way to move into the next section of the Cave. Clues are gathered by observing the spaces you move through, the comments made by the Cave, the objects you find, any switches, or other characters not in the party. Objects that can be picked up will probably be needed to complete some aspect of the puzzle, but not always.

Interaction in the Cave is pretty simple. There are the movement keys (back, forth, up. down, jump, pull/push), interaction keys (pick up, operate a switch), special abilities, and not much else. The characters donít speak, but will shrug if you instruct them to do something in an area where there is nothing to do. There is a lot of hopping and climbing and jumping this way and that. You can control only one of the characters at a time, thus there is a lot of movement in this game. Luckily, the game will auto move the other characters during those long stretches into the next section of the Cave. If you quit the game before finishing an area, your characters will drop the items they are holding. You will need to remember to pick them up again. Some items you find might appear where they are needed rather then where you might have moved them to. I thought I had lost one important item, but after moving about, I found the item where it was needed to be used, not where I had mistakenly brought it.

A character canít really die in the Cave. If you manage to get one to fall too far the Cave will, in a most annoyed voice, tell you that death isnít allowed. That character will be teleported back to a place before the fatal jump. You really have to try to do this, or, as in my case, be in too much of a hurry, and not take the expected hop steps down. (Which happened because there is a lot of running around in this game.) You explore and think about what you see and eventually realize that you need to move one of the characters from here back to there, and another all the way down there, to solve a puzzle or open a door. Who has the patience to go slowly, when you realize a solution?

The character special abilities are interesting, and donít necessarily have a lot to do with the characterís story, although it is necessary to complete their special area. For instance the Hillbilly can stay underwater for a long time, and the Woman from the future can teleport forward a short distance. All the abilities are useful at some point.

You are not supposed to enter areas not meant for the three members of the party. However, in my case, I did run into one area that was not for any of the three members of my group. I spent a lot of time trying to get past the entry puzzle, but could not, as the members in my group lacked the special ability needed to pass. Luckily, once I realized that this wasnít an area this group needed to be in, I searched for and found the way to the next section of the Cave tour and onward. I donít think I was supposed to get into that area with my group, so I guess that was a a bit of a bug in the game. But then, I might have turned the wrong way.

I donít know if this is another bug or a feature, but I found at least one puzzle I was able to bypass by using the special ability of one character, not the one that the special area pertained to. Many games allow for different solutions, so perhaps this was intentional.

I really enjoyed the humor and the comments the narrator of The Cave makes as I moved through the areas. It is not serious, is tongue-in-cheek, and simply a lot of fun. The comments reflect the culture of humans and what they will do to get what they feel they deserve. I donít want to say too much, since a good bit of the fun is hearing the Caveís comments after you do something to solve a puzzle.

Graphics are cartoonish, but well done. The cave paintings you find are comic-like. I donít think they really need to be more then that. They are clear and easy to follow. Along with this, the animations in the game, and views as you move about are always very sharp and pleasant to the eye. Audio is pretty simple, but nicely done. There are the typical ambient environmental sounds, sounds associated with operating an object, or that an object makes, and so forth.

Put this all together and you have a very entertaining game that you might run through a time or two. At least to bring all the characters through their special areas. The Cave is funny, sarcastic, and well worth giving a try. It isnít that difficult to figure out what to do. Basic controls means you will spend more time working on puzzles then on trying to move around the screen. Overall, I really enjoyed this game.

Pros:

ē Fun, witty, and very entertaining

Cons:

ē There were a few bugs / issues in game play

Other Considerations:

Relatively easy puzzles might not appeal to hard core gamers. This is more a casual game, easy to return to and doesnít require a lot of dedication and learning to complete.



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