game ofThe week
12 cert, Microsoft Studios, Xbox Live (also PS3, Wii U, PC) Videogames have, let’s face it, yet to produce a modern Mark Twain, Orson Welles or Leonardo da Vinci. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that Ron Gilbert could be this generation’s Douglas Adams. Like Adams, Gilbert is known for redefining genres and slathering his work with sharp, postmodern wit.
Gilbert’s The Cave is a platform/puzzle adventure. You choose three characters from a roster that includes a time traveller, a knight, a monk, twin children and more. Each has their own dark backstory and reason for entering the mysterious cave. And they all have special skills, which become relevant as the story progresses.
The Cave is a collection of mazes, puzzles, traps, revelations, B-movie tropes and (of course) vending machines and gift shops. Many of the puzzles have to be solved by characters working in tandem.
As you’d expect, it has fun with game and storytelling conventions. The first torch you see is labelled “fire,” then it’s referred to as “hot fire”, followed by “flamey wamey thing” and finally “ouchy burny thing”. In a sword-instone scene, a knight is told to “try wriggling it before you take it out”.
This review might have been a five-star love-letter if not for some flaws. Because you play three characters, it’s a little tedious taking turns and making them wander through areas one-by-one. Why not have a button that gathers them together? And the same control button is used to read signs as to use objects, so items left next to signs can be hard to pick up. Despite its imperfections,
The Cave is a clever, imaginative and very funny puzzler. It’s designed to be played through multiple times with different characters, which I fully intend to do.