game ofThe week

THE CAVE

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN&GAMES - JOE GRIF­FIN

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.

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