Review - The Cave: The strangeness of Ron Gilbert's latest platform game draws you in like like filings to a magnet

view gallery VIEW GALLERY
4.00

Don't let this platform adventure's simple mission; to get in and out the cave, fool you into thinking it'll be easy. With Monkey Island-style crazy puzzles and a Platonic allegory woven in, you'll gladly waste many days of your life playing it.

Double Fine's latest game is about seven explorers journeying through, err, a sarcastic cave. You take the role of either an Adventurer, a Time Traveller; a Hillbilly; a Monk; The Twins; a Knight or a Scientist. It's a platform-adventure game where your goal is to enter and then exit the cave.

The true goal, however, is that each of the characters have come to the cave believing they will learn something of who or what they will become. What's odd about it is that to get the full story of this cave, you have to complete the game three times. The rule is: only three explorers at a time can enter. So far, so weird.

If you remember your high school philosophy you’ll recognise there are shades of Plato here. Though Plato’s Allegory of the Cave was not narrated by a rock edifice with a voice of such biting sarcasm that it makes Joan Rivers sound like Sister Wendy.

Here, only the cave talks. And that’s great because you don’t really want the characters to. You get enough from them by playing. The Allegory of the Cave is about knowledge and our route to understanding -which is what this game’s about, which makes it pretty intellectual in a video game world dominated by Call of Duty killstreaks.

Gameplay is mainly a blend of 2D-platforming and head-scratching as you come up with the solutions to the weird puzzles Ron Gilbert (he of Monkey Island fame and lead designer of The Cave) is famous for. Gameplay revolves around obstacles players must solve to advance further through the rockface.

One task involves you charging up some dead batteries using a puddle of electric eels so you can record a dragon’s roar with a tape recorder to scare away someone with a gun who is guarding the sausage machine that happens to be one solution to getting the dragon your tasked with moving out of the way. Yes, it’s quite a strange fish, this game.

The strangeness is what draws you in, like filings to a magnet. The Time Traveller can teleport through slotted walls; the Knight is invulnerable at the tap of a button; the Monk can telepathically lift up objects (including those sausages) and flick levers with his mind; the Adventurer can use her grappling hook to swing over gaps. It’s all standard adventure fare, but with odd Tim Burtonesque twists.

And it is dark. Not say, Amnesia dark, but the Scientist character can help launch a nuclear bomb and a futuristic time traveller can wipe out the entire bloodline of her annoying work colleague; not to mention the casual (and very enjoyable) story of The Twins which revolves entirely around … patricide.

Every character follows a similar journey of destruction and mayhem. However one of the major failings is that you cannot issue commands to the characters you are not, at that time, directly controlling. This means a lot of hopping between your characters, moving them to the correct place, and swapping back. It all starts to get dizzying and thumb-straining. You can play it co-operatively, of course, but it’s poor judgement by the developers not to have included some sort of 'wait here' or 'follow me' system.

But never mind all that. Steam informs me I've spent ten hours in this game. Ten hours with seven weirdos in a cave – and I count that as time well spent. Yes, the command system is a bit shoddy and Double Fine should sort out some sort of patch for that. But look past that and carry on trying to coax a monkey, with a bunch of bananas, into the guidance system of a nuclear missile and you’ll have a fine afternoon's gaming.

Score: 4/5

Price: £9.99, Steam
Format: Wii U, PC, XBOX 360, PS3, Sega, cert: 12 (all via digital download only)
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Sega

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst - Tunbridge Wells - £30,000

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Test Analyst/Systems Administ...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET, C#

    £40000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Global Real Estate Software P...

    Recruitment Genius: Drupal / PHP Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for a talented...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer

    £17000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuing growth, recru...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us