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

 

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Agile Tester

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

    Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

    SAP BW BO

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

    Recruitment Resourcer

    £18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on