There aren’t many games that are slated for 2013 that really have me all that excited, sadly. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some really good games and that there won’t be some games that I love, because there will be probably a ton. There was one game that I was really excited over, though, and that was Double Fine’s The Cave. Something about Ron Gilbert at the helm of a modern adventure title with some platforming mixed in was just too much for me to handle. Gilbert is known as one of the fathers of the adventure game genre, taking the director’s seat for such games as Maniac Mansion as well as the Secret of Monkey Island while writing and having a hand in some of the other LucasArts classics.
Basically, when you talk about adventure games you talk about LucasArts and you talk about both Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer. So when you look at The Cave, you’ll see a game directed by Ron Gilbert and with Tim Schafer serving as the creative director and maybe you’ll understand why The Cave is a big deal for the die-hard adventure gamers of the world. Sure, we’ll give credit where credit is due; Telltale Games have had a few good attempts at the genre and finally hit a homerun with The Walking Dead, but as a whole, it has just been a bit of a dead genre with fans waiting for it to return.
After completing my first play-through of The Cave, which I assume that there will be many, I can honestly say that it lived up to my expectations for it. It needs to be understood that there is a bit more platforming in this game than in standard adventure titles, which usually go by the point-and-click style of controls, which adds a new element to the puzzle-heavy game. As for the puzzles, to appeal to a broader audience they opted to forgo the idea of an inventory for each character and instead for each character to be able to hold one item at a time. This means that puzzles are a bit self-contained and anything that you find in a given area will probably coincide with a puzzle in that area.
It allows for the puzzles to really breathe on their own and for the game flow a bit more, allowing you to simply move forward without worrying about backtracking or making some inane connection like pouring grog into a mug, then as you walk to your target to melt it, having to transfer it to a new mug so you won’t lose it as it is melting your mug. It’s a cool idea and they compound it by revisiting one of my favorite games, Maniac Mansion, and the way that characters are utilized in groups of three as you make your way through the game. Your three characters all need to work together for you to move on and at times you’ll need to have two holding levers while one squeezes through a newly-opened door and so forth.
You might read some stuff about the puzzles being difficult, but if you’ve played adventure games in the past this won’t be as much of a challenge for you as those games were. Chances are you won’t find yourself overly frustrated, ready to give up or ready to call up a walkthrough online at any point. Maybe you will, if so, don’t beat yourself up over it, but chances are that just looking at the items available to you in any given area will unveil what you should be using them for.
Basically, if you’ve been drooling for a creative and unique game to play and/or miss the glory days of adventure gaming, you want all of The Cave.