STAFF REVIEW of The Cave (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

The Cave Box art When you think of gaming companies that produce quality games and are still in business today, the list is not as long as you would expect. In today's day and age the true test of the quality of a gaming company is one that is still around and making great games today. One of those companies known worldwide for their work is Double Fine. They have released such titles as: Stacking, Iron Brigade, Costume Quest, Brutal Legend, Psychonauts and more. Now Double Fine has released a game called The Cave for the Xbox Live Arcade and they are hoping that gamers will find their treasure at the end of a long demented spelunking journey. Let's grab our mining helmets, some dynamite, and a canary or two and see just who will make it out alive as we take our first steps deeper into The Cave. (Insert evil laugh here...)

The Cave starts out with an introduction by the omnibus, wait, no, ominous, yeah that’s it, ominous narrator who is The Cave himself, or itself, or... can you even say "who" when talking about The Cave since, well, it's a cave? This voice is what will be your guide throughout different scenarios that you will encounter throughout the levels. This dark and twisted voice puts a humorous twist on watching you navigate and manipulate the puzzles ahead, and all the while you can't help but think its intentions are hardly genuine. In the beginning you are given a multitude of characters to choose from. Each character has a backstory provided through the narrator, but ultimately you must choose three of the characters and submit them to the tests and trials of the cave below.

You will notice from the beginning that the levels themselves are done in a spacious, multi-elevation layout where you will find yourself spacing your characters out at critical interactive points to solve various puzzles ahead. A vast majority of the puzzles will consist of having one character find an object that can interact with another object, but to get to that other object; you will secondly need another character to interact with some other item or obstacle to allow your first character to progress to their original goal. While it sounds confusing at first, you will find that the control scheme has been simplified to make things as smooth and streamlined as possible to allow easy navigation and access to The Cave's multiple levels.

Now given that this whole experience takes place inside a cave, you have to wonder what beauty lies beneath, and sadly the answer is not much. While the graphics are done in an almost cartoonish sense, it almost feels as though you are playing something that we've seen before over five years ago. The same can be said, unfortunately, for the sound. While the narrator's voice is humorous, there really isn't much that stands out as something memorable to your ears. While these dings may make The Cave seem a little "lack luster" there is an overshadowing fault that almost makes you want to light your dynamite and seal The Cave off for good. That fault is the lacking feature of online multiplayer. How can you expect to make a multiplayer game and not allow it to go online? This means that if you want to play with three people like the game allows, you better make room on the couch for two other friends, and that is the biggest fault of The Cave.

While puzzle platforming games attempt to seemingly reinvent the wheel when it comes to puzzles and how to keep gamers entertained for hours and hours, sometimes if you try and perfect perfection you end up with an abomination, and sadly there are too few redeeming qualities of The Cave to go up against the monumental shortcomings. Even though Double Fine makes some amazing games, unfortunately The Cave is not one of them. Throwing your Microsoft Points toward The Cave makes as much sense as throwing money out the window while you're driving on the highway.

Provide online multiplayer if you are going to have a multiplayer element to your game.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.7 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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