Life has been stressfull the last couple of months and I have not been as productive as I had hoped. But breaks also enable me to think about the content that I’d like to make: I have many ideas buzzing through my head but I’ll have to start small.
So I decided to introduce a new – possible – series: Hidden Gems. I’d love to shine a spotlight on underestimated, forgotten or underappreciated game. Games I just recently discovered, games I think are poorly know, games I fell in love with.
So I’m starting today – introducing: The Cave
Assemble your team of three from seven unlikely adventurers, then descend into the mysterious depths to explore The Cave!The Cave – Steam Page
And that is exactely what you get to do after a short – yet hilarious exposition.
… the titular cave is alive. Somewhat – they are a cave afterall – and functions as the narrator for the game.
If you want them to they’ll give you a short introduction about each of the seven (technically 8) protagonists; just hover over them:
He seeks his master to become the master. It’s a story filled with peace and enlightenment.The Cave – The Cave
They just want to go outside and play. What could be more innocent than that?The Cave – The Cave
Ability: “Ghost” – they leave a projection of themselves behind
She is hot on the trail of her lost companions and unequaled ancient treasure. Not necissarily in that orderThe Cave – The Cave
Ability: Grappling Hook
He is on a quest for a sword of unequal power and prestige.The Cave – The Cave
She is on the cusp of great discovery for all of humankind.The Cave – The Cave
On this fine night he searches for his true love. But does desire burn to brightly in his heart?The Cave – The Cave
Ability: Hold his breath for an unlimited amount of time
The time traveler
She is here to right a wrong a million years in the making.The Cave – The Cave
And since discovering those peoples desire and backstories is part of the game … I won’t tell you anything else.
depending on who you chose both gameplay and level design will be a little different. Every character has their on special power and their own level they used to inhibt. Every level will tell you their stories through design and gameplay while you can collect different panels of a comic, giving your more details about their stories while simultaneously giving the hunters something to hunt for.
Descending into The Cave
And so we descend, three protagonist chosen, crowbar in hand. You can switch between your protagonists at any time; as said: each of them has a special skill; and each of them can hold a different item.
This makes puzzle-solving very interesting – The Cave is a Point-and-Click-Adventure, after all – since you’ll sometimes need to weigh down switches with several characters or have them holdand use all sorts of objects to make it work. It makes it a little harder to figure out puzzles, since not everything you’ll find will work or you’ll need to try a different combination, yet you’ll get the hang of it fairly quickly. That makes the game quite accessible for beginners, yet … It gets old really quick. If you already have played games of the genre (or the developers) it gets quite easy after a while.
Level by Level down The Cave
Now: Your journey through the cave will look quite different, depending on which heros you chose:
That makes replaying it with different characters very interesting, since you’d want to see each level at least once. I have to confess, though: Having to replay the overlapping levels again and again and again … It’s very repetitive and I whish there’d been another way to solve it.
The individualised level itself are amazingly creative! I do not want to tell to much, since Level Design should always be explored on your on – now get out there and play! – but holy hell. The levels work the same way – gameplaywise, so there’s nothing new and confusing to learn yet they are so different from each other and so creative. You can jump off and on a turning ferris wheel when playing as the Hillbilly. There’s a huge rocket in the science lab. And when playing as the time traveller you will literally travel through time and basically get three levels for the price of one. I’d say the Time Traveler’s level was probably one of my favourites. The ability to switch between the levels past, present and future makes for some amazing puzzles.
The adventurer’s ability and level on the other hand are quite boring and cliché, frankly. I am not totally sure if that’s not super on purpose, though …
If I had to criticise something I’d probably have to say that not all levels and abilities make for compelling challenges. Some work better, some not so much.
Play with friends … or don’t!
Now: You can play The Cave on Multiplayer and it seems like a classic Multiplayer game but … I wouldn’t do that.
Multiplayer is weirdly complicated to beginn with: While you can control your characters with both keyboard and mouse you will need an extra gamepad (from what I’ve heard). Weird. Those who have tried that also reported that the controls wouldn’t work as well as when playing alone.
If you had different experiences, please let me know.
I personally did not play the game on Multiplayer and I need to say: That’s probably for the best. Supposed gameplay issues aside it does seem to be the proper way the game was intended to play. I find it incredibly interesting to control three characters as one player. It’s part of the experience and makes it so much more memorable. You’ll have to maybe backtrack a little at times but it’s also forcing you to take your time and enables you to enjoy the scenerie and vicual storytelling more.
Go deep or stay shallow – The Cave leaves you to chose!
Now I can be a pretentious hipster chick. I’ll be honest. I’m into weird pseudo-deep things, even if I don’t always fully understand them and keep on annoying people about it. I know that’s not for everyone. Some people just want to lean back and relax. That’s why it is so incredibly important to keep media diverse in topic and genre – there’s something for everyone.
The Cave is one of those rare games that does both: On the surface it has fund dialogue, quirky characters, inventive mechanics and a good sense of humour about itself, the world and the player. It’s a relaxing game that challenges your little grey cells while still being good, old, entertaining fun. Just fun.
Yet: You can go on and interpret all sorts of things into the game: The Cave itself tells you so: All of the characters have been gathered to find their deepest desires and on their way to not only learn something about themselves but also about the world they live in. And if the player is up for it: They may do so themselves.
There is a lot of subtle or not so subtle criticism in there that can be willfully missed and it won’t mess with your experience. I mean it’s obvious, starting right with the available characters; in and of themselves clichés and tropes yet deviate from their cookie cutter. They’re a blank trope-y canvas, unless you decide to paint something.
There’s also two endings to each character, which does not only help withc replayability but als with the qhole message of – make of this as you whish!
It’s what makes me so happy about this game: While there is a lot about it that’s very straight-forward and there is a lot repetition – it leaves you completely to yourself when it comes to how exactely you want to experience and what you whish to make of this experience. That is why I chose The Cave to be me first Hidden Gem.
The Cave – Trailer
The Cave – Data
Relese Date: 24.01.2013
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Lenght: about an hour per playthrough maybe?
Buy on Steam
Cost: 14,99€ or 14,99$