Ron Gilbert has worked on some of the greatest point and click and adventure games of all time and, for those who have not been gaming long or may not recognise the name, you may have heard of a little gem called DeathSpank. This was the last major title Gilbert worked on but now he is back with an all new game – The Cave. Fans of his previous games such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and DeathSpank will probably be wondering whether the humour and teeth grinding puzzles still remain in The Cave and there's only one way to find out. Let's get stuck in!
The game begins with The Cave narrating the story and explaining what his hidden caverns have to offer for the unlikely guests that have gathered at the entrance to his domain. You are probably wondering what a cave is doing talking but when you remember this is a Ron Gilbert game, you stop questioning such nonsense! Back to the story, the guests who are gearing up for their adventures, the knight, monk, adventurer, hillbilly, scientist, twins and time traveller, have put their put fates in your hand as you can only pick three to continue past the cave entrance. Each character has their own unique ability, such as the knight's ability to fall from great heights without receiving damage and the scientist's skill with computers that allows her to hack past locked doors. Once you've chosen your adventurers it is time to go into the wonderful world of the The Cave.
The moment you step into The Cave you will need to put on your thinking cap, as the puzzles start from the get-go. While they start off fairly easy, and remain rather easy in comparison to past games, they will still give the average gamer a few stumping moments. The best thing about the types of puzzles you will encounter is the sense of satisfaction once you have figured them out. There is also the occasional sense of stupidity as you complete a simple task after spending a nice chunk of time trying out wacky ways to solve the puzzle.
Puzzles range from the ease of getting a key from one side of a cavern to the other to open a locked door, to figuring out how to ruin an entire carnival, and there’s the hillbilly's unique puzzle, which requires a bit more thought but provides some hilarious outcomes. To ensure there's no confusion, The Cave is not a point and click game but rather the characters will pick up objects for puzzles. The trick is they can only carry one thing at a time, so this does pose a few dilemmas at times but nothing that will ruin the enjoyment of the game.
The puzzles will not keep you busy for long and the game can be completed, for the first time, in a few short hours. After you've taken the first three characters through The Cave you are then able to try different combinations to see how it differs. The Cave has several different areas to it that change depending on which characters are currently inside. There is a special puzzle for each character that will only appear if that character is chosen, and there are several neutral areas that you'll see regardless of which characters enter The Cave. These neutral areas do have special areas that only certain character's abilities will gain you access to. This means you will need to play through the story multiple times if you want to fully appreciate everything The Cave has to offer.
While the repeating of this game may put some people off, rest assured the the narration and humorous characters you will find throughout The Cave are more than enough of a reason to return for a second, third or forth trip. Spacing out these playthroughs and appreciating the puzzles time and time again may be a better way of approaching this and will give the game a little more longevity. There is also absolutely no reason why we should not see some downloadable content and additional characters added over time for more interesting outings.
Whether you are looking for a short escape from the backlog of games, a treat before the gaming year begins or simply a pleasant arcade title that is actually worth the Microsoft Points, The Cave is worth picking up and will cater for most player's wants in an adventure game. Plus, everyone loves a good laugh and this one will leave you with a sore stomach!