måndag 18 februari 2013

The Cave

Blimey! I haven't really gone through my sodding head with this thing through. And here I though I could lock people in a small room and gas them all with the essence of sour herring and let them all choke in their own vomit.

But anyway, I've never been to much in reviewing games that recently got released. I'm not really employed nor got rich parents so I have to gather whatever I have and use it to buy Donald Duck Pocket books. Nor am I someone who really follows most recent games because the ones I'm intrested comes during the other half of this year... probably. Or atleast I hope so.
But I kinda got a bit chance with this game right here, so this is "The Cave"

"The Cave" developed by "Double-Fine Studios" as a puzzle-platformer-adventure... thingy and... Holy Shit! It was created by "Ron Gilbert", the creator of the "Monkey Island"? So... a game made by both Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer who created a couple of the best point 'n click adventure games ever... Yup! It was something I just had to look at.

So anyway, The story is about a talking cave that's known to show people about themselves and what they might become in the dark and deep labyrinth. And across time and space, seven people (or rather eight, one of the characters are actually two). Are drawn into the cave harboring secrets they do not wish to release.
So we have a group here so let's see who we have:
A knight, a monk, an adventurer, a scientist, a hillbilly, a time-traveler and creepy twins (It's always have to be "creepy" twins... real originality right there... Oh! the game acknowledges that... Oh well.)
So we take three of those buggers and enter The Cave... wait a minute... seven characters? Choosing only three? Using them to solve puzzles? THIS IS FUCKING MANIAC MANSION!!!! Another game made by Ron Gilbert during his time in Lucasarts.

So the gameplay is pretty easy, you individually control one of the three chosen characters, solve puzzles and move to the next area. It kinda hold as it's own level. Every area has it's own puzzle items to pick up and use only in the area, which is kinda nice so you don't have to run back and forth too much. But it also loses on it's creativity. Everything is kinda too simple like using a bucket to hold water drops so it doesn't hit a battery device, or use a crank from a well to use it on another well. Remember on my Chzo Mythos bit where most bad puzzles are usually bat shit crazy? Well, this is kinda the opposite of the same bad puzzzle formula. It's too simple and doesn't have much creativity. So it becomes too obvious puzzles and more of an item hunt kind of game. It's formula hides behind the split control like holding a lever to open a gate so another bloke can recieve an object.
And that's pretty much the whole gameplay in a fucking nutshell isn't it?. Having two of the characters holding a lever so it opens a gate for the third one to pass. Sometimes you have a smart puzzle, but most of the time it's to simple or gate opening. And thanks fucking christ that characters spawns at checkpoints or I would have rage-quit from all the tracking for every seperate character.

Anyway, every character have their own special skill, like The Hillbilly can hold his breath longer, The Time-traveler can phase through small walls, and The Twins can dublicate themselves in a phantom version of their previous position from their physical form. So every character will be used to complete the puzzles. The appeal of having to use different characters to solve puzzles differently was very intresting. But the problem is that it's contextual as fuck! The reason why comes later...

But eventually you will stumble upon a level that is for a certain character you chose on the trio and in obvious places just so you know. For example, The Knight will be in a castle, The Monk will be in a buddhist temple, and The Scientist will be in an underground labratory.
Because every character (I think) represents one of the 7 deadly sins, and their backstory is told by pictures you find by finding iconographs on walls that will tell on how it when the sin started to us. And the characters personal level will show us what the sin may create, have created or is creating. But certain character level are only accessable if you have the right characters with you. If you come to the Time-Travelers level without the Time-Traveler, then you can't phase through a wall to access the characters level, and you just take an opening and pass the level. But IF you have the Time-Traveler with you, then the opening is closed and you just have to complete it's level.

But that also leads to a problem for the game. The whole game is split into about 7 (Not sure the exact...) puzzle areas, and 3 of them are the chosen characters personal levels so most of the game are areas you encounter are the bloody same. I though that the whole game were suppose to adapt to the chosen characters you chose but as above it's extremly contextual. Oh yea! There might be a couple of hooks here and there for The Adventurer to swing, but why even bother and take the other way around instead as the others who doesn't need a bloody hook to pass the obstacle. Oh! I don't have the Time-Traveler with me so I can't phase through gate, so I may need two people for one to hold up a gate for the other to pass. Again! that's pretty much the game in a nutshell, holding up gates for others to pass and item hunt. And when you realise that you pretty much will be doing the same thing in 4 parts of the game breaks the illusion of a quite long puzzle game. I mean seriously, you can beat the bloody game in about an hour if you really know what you're supposed to do.

And for fuck sake! If you are going to put a good ending and a bad ending for the characters. Atleast make the game so you can have a save file, but NOPE! instead we have one checkpoint save, so when you get one of the endings, you have to start ALL OVER AGAIN to see the other ending.
I would not mind that too much if the good and bad ending was cleverly split, but it's not. I thought that the way to get the good ending is to make sure that in the character levels, you change the decision by not causing the horrible fate. But no, what you do is a certain action three times at the ending of the game that don't really make much sense.
The thought was nice though, rejecting your sinful desire to redeem yourself, but the execution is bollocks.
This is where I kinda realised it was quite stupid to have un-even characters, because of the endings, the only replayability is to see every characters personal levels, meaning you will have to replay the whole game six times to get everything. My take? Just play the characters once and watch their endings on youtube if you are incredibly lazy. The game is short, but to play the same area over and over again can be aggrevating.

Which is quite a shame because I really like the comedy of The Cave, and you can see that Double-Fine had a steady hand in it because the personality in the game is up to the eyeballs. The whole Cave can talk and plays as some "Willy Wonka" kind of person. The whole place plays as a tourist attracton. And the NPC's are really enjoyable, but they kinda are just there to throw items to help you proceed. I guess it's on the joke of the whole place being a tourist attraction and they're being a part of it. But they don't really give much of an imperssion and pretty much comes and goes, well except for the cave.
The characters themselves doesn't really talk except doing a couple grunts and shrieks when you jump or land on a pit of spikes. You respawn instantly so it does satisfy my psychotic side by jumping into spikes and too high ledges. "HAHA! Take That You Fucking Scientist! How Do You Like It Now When Your Kneecaps Are In Your Fucking Lungs!!!!"
What would help the replayability is to give the charactes dialouges. If the characters had some kind of "Dragon Age-y" conversation with eachother would have made the game more enjoyable.

But for what we have, it's not a bad game. The premise was promising but ended up disappointing me a bit, but maybe it's because I expected too much. But it is still worth playing atleast ONCE!!!! The mystery about what the Cave might can be intruiging and the gameplay can still be quite fun. But again, the game's worth playing atleast every character once. Then just find whatever from youtube if you want the rest and save yourself from repetition.