|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Double Fine|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Only a few short weeks ago, we were shown the first gameplay footage of The Cave, a new adventure game by Double Fine and SEGA. Even more recently, E3 has given us the opportunity to see The Cave in action, and it is far more original than we thought it would be.
The Cave combines the iconic Double Fine sense of humor with a set of mechanics that we haven't seen since The Lost Vikings. It puts three characters into a huge labyrinth of 2D puzzles tailor-made to their own style of play and asks them to work together to find solutions and continue forward. Perhaps it's a sign that adventure games are coming back; The Cave was easily one of the coolest games I saw on the E3 show floor, and I can't wait for it to release.
Let's start with the story, which is, appropriately enough, about a cave that is actually some sort of sentient being. (We know this because it's the cave itself that narrates the adventure.) Many legends have been told about the cave. The most common legend states that it has the peculiar ability to grant you your heart's desire. Travelers come from all places and times to seek the rewards that they might find inside, and since the cave apparently connects all times and locations, this gives us a variety of characters from all throughout history that we can control.
There are seven characters available to play as, but you only get to take three into the cave itself. You only get to choose your characters at the very beginning of the game, and each character has his or her own particular abilities and skills that will aid you in your travels. The knight is looking for a sword with unrivaled power and has the ability to call upon a guardian angel to protect him from harm. The Hillbilly can swim in water while everyone else sinks, and he is looking for true love. The scientist can utilize gadgets and machines, and she is looking for the answer to a scientific breakthrough (I like to pretend it's the grand unified theory or the Higgs boson). The Time Traveler needs to stop an upcoming catastrophe and he has the ability to travel into the future and the past. The final three characters are a pair of creepy evil twins who are looking for their parents, a monk who is searching for enlightenment, and an adventurer that is looking for treasure, but none of these characters have had their special abilities explained in detail.
What's really interesting is that the cave changes based on who enters it. In the demo we were shown, the player chose the knight, the hillbilly, and the scientist, and this created a cave filled with technical gadgets for the scientist to use, water for the hillbilly to swim through, and dangerous beasts for the knight to defend against. Similarly, if the player chose the time traveler, there would be many instances where the time traveler could shift the cave into the future or the past. Every combination of characters creates an entirely different cave to wander through. If my math is correct, that means that there are 210 different cave layouts for players to experience, which means this game has a whole heck of a lot of replay value.
It's not just the puzzles, but also the cave environment that change. At one point, the player came across a full medieval castle right in the center of the cave, complete with a princess and treasure. The princess holds an amulet that will allow the knight to venture forth on his quest, but to get the amulet the knight has to trade some treasure. So the knight ventures off to steal some treasure from a dragon, but in doing so accidentally keeps the door to the lair of the dragon unlocked. As a result, the dragon eats the princess and coughs up her amulet for the knight to take and continue on his quest. Oops. That's Double Fine humor for you.