Conclusion: The Cave is a game that showed lots of promise, given those pulling the strings, and when it’s great, it’s really great. The Time Traveler’s level deals with manipulating the past and present to affect the future in what makes for one of the game’s best puzzles. But, the good just was not able to outshine the tedium of the rest. All of this puts The Cave in a weird place.
Pros: Gilbert’s writing is as funny and charming as always; some of the puzzles feel genuinely clever and discovering their solutions is incredibly satisfying.
Cons: Much of the game requires backtracking and otherwise tedious methods of puzzle solving; the game’s overall structure lowers what would be extensive replay value.
Summary: As soon as I move for the key I need to get in order to progress in The Cave, a careful crossbowman aims and fires at me quickly, faster than I can move my character through the small room we are both in.
Pros: + Character choices, + Sentient cave, + Puzzle design
Cons: - A lot of backtracking, - Some weird character interaction
Excerpt: Spelunk into the subterranean hollows of The Cave and you’ll find the genetic remnants of Ron Gilbert’s adventure game heritage strewn throughout. The numerous “New Grog” vending machines and sentient geology are homages to The Secret of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion ; its puzzles are based on the collection and predetermined use of various everyday items; and each of the multiple playable characters’ stories is a darkly comic morality tale.
Excerpt: What is it? Anthropomorphism is a common thing in games; we have any number of animals given humanoid form and nature to act as our avatar in the setting of a game. But never before have I come across a geological structure as a principal (albeit not our avatar in this game) character.
Conclusion: But even if its narrative falls short, so much of The Cave works well. Ron Gilbert’s most recent game is innovative in many of the same ways as his very first: it gives adventure gamers new ways to interact with the world, a new type of inventory, new methods for puzzle solving. But maybe ‘innovative’ is the wrong word, because all of those things are really just traditional adventure elements stripped down to the basics.
Conclusion: As it stands, The Cave is a reasonably entertaining product, giving you a sufficient amount of content for its price tag. While all the adventure and platform elements were fused well together, you'll always somehow find yourself expecting more. It almost seems like the devs were playing it safe, never going that extra mile, never pushing the limit in any way.
Pros: Ron Gilbert's touch is evident, the whole thing is stacked with plenty of zany Monkey Island inspired humor, smooth and uncluttered design, fun and easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics;
Cons: Level design and, well, we were hoping for more "adventure" when a name like Ron Gilbert is involved.
Excerpt: From Ron Gilbert and the team at Double Fine, The Cave seems to be designed specifically to shine a spotlight on a deficiency in our industry's vocabulary. Mixing the quirky item-based puzzle solving of games like Maniac Mansion with the platforming and maze-like tunnels of games like Metroid, The Cave essentially combines two genres with the same name. Is this “adventure” truly the best of both worlds or is it just an awkward mutation?