Conclusion: The Cave is not a game for everyone, but given the quality of the story and the dialog and the low price, this is the sort of adventure and puzzle mix that needs to find an audience outside the hardcore public. Ron Gilbert is a legend of the genre and his partnership with Tim Schafer has produced a solid experience with interesting mechanics and a unique style that sometimes come together to produce moments of video game magic.
Pros: + Character choices, + Sentient cave, + Puzzle design
Cons: - A lot of backtracking, - Some weird character interaction
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.
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: Overall, The Cave was stylish yet confusing. The visual effects, sound, music, and comedic asides are all well-crafted elements that do not completely mix together well; a rewarding, whole experience is, disappointingly, lacking. The levels also seemed quite sparse, with only two or three major puzzles in each. Despite this, we’d still recommend a play-through to any avid adventure game or puzzler fan.
Excerpt: The Cave tells the story of seven characters who explore a mysterious Cave because...well, because why the hell not. There's the time traveler, the hillbilly, the adventurer, the knight, the scientist, the monk and a pair of mysterious ghostly twins (who control as one person). During each play through you choose three of the seven characters and explore the depths of the titular cave.
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.