Friday, 7 December 2012

Preview: The Cave (Multiplatform)

I'm not sure what else you'd need to know about The Cave other than the simple equation:
Ron Gilbert + Adventure Game = Get ready to buy this game
That's actually as much as I needed to know about The Cave but this is one of those times I wanted to know more and find out if the final answer should be "Get ready to buy this game²."

Ron Gilbert's curriculum vitae is as tall as a stack of thick pancakes. His involvement in the industry stretches back to Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island and reaches forward to the DeathSpank games. His reputation is bulletproof among adventure game fans, of which I am one. It's no guarantee that the game will be some kind of critical and commercial juggernaut, but it certainly puts The Cave at the top of my list for "Games I Must Play" for 2013.

The Cave sends three characters (of a roster of seven) into a 2D platform world in the same vein as Castlevania or Metroid (at least as far as exploration goes). Of course, neither of those games featured a playable hillbilly.

It's promised that the interaction with the game world is still heavy on the "point and click" side of things even if Castlevania and Metroid get a mention.

In a clever "twist," the cave in The Cave is actually the narrator while the playable characters remain silent. From this, there's the feeling that there will be more going on in The Cave than what might be happening at first glance. I don't usually go into games looking for hidden (or not so hidden) meaning, but I might be doing that with The Cave.

Successfully navigating The Cave will require the player to switch between the three characters since they each have a speciality. This twinges the Lost Vikings part of my brain, but Gilbert has been quoted as saying the game won't punish the player too severely. (Lost Vikings liked to hit you over the head with punishment.) Lose a character and he/she will respawn. That alleviates concern that The Cave will turn into a platformer Hell. And there's no "wrong" trio of characters to take into the cave, just different combinations.

Slated for launch January 2013, the wait is short. But for someone that bought Pajama Sam, Freddi Fish, and Putt-Putt because of Gilbert's involvement, the wait will be agonizing.

- Aaron Simmer