By John Walker on January 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am.
We’d rather hoped to have brought you a review of Double Fine’s The Cave by now, but unfortunately Sega only made 360 code available before release. And then to make matters dumb, despite its release date being today, and its being out today on 360, the Steam version has seemingly been set for the incorrect date, and is locked until tomorrow morning. Having already completed it twice on the consolebox, I’m in the frustrating position of wanting to tell you wot I think, but completely unable to advise you as to the state of the PC build. So while I hope this might get someone’s attention and have the Steam build unlocked for everyone, below I’ll give you a couple of lines of impressions and tell you to cross your legs.
But don’t get too worked up. As you may have seen from other published reviews of the 360 build, it’s not doing too brilliantly, scoring around the 6/10 point. And that’s fair. While The Cave is a lovely idea, it’s a game that doesn’t reach far enough in any direction, and ends up being stuck in the middle between all things.
It’s first and foremost a side-scrolling platform game. And for the vast majority of the time you’ll be traipsing your characters back and forth across the large levels, jumping holes, climbing ladders, screaming in fury when you can’t jump off the ladder, finding yourself somehow back on the ladder, finally managing to escape the ladder, and getting stuck on a rope. You take three of seven characters, and assuming you’re playing solo you control all three of them, individually. Each section of the Cave is a collection of puzzles, often using objects you find along the way, and it’s perhaps in this that it shares a fraction of anything in common with an adventure.
In the end, the whole game feels like the puzzle interstitials in a fully-fledged puzzle platformer, the variation from the combat, or acrobatics. But it’s just those puzzles, and too often they’re not particularly interesting. (I’d say about half of the characters’ areas are left very wanting.) It’s by no means a terrible game, but it’s one that falls short in any of the directions it could have taken.
I’m very hopeful that some of the worst issues with the 360 build won’t be such an issue on PC. The controls are glitchy, and the animations – while lovely – flicker and skip. And the ladders and ropes – good grief, they’re properly hateful. It’s definitely suited to a 360 controller, but I’m intrigued to see if it can feel more natural with a mouse and keyboard. I’m also hopeful that improved resolutions will allow the murky colours and blurry backgrounds to better spring to life.
As soon as I can get my hands on the PC build and give it a thorough play, I’ll bring you my final conclusions in a proper WIT.