“The Cave” brings back two-dimensional adventure
Before next-generation 3D graphics and epic cinematic first-person gameplay, game developers had to make do with what they had. Back in those days, two-dimensional side-scrolling platform-based jumping games like Super Mario Brothers provided the action, while point-and-click adventure games forced you to use your brain. The new game “The Cave” combines those old-school genres and proves that there is still a place for 2D in a primarily 3D game landscape.
On a surface level, the game is a puzzle-platformer where the player controls three separate characters and navigates them through the titular cave. However, it is not that simple. The three playable protagonists are chosen from a group of seven very unique characters: a knight, a scientist, a hillbilly, a time-traveler, a pair of undead twins (played as one character), a monk and an adventurer. Each of these characters has its own backstories, powers and abilities. Once you choose the three characters you want to enter the cave, those are your characters for the entire game.
Certain areas of the game can only be accessed if you possess control of a certain character. For example, if you did not bring the knight with you, you will not be able to enter the castle and save the princess. This makes the game highly replayable, as each combination of characters chosen will alter the gameplay significantly.
The story of the game is that each of these characters has visited the cave in search of something that they are looking for in life. The cave is magical and its interior changes based on the desires of the people who enter it. As you progress through the game you unlock pieces of the backstory to each of your chosen spelunkers, which help you to piece together their reasons for entering the cave in the first place. Every step of your adventure is narrated by the omnipotent voice of “The Cave,” who is sure to remind you of the dangers that lie ahead.
Although the gameplay involves some jumping from platform to platform, the majority of the difficulty lies in the solving of puzzles. Certain themed rooms are based entirely around one character, but many of the puzzles require you to switch between your three characters and make them work together to move on. One character may have to hold down a lever while another presses a button so the third character can escape through a gate. As the game goes on, you begin to learn how to manipulate the three characters and play to their strengths and weaknesses as you delegate them to perform certain tasks.
Indie games are quickly becoming even more innovative and creative than even the most hyped full-price releases. “The Cave” is fun, challenging and beautiful to look at, and its unique character-based gameplay will have you playing it over and over again.
“The Cave” is available on Xbox Live, Playstation, Steam and WiiU for $14.99.