Welcome to a whole new month of free games from Xbox Live’s Games with Gold. Here, at BlazeKick, we play every game and review them so we can determine if the games are good or bad and which game deserves the title of the Golden Game of the Month.
The Cave is a fantastic puzzle and platforming game brought to us by Double Fine Productions, the studio behind Psychonauts. At the beginning, you meet seven characters and you must choose three of them to take on your adventure throughout the Cave, who is narrating the story. The end goal is to go through specific trials with each character and make your way back to the entrance of the cave while learning about what evil deeds each character has done and if they will reconcile what they’ve done. The creative story, gorgeous graphics, pleasing audio, and intuitive gameplay, I found the Cave to be a rather enjoyable experience that brought me to want to play it over and over again.
One of the best things about The Cave is that the story is based off which characters are chosen. You see, there’s no major story, but rather smaller stories that become clearer and clearer as time progresses. At the beginning, you learn that the Cave is a place where seven characters (because the twins are considered one character) are forced to go through to try and see the error of their ways or relish in what they’ve done in their past. You get a brief description of each character and what they’ve done, which you will then choose which three you want to travel with. Each character has their own specific trial such as the Twins’ home, Time Traveler’s work, or the Hillbilly’s carnival, but you will also have to assist a miner, get rid of a beast hunter, and escape an island.
As you progress, you’ll find wall markings specific to each character that will reveal a step by step of their stories; a total of six to find for all three characters you choose. After you complete the trials of the cave, you’ll go to the end with (or without) your object of desire and will receive one of two endings: the one where you remorse in the evil that you’ve done or embrace it. The great part is that, since you can only play three characters, you are encouraged to replay the game to see more and more of the story, and, of course, receive all of the achievements within.
Personally, I found the Twins to be my favorite characters. I feel they have one of the darkest stories (bar what the Scientist has done) in the game and I loved playing their trial. The Twins are very sinister in appearance and they, as well as their trial, give off a very strong Tim Burton vibe that just sucks me into it. I enjoyed a lot of other trials, but none nearly as much as theirs and I was so enthralled with learning what they had done that I pushed myself to go through the game instead of sleeping just so I can see it.
Even though this game is made for the Xbox 360, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. The characters are all incredibly unique looking and made so beautifully and mesh so well with the scenery. Ultimately, I’ve yet to have any experience that makes me not like the atmosphere for even a second. The game, in general, is just so attractive and appealing that I don’t think even an HD remaster will improve on it (although, that would be pretty cool). Even in dark levels, like the mansion or parts of the pyramid, everything is still very vibrant and noticeable. Double Fine Productions shines so brightly here in most, if not all, of their games, so it’s not even a shock that I absolutely love how everything looks in this particular game.
Now, the audio is tremendous; the background music, sound effects, and voice over are utterly remarkable. Mixing this with the beautiful graphics creates an atmosphere that really sucks you into the game. And the best part is that it changes with each trial. You’ll experience new songs and sound effects with each new character you choose to bring with into the cave. And speaking of the cave, the voice actor that acts as the cave (or narrator) is amazing! Heck, the entire cast consists of voice acting legends like David Kaye (known for Clank from Ratchet and Clank), Lex Lang (known for Dr.Neo Cortex from the Crash Bandicoot series), Grey DeLisle (known for Mandy in Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy), April Stewart (known for numerous voices in South Park), and, of course, the Cave himself, Stephen Stanton (known for numerous voices in Robot Chicken and Admiral Raddus in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). With an all-star lineup of voice actors, you can never really go wrong. The only complaint I have with the audio is when you play as the Time Traveler, her character makes noise every time you move due to her futuristic attire. She dons hover boots that make a futuristic “hover sound” that gets really old, really quick. Other than that, there’s absolutely nothing wrong.
The whole purpose of the game is to solve a giant puzzle by doing a bunch of smaller puzzles, essentially, but at the same time, you need to navigate the level through different platforming segments. Some puzzles are easier than others and I found myself needing to get a guide to help me with a particular spot, but I’ve never been one to be good at puzzle games. Ultimately, it is a linear puzzle-platformer and that comes with everything entailed, meaning there’s nothing really unique about it. That being said, I do enjoy the fact that each character has their own special abilities that do different things that help them solve the puzzles like the Time Traveler’s teleportation, the Scientist’s hacking, or the Knight’s invulnerability. They aren’t entirely useful except in their particular puzzles since each puzzle is designed for that single character. Ultimately, it’s still enjoyable, although a bit frustrating and irritating at times. The controls are pretty solid, bar the fact that when you climb up something you need to move or wait to jump right after because you will jump in that direction instead of towards the opposite direction or straight up. It’s especially frustrating in parts where the platform goes right to left to right which happens constantly. It’s a small issue, but when you don’t realize it, it sneaks up on you and could kill you if you’re not careful.
All in all, The Cave is an interesting game with beautiful aesthetics, a tremendous cast, decent controls and gameplay, and a unique story that you will find yourself wanting to play again and again just to experience it all over again (or to just get achievements). Double Fine outdid themselves and I’m putting this as my favorite game by them and one of my favorites to be released through Xbox Live’s Games with Gold. What do you think of the game? What was your favorite character’s puzzle? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @BlazeKickTweet or on my personal Twitter, @GeminiTrinity.