Considering he hasn't worked on an adventure game in a while, it was nice to see Ron Gilbert return earlier this year with The Cave on PC and consoles. Mixing interesting characters with stellar level design and a good sense of humor, the game found its audience. Today it made its mobile debut with a release on iOS for only $4.99.
This portable version of The Cave maintains a strong sense of humor, thanks to narration provided by the cave itself. "Don't laugh - it makes dating hell," it insists. This steady, laughable dialogue enhances the experience, though having to sit through its explanation when you start a new game gets old.
The Cave focuses on seven unique characters - the Monk, the Adventurer, the Hillbilly, the Scientist, the Twins, the Knight and the Time Traveller. Not only does each have a special ability that will help your team of three, but also special levels that only he or she can access. The Knight's castle and the Twins' creepy house are definite highlights, though all of these secret areas are worth visiting.
Traditional controls aren't an option in The Cave, as you'll have to use the touchscreen to move characters around. It works all right most of the time, as you can touch items you want to interact with, like prying pieces of wood with a crowbar. Other times, it's incredibly frustrating, especially when it comes to platforming. Something as simple as jumping to another ledge takes considerable effort.
The pacing also needed work. While some areas in the game are worth exploring, other times you'll get stuck on a puzzle, forcing you to go and do one thing, then activate another, only to repeat the process if something goes wrong. If you're a player who prefers to go from point A to point B, this isn't the game for you.
One thing that does make The Cave worth spelunking into is the presentation. As we mentioned, the narration is hilarious, and the soothing music that plays in the background helps, even during the toughest parts of the game. The graphics survived the transition from console to mobile, with great animations on each of the characters and good level design that will keep you exploring for hours. It's just a shame you can't zoom out and get a better look at your surroundings.
Finally, there should've been an option to restart the game. If you're not happy with your current team and want to try someone new, the only way to do so is to quit completely, shut your device down and restart. A quick restart button would've made things easier.
It's hard to recommend The Cave to a mainstream audience, mainly due to its faulty touch controls and tedious pace. However, if you're a Gilbert fan or want an offbeat title that'll keep you busy for a few hours, dive into this dark place.
Download The Cave: iOS
What's Hot:Hilarious voice work from The Cave itself, beautiful visuals and level design, cool puzzle solving once you figure things out, each of the seven characters have unique abilities, a good deal at $4.99.
What's Not:Occasionally frustrating touch controls, some puzzles will take a while to figure out, tedious pacing, you can't skip through the intro.