Step into the Cave
Double Fine has a new adventure title in the works from the creative mind of Ron Gilbert. The Cave does away with some of the staple gameplay mechanics that come with the adventure genre and strives to streamline the adventure game experience. Players will choose three of the seven characters to explore the Cave, including a Hillbilly, Monk, Adventurer, and Knight, to discover each one's personal motivations for entering and solve plenty of puzzles along the way.
Outside the genre innovations, The Cave still feels like a Double Fine game with the humor and quirky characters placed odd story set in a sarcastic, talking cave. We were able to get our hands on the title, play through a carnival-themed level, and got to experience some of the changes Double Fine has made to the typical adventure formula.
There are platforming elements
When you think of an adventure game (especially one by adventure game design legend Ron Gilbert) you typically think of a point-and-click adventure like The Secret of Monkey Island or Maniac Mansion. Well, that's not the case for The Cave. Double Fine is making the the exploration a bit more active, allowing players to navigate the environment by jumping to ledges, climbing ropes, and swimming underwater.
However, the platforming isn't a huge focus or even challenging like it would be in a Mario game (this is an adventure title after all). You'll have to navigate your way through the Metroid-like cave environment uncovering clues, solving puzzles, and finding secret pathways. Having direct control over the characters gives the game a much faster pace than a point-and-click, so you won't have to wait for your character to walk across the screen trying to investigate an object.
Inventories do not exist
In a typical point-and-click adventure game, you'd explore the world, gathering everything you can like wrenches, valve cranks, and other bits and bobs to open up the next section. In The Cave, there's still a ton of exploration, but you won't be loading up a fanny pack full of items that you'd soon forget the purpose of.
The lack of inventory is the prime example of the way Double Fine is streamlining the game. In one section of a carnival-themed level, a path could be opened by turning on the power to a clothed ladies dance show (don't ask). A fuse needed to be inserted into a circuit then powered by a far off generator. One character carried the fuse to the plug and another had to find a monkey wrench, travel to the generator, and use the wrench to flip on the power. Each of the three characters can only carry one item, you see exactly what everyone in your group is carrying, and what they are capable of doing with it. This keeps you from having to dig through an inventory and keeps the gameplay flowing.
You'll have to pay close attention to the environment
The Cave makes it easy to find items you can interact with, showing identifying floating text above items you can use, like picking up a barbell or pressing a button, but that doesn't mean that solving a puzzle is going to be easy. Sometimes finding the solution to opening a door or finding a quest item can be right in front of your face and you wouldn't know it.
In one area of the carnival level, a color wheel game challenges you to predict the correct color based on three choices, red, blue or green (which is impossible without knowing the trick). But before you reach the color wheel, you encounter a fortune teller that subtly displays one of the three color wheel colors after your fortune is told. It was easy to miss the small detail, but after spending time revisiting the puzzle, it's extremely rewarding once you finally figure it out.
The characters you choose determine the paths you can take
Every character has a unique story, motivation for entering the cave, and special ability you can use to solve puzzles. Depending on which characters you choose for your party entirely affects the path you travel. For instance, the Hillbilly was used to access a carnival using his ability to hold his breath underwater and destroying a boulder with dynamite only he could reach. If the Hillbilly was not in the party the carnival would just be passed by and you would find an alternate path using the other characters.
The characters' abilities also have an impact on how certain puzzles can be solved. Instead of going through the complicated process of finding a fuse and powering on the clothed ladies dance show mentioned before, if the Monk was in the party, the character's telekinesis power could grab the item behind the barrier and the group could continue on with the adventure. You'll have to choose your characters carefully. Depending on the party you choose, you could have a completely different experience on a second or third playthrough.
There is three player co-op
The characters you choose to take on your adventure through the Cave can be individually controlled by additional players in drop-in drop-out, local co-op. In co-op, you'll be forced to coordinate and often take turns with your partners to solve puzzles. The camera always focuses on one character (which can be toggled), so sometimes you might have to leave your partners off-screen while you flip a switch. Having some buddies by your side to help solve puzzles is extremely entertaining, since putting your heads together to solve a tough puzzle can often result in horrible (yet hilarious) death and failure.
What do you think?
That was a quick look at the upcoming adventure title The Cave. What sparked your interest? Are you excited any adventure games coming in the near future. Let us know what your thoughts are on The Cave or adventure games in general in the comments below.