Developer: Double Fine Productions, Inc
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Back before there was ever a Master Chief or even an Angry Bird, there was once an adventurer named Guybrush Threepwood. Ron Gilbert was one of the brains behind the success of LucasArts’ original run of Monkey Island PC titles, later departing from the studio to pursue other projects. Fast forward to 2011, Gilbert re-teamed with fellow LucasArts alum Tim Schafer to re-imagine the adventure game for the modern generation. Has The Cave recaptured the magic of old, or is this a nostalgic trip down frustration lane?

IMG_0064Adventure games have had a long legacy of turning a player’s mind to mush. For this reason, it only seems fitting that The Cave harkens back to the classic Maniac Mansion, where the player is faced with selecting which three of the seven available characters to use for the entirety of the game, right out of the gate. Decisions, decisions. Depending upon the selected avatars the puzzles and story may be modified slightly, lending itself well to a least two additional replay sessions.

The Cave itself is essentially the main character of the entire game. This is so much the case that it has its own disembodied voice to guide the player through the storyline. Think Bastion’s narrator, only with a more jovial and humorous (albeit forced) demeanor. Each step of the way there will be new settings introduced, all still somehow within the confines of the cave, that absurdly stretch the problem solving capabilities needed to control three characters simultaneously. Remember that “turning mind to mush” thing mentioned to earlier? It isn’t as much figuring out how to solve a puzzle as it is ascertaining the proper execution of said solution.

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What doesn’t do this title any favors are the mind-numbingly unwieldy touch controls. Instead of simply throwing a virtual D-pad on screen to emulate the console version, The Cave felt the need to slap together the most unsightly attempt at touchscreen navigation in recent memory. This drastic shortcoming is only highlighted further in platforming heavy sections where puzzles depend upon precise character control and accurate timing. Neither is possible with the implemented control scheme, rendering following a task to completion far more difficult than it necessarily should be.

At its core, The Cave could have been a compelling return to a genre that had been long dormant. Unfortunately the execution on this promise was far more subpar than its potential subject matter. With a control patch there is still a chance that the title could be redeemed, but in its current state it isn’t worth the unnecessary irritation that it will undoubtedly cause.


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