The Cave

by Neil Aitken profile


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Number of Reviews: 9
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Cool Concept, Not As Exciting As I'd Expected, December 6, 2020
by Joey Acrimonious
Related reviews: IFComp 2020

In a classic setup, The Cave thrusts the player into a cave network to explore. But it quickly becomes apparent that mapping out the inscrutable and shifting web of rooms in search of the exit is neither possible nor necessary. This isnít about the destination - itís about the journey, as your character is defined by the choices they make along the way, dealing with challenges or opportunities in one way or another.

This is a cool concept, but the decisions I had to make soon started to feel a bit more mundane than Iíd have liked. Thereís not a lot of emotional weight behind most of what I encountered. Do you search the ashes or just keep going? Do you cross the stream or go around? Decisions like these do indeed reveal something about the person who makes them, but not enough for me to feel fully invested in a game thatís supposed to be about a journey of self-discovery.

Thereís a strong element of randomness to the game, with both events and room-connections being (at least partially) randomized. I fear that the RNG may have given me the short end of the stick during my playthrough. The blurb promises lost treasures, forgotten ruins, and ancient magic, but I didnít encounter any of those things except for a single spell that I never got the opportunity to use. Instead, despite my attempts to try new options in the hope of reaching new areas, I just kept winding up in the same handful of rooms/situationsÖ mostly involving searching ashes and crossing streams. I might return to the game and search for the juicier bits at some point, but perhaps the RNG would have benefitted from a bit more scaffolding to ensure that each playthrough has more variety to it.

Overall, a winning concept that I think would benefit from some tweaking to draw out some more depth and variety.

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