Previews

The Cave - Double Fine returns to its adventurous roots

Seven people try to find themselves in sentient geology

Three strangers walk into a cave, in the hope of finding something precious. Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert has apparently always had an obsession with caves, which is strange for a man who's also afraid of them. Having teamed up once again with Tim Schafer - who is also responsible for a chunk of Guybrush Threepwood's greatest adventures - the collaboration of talent behind the curtains already makes it an irresistibly interesting game.

There are seven characters to choose from at the start of the game, but you can only take three of them with you into the cave. It's a strange and faintly unsettling line-up, but we'll talk about those guys a bit later on. Regardless of the characters you choose to take with you on your intrepid journey underground, one will always remain the same - the cave itself. Everyone who enters the cavern is looking for something, and this geological entity has an agenda of its own.

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There's a purpose to the cave, and it's one that it wants its guests to achieve. "People learn something about themselves; about who they might become," explains Gilbert. When you die in the cave, this is why you'll respawn - this place isn't quite done with you yet. Every character that enters the cave is described by Gilbert as having "a dark spot in their soul". The cave wants each of them to succeed, so that it can further explore that darkness. The cave also occasionally talks to you, sporadically narrating your adventure. Admit it - you can practically feel the enticing sense of mystery oozing right off the page. You should probably go and wash your hands.

Going underground
The seven characters you can take into the cave seem to be an intriguing bunch. You've got a Monk who's trying to find his master, an Adventurer who's lost her friends, a Scientist on the verge of a gigantic discovery and a goofy Hillbilly who's looking for love. For some reason he can also breathe underwater, which we would have thought to be a decent hook on Match.com. A Knight enters in search of a magical sword, while the Time Traveller is aiming to avert a terrible disaster in the future. Finally, you've got the Twins - a terrifying pair of children in search of their parents. We're not entirely sure that they're even alive, and we can't wait to see how their story pans out.

The Cave is a 2D platformer with a classic adventure game vibe. You've got an inventory and puzzles to solve, and you'll need to switch between all three characters to do so. The cave itself seems to evolve to suit the background of those who enter it, which means crazy labs for the Scientist and castles and dragons if you've chosen to bring the Knight.

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Despite having three characters to swap between, only local co-op will be supported in the game. Given the introspective nature of The Cave, online play doesn't sound like a good fit. The art style is reminiscent of Psychonauts, giving Double Fine's latest game the same kind of strange, otherworldly feel. This is one hole we can't wait to fall into.

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