Tag Archives: the cave

All I want for Christmas is a few old favourites

Long before the thoughts of mince pies and turkey, Microsoft announced something that all Xbox One players were waiting for, backwards compatibility. As the year draws to an end, and we look to the future, I give to you my wishlist of the 360 games I would love to see on the Xbox One.

There are a host of  arcade classics on the 360, often overshadowed by their all-singing, all-dancing, big-budget siblings, still waiting to have their day on your Xbox, and here are the five I have picked out…

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First off is a title all Portal fans should keep an eye out for… Quantum Conundrum released on June 15 2012 to little fanfare, and slipped under the radar almost immediately. However, those who did pick it up were not disappointed with its promise of devious puzzles, and were delighted in the twist which made Quantum Conundrum such a dream to play.

Playing as a young boy, visiting his crazy uncle, you enter his home to find him missing… It is up to you, and your uncles’ crazy invention, the Interdimensional Shift Device, to find him. The Interdimensional Shift Device is not your usual tool for rescuing stray uncles, but in fact allows you to change the physical properties of items throughout the home, and enables you to shift between dimensions, to solve those intricate puzzles.

Next up is one for comic book, and side-scrolling fanatics, everywhere…

Based on the incredibly popular series of comics, Scott Pilgrim vs the World pits you and up to four friends against the seven ex’s of Scotts’ friend, and object of desire, Ramona Flowers.

Fans of classic side-scrolling beat ’em ups, like Streets of Rage and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, will feel right at home with the slick gameplay and colourful art style, which emulates perfectly the unique style of the comics themselves.

Released on August 11, 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs the World retains much of its original charm and would fit perfectly into the library of any comic and side-scrolling beat ’em up fan.

Next on my list is an adaptation of another incredibly popular first-person shooter; released on April 30, 2013, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon took the brilliant Far Cry 3 and gave it an 80s makeover.

The year is 2007, and the planet has been ravaged by nuclear war, it is up to the enigmatic Mark IV Cyber Commando, Sergeant Rex Power Colt, to save the world against a powerful bioweapon, and find out what the hell is going on.

With a rocking soundtrack, vibrant luminescent visuals, and excellent gameplay, Far Cry: Blood Dragon is worlds apart from its quiet and stealthy sibling, Far Cry 3, and is just an absolute joy to play. Fans of Duke Nukem, or Doom will get an absolute kick out of this one.

During a time of incredible growth in the indie scene, a relatively unknown title emerged…

On January 28, 2013, The Cave made its appearance onto the marketplace and into my heart. A devilishly tricky puzzle game, which has you choose three plucky adventurers, to discover the hidden secrets of The Cave.

However, before you embark upon your adventure you must choose wisely, as each of the seven characters have unique abilities and skills to ensure you can complete the increasingly more difficult challenges to guarantee your release from the depths of The Cave. Each adventurer also has their own secrets to uncover, from discovering and deactivating a nuclear bomb, to finding the treasure of a medieval castle.

I had hours of fun going through the multiple puzzle combinations and possible conclusions to my adventure, and if you love puzzle games, then this is definitely one to look out for.

Last, but by all means not least, the charming and positively quirky Fez is a title I would love to see on my Xbox One.

Developed through much controversy, Fez appeared on our screens on April 13, 2012 and proved to be an instant success. Mixing its unique 2D visuals, with 3D puzzles, it had millions scratching their heads in a bid to solve the puzzle.

Fez was unique in many ways, utilising every aspect of the Xbox 360 to aid you in your journey through its beautiful world. It had players searching the internet for clues to deciphering the intricate glyphs, and following the buzz of their controllers to unearth the mysteries of the past and discover the truth about reality and perception.

So there you have it, these are the five titles I would absolutely love to see on the Xbox One backwards compatibility list. But, what would you love to see grace your Xbox One?

Gaming Masterclass

Hey folks, welcome to what I hope is a new ongoing series of articles (I may come up with a better name down the line), where we go through some of the best levels, segments and great ideas that the Xbox has to offer and praise them for all they’re worth. Whether it’s a memorable boss battle or some fourth wall breaking shenanigans, the purpose of these articles is to provide great examples of game design and give credit where credit is due. So without further adieu, let us start with….

The Cave (2013) is a Double Fine game from the mind of Ron Gilbert. While I found it to be a very enjoyable though slightly cumbersome puzzle/platformer, there was one moment that stood out to me above the rest of the game; the introduction. The beginning of this game is devoid of unnecessary tutorials and flow stopping pop-up menus that take you out of the experience, instead it allows you to take your time and figure the game out for yourself, something I wish more gamrs did. Within five minutes, that game’s tone, gameplay conventions and mindset are perfectly conveyed in ways that many AAA games fail to do in hours.

After a lovely little introduction from a talking cave, we finally get to meet the eight main characters of the game. A D-pad icon pops up on the lower left hand side of the screen, which is the closest thing we get to a tutorial, allowing us to change character. There is even an option to hide this popup should you wish.

 

As we switch from character to character, the cave gives us some inside info on their back-story and desires. On the surface, this is a simple exposition section, but we’re also learning how to change characters, something that becomes second nature once you proceed with the game and is vital knowledge to know.

After a couple of minutes fiddling about with characters, the next logical step is to move. You haven’t been told to do anything and you haven’t even been set an objective, so for now you’re simply exploring and experimenting. Quite quickly, you find a crowbar. The Cave Crowbar

In any other game, a tutorial or button prompt would come up that carefully explains how you pick this item up and how to use it, but here, the game trusts that after the smallest amount of experimentation and time, you can easily figure it out for yourself. Once you take the crowbar to the entrance of the cave which has been boarded up, it’s also easy to put 2 + 2 together and realise what  to do next.

The majority of the puzzles in The Cave are solved this way. Your path is blocked, so you must find an item that will unblock it. There may be variations and different methods found throughout the playthrough, but this simple opening puzzle has essentially taught you everything you need to know. Well almost.

Now that you’re in the cave, you explore as far as you can until you come to a rather rickety bridge. You are told that taking any more than 2 people over the bridge may cause it to break. There are signs scattered about that strictly tell you NOT to go this way. However, with no other objects to interact with, there simply isn’t much else to do, so you change characters, which we already know how to do, and drag two other hapless souls into the cave and drop them on the bridge, which of course makes it collapse, causing all three characters to plummet deeper into the cave, starting the game proper.the cave bridge

Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to quickly realise what you were supposed to do, but I love how this almost feels like a commentary on how other games chose to teach you the game’s mechanics. It would be easy for a menu to pop up and say “which three characters do you want to take” and choose your characters with all the passion of choosing your lunch from a menu. Instead, The Cave specifically tells you NOT to do something, and the only way to advance is to break the “rules”, helping to set the tone of this dark and twisted game.

This short level may sound rather simple and not particularly mind-blowing, but modern games have a rather bad habit of assuming that all gamers have little to no attention spans or desire to learn and need to be handheld through every level for fear that they’ll get bored and quit. In the Batman Arkham series for example, you are being reminded of how things work for the entire game, even the little icon that tells you how to grapple has a little LB on it from beginning to end. While I personally find this unfortunate, I can still understand and appreciate that many modern games are perhaps slightly more complicated than 2-D platformers and may require more direct tutorials to let the player know how to play the game. That being said, finding more creative and inventive ways of teaching the player how to play your game will always be more rewarding and memorable than any tutorial can ever be, which is what the opening five minutes of The Cave is all about.

By the time you find yourself plummeting into the titular cave, you know how the controls work thanks to a couple simple puzzles and you understand what the tone of the game is thanks to the very creative character selection process as well as some dark humor scattered about. I heartily recommend downloading the demo at the very least, which contains the opening level in question, if you are interested in the fundamentals of game design, also if you want to play a pretty cool game.

The Cave Review

thecavelogo

On a dark and dreary night, the camera pans down from the musky purple backdrop to reveal seven protagonists. Three of them are to be chosen by you to go on a series of wild and wacky adventures. Awaiting you after your choice is the cave. An unforgiving, soulless, abomination. Who tends to try and make me laugh every now and then. What will the depths of the cave reveal to you? Will it reveal adventure, bliss, a mediocre puzzle game, or an instant classic? Continue reading The Cave Review