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The Cave

by Neil Aitken profile


(based on 8 ratings)
4 member reviews

About the Story

You wake up in the depths of a dark cave system and must find your way out. Contend with strange creatures. Lost treasures. Forgotten runes. Ancient magic. Faltering light sources. Fear. Loneliness. Existential angst. The last bit of hope. The nagging sense that nothing ever stays the same. Who are you really in the dark?

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Current Version: 1.07
License: Freeware
Development System: Twine
IFID: E3091078-E23C-442C-BDD7-43640DA79381
TUID: y771zb318c2szi9


Entrant - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 4
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A game where you wander around aimlessly until you stop, October 31, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes
So, this game makes more sense to me now than it did when I played it (more on that later). But I have to base this review and rating on my experience playing the game in the way it was presented to me.

In this game you wake up in a cave that may or may not be pitch dark. Some of the writing certainly makes it seem like you are just feeling your way around, but then you see things in the room with you so I'm not sure which to believe. Many room descriptions start with the line "You are swallowed in an even deeper darkness." Then many of those follow with the line "It is dark." Then again, many of those rooms continue with a description of some items in the room. I think a lot of the text was generated by a poorly tuned algorithm. The writing just felt really awkward at times.

Anyway, you just wander around trying different things, not really sure if you are making progress and then at some point you stumble across the exit. Then you are told what your final stats are (even though you never realized you were collecting or generating stats), along with a few achievements. Not very satisfying.

I highly recommend you read the review that deathbytroggles wrote. It contains info that the author put into the walkthrough, but that I strongly believe needs to be on the front page of the game. Apparently the author intended this game to be a unique way to generate stats for a character you are creating for D&D or a similar game. You play the game for 15 minutes, make whichever choices seem appropriate to you and are awarded stats based on your personality in the game. That's a genius idea! I love the idea of creating your D&D character not by rolling dice, but by making choices in this somewhat abstract environment. It seems the game is designed to make you wander around until you have used up all the points at your disposal for character creation and then generate an exit. Which is fine as long as everyone knows what they are getting into.

So as a character creation tool for D&D, two thumbs up. But as a piece of IF, it leaves a lot to be desired.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Ambitious , October 6, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
The Cave has you, a generic adventurer, exploring a generic cave, accumulating statistics and inventory with no easily discernible goal. I reached an ending mostly by clicking on options until I escaped. There are ten rooms, and I explored all of them, leaving possibly a couple of puzzles unfinished.

I think it's important to note something written in the walkthrough to help players make sense of the game:

Under the hood, this game is an alternative way to generate the basic character ability scores for your favorite roleplaying game. Your choices purchase increases in those scores according to a point buy system. In this case, it builds a character according to your preferred actions and reactions to situations. Once you've expended your pool of points, you'll find your way out.

While this is indeed an interesting way to play a game, I am not sure why this isn't told to the player up front. Otherwise, it feels unnecessarily random.

The prose is rough. Nearly every room tells you that you’ve somehow found an “even deeper darkness” and I was beginning to wonder how many levels of darkness existed. The author tries too hard to be cheeky in a game that doesn’t seem to call for it. When you pick up a club, you are told “it’s pretty heavy and probably packs a wallop. It probably can’t pack a suitcase or a lunch.” And when you reach into a puddle you find it “much colder and deeper than you expected. You know people like that. Colder and deeper than expected.” It’s one of many examples of the author alluding to some inner turmoil the adventurer is trying to overcome, except we never really get to know anything about them.

Additionally, puzzles exist but take no real deduction. At one point a choice is given to “push the stone button,” even though the room description never mentions a button. At another point you have the choice to pick a lock; click that and you magically find a bone nearby to pick it.

The background music is alright and there are some cool text effects in spots. I like the ambition from this first-time author and hope future efforts tighten the writing and improve the puzzle structure.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short, room-based RPG mostly set in the dark, October 20, 2020
by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano (Oakland, California)
The Cave is an RPG that involves exploring a dark cave and interacting with the environment, all while philosophical musings pop up on occasion to add color to the game.

I found there to be an evocative sense of place, with the design, color scheme, and flow of the game feeling very cave-like. There are also a variety of interlinked encounters with items, spells, and NPCs that hint at a puzzle that will lead to a solution.

In terms of writing and interaction, the fantasy tropes are present but don’t seem to provide any new twists on these concepts. And the philosophical musings that appear throughout are occasionally interesting, but feel somewhat at odds with the other aspects of the game. After circling the cave a few times, interacting with characters, and picking up items, I felt a little lost and didn’t quite have the motivation to finish looking for the solution to the puzzle.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The start of something interesting, October 3, 2020
It's a very short piece. The walkthrough says that it's heavily randomized, which some people love, but I don't care for it. Everything I look at makes my character feel sad and existential. I'd have preferred if the game had more story, e.g. some characters with goals and conflicts, or even just a surprise or two (building up my expectations and then subverting them).


This is version 6 of this page, edited by JTN on 8 November 2020 at 6:40am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item