A Morality Lesson In The Cave Falls On Sinfully Deaf Ears
By Gwendolyn L. Spelvin
I don’t know what the hell is development house Double Fine’s problem, but they need to quit living in the past of their glory and make a title that is worthwhile that lacks a convoluted message poorly executed under pristine graphics, like they did in The Cave.
The entire premise reeks of a southern afternoon Bible Study revival, and comes across anyone with critical thinking skills as asinine, insulting, and shameful. Quasi-religious conviction and game development never mix well, even under direct adaptation from whatever Bible serves as the source material. Double Fine’s bitch fest of right and wrong rubs everybody the wrong way.
But at least the graphics are absolutely stunning, right? But wait, there’s the little chestnut of lack of blood, even though there’s a lot of death and destruction going around. I guess having murder victims lying lifeless in piles like trash heap tends to bring down their overall message of being a right and just God fearing person.
True to form, a ‘voice of God’ talking cave is the narrator over the actions of eight individuals on a bizarre campout right outside its threshold. Several factors are annoyingly cringe worthy; between the narration, morality police life lessons, and inconclusive alternative endings (as if this title was replay worthy), Double Fine has literally shot itself in the foot on credibility.
The cave is snarky little shit; the proverbial ‘voice of God’ holier than thou attitude wears on your nerves after the credits. We just don’t need cynical cannon commentary that berates the characters rather than support them. Nor for reasons unknown, eight individuals who don’t know each other are sitting by a fire, without a clue as to why or how they happen to be there, but quick to partner up and explore the innards of the cave that talks shit about them from beginning to end.
All players can do is cling to the false hope that Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell might show up as boss villains, and the ability to rebuke them in the name of their Jesus may be a surprise final attack destruction move that would turn fun factor around tenfold. Instead, we get a bit of snippy Double Fine corporate Jesus complex that passes judgment on players by proxy.
Keep in mind this premise is something Double Fine designed for the purpose of spreading their morality lessons for indoctrination purposes, and goes through great pains to take itself morally seriously.
Let’s just excuse the blunt fact that no one apparently knows each other, and there are minors present without adult supervision and no adult finding fault with that. It’s more important concern that there are fourteen different endings split between seven characters in a desperate bid of egomaniac salvation, either in good, bad, or stalemate outcomes.
It’s so lovely when a developer forces you to play as a reverent asshole while reliving a dark backstory just to scold you about poor decision making with the most heinous rationales possible. But hey, all murder is good murder when there is no visual to go with it, right?
Life lessons about choosing the path of the selfish prick or righteous smug bastard would have been a great morality mission had there been no strings attached. However, when a developer takes the easy stereotypical fear mongering way about it, it is hard to question the sincerity when all the backstories have all the makings of a murder porn marathon on the ID network.
Seriously Double Fine, you couldn’t find a less obtuse way to get your point across without fishing into Manhunt territory on a bloodless G-rated title? Having twins that killed their parents willingly, a dumb hillbilly that burns down an entire carnival and everyone in it in the throes of fatal attraction, and a Buddhist type monk that kills his master doesn’t work well with your point, now does it? And that’s just for starters.
It’s not a reflection of reality when you impede to stereotypes as the only way to prove your righteousness. How dare you even take pock shots at the monks like that. Great way to belittle the house of Shaolin and show the world how little respect you have for such a sacred order that takes their religion seriously as a strict way of life.
Considering the target demographic of this title, it seems you’re planting more destructive seeds than positive ones, considering that a vast majority of casual gamers in a certain age range are impressionable and may believe your stereotypical representation of half of the playable characters. Reliving the sin doesn’t work when you make a gleeful dynamic of it as the level.
In addition, the snarky little cave could have better served as a consciousness that warns the characters NOT to engage in bad behavior, versus making a mockery of their misery. I guess that little parable was widely overlooked in the middle of being high on the horse of abject morality.
Just choke yourself Double Fine until you become DLC of this travesty.