Ron Gilbert and Double Fine go adventuring in The Cave (preview)

Adventure game grandfathers Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango,  Full Throttle) and Ron Gilbert (Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island) recently held a special media event at Double Fine Productions’ San Francisco headquarters to unveil the developer’s latest offering: The Cave.

An idea that’s been floating around in Gilbert’s head even before some of the titles he’s best known for, The Cave is a 2D sidescroller with all the fixings fans have come to expect from Double Fine and adventure games. Best described as a cross between Trine and Oddworld with a touch of Castlevania, The Cave is ripe with platforming, humor, and imaginative puzzles. But unlike all three of the aforementioned titles/franchises, The Cave leans towards casual fun over hardcore challenge. So while death may be common, it won’t reset your progress more than a few in-game steps.

At the beginning of each campaign, you choose three characters out of seven total: the monk, the adventurer, the hillbilly, the scientist, the “adorable” twins, the knight, and the time-traveler. You can then swap between those three characters at any time, and a second or third local player can even hop in for some couch co-op. The threesome approach is integral to The Cave’s gameplay and puzzles. In one example given, a dragon was guarding a bit of treasure that could be used to impress a princess. A head-on approach left the player characters scorched in their tracks, but by activating the knight’s special invincibility skill to withstand the creature’s flames, a second player was able to sneak in behind the preoccupied dragon and steal the gold. Of course, the dragon then gets free and causes some chuckle-worthy chaos as the off-screen NPCs panic and scream out things like, “Who left the gate open?!”

I was particularly fond of the creature designs: the dragon and a large crystal monster from a different puzzle were very imaginative and well-executed. I’m looking forward to seeing what else art director Andy Wood and his team come up with. And FYI, Tim Schafer’s personal favorite piece of art is a giant hot wiener that pops out of a vending machine. There are witnesses who can confirm this …

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The Cave is being developed by Double Fine Productions and published by SEGA, and will be released on PC, XBLA, and PSN in early 2013. If you have any questions about how the game works, leave them in the comments and we’ll answer them as best we can or check with Double Fine if we can’t!

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