I’ve been keeping my eye on Secret Ponchos since I first saw it at last year’s PAX: East and since that time the spaghetti-western-shooter has grown up and matured quite a bit… like a delicious cheese if you will. Initially designed for the PS3, Secret Ponchos has been rebuilt to run at 60FPS on the PS4 and looks prettier than ever with enhanced character models, lighting, and a ton of polish.
What is it? Chances are, should you mention Double Fine, the first thing someone might recall is the wildly-popular “Double Fine Adventure.” If that’s the case, then this will come as a pleasant surprise, for DF has more for you in store. The Cave is an upcoming adventure game from Ron Gilbert and the fine folks and Double Fine, coming to XBLA, PC, and PSN. For those keeping score, Ron Gilbert is the creator of other excellent adventure games like Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. If that has your attention you already love this game, and don’t even know it.
Hands on: The Cave demo was almost too cleverly hidden in SEGA’s space on the expo floor of PAX Prime 2012. Heck, I don’t even remember seeing a Double Fine logo at the display (although, to be fair, The Cave was also set up at Double Fine’s own merch booth some distance away). The booth was literally cave-like, with cool blue and purple hues lighting a space just shy of a 1 car garage. A constant line at the booth piqued my interest, so I waited and waited… and waited. I was not disappointed.
The Cave presents you with an unlikely team of diverse characters, from which you choose 3, and enter a Cave full of challenges, humor, and adventure, of course. In a Maniac Mansion sort of way, each of the game’s seven characters possesses unique abilities, so your approach to certain situations in the game will change based on the composition of your party. All the trappings of a quality Double Fine adventure are there — humorous settings, excellent art and music, and mind-bending adventure puzzles to solve.
Gameplay & Control: The demo I played was on the Xbox 360, so the typical point and click controls of adventure games were replaced by typical 2D side-scrolling controls, with movement, jump, and “action” being the only controls needed to play an otherwise complex, challenging game. Once you select your party of three, you switch between them by using the D-Pad.
In the ~20 min demo, players explored the first rooms of the Cave, where the goal was to find a way past a blue-fire breathing crystalline beast (above). This being an adventure game, there is no hacking and slashing here. I had to acquire a key to find the entrance to the Cave, find a power supply to obtain bait for the beast, find gears to make other contraptions work, and use the combination of my well-placed party members to set and spring a trap to remove the beast from my path. You get the idea, it’s awesome.
Nerd Appropriate: I want this game yesterday. It’s Ron Gilbert, it’s Double Fine, it’s got beautiful production, clever writing, and well constructed challenges. Keep an eye out for this game in early 2013. Oh, and did I mention that everyone the played the Cave got a blind box action figure of one of the game’s seven characters? I’m just going to stare at it until I can get my hands on this game again.