Sep 20, 2011
Operation is an old game that tasked players with removing internal organs from the game board by using a pair of metal tweezers that could not touch the metal on playing surface. This game has spawned many copycat games, and is slowly finding a similar play mechanic integrated into the realm of video games. Shadow Cave is just one such game of precision maneuvering.
In Shadow Cave, players are tasked with navigating a glowing light through a dimly light cave, with the goal being to hit the light at the end of the tunnel. The game wastes little time in breaking players into just how precise they have to be, as by the second map the tunnels are tight, and rocks are falling from the ceiling. Any collision with the walls or an impact with the obstacles, like the falling rocks or dripping water, will yield in a death and having to start all over. The game further complicates this by adding in contraptions that are controlled by sitting in one spot to activate said contraption, and then racing to the next spot. This will test the patience, and pinpoint skills of even the best surgeons out there.
It is a good thing that this game provides such an enjoyable setting to die in, as dying happens a lot. The world is full of deep dark colors, with black being the primary color of choice. The backdrop is a subdued variation of blues that moves as the guiding light is directed around the screen. The audio complements this setting extremely well. Water drips and echoes, stone doors make sounds that even Dr. Jones would enjoy, and even the rocks falling from the ceiling provides a nice crunchy thud. There may not be a smattering of Crayola crayons here, but the audio and visual work well, especially with a nice screen and good headphones.
Sadly the game falls apart due to controls and ads. First, the ad business. Having ads on the bottom of the screen on a free app is one thing, but to stop the game between levels and force the player to close the ad is rather annoying. It breaks up the game flow and helps pull gamers out of the setting. The second part that falls short are the controls. Even with the highest sensitivity, players will run out of real-estate before they meet their objective. This would not be a big issue if one could reposition their finger without the yellow orb jumping to some other part of the screen, often leading to death and a do-over. I died so many times just because the game did not register me moving through the exit, reposition my finger, and my yellow orb “teleporting” into some wall at some random place in the level. The ads are one thing, but to deal with terrible controls is unacceptable, especially when this game requires such a high amount of precision.
If it were not for the bad controls, this would be a rather enjoyable game of skill and precision, but sadly the controls and ads cripple the fun. If a patch comes out to fix the control problems, this will be a decent game, but until that time comes, it is one to skip over and keep looking for something less infuriating. However, those that want an exercise in patience can check it out for free on the Android Market.