Secret of the Lost Cavern Episode 1 in Review – Sabretooth tigers, cave drawing that move and handprints that glow!

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It seems the iDevice has successfully proved as being a more than viable platform for adventure games. Though there were virtually none at the App Store not more than half a year ago, more and more really solid titles are beginning to make their way to the “Jesus” phone! Following the footsteps of Tetraedge Studios, Coladia, a relatively new studio, have undertaken the porting of quite recent PC adventure games to the iPhone. And today we’ll be reviewing their first project, the episodic adventure Secret of the Lost Cavern.

This game is actually a port of the 2005 PC game ECHO: Secret of the Lost Cavern. At least part of it, anyway. Only Episode 1 of 4 has been released as of today, though new ones are promised monthly. The game is set 15,000 BC and follows the adventures of a young hunter Arok. While hiding from a sabretooth tiger, he finds a painting on a cavern wall that reminds him of his old teacher. Following the wall paintings, he sets out to find his old friend and discover the true secret of the fabled Lost Cavern.

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The game is a classic first person point-and-click adventure (and there can never be too much of those, right?). You explore the surroundings, collect items and solve puzzles. Arok has a handy journal that outlines the immediate objective if you have forgotten or missed it in the cinematics.

The inventory is limitless, though some items (like burning wood or water) can only be carried in your hands and are dropped as soon as you try to open the inventory. Also you can’t combine items directly in the inventory, though you can examine them in greater detail. At the same time, classic item-based puzzles are mixed with Myst like environment ones. Paying attention to your surroundings is critical in Secret of the Lost Cavern, as it is quite easy to miss some hints.

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Speaking of surroundings, this adventure is simply eye-candy. The environment is pre-rendered and the quality and detail is amazing. Unlike, for example, Myst you can pan your view smoothly 360 degrees both horizontally and vertically. The cinematics are also good to the point that can rival many full-blown animation films. And the excellent music, sound effects and voiceovers help put a finishing touch on the outstanding and immersive gameplay.

The interface is also very good. A lot of work has gone in redesigning the game for the unique controls of the iDevice. As I have already noted, at each location you can pan your view in any direction. To help you find the active zones in such an enormous area, you can switch through the built-in help system to either leave you on your own, simply light up the active zones with circles or even indicate the action that can be performed there. Overall, the interface works very well and is suited both for pixel-hunting maniacs and the newcomers to the genre.

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The downside, as with many other episodic titles, is that the game just ends much too quickly. It took me about 1,5 – 2 hours to complete the first instalment. I found the difficulty to be quite adequate, for me at least. While there weren’t any frustratingly difficult puzzles that would require a hunt for a walkthrough, there also weren’t any that seemed disappointingly simple. The only place I really had problems with was the last handprint puzzle, and the only reason was that it was not clear that I had to tap one of the spots in the first row to activate it.

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It is definitely a joy seeing such quality products on the “Jesus” phone. I really enjoyed Secret of the Lost Cavern, though the first episode really made me hungry for more. I don’t know if the subsequent episodes will be released as separate titles, or just update the original one, but at $0.99 or even at the full price of $1.99 this game is a must have for any true connoisseur of adventure titles. And the immersive atmosphere, stunning graphics and cinematics, excellent interface and good difficulty curve make this a good pick for anyone who values a good game.

With this I declare Secret of the Lost Cavern officially touched!

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App Summary
Title:Secret of the Lost Cavern Episode 1Developer:Coladia
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$0.99 (1.99)App Size:187 MB
  • Excellent graphics and cinematics
  • Atmospheric music and sounds
  • Good difficulty
  • Excellent interface with 360 degree view
  • Ends far too quickly

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