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Cave! Cave! Deus Videt. Episode 0 Review

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Cave! Cave! Deus Videt: Episode 0


There is a notion amongst the visual novel community that visual novels are about visuals and story, "hence visual novel!" The music lover will step out and claim the soundtrack constitutes a large, in fact the largest part of why we love visual novels. Someone might point out that choices and more complex forms of interaction are what set visual novels apart from other storytelling mediums or games, depending on which side of the "are visual novels games?" contention they stand on. Regardless, most people will agree that these are all elements that serve each other, the story probably being the one to be served, in order to create a meaningful experience.


This isn't the case of Cave! Cave! Deus Videt: Episode 0, by We Are Muesli and released in 2013.



Well, I know a girl from the visual novel next door who would disagree


There is narrative and there are visuals, as well as music and choices. The thing is, they hardly serve each other. You could say the story and the visuals are one, which is only natural for a visual novel based on paintings - the game revolves on Jeremy Bosch's work, conceptually and story-wise. There is little narration - you have to rely on the art and the dialogues to understand what is going on. Which is funny, considering the art style hardly tries to approximate itself from what it's representing. Sometimes you just don't understand what is on the screen.


That's when Cave! Cave! Deus Videt will ask you what you are seeing.



That Gnarls' Barkley music video


This screenshot is from the very beginning of the game, right after a chopped voice says that you'll undergo a projective psychological test for educational purposes. At some point, it'll claim your phone is generating interference. You'll then be introduced to the situation: Hoodie, a high school student, disappeared during a school trip to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga at Lisbon. His teacher is at the police station, being questioned about the incident. Then, you're introduced to the protagonist - Hoodie himself, four hours earlier.


While at the museum, Hoodie meets a Stranger who, among other things, tells him his phone is generating interference and offers him two routes. There are a lot of small recurrencies, triggered by your choices or not, that give off the feeling that the game is always playing a prank on you, a feeling very much known (and dear) to those who played Earthbound. Like there's someone watching you and the game is reacting to you. Thus, it would be weird to evaluate the characters in Cave! Cave! Deus Videt, since this visual novel is more about you than about, say, Hoodie. 


At some point, the Triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony - the painting Hoodie most wanted to see - will be the subject of some sort of puzzles. Either that or you'll have to face a quiz about Bosch's life. As much as these puzzles are psychological tests for educational purposes, since you end up learning about the symbolisms in the painting or the painter's journey, they also carry the story on in a way that only they could, since they are also about Hoodie and, lastly, they are about the player. This is clearly demonstrated in juxtapositions of Bosch's paintings close-ups and scenes of the game.



That guy in the bottom right corner scares the shit out of me


There's something deeply narrative about how the art style changes all the time. There are a couple animated sequences, but what is being animated is less important than how it's being animated. There's also a delightful sequence in which they inserted a clip from a movie, an actual old movie, and changed the intertitles so that they'd be a scene in the game instead of, well, a clip from a movie. It's quite funny, actually, and pretty inventive too. But most importantly - these changes are how the visual novel reaches out to you, not to tell you a story, not to please you aesthetically, but to efectively talk to you about art, reality and other such deep themes.


All in all, Cave! Cave! Deus Videt is just the kind of game that is an insight on what we can do with visual novels - besides, of course, being one hell of a visual novel itself. Sometimes it's the kind of intellectual pleasure that makes you give that makes you smirk and go "well played", but sometimes it really scares you out because, quite frankly. that's what Bosch's paintings seem to do.


Do play it. You can download the Episode 0 for free and support Episode 1 on Steam Greenlight. Perhaps we're in front of a masterpiece.


Score: 8/10

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  • 6 months later...

I read it, a few months ago !


It's a really nice approach to teach art. Definitely unique.


It stars in a sea of shapes, it's difficult to understand what is going on at first but we strangely get used to it. We associate them with characters, settings and so on.

Same with the sounds, things we at first do not understand and may sound really creepy are clue thats are here in order to help us.


All of this creates a really strange atmosphere, supported by a pretty simplistic and high pitched soundtrack.


If I remember correctly there were two routes showing two different aspects of the painting.


From what I remember, it was very interesting. I learned a lot about that Bosch painting and the experience of playing that game itself was something else. I don't know if the episode one is out yet or not, but I'll be jumping on it if is.

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