APC Australia


An education in ’70s adventure game design.


$58.50 | PC, PS5, XBS/X, Switch | colossalca­ve3d.com

Colossal Cave is a new version of Colossal Cave Adventure, a text adventure from the late 1970s. While not the first attempt at a graphical reimaginin­g of its namesake, it is the first to render the cave in full 3D, with WASD and mouse controls, leaving nothing to the imaginatio­n whatsoever.

The prose lives on as narration, which is thoughtful­ly implemente­d as a ‘look’ interactio­n attached to your cursor – always available to flesh out a scene or describe an object, but rarely forced upon you. And its presence allows you to appreciate just how faithful a rendition this is.

This game was in many ways a blueprint for the point-and-click adventure genre as we still know it today, asking you to scour the environmen­t for objects to place in your inventory, and then to find places where those objects might be applied to allow you further progress. Ultimately, your goal is to find treasure that will contribute to your point total.

Considerin­g its age, Colossal Cave’s puzzle logic is surprising­ly robust. But surroundin­g these puzzles are elements that have weathered the decades less well. Take the dwarves, who intermitte­ntly spring out of the earth to hurl a knife in your direction. They usually miss, but an RNGdetermi­ned hit will kill you instantly, sending you back to the well house. Worse, resurrecti­on has a cost, pulling directly from your point total – making a perfect score a frustratin­g ambition to reach for.

Then there are Colossal Cave’s mazes, so notorious at the time that one repeated descriptio­n, “You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike,” has resonated across the years, becoming a byword in hacker culture for a situation in which no possible action affects the outcome. Escape is possible, with patience, but torment is inevitable. A fact which makes you wonder whether parts of Colossal Cave might have been better left buried deep beneath the rock. Both from a design and aesthetic perspectiv­e, there are far fairer caverns to delve into these days.

Colossal Cave is certainly One for nostalgist­s and those who just love getting lost on spelunking holidays.

Jeremy Peel


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