A big snake in Colossal Cave

huge cave review

huge cave review


need to know

What is it? A slavish graphic remake of the classic 70’s text adventure.

Expect to pay: $39.99

release date: January 19, 2023

Developer: cygnus entertainment

Publisher: cygnus entertainment

commented on: Windows 10, AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Hexa-Core CPU, 16GB RAM, Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060

multiplayer game? No

Association: Official website

Every kid who loves fantasy dreams of adapting it for the big screen—a perfect cast, a goosebumps score, and a 40-foot dragon on an IMAX screen. But every adult who’s seen a monkey’s paw curl knows the price. The director’s lens replaces the mind’s eye as the ultimate vision of a place that was once malleable and personal. That beloved world shrinks to something tangible – sacrificing infinite scale and an infinite imagination budget, and coloring in corners that were once still full of mystery and potential.

It’s this conundrum that plagues Colossal Cave, a new take on the classic point-and-click text adventure game from the late 1970s. While this isn’t the first attempt to reimagine its eponymous graphics — that honor goes to a 1980s adventure that game designers today still talk about with reverent tones and wistful smiles — it’s the first Human control of the cave rendered in full 3D using WASD and mouse, leaving nothing to the imagination.

(Image credit: Cygnus Entertainment)

Prose exists as a narrative, thoughtfully implemented as a “look” interaction attached to the cursor–always available to flesh out a scene or describe an object, but rarely forced upon you. Its presence makes you appreciate how faithful this rendition is. Cygnus Entertainment’s level designers, led by King’s Quest legend Roberta Williams, deserve credit for translating a tangled mess of gorgeous descriptions into a coherent geographic space, setting the stage for the original Forest Well House. The journey offers a natural flow, following a trickle and through a locked hatch into the cave network below.

graphic nature

However, this narrative also highlights the compromises made to bring Colossal Cave into a new dimension with a small development team. What kind of 3D art can realize the idea of ​​”gorgeous room, frozen river of orange stone”? Certainly not the kind you find here. Then there’s the oversized abode of a giant with a ceiling “so high you can’t see it with your lamp.” Besides, now, you can see it — and that fact sort of takes away the implied vastness of the scene.

The worst culprit is a self-proclaimed “breathtaking view” deep underground – an active volcano. In the most extravagant and indulgent description he wrote of the game in 1977, Don Woods described a “blood-red glare feigning macabre”; sparks”; formations of tortured rock and alabaster scatters dim light to create “sinister apparitions on the walls.” The new reality inevitably falls far short, especially when it comes to the adjacent geyser of “blazing steam” – reduced to a feeble jacuzzi setting. This partial panorama is a sorry stand-in for Colossal Cave’s due reward, the reward for striving to descend into the darkest abyss.

(Image credit: Cygnus Entertainment)

The transition from text to 3D also creates problems in the cave’s most intimate moments. The game is in many ways the blueprint for the point-and-click adventure genre we know today, requiring you to search the environment for objects to place in your inventory, and then find places where you can apply those objects to take you further. In the most satisfying cases, Cygnus will provide you with a simple bottle of water at the outset – which can be poured out to replace the water with oil, which can relieve rusty hinges on a door, or in the The underground reservoir is refilled with water to force the beanstalks to grow. There are only a handful of items like these in Colossal Cave – too many for your tight inventory to carry all at once, but few enough that you can find a specific use for each one.

However, they share the screen with similar debris that cannot be picked up. A textual description can cast a spotlight on a magazine, directing your gaze clearly and purposefully, and this three-dimensional cave is also home to numerous ornaments – its open area is littered with old newspapers and discarded bottles, as you specify different containers and cannot be picked up. The metallic sheen makes it easier to distinguish usable objects from the background, but it’s still off-putting to accommodate Cygnus’ arbitrary distinction between what’s important and what’s negligible. It’s a problem the point-and-click adventure genre is still grappling with, but in an immersive first-person perspective, it’s a problem more than ever.

Tool setting time

Ultimately, your goal is to find treasure that contributes to your total points, up to a maximum of 350. You get a small amount of points for finding shiny things, but more for transporting them to the starting well house. A treasure, a gold nugget the size of a human head, too heavy to carry up the stairs–it makes you think that there might be a way to magically travel back and forth across the map, using spells whispered to you in the dark. Often, you’ll have to make the difficult decision of whether to drop a handful of diamonds to make room for more innocuous items that might prove to be puzzle-solving–you know you’ll eventually want to come back for the former.

(Image credit: Cygnus Entertainment)

Considering its age, dating back to the early days of digital game design, Colossal Cave’s puzzle logic is surprisingly robust – most of which extend naturally and happily from your arsenal of available gadgets. But surrounding these puzzles are elements that have stood the test of time for decades. Take the dwarves, for example, who intermittently pop out of the ground and throw knives in your direction. They usually miss, but the RNG sure hit kills you instantly, sending you back to the well house. Worse, resurrections come at a cost, drawn directly from your score total–making a perfect score a frustrating ambition.

Then there’s the maze of Colossal Cave, which was so notorious in its day that a recurring description—”you’re in a maze of twisty little passages, all the same”—has resonated over the years, Becoming synonymous with a situation in hacker culture that doesn’t make sense. Possible actions can affect the outcome. Escape is possible, with patience, but torture is inevitable. A fact that makes you wonder if it would be better to bury parts of the huge cavern deep under rock. From a design and aesthetic standpoint, there are fairer caves to explore these days.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.