Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Home GAMING Colossal Cave Adventure Preview: Digging Into The Wreck

Colossal Cave Adventure Preview: Digging Into The Wreck

When Colossal Cave Adventure first circulated among computer enthusiasts in the ’70s, I wasn’t even born yet. I never had the pleasure of experiencing the original caving adventure, but I certainly enjoyed the fruits of its success. Colossal Cave’s legacy has spawned not only more text-based adventures like the legendary genre pioneer Roberta Williams was inspired to create as part of Sierra Online, but it’s also one of the progenitors of everything we play today. which remotely touches the adventure genre. Even the Elden Ring might not exist without Colossal Cave.

So what does it mean to redo Colossal Cave in 2022? Text-based adventures have largely fallen by the wayside, so Roberta Williams and her husband Ken Williams are approaching the adventure primarily by viewing it for the first time. I now had the chance to play the first snippet of Colossal Cave Adventure both at GDC and now at Gamescom, with two hands-on VR previews on Meta Quest 2 and a hands-on preview on Nintendo Switch, for which it was just announced.

The Switch version seems to be doing well and offers a very attractive handheld option, but of the two, the VR version is understandably the more visually impressive in the way that VR can portray the intimidating nature of Colossal Cave. Deep chasms stretch to infinity beneath my feet as I slide down a narrow rock wall; bats flutter eagerly overhead. A single bluebird perches gracefully on a branch as a ray of sunlight peeks through the cave ceiling, close enough that I can almost touch it. As someone who rarely drags around his Valve Index, moments like these remind me of what I love about technology.

At first, I was a bit unsure about the controls. Manual tracking seemed to be a natural fit in Colossal Cave Adventure, and yet it’s all point and button pressing. But after a few moments in the cave, I’m convinced of the more traditional adventure game icon system: an eye to watch and hear the narration of something, a hand to interact, and an inventory of all my junk. Colossal Cave is absolutely packed with stuff, as item interactions form the core of its puzzles. There’s no sensible way anyone could carry it all any other way, and it’s a nice nod to the era that came straight out of games like Colossal Cave. Just make sure you don’t throw any of your items off a cliff, as they will be gone forever.

As someone who rarely drags around his Valve Index, moments like these remind me of what I love about technology.


Despite the new format, this is still the Colossal Cave Adventure that fans of the original will remember, with all the text intact thus far. By pointing the Look icon at anything and selecting it, you get the familiar narration, now softly voiced, describing what you’re looking at and often adding additional context clues. It’s a beautiful way to honor the original Colossal Cave and the spirit of exploration it invoked, even when that narrative has been translated into a visual format.

And from what I’m told, if you remember how to get all the treasures, you’ll probably get them all here with no problem as well. There are a few little creative touches, like the trash from previous adventurers littering the entrance, the new imaginations of the dwarves doing some slightly new activities, or the catlike way a dragon moves, but everything I’ve been told leads me to believe that this will be as 100% faithful a recreation as possible. This may even be due to accessibility mechanics – my original game at GDC in VR had instant turns, but they were removed at Gamescom. I was told this may be added back later which would be very welcome as I experienced significant vertigo on lap two.

Colossal Cave – Nintendo Switch Gallery

My main criticism of this interpretation of Colossal Cave Adventure, then, is that it may be almost too faithful to its own original ideas. Nearly four decades of video game history have resulted in far more advancements in design and technology than the mere introduction of model trees and actual voice actors. Just translating the original text of Colossal Cave into a space you can move around in still leaves it a bit empty, where once our brains filled the spaces between the cavernous corridors, we are now closely tied to the specific vision of those corridors of a person. , but without creative license or add-on. Just Rocky wandering from one room to the next, and trying to figure out the dark answer as to why the blue bird near the doorway keeps flying away from us.

From what I’ve seen so far, I think Colossal Cave Adventure will be a nostalgia trip that many will want to follow. It’s lovely so far, especially in VR, and even if the Switch’s caverns are less impressive, they’re certainly a much more convenient option. My biggest concern is that Colossal Cave Adventure may need something more to appeal to a generation of adventurers used to fast-paced combat and side quests to explore its dark and unforgiving corridors again in the modern age. But then again, perhaps there is something admirable about the dark simplicity of Colossal Cave and the effort to bring such a remarkable part of gaming history into a space where kids like me can get lost for the first time.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @patovalentine.


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