A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This is a game of adventure for the sake of adventure. At one point, you can help a trapped bear by feeding and befriending it, but the sole goal is to acquire treasure. If anything, the game design in itself encourages players to explore and experiment freely with particular obstacles.
Positive Role Models
There are no characters that you interact with beyond creatures and enemies which try to stall your progress. There's a narrator who describes environments and comments on examined objects, but he's not particularly helpful or friendly; he's more of a source of snarky, humorous commentary.
Most of the beings you encounter are animals and fantasy species. You'll come across dwarves, a troll, and a male pirate. You play as an ambiguous player character with an unknown gender and backstory.
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Ease of Play
Colossal Cave involves plenty of walking to and fro throughout its large, multi-layered, and sometimes twisted cave system. Along the way, you'll pick up items to store in your inventory that must either be used up to progress or stored away in your house as treasure. Interacting with the world is simple, but the real challenge comes in knowing where and how to use particular objects. Sometimes the task at hand is intuitive enough. Other times, bizarre puzzles will leave you scratching your hand even after you've solved them with trial and error.
Violence & Scariness
Dwarves will ambush you and throw a knife to kill. You can toss an axe to retaliate if they miss, and if the dwarf is hit, they merely fall over and vanish with no blood or gore. The player can accidentally fall to their death with a scream, as well as watch a bird be incinerated, but no graphic details are shown in either situation.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Colossal Cave is a 3D adventure video game available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox One Series S|X, Meta Quest, and Windows. You're an intrepid explorer who descends into a cave, which becomes stranger and more fantastical as you journey onward. But with greedy dwarves and a dastardly pirate on your tail, you have to play smart in order to collect as much treasure as possible. The dwarves in particular will attempt to kill you with thrown knives, and you in turn can throw an axe at them. But there's no violent imagery with these actions. Since this game is fashioned in the style of classic point-and-click adventure games, parents are encouraged to offer a helping hand in navigating the world and solving some puzzles with unusual solutions.
Is It Any Good?
This is a point-and-click 3D adaptation of a 1976 text-based adventure title, but its gameplay feels outdated. With little narrative context, the reimagining of Colossal Cave stays true to the original task: Locate and claim treasure to return to your house. Ranging from bars of silver to a Ming vase, each nets you points toward a total of 350. But once you discover all 15 treasures, there's no guarantee you've secured each one before the credits roll. This means that replays are encouraged with better navigation, careful inventory management, and smart item usage to improve your high score, which can be knocked down if you're killed by a dwarf, fall to your death, or use an object incorrectly. Since enemy encounters have unpreventable outcomes of life or death, and experimentation can unexpectedly punish you, frequent saving is recommended so you can resume from a prior location should misfortune befall you. These moments can feel frustrating, along with other dated design elements that require sluggish backtracking and inconvenient inventory limitations.
Despite antiquated aspects, they work at times, such as how players must reference and study their map to explore. Most games automatically guide you to your destinations, but there's a rare satisfaction in piecing together the puzzle of the environment around you with your own sense of direction. The same can be said for the lack of hints and item descriptions, so when you figure out their intended purpose, there's a greater sense of accomplishment. But the overall production value hampers the immersion of the adventure. Rough, poorly animated 3D models of characters look like they're from the late 2000s, and limited music and ambient sounds results in many awkward stretches of dead silence, too. Colossal Cave needs more refinement with its dated presentation and some features to live up to modern standards, but it provides a serviceable, if short adventure with some refreshingly classic puzzles and exploration.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.