Parents' Guide to

Colossal Cave

By Joey Thurmond, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

A simple, charming adventure that's rough around the edges.

The cover art for Colossal Cave, which depicts various creatures and villains standing all together: a troll, pirate, dwarf, bear, and dragon.

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This is a point-and-click 3D adaptation of a 1976 text-based adventure title, but its gameplay feels outdated.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.

Game Details

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