You’re reading a review of Colossal Cave by someone who decided not to finish the game for reasons that will soon become apparent. As your eyes move across the screen, they bump into new sentences, a telltale sign that you’re actually reading.
After playing the original Colossal Cave, you have some idea of what the game is about. You know that you are exploring a large cave that is located near your starting point. You know you’ll be collecting treasure, exploring and collecting various strange items and using those items to overcome some of the obstacles you’ll encounter, including a dragon…because…who doesn’t love dragons?
You wonder if Colossal Cave is any good because early on you notice that the game has limited movement options. One is called Classic Locomotion and lets you move around the environment using your thumb. While there’s an option to switch between clicking and smooth rotation, there’s no option for the movement to follow your head. You find it rather annoying, so you try another option. The second option is called Comfort Locomotion. The menu screens tell you that this is the master remake designer’s favorite control method. Try it. It’s weird and unwieldy, mapping all movement controls to the left controller and all inventory controls to the right controller. You move forward by holding down the trigger button as if it were some sort of gas pedal, and hold down the handle button to reverse.
You try it for a while, but you hate it.
You’ll revert to the so-called Classic Locomotion, despite the lack of head tracking options.
You will find yourself in front of a cabin in the forest, approach it and try to open the door with your in-game hand.
You can not.
Your hands in the game only function as cursor pointers, so it feels like you’re stuck in some type of point-and-click adventure game made in the mid-80s. You wonder why the 2023 VR port of a text adventure game originally made in 1976 uses a control system traditionally used by DOS-based PC games made in the 1980s.
Your hand, now just a pointer for the eye-shaped cursor, points to the doorknob. You click the apply button, mapped to your launch button, and the Colossal Cave narrator confirms what you’re already seeing; that the door is closed.
You can switch between the functions of the launch button with the grab button, which now turns your cursor into a hand, meaning you can now pick up or use things with your cursor.
You click the hand cursor on the door handle and the door opens.
You wonder why you couldn’t just grab the door handle and open it yourself. Why am I pointing at things to use them you wonder to yourself but soldier on.
You’ll find several objects inside, although you can clearly see what they are, you can click on each one with your eye cursor and the game will tell you what it is. It seems pointless and pointless.
You don’t pick up some food with your hands, but you point the hand-shaped cursor at the food and click the trigger button. It goes into your inventory.
To eat the food you just collected, open the inventory screen, find your food and click on it with your cursor to virtually pick it up. You then click the ‘eat’ button above your inventory to eat the food.
You wonder if it would be easier and maybe more absorbing to just grab the food and put it in your mouth.
You soldier on.
Finally, after picking up a few more items, you leave the cabin. You will notice a path on the left. You walk down the path, thanking the lords above that Colossal Cave at least allows you to change your movement speed.
You see an owl in a tree. On the ground below, you’ll find a metal grate. You remember that you can’t just drag it because your hands aren’t really hands, just pointers. Instead, you explore it and the game dutifully informs you that it’s locked.
You remember you have the keys.
You use the controller button to pull out your inventory, then select the keys by pointing at them and clicking the launch button, then aim the keys at the use button, and finally aim them at the metal grid. It unlocks. Go down the stairs and you will reach the cave.
As Colossal Cave progresses, you wonder why a text-based adventure game released in 1976 was ported to a virtual reality platform in 2023 with the point-and-click mechanics of games made in the 1980s.
You wonder why you can’t use your hands as hands.
You wonder if these design decisions are an attempt to stay true to the original Colossal Cave, but quickly remember that the original game wasn’t actually a point-and-click game, but a text game.
For a moment you think it might be better if this game started you in a computer lab where you could sit down at an old PDP-10 computer and just play the original text game. This would certainly be more in keeping with the spirit of the original if that was the intention.
Then you think that would make for a terrible VR experience, even though it might well work as an intro to a much better game than the one you’re currently playing.
You explore the caves for a while. Knowing that others will ask you what you experienced in the cave, you start taking notes.
There is no combat in Colossal Cave, at least not as most players would define it, you can “use” items on things or characters, such as a bird that you trap in a cage and then release to attack a cobra for example.
There is some variety in the environments found inside the cave; the ruins of an ancient temple, an area where some structures are being built, an area with glowing plant life, etc. Many of them have many exits, and many of them just go around in circles.
Colossal Cave, note to inform them that it has puzzles, mainly about how to figure out which item to use in which situation, but most of the puzzles are, to use a kind word, “strange”. Others would simply call them irrational, or to use another generous word, “capricious.”
As Colossal Cave continues, you realize it’s all about exploration, finding items and treasures, using the right items at the right time, and finding your way through the world.
You won’t pass
After wandering the caves for a while, you’ll put down your Meta Quest 2 VR headset and do other things that are far more enjoyable than playing Colossal Cave.
You return to it the next day, hoping your second session will be more fun now that you’re inside the cave system, you discover that although the game offers nine save slots, it doesn’t include autosave, and you realize this must be another ill-conceived way to stay hypothetically faithful to the fictional point-and-click game that the original never was.
Curses, I say! Curse!
You remember that this $39.99 game costs the same as Resident Evil 4 and you shudder to imagine the disappointment it will bring to anyone who buys it and misses the refund deadline.
You’ll come to the conclusion that the game is nostalgia bait for older VR players who will recognize the title of a game known primarily for being there first, and that this version delivers neither the textual authenticity of the original nor the fun to be had. half price games from the Meta Store.
A colossal cave
A colossal cave that is flawed by any metric you can imagine is a colossal bore. It’s a point-and-click port of a text game that refuses to acknowledge the medium it was ported to.
It could appeal to nostalgia fans with cash to burn
Tiresome as hell