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Cursor  Member Reviews - Cave of Wonders

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  Nice puzzles but too cruel, Tue 14th Dec 2021
By Denk - See all my reviews

This game is an old school treasure hunt written by Campbell Wild. If you expect a lot of verbose, beautiful prose you will be disappointed, as this is primarily a game, not a story. But it is a game with a lot of good puzzles which are (usually) well implemented. I think the main problem of this game is, that it is extremely easy to put the game in an "unwinnable" state and you won't know it until much later. I started over and over again, because I just wanted to beat it, but in the end I had enough restarting when I reached 620 points out of 1000. Even for 1999 (the publication year), this game is more cruel than most games (for comparison Winter Wonderland (IFComp 1999 winner) could not be put in an "unwinnable" state). With a bit more thought this could have been a really good game. No testers are mentioned, which kind of explains it. Even the best authors need testers to find the bugs and design flaws in their games.

Parser: 7/10
ADRIFT 3.8 parser is nothing special but in most cases it wasn't a problem. A few times, I thought I was encountering a guess-the-verb situation but I simply tried an alternative solution which was not accounted for. So this isn't really a parser issue but a design issue.

Atmosphere: 6/10
The descriptions are sufficiently detailed for a puzzler like this, but could be improved.

Cruelty: Cruel
As mentioned above, it is far too easy to end up in an "unwinnable" situation without knowing it.

Puzzles: 8/10
The puzzles are pretty good, with a bit of humour thrown in.

Overall: 6/10
I enjoyed it quite a lot for a while, but in the end the constant need to restart or load a very old save became too frustrating. But it could be fun, if this game was beta-tested by a few people and then rewritten in ADRIFT 5. This reminds me that it could be fun with an "IF Conversion Comp"...

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