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About the Story
The Beginner's Cave has been set up by the warlord as a service to all Free Adventurers, giving them a chance to try their skills in a not-too-dangerous setting. Let us all toast the warlord for restocking the cave daily!
-- Tony Baechler
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Something like this used to crop up with distressing regularity in the Interactive Fiction Competition: an extremely sparse dungeon crawl that offered little in rewarding prose and nothing in tactical challenge, while promising to be the first instalment in a long series of adventures. Of course there is one crucial difference between Beginner's Cave and those unfortunate entries: Donald Brown's 1980 game actually was the first instalment in a long series of adventures. It spawned an entire movement of games using the Eamon system and is thus of obvious historical importance.
Considered from the point of view of a 2018 player, however, there is not much to recommend this game. We crawl through a rather linear cave that is described in drab prose and offers few opportunities for interaction. The combat system is similarly uninspiring: you type 'attack' until you win. There are some opportunities for tactics by selecting weapons and armour, but it doesn't amount to much. There is some unclued instant-death as well. The most original aspect of the game is no doubt the fact that you can easily find allies who will follow you around and help you in combat.
The great selling point of the game is the fact that you can take your character through hundreds of additional Eamon adventures, keeping the weapons and gold that you earned in this one. This surely taps into a very basic wish of many gamers -- the wish to accumulate, to get better, to be rewarded, to achieve domination. Everything has changed in gaming since 1980... and yet, everything has remained the same.
(I played the game's online version at eamon-remastered.com.)
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Manhattan, May, 1954.
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