Cave of Wonders

by Campbell Wild


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An Early Adrift Game Cast Me Adrift, September 17, 2023
by Canalboy (London, UK.)
Related reviews: Treasure Hunt, Fantasy, Adrift, Two Word Parser

Cave of Blunders, sorry Wonders was written by Campbell Wild as a demonstration game for his new text adventure creation system Adrift in 1999. As an advertisement, it does for the creation of text adventures what the Titanic did for the sales of holidays on cruise ships.

There are many bugs both lurking and stinging you in the face here. An underwater section can be drained yet reappears as undrained thanks to no conditional flags being set. A bottle can be filled once but never again, despite there being ample quantities of filler left lying around. One section of the game disappears if you enter it and perform a certain action, for no apparent reason. The description of the area is replaced by the letter "x." Hmmmm. Taking a particular object requires "pluck" and does not recognise "pick" or "take" yet another similar object does not respond to "pluck." You get the general idea.

All this is a shame as without the huge amount of bugs (the game can still be finished but it is a pain) a nice medium sized treasure hunt would exist here. The puzzles are often clever and quite tough and there are several ways to soft lock the game if you make a wrong choice.

There are a few static NPCs and one wonderfully dreadful pun which would be quite happy in Quondam.

The two word parser will give you a real battle of "guess the verb" although many objects can be referred to. Very few synonyms are allowed so exact wording is required. The maximum score is 1000 points although I only managed to attain 970 but still found the treasure-filled cave, the object of my quest. The room descriptions are perfunctorily adequate without being memorable. The parser is too picky and very few alternative verbs are catered for which of course creates frustration. As if writing a set sized newspaper column three or four sentences cover most descriptions so it falls far short of a mystical atmosphere; utilitarian reference book rather than mystical novel. There are also plenty of ways to lock yourself out of victory and quite a few illogicalities too. The actual puzzles themselves are the reason to play the game; discovering multiple means of transportation and deciphering maps are done rather cleverly.

All in all if you would like to see what the Adrift environment has to offer try a Larry Horsman game instead.

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Denk, September 17, 2023 - Reply
Just curious, which interpreter did you use?
Canalboy, September 17, 2023 - Reply
I enjoyed your review Denk which piqued my interest to play the game. I used Adrift Runner and saved the .tas file via the old 3.9 version so it would run as you suggested.
Denk, September 17, 2023 - Reply
Thanks. It was interesting to hear that you completed the game as I only got a little more than 600 points. I couldn't find my recommendation on how to play so wanted to make sure you used Adrift 4 Runner and not Adrift 5 Runner. The latter could have resulted in bugs caused by the limited backwards compatibility.
Canalboy, September 17, 2023 - Reply
It's one of those games where the parser is a puzzle in itself. Once you have sailed the raft and visited the characters east of the bridge it becomes a bit easier although there are still a couple of head scratchers, for instance wearing a gauntlet lets you move an enormous boulder which is hitherto too heavy to move. How does that work? There is also a toy robot which is used right at the end of the game. That is another pretty opaque solution. Thanks for the tip on getting the game to work.
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