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Cave Quest - Review

Review by Zuperfaust


Last edited:

I've decided to play this adventure game because Cave Quest has some historical interest.

The first part was published in the last issue of the "Epic 3000" magazine, by Edizioni Hobby. Then the magazine was closed and, as replacement, a new magazine appeared: "Viking".

The publisher didn't give much explanations about that; it only announced the name change and that the sofware would be written in machine code from that point on, and not in BASIC.
The publisher also stated that the solutions of the adventures published in the last issue of Epic 3000 were scheduled to appear in the first Viking issue.

On the contrary, those solutions never appeared in the Viking magazine, nor the second part of Cave Quest was published there.

In a matter of weeks, the software house Arscom resumed to publish their games, but with another publisher, Softgraf, on another magazine, Epyx 3001. As a matter of fact, both the solutions and the Cave Quest sequel appeared on the first issue of Epyx 3001.

In other words, Cave Quest is the evidence of a commercial split-up and the quick "resurrection" of Arscom leaded by Roberto Tabacco, while Edizioni Hobby continued its production with Bonaventura Di Bello aka BDB, another key figure of the Italian adventure game design. And it is also the evidence that Arscom didn't let Edizioni Hobby to publish their solutions in their new magazine. ;-)

About the story, it is really nothing more than what written in the synopsis, and I invite you to read it.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 3/10)

The game was done with Tabacco's "BASIC framework" for graphic adventures. The parser is not evoluted at all, it understands verbs in the 1st singular person.

It is a "guess the right sentence" parser, therefore it reacts only when you guess the right action to do in that place. All other actions give always the same message: "Wrong command: be careful, think before acting!" which could help you find your focus in the beginning, but it becomes annoying in no time, and sounds also offensive after you have tried almost anything, especially many other creative ways to bypass the puzzle, except for the only thing the author has thought of.

Apart from the "utility verbs" such as 'i' (inventory) and 'g' (look room), the parser recognises 11 verbs, 7 carriable objects, and 13 other objects.

It could happen that the words used in room descriptions are not recognized as objects.

Unfortunately the deprecated verb 'use' is necessary, and used oddly.

Atmosphere (Rating: 5/10)

Mr. Tabacco is known as one of the first who developed graphic adventures in Italy. For that time, it was a sort of revolution, and many gamers appreciated the novelty.

However, as graphics take up much memory, the game had to save bytes on the text. This caused descriptions to be very short and simple, and almost no help given by examining the environment and objects.

In this first part, the story takes place in 15 rooms, with an underground section.

Despite the nice images, the lack of good descriptions doesn't help the player to feel as being the hero there.

Cruelty (Rating: Polite)

Dying occurs for logic reasons that can be avoided on the second occasion.

Puzzles (Rating: 4/10)

The difficulty is to guess the right match of verb and object. The verb "uso" (use) must be used to solve a puzzle, but it is not integrated well with the situation: other verbs would have been more appropriate in that case.

It also helps if the player has a generous character, since bargaining with the Merchant needs a different verb than usually used.

There are two puzzles whose solution is interesting, whereas the others could be frustrating.

Overall (Rating: 4/10)

For the "guess the sentence" type of game, novice adventurers should avoid this title, and wait until they have more experience. Adventurers at large, expect much frustration.

Pictures made by Hans PiĆ¹ are nice, however, and the historical value of this game could be somewhat attractive.