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The Cave of Morpheus Reviews
Author: Mark Silcox
Date: 2001

Reviewed by David Whyld

Now this is one seriously strange game. The Cave Of Morpheus begins with you waking in your bed in the college dorm to the awful realisation that you've an examination on Western Civilisations starting in just five minutes. The only problem with this is that you're butt naked and your clothes don't seem to be anywhere around. A letter from your mother informing you that she's always been ashamed of you and never thought you'd amount to much doesn't help your problems much…

Venturing outside your room in the college dorm leads you to a set of strange locations indeed: a corridor which leads on and on forever, an ornamental fountain in which you see the face of your sister, grass that must not be touched on pain of death and so on… None of these things play any part in finishing the game but they're interesting touches that are worth exploring all the same. Indeed, the whole game is filled with neat little touches like this that are so often absent in most adventures.

The Cave Of Morpheus is one of those small, immensely well written games that you see all too rarely. There isn't a lot to do in the adventure, no real puzzles that need to be accomplished (directional commands take care of 90% of the game) and no score, but the game is written in such an amusing and humorous way that you can forgive it these little foibles.Finishing the game won't prove a problem as, while there are ways to die (eating 
the pizza in the your room provides an amusing ending) there's very little to prevent you actually finishing the game. Though you get chased by Death himself at one point, he never seems to manage to catch you and despite the fact that he attacks you with his scythe several times, he always managed to miss you somehow. The hardest "puzzle" in the game involved opening a door.

The Cave Of Morpheus is the sort of game that doesn't get written very often and that's a shame because I'd love to see more games like this.

Logic: 5 out of 10
This is hardly the sort of game where logic plays a large part but most of the time you'll be enjoying yourself too much to really care.

Problems: 9 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Nothing major but the main character was referred to as "you" and "I" from time to time.

Story: 7 out of 10
Different and unusual enough to keep your attention for the ten minutes it takes to complete the game.

Writing: 8 out of 10
Way above average and endlessly amusing.

Game: 8 out of 10
A well written game and definitely one that everyone should try out.

Overall: 37 out of 50

Reviewed Demian Katz

Last year's competition gave me a healthy disdain for the ADRIFT system; both of that year's entries based on the engine were decidedly weak games. This game does nothing to improve my opinion of ADRIFT. Its parser seems awfully limited, and the technical side of things just seems weak overall. Despite this, though, it's the best ADRIFT game I've yet encountered -- it's linear, simplistic and sometimes frustratingly unresponsive, but it's also a nice little feel-good story about adventure games. Not brilliant, but cute.

Reviewed THoiA

Here's an odd little game that the end result is I don't think I actually enjoyed it but I kept playing it due to other reviews telling me how short this game was. Indeed it was short…which makes me question why the game was split into two separate game files. That's right you get a certain point in the game and are told that part 1 is over, go load up part 2. I'm assuming this is due to the change the narrative position and while only a minor annoyance to the player it is after all an annoyance. Putting that aside the writing is only ok, I just never felt immersed in this world but kept holding out that I might get there. This is a minimalists games without a doubt, and while that can be intriguing for some I found it lacking in substance as a result. It certainly will not be a major endeavour to run through this game so I'd say if you are curious don't hesitate to give it a go, just don't be expecting a world stopping story.

Reviewed by Brian Rushtonas "MathBrush"

In this game, a female college friend gives you (a male) a disk of Advent 550 to help you over the blues.

You end up playing the game, and falling asleep with your friend on the couch. You have a trippy dream involving will crowther.

The Adrift parser isn't that great (I used 3.90), but the game pulled some clever tricks for the game-within-a-game. I actually enjoyed this, but I had to put it in the Adrift Generator to find all the necessary tasks.

Reviewed by Paul O'Brian

Ah, another IF competition begins. There's nothing quite like unzipping that big pile o' games, firing up the random list generator, and diving into the first offering. Of course, the thing about diving is that you may find the water a bit less pleasant than you had anticipated. There's a misspelling on the first screen. The game engine doesn't recognize the "script" command. [I figured out later that there's a "start transcript" command from the menu, whose functionality is happily improved from last year. I'll keep it in mind for the next ADRIFT game I play.] Oh yes, and then there's the wonderfully opaque ADRIFT parser: WEAR CLOTHES
Wear what?

Wear what?

Wear what?

It's not that The Cave of Morpheus is untested. The author's notes claim that the game "has been beta-tested fairly extensively", and I can believe it. Sadly, though, the testing cycles didn't quite catch all the problems, whether they be with voice ("I slap the palm of your hand"), room descriptions full of dialogue that repeats on every "LOOK" command, or glitchy parser trouble that leads to output like this: GET ALL
I pick up the library book and

Okay, enough bitching about the bugs. TCOM is a college game, combined with that wonderfully flexible genre, the nightmare story. Because much of the game's action takes place in dreamspace, you're not to take it amiss that, for example, you're naked and can't find any clothes in your own dorm room. Of course, once you see the game comment on the PC's penis, then dream or no dream, your reaction may be the same as mine: "Ew." When that comment turns out to be an extended metaphor about drooping flags... well, double ew. TMI aside, there are a few other strangenesses about the design, but the dreamlike setting makes it hard to know whether they're intentional or not. For example, there appears to be some random combat, and it can indeed kill you. All that's necessary to survive is to run away, but as a player, I was still left asking, "What was up with that?" I never really found out.

Inexplicably, the game is split into two files, and right about the start of the second one, I thought it was about to take off into something really cool. The PC plays Crowther and Woods' Adventure on his laptop, commenting along the way like so:
{You scratch your head. This Crowther 550 thing is getting weirder
and weirder. What the hell would a bird be doing hanging out in a
Colossal underground cave? And if it did find itself there, what
reason would it have to be happy??...}

"Wow!" I thought. What a neat concept -- a mini-implementation of Adventure, but seen through the eyes of a particular character, thus shedding light on both the game and the character. Sadly, it turns out that this cool idea wasn't the idea the game had in mind. Rather than a mini-implementation, the Adventure section is a very long non-interactive passage, one of those dismal IF moments where it doesn't matter at all what you type; the game keeps choosing your actions even if you just sit there hitting Enter, waiting for a chance to actually do something again. The interplay between character and game still happens, but it feels rather ironic to have interactivity completely removed just as the game is paying homage to a seminal example of interactive text. There are some pleasures available in TCOM -- the character of Alice is nicely delineated, and I found the PC's relationship with her quite believable. The spiraling, repetitive structure of the game made for some effective scenes, and the notion of some idealized version of Willie Crowther as Virgil to the PC's Dante is well worth exploring. Though these gems are embedded deep within a bland setting and an unfriendly implementation, their simple existence makes me look forward to the author's next game.
Rating: 4.5

Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.


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