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Best Games - Caverns of Khafka (for Atari computers)

Caverns of Khafka feels like a game that could shake apart at any moment. Is it possible to glitch your character clean through the floor of the level and crash the game? Probably. Can you get your character up into the scoreboard area of the screen and run around on top of the numbers? Absolutely. It seems like maybe this game shouldn’t work at all. It seems like the game was slapped together with very little thought.

You might think that, until first blind pit you get to. A few ledges down from where the character starts, there are two choices, the left or the right pit. The bottom of both pits exists just off the bottom of the screen. If you choose the left pit, the screen will scroll up to reveal lava. You will fall into the lava and die. The right pit is clear, and would have been the safe choice. If you instead choose the right pit, you will find that it is filled with lava and the left pit is clear. When you start the game, both choices are wrong. This only happens once, after you choose one pit, and die in the lava, for the rest of that play through the pit with lava and the pit without will remain locked. There is a way to reveal the lava without dying, but it involves navigating to the far side of the map and back again.

As soon as you figure that out, you realize. This game isn’t broken. This game is fucking with you. Not only that, It’s inviting you to play along.

There are areas that can only be reached if certain, nebulous requirements are filled. There are areas that can only really be reached by glitching through walls. Some traps are rhythmic and predictable. Some are erratic and random. They often mix together. Careful movement and patience are your main weapons.

Caverns of Khafka takes place entirely in one very small playfield, but discovering all the fine intricacies of it’s design takes many repeated attempts. All the while you are left wondering if there is a slightly better way to glitch your character through that wall.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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