A Quiet Weekend in Capri
I have not yet had my quiet weekend in Capri but I have had more than a few pleasurable hours.
I am writing this now for two reasons. The first is that there is a competition whereby the first person to find the solution to the game wins a weekend in Capri (see note below), and it would be unfair of me to win the prize and then tell you about the game. The second is that I assume that solving the game is a little less straightforward than the average game, given there is a prize involved. As such, it may take me longer than normal to finish.
So what you are getting here are my current impressions, more like a preview than a review. Because you might also get a chance to win the prize.
Those impressions are quite good. More than 4500 photographs of Capri are used to create the game world. Each photograph is a separate scene within the game. You explore Capri photo by photo. Think Myst but in a real location.
Each scene is static but there are many things to do or discover. There may also be characters to interact with. You can speak with them, give them things, or take things from them. Like the scenes, the characters are static.
A particularly nice touch is that the characters speak Italian. English subtitles translate for you. I don't know why more games don't do this. I would be quite happy to hear the language of wherever the game was made, and follow along with subtitles. Further, I have no idea how extensively English is spoken in Capri, but it would make no sense to explore an Italian location and only hear English.
The number of photographs used increases the sense of realism involved in your explorations. Simply traversing the length of a single street might take quite a few photos. Your sense, therefore, of actually walking down that street is heightened.
So too, the large number of photos means that most places are accessible. I have poked through a myriad of ever narrowing streets and lanes and alleys as I get a sense of my surroundings. Anyone who has ever been to Italy will have had the experience of getting lost in a twisting mass of little streets, and you can certainly do that here.
Indeed the photo scenes are quite evocative of places that I have visited in Italy. So despite the fact that a static environment of still photos is used, it is not at all sterile, and has quite a real-world feel to it.
The game is played via point-and-click and by utilising an extensive and well laid out and designed set of icons. Some active cursors are also involved. A notebook automatically records all dialogue so reviewing important information is easy, plus you can repeat any dialogue immediately after it is spoken. A map of Capri is available which always shows where you are; enabling you to plot your way around, and also ensuring you don't stay lost.
The map can also be used to access cultural and other information about Capri should you wish to do so. Alternatively, a personal guided cultural tour of Capri comes with the game. I have yet to sample that.
One icon is a help icon, which will show all the hotspots in any scene. I have fiddled with this and quite like it. I seem to recall some other games enabled you to ascertain whether there were still things to be found or done in a particular location. This is a bit different but it may provide a gentle prod if stuckness sets in.
The plot is not altogether clear, being part of the overall mystery. I arrived on Capri for the very first time and set out to look for my hotel. Something strange then happened. Almost all the townfolk disappeared, those that are left seem to know me, and just what is going on remains to be ascertained.
It is probably clear from the above that to this point I like what I have seen. A bit more definition in my maps would help, and possibly if the photo scenes were full-screen (they occupy about two thirds of the screen) the sense of being there might be even further enhanced. There are also only three save game slots, which so far hasn't been a problem but might be down the track. I will ultimately let you know, as well as whether the game can sustain its interest for however long it takes to complete. But so far so good.
One final word. I had reason to seek some technical information and I received a response within 24 hours. Once again the support given by a one-person operation (in this case it is actually two) puts big companies to shame.
2/3/04 Update ... Sorry, the contest is well and truly over. But A Quiet Weekend in Capri is now published by GotGame Entertainment in North America.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2003.
All rights reserved.
Windows 98 or above, 64 MB RAM, CD ROM, 1024 x 768 resolution, 700 MB disc space.