A Quiet Weekend in Capri
The North American release of this game by Got Game Entertainment prompted me to finish my previous weekend on Capri. I have been playing on and off for some time, but had not reached the end. So I knuckled down to see what if anything was different, and to see how it all turned out.
First things first. The Got Game release has added 3 extra save game slots, a music CD of the soundtrack, and some jump points; that is, you can jump to particular spots on the map without having to retrace your steps. You can also play in "American-English", as well as the original Italian with English subtitles. Plus there is some slick packaging, and some helpful information in the manual about critical points at which to save.
Everything else, as far as I know, is the same. Despite its commercial release, it remains essentially a two-person product. You can read my initial impressions here, where the mechanics of game play are discussed. What you get in this review are my final impressions.
Which are that it could have done with some pruning and a few less photos, a bit less of the "back and forth" fetching, some more jump points, a better map, and not as many needles to find in the Capri sized haystack. But having said that, it remains an impressive endeavour.
It is a big game, and is not an easy game. As there was a prize for the first person to finish, it was never going to be an easy completion. Which is primarily why I had not done so. I strolled the paths and lanes on many short occasions, picking up a bit more information here and there, and finding more items. Sometimes all I did was discover more lanes or streets, but that was part of the game in itself. You won't find what you need if you haven't been everywhere.
But there is a lot of everywhere, and it can be a bit overwhelming. The use of so many photos adds to the size of the endeavour. Yes they add detail, and a sense of realism, in that walking a lengthy road takes more than 2 mouse clicks, but they contribute to what I thought by the end was an unnecessary level of complexity.
That complexity is added to by the need to find single items just by coming upon them. It is one thing to know you need to find the ingredients to make a cake, and to then deduce that you might find a certain natural wild ingredient in a certain place, it is another to have to find a pair of sunglasses that you don't know you will need and which, unless I missed it, no-one or nothing ever indicated that I should be looking for them or where I might find them. There was more than one of these "needles".
I have said before that I don't want to be lead around by the nose, but I think there is a balance to be struck. I thought that this quiet weekend didn't get the balance quite right.
But it did get a lot right. The openness of your weekend is a huge plus. You can go almost everywhere in the game from the opening scene, and find many of the items and much of the information in any order you happen to come across it. I missed collecting a vital piece of machinery early in the game, and didn't need it until the end, but when I did I was able to go back and find it. Not finding it early on neither stopped me moving forward in the game, nor prevented me from obtaining it later. There are some triggers to certain events and actions, possibly more than I am aware of, but your path through the game can in no way said to be constrained.
As well as fetching and gathering, there are some analytical puzzles to crack, and both types of puzzle are on the whole rather well constructed. Lots of little bits of information to be pulled together from which to glean the answer. Lots of red herrings too.
Nothing comes with a huge rush; you need to tease out the objectives and the way to achieve them. This adds to the challenge in the errand puzzles. Some are fairly straight forward, but others much more involved and multi-layered. Lateral thinking will help with some.
Depending upon your path through the game, some information won't make a lot of sense when you get it, but you will piece it together as you go. Helpfully, all of the dialogue is recorded for you, and you can review it by character. I needed to do so on many occasions to nut out the bits and pieces needed. I suspect I would have missed stuff had I had to take my own notes.
I confess I found some of the puzzles more than a little difficult, and I did need some hints and help, but the path to the solution was for most puzzles, though not straightforward, explicable and discernible (even if occasionally after the event).
Like most games, some puzzles appealed more than others. I particularly liked the telephone number puzzle, but the Villa Jovis puzzle towards the end is a variant on a maze, and I had had enough of it before I finished. However the fact that I had paid the requisite attention at the right time meant that I was able to exit the villa and feel pretty satisfied that I had been able to do so. The chirping turtle helped as well. There are no sliders or dying, but there is one part of the villa where minimal steps are required.
During the game I was able to delay the professor, travel back in time, prevent the war, and resist Mata Haprik. Plus I finally got the key to my hotel room. I also got to use an Electroluminescent Librarian Machine, a Narcisstic Object Converter, and Invariant Temporal Inter-Universal Glue. I did find the plot both a little confusing and somewhat vague though, and as a result not that engrossing.
Engrossment though is to be found in other parts of the game, and in the end I was glad I went to Capri. I was glad too that I went on many occasions. An hour here, a couple there, picking at the seams of the conundrums. Go away and come back. Look at the view as an interlude, listen to the Italian language. Go where you want, explore and reflect. If quiet roaming, looking and pondering is your thing, you will not be disappointed.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2004.
All rights reserved.
Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, 64 MB RAM (120 recommended), 16x CD ROM (48x recommended), 1024 x 768 resolution, 740 MB disc space.