Anacapri the Dream
I had several Quiet Weekends in Capri the last time Gey and Silvio invited me to visit their island home, and so the opportunity to spend some time in Anacapri (the second largest town on the island) was one that I couldn't pass up. A quiet reflective ramble through the little streets and hills in search of the Obsidian disk promised to combine a holiday by proxy with some good old-fashioned brainwork.
If you went to Capri last time, then you will find everything familiar this time. The interface is largely the same, and once again you point and click your way through a vast series of still photos. These enable you to traverse Anacapri itself, and get lost amongst the byways and shops. It's a real world exploration, save for the giant talking turtle half way along one of the lanes.
One thing that isn't the same and which is a loss is the ability to play the game in Italian with English subtitles. The language was part of the Capri experience with the earlier game, but in Anacapri the Dream, you can still choose to play in Italian but not with English subtitles. My Italian being limited to menus and the odd polite phrase, I had to choose the English option, which gives most of the characters I have encountered so far a very American accent. Not what I would expect to hear in Anacapri. Gey tells me the complexity of the endeavour was such that this aspect was a bridge too far this time, and I am sure he is right, but it's a shame nonetheless.
But limoncello is still limoncello whatever the language, and for me once you have that, well it must be Italy. It's a personal association, and took place in La Grazie, which isn't Capri but is most definitely Italy. Bella!
I digress. Suffice to say there is a limoncello seller in the back alleys of Anacapri.
Or perhaps I don't. Digress that is. The beauty of this type of game construct is its capacity to be evocative. That is not to say other constructs aren't or can't be, just that being a real place gives it the same sort of feel as sifting through your own photos. If you've been to Capri, so much the better. If you haven't, there may well still be associations or familiarities.
You arrive in Piazza Vittoria in July 2011 as Nico Fredi, an expert on ancient civilisations. You have been invited to the island to find the obsidian disk, an almost mythical object but one which spreads fear nonetheless. Your search begins humbly, but reality becomes blurred all too soon, dreams intruding on your efforts — or is it the other way around?
The still photos mean it's a fairly still game, although little animations appear here and there, and some scenes also pan horizontally as well as vertically. This stillness extends to the characters you interact with, although during the course of even a short conversation a series of different photos with different poses indicate an active event. I have spoken to about 15 people, and so far (except for the man behind the locked gate early on) the voice work is plausibly real — not acted, just conversational. The aforesaid man, though, had had way too many espressos.
There are over 8,000 images making up Anacapri the Dream, so there is no scrimping on detail. My preview copy came on 2 DVDs; enough said. The makers claim there is over 50 hours of playing time and I am inclined to believe them.
There is a map to help you along, with instant "jump to" points once you visit locations, and 8 save game slots, which so far is 7 more than I need. You can choose to have the hot spots indicated for you on each screen, or toughen the task and find them yourself. There are extras you can dip into too, including a travelogue edition which allows you to explore the island from a cultural and non-puzzling perspective.
I have found the dream. Or a dream. I have activated a sort of dimensional portal but not the far humbler ATM. The turtle has spoken, and I have been given a shoe, but am none the wiser about either. I have accessed the church but not the chair lift. Snake whale lizard snake lizard does not work on the door.
So I'm currently sitting on a headland looking out to sea. A rest, a macchiato and then it's back to it. I have many hours to go, and it promises to be a captivating and puzzling experience.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2007.
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