Anacapri the Dream
Well it's taken a while and I am still to get to the very end, but I can confidently say of Anacapri the Dream that if you like a lengthy thoughtful ponder in a real environment, you need to play this game.
My preview gives you basics and the game continues in the same vein to the end. The lack of the Italian language dulled as the game went on, but I remain of the view that it would have helped the immersion. You can choose to play in Italian, but you don't get English subtitles, so for the language-challenged like myself English dialogue is the only real option. Perhaps English is spoken extensively in Anacapri, but even a bit of Italian here and there would have added to the experience.
Not that it needed a lot of adding. Like its predecessor, the strengths of Anacapri the Dream are many. Some may say it lacks a little big-budget polish, that occasionally its humble origins show through, perhaps in the voice acting. What I would say is that those things are part of the charm, that they add a little character, and that picking on them risks missing the main game.
I thought that finding your way through the game was better constructed than the previous game. Only once or twice was I left thinking that there was no indication of what I needed to do, and that stumbling across the right character had simply been a matter of walking everywhere again. Which is not to say I wasn't stuck; I certainly was, and more than once, and needed help from a fellow player. However I could see afterwards the clues or interpretation I had missed, and some more patient thought should have winkled out the answers.
Anacapri the Dream isn't an easy game but because of the attention paid to the puzzle construction it is one that rewards patience and thought. Its difficulty is enhanced by the fact that there are not hotspots for every necessary action. Engaging in a puzzle is sometimes obvious; if you look closely at a machine and you can fiddle with things (ie the little hand icon appears) then clearly there is action to be performed. However if you have to, for example, place an item on the ground, you will not be likely to get a hotspot.
This means it's your brain power that will indicate you have to use an item in a certain way, and your attention to detail that will indicate where and when to use it. It is in no way blind luck, and at the risk of repeating myself there are generally sufficient clues to guide you, but some players may find it a little daunting.
You can also choose to play Anacapri the Dream with markers for the hotspots that do exist. This will make most difference to moving about. If they are on, each location shows the directions you can take to move to the next location. I suggest you turn them on; without them you will be constantly painting the scene with the mouse to generate the direction arrows. Remember, the whole gameworld is made up of real photos, and there are numerous places you might be able to explore in a street scene. I wanted to know where I could go, without being worried that I had missed a doorway, or side street, or little back lane. It is of course a matter for you.
The various information screens are just a right mouse click away and there is a lot of excellent material available. A map will show where you are, and will be automatically zoomed in at certain locations to help you further. All of your conversations will be logged, and can be revisited by choosing the image of the particular character, including the mythical ones. You can also choose to jump from one location to another, once you have visited both, rather than walk if you prefer.
You will eventually find a bell and a bottle of... well, something. You will use these to move between the dream world and reality. It's not called Anacapri the Dream for nothing. Which world is which is a bit up to you, and they intersect in some interesting ways, particularly with respect to some puzzles.
Speaking of which, you have to win at Scopa. It was a game I had never heard of, and which takes a little while to learn, and I suspect an age to master. I am always nervous when you have to play the computer at something where it controls all the variables — it can deal itself the winning cards every time. However, I played two or three times before winning, and doubt that it was because I am a Scopa natural. Like all the puzzles, it appears challenging rather than excruciating.
I have to mention the autoteller. You will come across it early on, and it's a great example of a simple but well constructed puzzle. I was kicking myself when the answer was revealed. If you enjoy it as much as I did you can confidently expect the enjoyment to continue.
The music is all original, at times a little out of step with the particular mood but nothing too untoward. Ambient sounds are rather good.
If you want to you can experience Anacapri the Dream in tourist mode. It allows you to explore the island without the game elements. A travel map par excellence if you will.
The makers should be commended on another fine effort.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2007.
All rights reserved.
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