Anacapri - The Dream
Release date: 06/2007
Developer: Silvio + Gey Savarese
Publisher Europe: Adventure's Planet
Publisher North America: GotGames Entertainment
Game languages: English and Italian
USK/PEGI: no rating
A review by slydos 18th August 2007
translation by slydos: 26.10.07
The beauty of the island Capri is celebrated in heaps of songs, texts and paintings. In the year 2003 the two Savareses, Silvio and Giuseppe (Gey), son and father, published a first game about Capri, half educational adventure game, half imaginative travel guide. While "A Quiet Weekend in Capri" reveals us the eastern part of the island in a futuristic journey through dimensions, we now become acquainted with the western rocky ledges around Anacapri in a second, independent story.
Because of two things the game paid off for me regardless anything else: I learned to play Scopa and could turn my attention to the life of Axel Munthe. The Swedish physician, animal and plant lover, aesthete and author of the probably most famous Capri novel, "The Story of San Michele", obviously inspired and guided the developers. As Munthe leads his readers to the borderline between truth and illusion, the Savareses take you to the range between dream and reality. Even more, they pick up Munthes topics for a complex nested storyline, weaving not only dreams and reality, but also past and future of two exciting fictitious stories with the eventful history of the island of Capri. At the end we have seen and learned a lot and surely the one or other may be tempted to deepen this fantastic meeting with Capri.
We left behind us the strongly frequented eastern part of the island of the first game for the rolling hills of the western part. Here is the second city of the island: Anacapri, and also the famous "Blue Grotto". We learn about Anacapri step-by-step: we stroll through the "Philosophical Garden", where in the game only few, in reality hundreds of quotation-decorated ceramic tiles line the way or we climb narrow rock paths from one Fortini ruin to the next. We visit grottoes by boat, float by funicular to Monte Solaro, creep secret passageways or drive by bus to the small port Marina Piccola. But most of the time we go walking. Then sometime Munthe's "sun temple of the dreams" looms before us, his "Villa San Michele", which was long time considered as one of the most beautiful situated mansions of the world.
Our name is Dr. Nico N.. We have an appointment with Dr. Orlandi in Anacapri. As we will notice during our investigations, the other inhabitants of the island know very well who we are and the reason for our visit. Even the newspaper reports that now finally help is on its way. We have been consulted as antiquity specialist for the search of a legendary obsidian disk. The inhabitants of the island suffer under the curse of this disk and wish for a release, in other words a destruction of the artifact. But for that it must be found first of all. We follow the clues and find out that we are not the only one, who is after that mysterious disk.
Actually everything appears to be quite normal. Well, you hardly meet people in the streets, but besides that the island looks as it should. This impression is however suddenly totally upset when meeting a head-high giant turtle, blocking our way. Since the turtle also emits enormous amounts of text and we start doubting the mental health of the authors, we are gently but distinctly induced to ring a bell, whereupon we awake in a bedroom. Lo and behold, everything which happened so far was apparently only a dream!?
In reality we are Nico Fredi, who is for any reason locked in his own house by a clever devised technical equipment. Should the guy be prevented from leaving the house, or should someone be prevented from entering? In any case, Nico Fredi seems to be communicating with a Dr. Greenturtle!, a psychiatrist, who left written instructions about the use of a sort of dreaming drug. With this drug we can return to the Capri dream, as soon as we take a new dose. However every time a bell sounds in our dream, we awake in reality again.
From now on we do consider people, objects and landscapes differently than before. Are there analogies? Hey, doesn't this voice of Adriano Norberti on our answering machine sound exactly like the coin dealer Norbert Hadrawa in Anacapri? Haven't I seen that picture somewhere else before? This is the start of a tricky scavenger hunt between dimensions by means of metaphors and symbols ...
The Savareses manage in the end, or better say the two ends, to keep the game logic despite all fantastical 'capers'. Although we meet Gods, sirens and nature spirits, they seem to be totally normal companions in the legends and imagination of the inhabitants of Capri. Like once Axel Munthe, we too find the ghost of Tiberius in a black snake and the guardian of the golden hoard in shape of a blue lizard. An ordinary shoemaker evolves shaman abilities and a monastery guard emerges as Genius Loci with transbiblical age. Even the trees have a soul and we could develop magic powers either.
It will not be finally clarified whether the island of Capri is named after the Roman word 'capra' for goat, after the Greek 'kapros' for boar or after the mythic king of the Teleboers 'Capreus'. But we get just as many clues that we curiously want to read on about the many peoples, inhabitants and personalities, who have shaped the island. With the exception of Goethe, who became seasick during the passage in stormy weather, nearly each celebrity showed up one time or another on this Italian Sylt. So tourism already started in ancient times. Did Tacitus spread scandal-mongering stories about emperor Tiberius in old-Roman Yellowpress style only, because he preferred living on Capri to living in the Roman metropolis? What were the feared Ottoman pirates really doing there, headmost red beard 'Barbarossa' or the French and English troops? And what did American archaeologist MacKowen find out? So many stories, so much food for thought. The Savareses rather go into detail but don't overdo their history lesson. Who is really interested, knows, where to find more. And to those who want to look for romance, this game really is a contemplative substitute to an overcrowded and loud Capri.
About 32,000 photos were processed in this slide-show adventure! That's such a number that we must install 2 DVDROMs on our hard disk. We can look at all scenes at least back and forth. I don't know, how the Savareses finally made it, if they used the early morning hours off season or simply superimposed several photos and removed the interfering characters - "Anacapri - The Dream" de facto contains only those characters, who contribute to the actual plot. Apart from that the scenes remain deserted and dreamlike lonely.
The graphics have technically improved compared to "A Quiet Weekend in Capri". Some indicating animations were added and also the sea is dazzlingly -sparkling animated. Some good animal animations are contributed by the colleagues of Nucleosys (Scratches). Beyond that there are wide angle scrolling scenes; on the one hand to point out the beauty of some places, but also to hide certain puzzles. Scene exits and other hotspots are indicated by a cursor change. Since even unhurried adventure fans want to get ahead sometimes, the game fortunately offers an optional function to show interactive areas marked by rectangles. If one should leave this function switched off, because one doesn't care how much time it takes to search thousands of scenes, then the minimum play time of 30 hours will surely be doubled, I would guess! Because even if the hotspot areas are constantly displayed, some backgrounds - e.g. caves - are so dark that one cannot identify the black borders of the rectangles.
The slide show really moves the players to the presented places. After some hours one rather 'knows the ropes'. If you should really visit Capri some day, then you will easily find your way. Distant locations must be once reached by walking (or going by bus) the whole way, doing all the clicks at least once in each direction. Later on one can reach these places by quick-jump function. Beyond that, spacious scenes come with addiddtional ground plans, like the city center of Anacapri or e.g. the mansion San Michele, to see where you are and in which direction you are moving.
We meet the nearly 40 interactive characters in fixed images, movements and feelings are nearly always expressed by automatically running slide shows. These and some other graphics look rather naive and unprofessional. For example the obvious collages, like placing human heads on fish bodies to create Nereids. When objects are inserted into the photos, textures, colors, shade and light are not actually realistically harmonised. The characters' slide shows could have been presented as film scenes with today's equipment of digital cameras with video functions and wide sampling options; especially with 2 DVDs at hand. That would however have required a lip-synch Italian and English dubbing. An additional expenditure, which was not spent. The characters are local lay-actors, who surely did their best. Nevertheless I sometimes couldn't completely stifle a grin, imagining how the Savareses have persuaded them to act.
One however comes across very well: the smart boatman, whom we must beat in playing the Scopa card-game! While it wasn't his original voice, it somehow seemed to me, that we were listening to the original tongue-in-cheek sayings of this rogue! His repertoire is exactly aligned to the game situation and constantly varies from partronising over cheeky, ostentatious and provocative up to subdued and meek, if one picks off his 'standard trick', the 'Settebello', what he actually can't believe at all. I am convinced, the chap has cheated through his teeth and was only uncareful for a second, so that I was able to beat him in the end!
The other dubbing voices vary from amateurish to semiprofessionell. Partially their words are alienated with reverb or other distortions, so that I couldn't understand the often epic texts without subtitles. That's however no concrete problem, since one can in peace reread all conversations in a special conversation inventory. And that's in fact necessary, since the conversations provide important information for puzzle solving. Talking to characters is actually no real dialogue. Our interlocutors simply talk automatically when we meet them or we must click at them until they have nothing more to say.
The translation quality of the lengthy texts in conversations, documents and letters will not only satisfy me as non-native speaker. Beyond that I havn't discovered any non-Italian leftovers or obvious errors in the English version. The original compositions, noises and environmental sound usually maintain a low profile like soft birds' twittering or gentle ocean lapping, however can annoy in certain moments, if they are too odd or too loud. You can only adjust the sound volume within the game screen.
This 1st-person-adventure is mouse-controlled as already done in the first Capri-game too. As previously mentioned, we can switch on/off the hotspot display. It's very recommended to turn it on in general, but particularly if we have to cover long distances and are tired of sightseeing. The map and jump functions are very helpful.
At the beginning of the game we can select our language: English or Italian. Switching the language is possible from the same savegame, however only after a restart. The starting menu also offers the option, to visit the entire game area as commentated sightseeing tour, without completing puzzles and without a storyline. Unfortunately there are only 9 save slots, which are named by nothing else but a number. First of all one can easily make a mistake, secondly it's too few, if one wishes to jump back to special points like the Scopa mini game for example. During the game several icons appear at the bottom of the screen on right-click. Depending upon situation the detail map, the jump map, the icons for switching between dream and reality, the entrance to object and dialogue inventories as well as to the main menu can be found here. Other main menu options offer information about controls and some cheats for the hardest puzzles, as well as info about the selection of the correct screen resolution.
To be requested to adjust the screen resolution if necessary, outside the game in Windows, is nonprofessionell. Because rumor goes, that there are actually still people, who can only switch on their PC and insert a storage medium. And even people, who know how to handle screen settings could be relieved. I didn't select the desired screen-resolution of 1024 x 768, since it was inconvenient to change the resolution over and over again each time you exit and restart the game. I however had no problem to finish the game In my standard resolution of 1280 x 1024.
The inventory has improved compared to A Quiet Weekend in Capri: Objects now have texts for better identification. They can be zoomed and manipulated. They are automatically used at the screen, if you select the correct item, otherwise you hear a buzzing sound. The excellently designed bilingual 4coloured glossy manual describes all possible functions and help modes.
Anacapri - The Dream is no adventure game for complete beginners to the genre. The puzzle quality ranges between very easy and very difficult. The developers took that into account and equipped the 4 most difficult puzzles with a diversion function, a kind of cheat, so that every player level should get along with them. Beside the orientation puzzles and search&find puzzles we often must correctly interpret the spoken or written word to find the connecting links. Often these hints are graphic-only to provoke memory and to point us in the right direction.
We encounter logical and memory puzzles, modified sliding puzzles, must trace star signs and have to learn and play the Neapolitan Scopa card game so well that we can beat the self-proclaimed master gambler. I particularly enjoyed this part of the game so that I stored a savegame to replay. I can only recommend all gamers to learn and play that game (instead of using the cheat function, because it's a blast! Texas Hold'em is out, Scopa is in! (here you can try Scopa on-line: http://www.scopacards.com/).
Anacapri has no dead ends or GameOvers and there are no dexterity elements. Anacapri is a welcome challenge for senior gamers. To absolute beginners or impatient fellows, who give up early, I would simply recommend a walkthrough or a relaxed, puzzle-free guided Capri-Tour.
Anacapri's strengths include story, background information and drawing the players in. Anacapri's weaknesses are nonprofessionell graphics and partially boring, because lengthy click passages. The challenging puzzles may discourage some players, can however be no negative criterion, because of the ingame help. You understand at least written English? You would like to get to know Capri and its history or you are the puzzle fan, who doesn't always want to play adventure games in 'simple'-mode? Then this is the right game for you.
My rating: 74%
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- WIN 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista
- XGA monitor, 4:3 aspect ratio, 1024 x 768
- 7 GB free hard disk space
- 256 MB RAM
- Windows XP
- Pentium IV 3,6 GHz
- 2 GB RAM
- 48x DVD-ROM
- NVidia GeForce 7600GS 256 MB
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 18th August 2007