A Quiet Week-end in Capri

Review by Old Rooster and Mother Hen
June 2003

"Twas on the Isle of Capri that I found her
Beneath the shade of an old walnut tree;
Oh, I can still see the flowers blooming 'round her,
Where we met on the Isle of Capri."

"Please, please," I beg the wife (Mother Hen), "stop humming, let alone screechingly singing, that old ballad."

"But," she rejoins, "this is one of the only games you have that I like; I can help; plus we'll win the contest and get a free trip to Capri!"

"After all," she continues, "I helped you solve The Sydney Mystery; you promised we would someday go there and we haven't."

"And there's that nice Italian man, Silvio, helping you out, who sounds very sexy, and I can't wait to meet him!"

"But you're so bleedingly cheap, you old sod"—Mother Hen is English, a very classy lady—"it looks like I'll have to win the flaming contest to get the holiday, won't I?"

"But don't worry, Luv, it doesn't look very hard, does it?"

Rooster surrenders—"All right, my little chickadee, we'll see if we can figure it out; although, I must confess, the trip won't be much of a 'quiet' weekend, will it, with you along?"

The Journey Begins

So what is this game causing such anticipation in the Rooster household? A Quiet Week-end is the creation of a very talented two-person team with two major sections (the game, not the team). First, we have a "navigation program," which allows a peaceful and stress-free tour of the gorgeous island of Capri. Employing over 4,500 still photographs, lovely views, an invisible tourist guide, and a relaxing soundtrack, this portion of the game leads you on a comprehensive walking tour of the island. You'll interact with some of the residents (translations included), have a good map to guide you, and generally get a very nice sense of why the island is such a popular tourist destination.

A Quiet Week-end ships on two CDs, one for install, one for play. With my XP system, there was no problem placing the 700 MB files on the hard drive. Unfortunately, your monitor has to be manually set to 1024×768 every time you play, and a game start icon isn't automatically placed on the desktop, but this is remedied by pulling it from the game file. The interface is colorful and logical, both in the Tour and Adventure modes, with clear and comprehensive instructions a click away. Indeed, the game is entirely driven by the mouse, in the traditional point-and-click adventuring manner. Faint outlines are available, if you choose, to help find the "hotspots" needed to move to the next view. There is no rotation or movement within a particular scene, but transitions are helped by continuing musical themes and crowd/traffic noises.

"I've Done It; That Wasn't So Hard!"

Breathlessly, Mother Hen wakes me in the middle of the night to say that, on her own, she has completed the game and wants me to get the contest entry mailing ready. Groggily, I find that what she has done essentially is to complete the tour of the island. She's enjoyed it tremendously, even taken some pictures (included), and she can't understand why others are finding it so difficult. Remember, we've spoken of two parts—the Navigation Program (Tour) and the Adventure Game. It's the latter that needs to be solved, and, at the point of this writing, the incredible combined brain power of Mother Hen and myself has been unable to unlock the final secret(s). Even sexy Silvio, for whom Mother Hen has a soft spot, won't give us a walkthrough, but he has given some general hints, to be found here.

The adventure portion proceeds initially much like the tour. You're a visiting tourist, looking for your hotel. After being given a map and finding this location, you suddenly think you're either having a stroke or your monitor is blowing up! Out of the blue, after some twisted scenes, you're in a twilight zone, almost another dimension. Initially, the sounds of traffic and people are gone, and you're left to wander. The hotel is closed, there's no guide available, and you're left with only your wits, the map, and a trusty Adventurer's Notebook.

Where Have All the People Gone?

At first, the scene is eerie, with pictures likely taken very early in the morning when no one was around. From the hubbub of Umberto Square (the "fulcrum of the universe") and the noise of cars, we find ourselves in deadly silence. Our initial wanderings are done in a state of near panic. Let's go here, and here, and here—there must be someone, some answers somewhere! Finally, a doorbell is responded to with a request for a favor—"Please get the money for me in the lantern close to uncle Pasquale's house."

In the true spirit of adventure gaming, you need to examine and pick up everything, read all signs, talk to everyone you can (37 characters available), thoroughly explore the large map, and run errands. At the point of this writing, in spite of what Mother Hen initially thought, our game is a "work in progress." We've done a lot. We, and others (see our Forum thread), have responded to concerns such as these:

  • Why do I need a fruit converter and a plutonium battery?
  • Who is Graviteillo, and why does his bust have sunglasses?
  • Why am I being called Rafele?
  • Where is Villa Jovis?
  • Why can't I find Anacapri on the map?
  • How do I contact the Black Hole Phone Company?
  • Did you know there are five basic light types?
  • Why am I being followed?
  • Is Silvio a fan of H.G. Wells?

One of the pleasures of this adventure is its openness and non-linearity. Of course, there is one solution at the end, and most puzzles require certain items or ingredients to solve, but the developers have spent considerable time and energy to assure that paths to that outcome may be incredibly varied. As some of us discuss together our explorations and mystery-unraveling, it's clear that many of the necessary steps may be done in a different order, as opposed to games where you can't get to point "C" without first completing "A" and "B." It reminds me of Morrowind, a very open-world RPG, in that regard.

Sorry, but I really can't give anything else away—that would be cheating, wouldn't it? Largely because of the prize at the end, there has been considerable secrecy about revealing puzzle solutions, and even hints, with trial and error, as well as good old logic, being your only friends. Let me say the underlying story is surprising and creative, and it has a nice touch of humor. The game is hard, very hard, but it's also fun!

The settings continue to be beautiful to behold, even when you're thinking hard and ready to bang the monitor after aimlessly wandering. The background musical themes are a pleasant surprise, and one can understand why an audio CD has been developed. And, again, the interface is very smooth and logical, with the only possible criticism being that there are only three save game slots available, with old saves overwritten by new in whichever slot you choose.

Let's Get Serious for a Moment ...

Of all the independently developed adventure games I've played, A Quiet Week-end ranks as one of the very best in terms of interface design. Admittedly, it would be nice if the lovely scenes could occupy the full screen, instead of two-thirds, but the trade-off for this is an interface and set of gameplay mechanics that is extremely clear, efficient, and helpful in the facilitation of your mystery-solving enterprise. The cursor arrow depictions, the suitcase for inventory, the use of that inventory, the help section, the use of save/return options, the precise maps and getting around, the notebook that takes down everything—all of these are done extremely well. It's hard to believe this is the first major effort of this developing team.

There Really Is a Contest!

You have until September 30, 2003 to be the first to present the solution to the developers. Your (my) prize will be a weekend for two at a four-star hotel, including dinners Friday and Saturday at acclaimed restaurants, with 100 "second place" prizes consisting of the audio CD. If you win instead of me, please take Mother Hen along. She's really looking forward to it, and it would relieve me of her company for a few days ("stop, stop the hitting, I'm just kidding, dear"). Also, bring your notebook, because who knows what adventures may come your way?

I'm pleased to award A Quiet Week-end in Capri our coveted Gold Star. The game is one of the most pleasant surprises I've recently experienced. Expecting something of a "Myst clone," we instead find a title that resembles or honors Myst, in that it uses static slide scenes, as well as having a very different kind of storyline. But what it also adds is a huge number of views in a real-world setting, accompanied by lovely musical themes and considerably more character interaction. Indeed, A Quiet Week-end exhibits not only two of the hallmarks of fine adventure titles—story accompanied by relevant puzzles—but also adds the unusual component of a real place that can even simply be toured, if you wish! This dynamic developing duo has demonstrated a talent for game-making that I hope will not end with this project—obviously one done with care and love. With appreciation for the difficulty, which is understandable due to the contest, I would highly recommend you experience this delightful, charming and unusual way of spending A Quiet Week-end in Capri.

"Summertime was nearly over,
Blue Italian skies above,
I said, 'Lady I'm a rover,
Can you spare a sweet word of love?'
She whispered softly, 'tis best not to linger,'
Then as I kissed her hand I could see
She wore a plain golden ring on her finger.
'Twas goodbye to the Isle of Capri."
 The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Silvio and Gey Savarese
Publisher: Oxiana s.n.c.
(Europe); Got Game (North and South America)
Release Date: March 2003

Available for: Windows

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System Requirements

Windows 98/2000/ME/XP
700 MB free hard disk space
64 MB RAM
Monitor with XGA real resolution, capable of 1024×768, with 32 MB

Where to Find It

Got Game (North America, South America, Israel) $29.99
From the Developer (Rest of World) €22,00 (approx. $27)



Prices/links current as of 03/02/04
Links provided for informational purposes only. FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into by any party(ies).

 
   
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