Point-and-click adventure Anna's Quest is due later this year, but there's a reason the game's name provokes déjà vu. In 2012, developer Kram's Design released a short version of the game, the entirety of which represents but the first chapter of the new, 2015 version. The original Anna's Quest was a cute (if brief) homage to classic adventure games, and the one that's in the works now looks like a charming expansion of the original prototype.
For anyone who didn't play the first version, Anna's Quest is a fairytale-like story about a girl who lives on a farm with her grandpa. Their isolated but idyllic routine is upset one day when Anna's grandpa falls ill. Despite his condition, he urges Anna not to brave the dangers of the forest looking for a cure for him, but Anna's love for him compels her to take the risk. Mere steps into the trees, she's kidnapped by (what else?) an evil witch and imprisoned in a tower. The witch, it seems, has designs on Anna's special telekinetic power -- a power Anna doesn't even know she has -- and if the witch gets her hands on it, well, bad things will happen..
Except for seeming more polished than the original Anna's Quest, the first chapter of the game plays more or less identically to it. For those of us with previous experience with the game, things only really start rolling after those events play out. So as not to create any spoilers, we won't discuss the narrative here except to say it continues on in an interesting vein. What we can talk about is the way the characters and dialog are handled.
Once the story branches out, an impressive cast of amusing characters takes the stage. Each of these creates an opportunity for informative, frustrating, sad, or silly conversation, all of which provide both entertainment and useful puzzle hints. There's a goodly amount of talking, but point-and-click fans probably won't mind that. And although the pace of the dialog is somewhat slow and plodding, if you're a fast reader you can click to speed it up.
Puzzles, for the most part, are intuitive and cleverly-designed. Many require the use of Anna's telekinetic powers, although the application of that strategy seems arbitrary on occasion. Item-use also falls, now and then, into semi-contrived territory. You know -- where you're forced to have a specific item even if circumstances don't realistically require it. Even so, the game plays like a storybook come to life, thanks to its cute, rounded character and environment art and soft, muted palette. The sound augments the fairytale presentation with rustic, folksy background music and, for the most part, (aside from the annoying voice of Anna's teddy bear sidekick) nice vocal performances.
The preview build of Anna's Quest is looking pretty refined. It seamlessly expands the 2012 narrative, adding more characters, locations, puzzles and, of course, adventure. The game plays like it's finished, and indeed, it had been due for release this Spring. At this point, however, the most publisher Daedalic Entertainment will say is it's “coming soon.” Considering the fun waiting for us -- as evidenced by the unfinished preview build -- let's hope they really mean it.