Anna’s Quest is the latest point-and-click adventure from Daedalic Entertainment, the German developer behind the Deponia trilogy. The game revolves around an orphan girl named Anna, who perhaps not coincidentally looks a little like Orphan Annie (complete with empty eyes and black shoes), and who is niceness personified. Her favorite words are “cute,” “pretty” and “lovely,” and she refuses to hurt anyone for any reason whatsoever. That is, Anna is 180 degrees different than Rufus, the anti-hero from the Deponia games, but she’s also more boring, and unfortunately she takes the game with her.
At the start of the adventure, Anna is living with her grandfather on an isolated farm in the woods. But then her grandfather becomes ill, and Anna is forced to leave her friendly confines to look for a cure. This brings her into contact with a witch named Winfriede, who wants to catch her for some unknown reason. Then while Anna is dodging the witch, she meets up a talking teddy bear named Ben (who is about as close to Ted as Anna is to Rufus) and together they thwart the witch’s plans while hunting for medicine.
The storyline for the game sounds nice — and it is, but only if you consider “nice” in the same way as “good personality” when going on a blind date. Anna is so one-note pleasant that I got tired of playing her quickly, and I started rooting for the witch. You could make an argument that Anna’s Quest is all about empowering young girls, and letting them know that they’re special and important, regardless of what their surroundings might indicate, but for me the game felt like it was written by ten-year-old girls for ten-year-old girls, and to say I’m not a part of the target demographic is an understatement. Just as an example, at one point Anna says, “True love is so sweet,” and she’s completely serious. In a game I’d want to play, that statement would be somebody making a joke.
Assuming the tone of the game doesn’t bother you, the puzzles aren’t great, either. Most are fairly obvious inventory puzzles, where you pick up items in the world and then figure out where to use them. Not far into the game, you also learn that Anna has a telekinetic ability, which allows her to move or adjust items with her mind, and that gives you an extra option for how to solve puzzles. But in general, on the rare occasions where you might get stuck, all you have to do is try all of the inventory objects or the telekinesis ability on all of the hotspots, and something is bound to happen.
There are also a few non-inventory puzzles, where you have to solve problems by saying the rights things or pressing buttons in the right order, but these aren’t very challenging, either. For example, at one point you learn that playing the right notes on an organ will open a door, and you have to figure out the notes. So is there an audio clue, or does something happen when you play certain notes? No, you simply find an etching that shows you the exact notes to play. Ho hum.
Other parts of the game work better. For example, the interface is just fine. You can do everything via left clicks (to move and interact) and right clicks (to examine), and there’s even a friendly key to show you all of the hotspots for the current scene. The graphics use a charming cartoon style, and the locations are bright and colorful — even when Anna is thrown into a dungeon. And the voice acting is generally pretty good, although I didn’t much like Anna’s voice, which was a problem since she has about half the lines in the game (to me she sounded like an adult woman doing a little girl voice, and it started grating quickly).
And so overall I didn’t much like Anna’s Quest. It’s just so nice and pleasant that it’s boring. That being said, there isn’t any profanity or violence or meanness to be seen, so it’s definitely a family-friendly game. It also appears to be targeted at young girls, and since that’s not the usual audience for games, it could work in the right situation.
Reviewed By: Steven Carter
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
This review is based on a digital copy of Anna’s Quest for the PC provided by Daedalic Entertainment.