“Anno 1700” is a long parser-based game about a student who takes a summer job at a hotel. After discovering a pirate hideout nearby, she explores the cave and uncovers its history.

Gameplay: The game starts out with a well-written prologue and a few opening scenes at the hotel. The bulk of it, though, concerns her exploration of the pirate cave. Unlike most adventure games, this one isn’t focused entirely on the actual exploration itself; instead, it shows the protagonist’s attempts to find a way into the hideout, to recover artifacts from it, to talk with other people about the cave and its artifacts, and to reconcile its history with the present. In short, it’s about more than traversing the cave itself, a welcome change from most adventure games in this genre. 7/10.

Mechanics: Most of the game is spent exploring the hotel and the area around it using standard adventuring techniques: finding secret passages, obtaining keys and useful tools, picking locks with bits of wire, etc. A large part of the game is just finding the secret passages needed to navigate through the map, rather than the more involved puzzles in other games, and the game focuses on the experience of exploring a mysterious place as an amateur adventurer without any special tools. The first few puzzles in the game seem similar to each other, but they become more interesting once the player reaches the cannon sequence, which is more involved than the other puzzles but not particularly difficult. Although it was clear at each stage of that puzzle what I wanted the protagonist to do, it was occasionally unclear how to get her to do it. 6/10.

Presentation: The setting evokes the pirate theme throughout the long cave exploration sequence and flashback, but the contrast between those parts of the game and the initial hotel exploration emphasizes the adventurousness of the former. Both the protagonist and the NPCs that appear briefly are characterized well, especially given that the emphasis of the game is on exploration and problem-solving rather than conversation. The fantasy element of the flashback is a bit odd compared against the realism of the rest of the game, but the mechanic it allows is interesting enough to suspend disbelief for that section. There are a few guess-the-verb issues: for example, UNLOCK ROOM is not understood, but UNLOCK [room] 101 is. 7/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You enjoyed “Plundered Hearts” or “Cutthroats.”

Score: 7

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