Quest in the Dark
Raise your hand if you think that six whole months is simply too long to wait until Halloween. Go on, don't be shy, I'm raising my hand too. Well for those of us who wait all year for Halloween to find us again, Quest in the Dark provides a good excuse for us to pause our scary movies and put our costume planning on hold.
After picking an avatar and entering your name, you find out that you have somehow fallen down the "rabbit hole" and are trapped inside your own nightmare. An eerily cheerful host greets you and tells you that in order to escape, you must first find a magic potion. This is the only way out.
Using your mouse, navigate your avatar through the haunted mansion that looms before you, collecting items and solving puzzles as you go. Beware the various ghosts and skeletons that stand in your path (or don't. They aren't that bad, as it turns out), and above all else, don't forget to find that potion!
Analysis: Perhaps the best way to describe Quest in the Dark would be Trapped for kids. There are many basic similarities: lots of items and puzzles, a dark motif, and an isometric layout with a point-and-click interface.
But Quest in the Dark is most definitely softened up for a younger crowd. The story line, for starters, is nowhere near as hardcore as Trapped's, and even the main bad guy is kind of cute and cuddly. The graphics are far more friendly and the puzzles are, for the most part, much simpler.
But don't be fooled. There are a few puzzles/tasks that can be elusive or tricky to get around. It's even more challenging because a majority of the items you collect are not actually employed in the game, but only add to your final score total.
Unfortunately the game does employ an isometric layout, which is very clunky and takes a while to get used to. Moreover, while the artistry is quite good and hits the mood it is going for perfectly, I think including hardly any sound at all was a missed opportunity. And finally, if I were to come up with any further gripes, it would have to be a kind of awkwardness in the dialogue, but I am forgiving on this front, given this is translated from an originally Japanese game.
But if you are willing to overcome the isometric design, Quest in the Dark is an exceptionally cute and surprisingly engaging point-and-click adventure. There's not nearly the depth you'll find in similar games, but the upside is that you can feel comfortable sharing this title with the little ones.