November 10, 2015 2:35 PM | John Bridgman
Every hero has received it. The call to action. The moment when their destiny stands before them and they choose to accept their fate. It's even outlined as part of the Hero's Journey. That signal to a hero that something truly amazing is about to happen is an important part of so many narratives throughout history. Of course, for a message to be delivered, there needs to be a messenger. You are that messenger in Message Quest, a recently released adventure game on Steam made by the Message Quest Team, a group of Russian developers.
The most striking thing about Message Quest is its unique art style. The game is presented as if it were made of stained glass. It looks vibrant and crisp, with the heavy lines between each colour making for some stark contrasts. Yet, it still looks good in motion, thanks to some very smooth animation. In addition to that, the art is simply charming. The backgrounds are for the most part quite pretty and the characters very endearing. The main character, Festes, the Herald, in particular is quite adorable with his soft body and puppy-dog eyes. It's also quite pleasant to listen to with some gentle, almost bardic music to accompany the gameplay.
The gameplay is fairly straightforward, even for an adventure game. Sometimes you'll have to find the right object on screen to interact with, but for the most part you won't be doing too much with inventory - Festes is, after all, very lazy and can't be bothered to do such elaborate things. In fact a fair bit of the gameplay involves getting Festes in motion. It's cute in its own way and provides a lot of character.
What you will find, though, are a fair number of puzzles - of the jigsaw variety. In another game this might seem like an odd choice, but since the puzzles themselves are panes of broken stained glass, it works well. They are never particularly challenging, and pieces lock into place quite liberally, so you don't really have to worry so much about frustration. Rounding this all out are dialogues with other characters, which you control both sides of in an interesting choice. These are generally just played for laughs or exposition.
There is also combat in this game, albeit quite simple. It involves Festes selecting actions to lower the adversary's willpower to zero, allowing you to continue interacting with them and progress the story. It feels somewhat out of place, but it passes quickly. Mostly it's played off as a comic interlude, but that part of the humour didn't really resonate with me.
For the most part though, the game carries a lighthearted tone about it that is at least enough to make you smile. It's not the most clever of comedy, and at times very rough or potentially off-putting. Generally speaking though the game is good-natured, and has a few references tucked away in it that might make you grin.
While it's not the most complicated or challenging adventure game, Message Quest is still enjoyable. It means well and really wants to make you laugh a bit. It plays well to its strengths narratively, and Festes himself is cute and I think a genuinely likeable character. Devout adventure game enthusiasts might find the game too simple for their tastes, but anybody just looking for something brief and pleasant might want to consider giving it a try.