Present Quest is a free text-based puzzle adventure created by Errol Elumir of the Room Escape Divas for Adventuron’s Christmas Game Jam.
Style of Play: text-based puzzle adventure
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection
Recommended Team Size: 1-2
Play Time: about an hour
Booking: click to play at your leisure
This is a narrative- and character-focused text adventure game with supplemental pixel art.
Note that there is a content warning at the onset, so that you can understand if this game is right for you.
Hivemind Review Scale
Like a punch to the gut, this one stayed with me for a while. I experienced a staggering range of reactions during and after gameplay – shock, sadness, anger, nostalgia, laughter, tenderness, and profound compassion. When I finished playing, my prevailing emotion was confusion – what on earth had I just seen? After reflecting for several days, I concluded that the creator’s ability to elicit such a strong response from me, using only a relatively simple narrative and an old-fashioned, two-dimensional interface, made this a brilliant experience. I had made assumptions about the direction this game would take and the depth it would offer based on its theme, visual treatment, and some of the content it revealed early in play. Present Quest challenged those assumptions and invited me to examine why I had made them in the first place.
From a gameplay perspective, I was very satisfied with the level of onboarding and the quality of the tutorial. The puzzles were accessible with a light degree of difficulty, and there were moments where the writing made me say wow.
This game is not for everyone, and while I appreciated the risk the creator took with the direction of the storyline, not all people will. The experience opens with a content warning so players can make an informed decision to proceed or pass; please read it and decide if this one is appropriate for you.
Peih Gee Law’s Reaction
Word of advice: heed the trigger warning. Don’t be a dummy like me and opt out of the warning because you think you’re tough. I feel very torn on this game because it was quite fun, but it was not what I expected at all, especially considering I thought this was a cute and heartwarming holiday game. Can I call Errol the ultimate troll, in the best way possible? While I was not in the best frame of mind to play this game, I think others will enjoy the emotional journey this story will take you on. What a ride.
Immersion: Very immersive, I definitely was invested in the narrative and characters.
Puzzles: Quite beginner friendly, simple but fun.
Avatar: This is a single player online game with no host.
Functionality: I was impressed with how smoothly everything ran. I even managed to figure out their DOS-like interface, which I am usually terrible at.
Richard Burns’ Reaction
I believe this game was created in just a few weeks, and that is probably how long its impact will sit with me. Maybe longer.
The graphics are fun and nostalgic. The tutorial works well and there is a trigger warning system you can choose to utilize. The puzzles are simple, but solid. The command line controls are intuitive and non-frustrating. The in-world hint system is superb. And there are characters, good characters. I cared about them during this silly adventure. All of that would have made for a fun little game, but there is so much more.
There is a story. A story with power that I wasn’t expecting. A story that doesn’t belong in a game that looks like this. But it is in there, and it blew me away. I don’t know how many times I have thought about it in the days since I played.
From reading a bit more about the game’s development, Errol’s stated goal was to create a compelling narrative that includes puzzles. That phrase too, has stuck with me, “a compelling narrative….with puzzles”. That is the thing for me. That is what it is all about. It is so succinct and pure. Creators with that goal in mind are sure to provide us with more wonderful content like Present Quest.
Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction
This did not feel like a typical puzzle game. It’s more of a story-driven interactive visual novel.
At its best, the pixel art and written commands made for a fantastic throwback to classic adventure games. The tutorial in the beginning helped to easily get into the flow of the game.
At its worst, it was long foreseeable that there was a twist to the story, which made the actual moment of the twist less powerful. The game was not at all strong on puzzles, but I don’t think it tried to be because it’s not really about that. One puzzle relied a tiny bit on outside knowledge or googling.
I’m actually not into reading much, but this story tiptoed on the edge of still keeping me interested.
David Spira’s Reaction
Present Quest is art – beautiful, creative, and painful art.
The best way that I can describe Present Quest is calling it a life simulator as digital escape game. It had simple yet elegant pixel art, adorable chiptunes riffs of pop songs, and character development on a level that we rarely see in the escape room world. I’ll go so far as to say that the character development in Present Quest is in a class of its own as far as escape games go.
The puzzles weren’t especially complicated, but they fit startlingly well into the world. For me, the hardest part of the game was formatting my solutions so that they were accepted by the game’s interface.
Ultimately, it lured me in, made me care, and then stabbed me in the feels. The content warning on Present Quest was well-earned. When everything was over, I gave Lisa a 60 second summary of the game, and that alone made her eyes well-up. Our family has been through some things that were intensely similar to the plot of this game, and it hurt.
I think that Errol is a genius and I love Present Quest. I can also fully understand anyone who respects this game but disliked the experience… and I can also fully understand flat out hating Present Quest. That’s art.
Huzzah! Thank you so much to all of you for reviewing the game!
You are so very welcome. Thank you for designing something so heartfelt and thought-provoking.