Quern is a free-roaming first-person puzzle adventure game in which you, the unnamed protagonist, is transported through a portal and isolated in a strange, unfamiliar place.
The game is set on a deserted island full of ancient technologies to discover. You must figure out how they work. The puzzles are intricate and interconnected, so you have to think about the game as a whole, and not just as a series of individual challenges.
If you enjoyed playing Myst, you will like this game. It has a similar mood and gameplay. The scenery is beautiful, the puzzles are challenging, you must do a lot of reading and listening as well as observing.
There are two other characters. You do not meet them but you hear them. From time to time they ask for your help. But they are antagonistic toward each other. They each want you to do the opposite.
The game is somber, lonely, moody, brooding, and vaguely menacing at times. These are important feelings to explore from an author’s imagery, but can be overwhelming to someone who is young or sad or tends to have a melancholy disposition. With that being the case, I do not suggest playing it alone.
Even though Quern is a single player game, this is a game that can be played with a friend sitting alongside, or as a family. Younger children will like the idea of exploring, while older kids and teens will enjoy solving the puzzles together.
My dad and I played it together. I worked the keyboard and we both reasoned out what to do. Sometimes one would get an idea, sometimes another. It’s fun when someone says, “Wait, Try This…!”
There is a mythology presented, where people obtain god-like powers, but they still have bad tendencies inside themselves. There is an alchemist lab where you make and eat potions that do mind altering effects that help solve some puzzles.
I believe it’s okay for children when presented as a fake story and the family all play together, solving puzzles as a team. Just be prepared to present sound reasoning rooted in the Bible for errors you perceive.
There are puzzles involving gears and simple mechanical contraptions, puzzles involving sounds, puzzles involving botany, puzzles involving math, and puzzles involving different crystals, each of which has its own unique properties.
Many of the puzzles use an intricate “Rosetta Stone” type of matrix where you compare letters and words to each other to solve the puzzle. Often times a clue to a puzzle solution is far away from the puzzle itself, and you must remember details from earlier. Quern provides you with a journal where you can keep sketches of things you see.
This game mixes ancient technology with some kind of unknown energy that does things. Much of the machinery includes rock grinding against rock when activated. This is reminiscent of the ancient predecessor to the millstone called a “Quern.” Perhaps this is where the game got its name.
Quern was made by Zadbox Entertainment, a Hungarian indie game developer.
Quern is available on Steam and GoG. You can download the original video game soundtrack on Amazon. Watch the trailer below.
Have you played Quern? How did you like it? Share your thoughts in the comments.