Aura: Fate of the Ages Review

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Publisher: The Adventure Company (DreamCatcher Games)
Developer: Streko Graphics

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 800 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 16x CD ROM, 2 GB HD space, 32 MB video card, Windows 98 or more recent

"There exists a clan of Keepers who hold the 'Sacred rings of the Worlds'. Legend claims that the elders of the clan are able to travel to parallel worlds, and even create new worlds with the help of these rings. The legend also claims that whoever unites these rings with the artifacts of the parallel worlds will achieve great power and immortality. Access to these worlds is restricted, and only the elders of the hierarchy and the best students have the ability to enter."

Umang is a young Keeper sent to the world of Ademika to continue a course of studies. While preparing the "Journey Ship" for his tutor, there is an uprising within the Keepers. One Keeper is attempting to seize control of all the worlds' artifacts, leaving Umang to secure the artifacts first.

Kyle Ackerman

Aura: Fate of the Ages is a gorgeous, usually entertaining adventure game with a plot even less comprehensible than most adventure game storylines. If you concentrate on the attractive surroundings rather than on the rogue keeper Durad and his sinister machinations, it's easy to enjoy Aura's puzzles as isolated brain teasers. If you try to follow the story of the game, you'll be hard pressed to piece together an understanding of Aura any more detailed than the above description. If fact, the rings are a gyroscope-like object and Durad only appears in the final cut-scene, just long enough to suggest that the incomprehensible tale might wind its way into a sequel.

Lots More Cryptic Machinery Than Plot

If you play adventure games for the storytelling, there's no reason to consider Aura. If you enjoy creative visuals and inventive puzzles, there's a lot in Aura to enjoy. The vistas are really the highlight of Aura. Each of the worlds, from Dragast to the Island of Unity, is beautiful. You move between locations, but you'll have a 360° view from each spot. And with that view, you'll see stark peaks thrusting through a cloudscape linked by bridges or even a massive colorful planet looming over the icy horizon. The game is a pleasure to look at, as the landscapes are as creative as they are attractive. The title is full of the kind of fanciful caves, paths, vines and mystical machinery that supports involved puzzles. Also, some pages for your notebooks with useful clues are tucked in difficult-to-spot locations.

Each of the puzzles has an internal logic of its own, which can usually be deciphered using the usual pseudo-logic that adventure gamers live and breathe (and that can alienate those new to the genre). Few of the puzzles are exceptionally difficult, and those that are can be solved by examining machinery and reading through the diagrammatic hints in your notebook (collected as you go). There are still cases where it pays to use every object with every other, rather than concerning yourself with why Amazonian women charge out of a rock crevasse to prod you with spears.

Rarely will you need to shove a mystical obelisk into a flow of green goo just because you can. Your biggest problem with Aura's puzzles is likely to be the key items hidden in dark corners: a lever and a stick are both hidden in dark areas, and one piece of common vegetable matter is almost impossible to notice, let alone realize you'll need. Usually, an area will not be open to you if you are not prepared to cope with its puzzles, but you will occasionally be faced with challenges you have neither the tools or the clues to cope with.

A Good Price Trumps Bad Dialog

The game does have several nice touches, especially for an inventory-reliant adventure game. As with other games of its ilk, there are times when you'll be able to move in for a close view of a desk or shelf, often strewn with useful items. In some, but far from all, areas, after you have taken whatever you needed, you can no longer zoom in on that area, letting you know that you didn't miss something important. Also, Aura is very good about ensuring that inventory items no longer plague you once their usefulness has expired.

Aura very solidly takes you from one puzzle to another, involving both Myst-style machinery, and found objects from the lands you explore. The puzzles are solid. Given that the game retails for under $20, you can overlook the cheesy dialog and the nearly incomprehensible story line, and just enjoy the attractive surroundings and intriguing puzzles.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 7, 2004 4:36 PM.

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