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Aura: Fate of the Ages (Windows)

67
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Jeanne (75627)
Written on  :  Dec 29, 2005
Rating  :  1.83 Stars1.83 Stars1.83 Stars1.83 Stars1.83 Stars

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Summary

Gorgeous graphics / difficult puzzles / almost no story

The Good

Aura isn't a game for everyone. Most fans of pure adventure games will dislike it .. while lovers of puzzle-rich games will love it. I fall in the first category.

Navigation and Gameplay
The game installs the complete contents of all 3 CD-ROMs on your hard disk and disc 3 must remain in your drive to play and save games. Adjustments to resolution, color depth, music & sound effects volume are very nice in any game, and I was pleased to see them here.

The point and click interface operated error-free throughout so you can get into the game immediately with no learning curve whatsoever. More pluses include subtitles on or off and an unlimited number of save game slots.

Graphics and Sound
The environs are lovely to look at and travel through. Solving the puzzles provides unbelievably beautiful graphical effects using light, color and sound.

The people, however, are crude by comparison having very little likeness to real persons in mannerism and movement. Conversations happen automatically giving the player no interactivity whatsoever. Those conversations speed by quickly (making the subtitles even more valuable) and are often so abrupt and dull that they detract from the story rather than add to it.

The music is beautiful although I'm sure it was borrowed from one of the "great" composers. I found myself turning up the volume in several places just to get the full effect of the music. There are very few sound-effects, if any, however.

Exploration and Puzzle-Solving
I'm not much of a puzzler - especially of assembling parts into alien machines and gizmos. I particularly don't like puzzles that require the use of sound and/or music. You'll find all of that in this game and more. True, the puzzles were all very imaginative and some were much more difficult than others. The "hint journal" (clue book) provides simple drawings without words. It's up to you to figure out what those drawings mean. Unfortunately, you may find that using a walkthrough is necessary to get through even the simplest of puzzles in this game.

The Bad

Aura falls far short of the mark as an adventure title. Too little NPC interaction .. too little story. The designers spent all of their energies on the puzzles and then tried to connect them with somewhat of a story. They failed to give us players a reason to want to finish it. No emotions are evoked for the characters while playing, and the inconclusive ending provides little satisfaction for the player.

The Bottom Line

Since the sequel to Aura is in the works (known now as The Sacred Rings), I am hoping that it is not a repeat of this first game. If it is, I'll skip it altogether and play one of the other more "adventure" adventures instead.