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Reviewed: The Sacred Rings
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: August 4th, 2007
Page: 2

At the last part of the original title, Umang - of the Clan of the Keepers - had just escaped those who were hunting him, keeping sacred artifacts hidden from those who would use it for evil.

The gameplay movies are a bit more informative this time around - to catch players up on the storyline, they outline the plot of the evil Shadow Legion pretty quickly. Then, they drop Umang (and thus the player) straight into the new puzzle - getting a huge mobile "house" moving towards safety. Umang meets his new friend Nikifor, the "owner" of the house, gets it running, meets up with some bad guys, steals some more parts, and finally does the unthinkable and loses his friend.

Umang's travels are a bit less single-location oriented in this than the last title; there's more backtracking and retrieving items from other locations. In some ways this is a net positive, but it definitely increases the game's frustration factor as finding the "missing piece" (or even that there is one) is sometimes a good sight less than obvious.

The game's controls will be familiar to anyone who's ever played a Myst clone - click to move, click to pick up, click to interact. It's all about the clicking, and in this sense almost anyone can handle it. Just like the last one, too, there are pitfalls; regrettably these are more severe, with very real chances of saving in a non-recoverable failure (bad) and chances of messing up a puzzle if just randomly picking up everything (good).

The environments and musical score are as creatively arranged as Aura; the voices aren't so great, but the inventively lovely puzzles and environments make up for a lot of it.

Overall, it's a fantastic adventure title for those who like Myst-style gaming. If you don't like hard puzzles and taking notes, forget it. As an added bit of misfortune, the re-use of the old engine means that the cutscenes are just as pixelated as ever, which is vaguely distracting and annoying after wandering around in the lush environments. While I've given it 4.5 stars, if you're not a genre fan, it may not be for you.

Added:  Monday, August 06, 2007
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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