There's seems to be very little info available on 'Aurora: The Secret Within'.
When I found this title on offer, I couldn't find any. So I only had the covertext to go by, and it sure sounded interesting.
In short: an adventuregame, noir style, set in Roswell 1950. The flying saucer story was a diversion while in fact the base was developed for a secret project called Aurora. Logical and mathematical riddles.
Well, that sounds like just the game for me. The fact that there's already another game set in/around Roswell, noir style with logical riddles, that happens to be a favourite of many gamers...
Oh well, 'The Pandora Directive' would also be in my top 10 list, if I had one, so I sure didn't mind playing a similar game.
Of course it's not really fair to compare a first game (as I believe it is for the developers) to that classic, but you can always hope.
The first thing I noticed when I put the cd in the drive was that windows explorer identified the game as 'Auroa'.
And that kind of unnecessary sloppiness is unfortunately taken to extremes, at least in the English version. And that's a shame because there are enough things to like in this game.
Without any introduction or cutscene you start off in your office, as you should in a detective noir game. I actually liked the absence of an introduction movie as it puts you in the mystery right away.
And then the second noticable thing: there are no voices. I would have liked to hear a typical detective noir voice (OK, I admit it, Tex Murphy) say: 'My alarm clock. It gives the right time twice a day'. But it's all reading. And this is not Myst, the game has it's share of dialogue, but no voices.
Then on to the good part: the story is actually quite OK. But if I elaborate on the story here, I've given away what may for some be the only enjoyable feature, so I better don't.
At least for me it was the reason to keep playing and, after I had adjusted my expectations, I wasn't disappointed.
What was disappointing for me, but likely a relief for others, was that the advertising bit on logical, mathematical riddles was grossly overstated. Most of the gameplay consists of finding and using objects, and silently talking to other characters.
There are a few logic puzzles (including a slider) and, as far as I remember, one math question.
But it's all very standard and if the story doesn't appeal to you, the gameplay and puzzles surely won't keep you with it.
On the plus side for most adventuregamers: it's all point and click, no keyboard control at all.
But as I unravelled the story, those strange decisions and mistakes kept getting in the way.
In-game documents and subtitles are English, but inventory items are labeled Italian (and you need those labels!) as are several other parts of the game.
There are game-over moments, and some of them didn't make any sense to me. A few times I was restored automatically, but more often I had to reload. There was a fatal error because a certain graphic file wasn't available, so the game couldn't display a new inventory item, but when I clicked 'OK' the game just went on. The missing item was a clue, and I could look it up in the walkthrough.
The developers also took the easy way regarding the graphics. Two different rooms in the library look exactly the same. Different houses and rooms have exactly the same things stuffed in their cupboards. And while I don't know much about archiving, I doubt it should be done like this
It took me 6 or 7 hours to complete, but given the inconsistencies of this game I didn't allow myself to be stuck for too long. If you're set on solving everything without a walkthrough it will surely be longer.
With so many good adventuregames being released, Aurora does not stand out. But I did like the story, and if a next game will build on that and avoids the sloppiness that's so prevalent here (and may we have voices, please?), Aurora may have been worth it.