Aurora: The Secret Within

Posted by: HandsFree

Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/13/08 05:37 PM

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. smile
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.
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/13/08 06:34 PM

Thanks HandsFree

It's too bad not all the games are winners wave
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/14/08 03:21 AM

Thank you HandsFree for an interesting & informative review. I ordered this last January & am still waiting!
I don't like a lot of logical, mathematical puzzles in a game so it's a relief for me that they've been overstated!
Looks like an Italian/English dictionary might come in handy, but in the absence of voices are there any sounds at all and/or a music score HandsFree?
Posted by: Becky

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/14/08 08:58 AM

Thanks for the review, HandsFree -- very informative! I'm hoping that when TriSynergy releases the game in North America in a couple of months, that all (or most) or these problems will have been worked out.

Chrissie -- was that through the UK publisher? Have you tried to get your money back?

EDIT: Since I posted this Tri Synergy has made the decision to not publish Aurora after all.
Posted by: nickie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/14/08 10:24 AM

Thanks for a great review HandsFree! I've been really curious about the game and you told me everything I needed to know.
Posted by: HandsFree

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/14/08 11:29 AM

Chrissie, I don't think you will actually need a dictionary, but the language issue (and I didn't even write about the translation) is to illustrate the carelessness that's showing in so many places.

But yes, in most screens there is either music or ambient sound (wind, traffic). The music is jazzy, as you'll expect, in the beginning of the game but changes to suit the different locations you will find later on. There's a piece of music that sounds like it's straight from a horror movie, but it seems to play randomly when there's no danger at all, that one was a bit weird.
And when you do something, like open a drawer, in most cases there's an appropriate sound as well.

I don't think the game was already out in january, so I suppose that was a preorder? Sounds like it was forgotten when Aurora was finally released in English (was that May or so?).
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/14/08 02:50 PM

Thanks HandsFree! it's good to know the whole game isn't silent & I don't need Italian!

Originally Posted By: Becky

Chrissie -- was that through the UK publisher? Have you tried to get your money back?

It was through Becky but they don't specify a publisher. They are a great source for AGs if you are in the UK but they are not very forthcoming with information between 'Pre-order' & 'In stock'. They are otherwise a reliable company, they don't take your money until they have despatched your game(s) & you are free to cancel your order up until then.
Posted by: Becky

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/14/08 04:02 PM

Chrissie -- so you can cancel your order with if you like (say, when the US version is available via Interact), and no harm done?
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 12/14/08 04:31 PM

Becky, yes I can cancel at any time with no harm done. don't charge you for a game until they've despatched it & their outstanding order page is laid out with an easy cancel option next to each game! I normally (but not always) try & wait for a European release because it's more likely to come in a nice DVD box! lol (which take up less room!) but I do order a lot of games from Dave at Interact too (usually in bulk!) & in this case if the US version turns up first I may be tempted in the hope there may be some improvements! :smile12:
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 02/14/09 02:47 PM

After realising that this game was no longer available on disc, I finally cancelled my order with I did though manage to find a (legitimate) copy on E-bay 'complete' with missing .dll file which I had to download seperately from an independent site. I guess this may be the reason why it wasn't widely distributed!

Anyway, onto the game. I've got to agree with everything you said about it HandsFree - you were spot on! thumbsup
I did for the most part, though, enjoy the game despite it's shortcomings, & found the plot quite interesting. smile
Posted by: HandsFree

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 02/16/09 06:03 PM

I actually can't remember if I had that dll error or not.
Was it possible to play the game without the dll? Maybe that's what I did. it could account for that one error I got during the game.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 02/17/09 03:33 AM

After I got the error message at the beginning of the game I didn't really persist with it. It may have been possible to play despite the missing file but it didn't seem like it at the time! smile
Posted by: Lynnypoo2

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 06/17/09 07:33 PM

where did you find the missing dll file if you don't mind my asking. Thank you.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 06/18/09 11:41 AM

Hi Lynnypoo2, I downloaded the file from this link that Jenny100 kindly provided in Glitches & Patches sometime ago
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 06/18/09 11:51 AM

thanks Chrissie

luck Lynnypoo2
Posted by: Lynnypoo2

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 06/19/09 04:37 PM

Thank a bunch Chrissie. Much appreciated bravo

Lynnypoo praise
Posted by: Mad

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 06/20/09 06:03 PM

Hi smile

I ordered this game probably two years ago (in the UK) when it was very first advertised - and had nothing but problems about getting it delivered. Even though I'd paid up front mad

After more than two months of hassle and lots of emailing back and forth, I was eventually told the game should have been shipped to me direct from Greece !!

Greece had never been mentioned before woozy

But that anyway the decision had now been taken that it was no longer to be available from anywhere .... and I was AT LAST sent a full refund.
With, I might add, the promise that when the game DID again become available, I would immediately be sent a copy - free of charge.

Well, I am still waiting for that free copy rolleyes

But after reading your splendid review, HandsFree, I think I will forget all about it rotfl


Mad grin

Posted by: chrissie

Re: Aurora: The Secret Within - 06/21/09 01:11 PM

I'm hoping the game might turn up in a more polished version at some point - it does seem such a shame that it's just about 'there' & just needs a little more work to iron out a few problems! English disc versions have been available although now hard to impossible to get - I'm guessing that the publishers withdrew it because of the problems? I thought it was available by download? but I haven't checked recently.

There is a lot to like about the game but it does need more work & hopefully, as said earlier, I hope it turns up sometime! - finished properly! smile