Ring II: Twilights of the Gods


Genre:   Adventure (Action elements)

Developer:      Arxel Tribe

Publisher:    Mindscapes (Europe), GlobalStar (NA)

Released:   2002 (Europe), 2003 (NA)

PC Requirements:   WIN98/ME/2000/XP, PII 450, 128 MB, 850 MB disk space, 16x CDROM, Direct3D, 16 MB videocard, 16bit soundcard, DirectX 8.1




by Becky

Review of Ring II – Twilight of the Gods (European Version)

Ring II is the sequel to “Ring – The Legend of the Nibelungen” (Ring I), an adventure game published in 1999 that was based on the first two operas in Richard Wagner’s Cycle of the Ring.   Ring I was wildly creative.  It also received the worst print magazine reviews of any adventure game I’ve seen.  It went on to sell more than 400,000 copies worldwide.

I’ve been anticipating this sequel for quite awhile.  I longed once again to wander through worlds infused with Philippe Druillet’s spectacular graphical style; to sail through the starry night where ancient gods fashion the destinies of men.  I wanted to immerse myself in Wagner’s rich music and to hobnob with muscle-bound heroes, fantastic creatures, winsome heroines, and dastardly villains. 

Ring II is loosely based on the last two operas in the Ring saga.  The game begins at the underground forge of Mime, the brother of Alberich, King of the Dwarves.  Mime has a young apprentice, merely a boy, who wears a cumbersome metal  cage.  You  direct the apprentice within this contraption by using keyboard controls. 

Mime hurls insults at his apprentice pretty much non-stop.  Although this is not the best way to invite the player into a game, it does make you empathize with the poor apprentice who – as it turns out -- is Siegfried, the last of the Walsungs.  When the fetters finally fall from young Siegfried, you breathe as large a sigh of relief as he does.

In the following chapters, Siegfried discovers his heritage and strives to prove himself worthy of it.  You guide the young hero through beautiful meadows with fluttering butterflies, eerily-lit caverns and a forest edged with gilded leaves. There is a magical innocence in these worlds but there are also dangers:  including huge spiders, wily dwarves, and a giant ogre.

It is impossible to complete the game without dying frequently.  Curiously, you don’t control Siegfried during the combat sequences, but merely observe the battles through a series of cutscenes.  The most difficult gaming challenges pit our hero against aspects of his environment.  Siegfried uses his wits and/or reflexes to avoid being crushed, stung, burnt, or metamorphized.  Ring II’s “action” sequences for the most part do not require very quick reflexes; however two sequences late in the game may seriously strain your skill at the keyboard. 

Wagner’s music adds tremendously to the enjoyment of this game.    The integration of the music is better in Ring II than in Ring I.  More care was clearly taken in Ring II to match the story-in-the-music with the story unfolding onscreen.  This time I didn’t have that “Why am I hearing bombastic music while Alberich rides his motorcycle?” experience.

There are many cutscenes in Ring II, and they are beautifully done.  The dialogue is well-written and the voice acting is top-notch. 

Late in the game Siegfried encounters an entirely different sort of adventure with the most desirable woman in the universe.  Sadly, the romantic aspect of Siegfried’s character is poorly developed.  I thought that love might soften our innocent yet deadly-dangerous hero, but in Ring II tenderness isn’t much of a part of Siegfried’s makeup.  Events that follow this episode are earth-shattering, but confusing.  Suddenly the gaming challenges end and a series of conversations take place that lead to the final cutscene.  Text passages in the Story section of the game struggle poetically to explain what has just happened.  Afterwards I reread these texts several times in an attempt to fully understand the ending.  I did not succeed.

Since finishing Ring II, I have begun replaying Ring I.  The truth is that, in most respects, Ring II is the better game.  The graphics, the music, and the puzzle integration – all are superior in Ring II.  The storyline is easier to follow.  Even the ending in Ring II is better than the ending in Ring I (though this isn’t saying much).

Nevertheless, I liked Ring I better than its sequel.  Ring I was gloriously bizarre -- unlike any other game of its time.  Though original in its own right, Ring II falls short of Ring I’s ability to astonish and amuse.  There are many places in Ring II where a single misstep can bring death, and these ultimately become more frustrating than entertaining.  Still, I think that the imaginative elements in Ring II give it the potential, like Ring I, to become a one-of-a-kind classic.

Quick List for Ring II

Ring II contains one sliding tile puzzle, no sound-matching puzzles, no math puzzles and no mazes.  You die early, often, and bloodlessly, though not noiselessly.  Performance is occasionally time-sensitive.  The game is keyboard-driven, with mouse control for most of the puzzles.  On a keyboard expertise scale of 1 (novice) to 5 (expert), you will need a 2 to get through most of the game, and a 4 to get through two challenges near the end.  The inventory holds one item at a time.  Other inventory items sparkle from their locations on the ground.  Menus are easy to use.  Unlimited saves are allowed.  

Visit the Configuration Menu before you start the game – the default setting does not optimize the graphics and there are settings for specific video cards that make a big difference.  I encountered one bug which corrupted previously saved games.  Apparently this problem was caused by my virus-checking software.

The Ring II lowdown:  other-worldly graphics that combine gorgeous natural landscapes with medieval and futuristic techno-creations.  Outstanding music, dialogue and dramatic voice-acting.  Third-person perspective.  Classic but confusing plot, which is somewhat easier to follow if you’ve already played Ring I.  Puzzle difficulty (except the slider): easy.   Ring II is at heart a traditional adventure with the addition of some keyboard-movement challenges.  Aimed at gamers who crave beauty, fantasy and novelty.

Final Grade:  B+

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