The Sacred Rings




Genre:   Adventure

Type:    Fantasy Adventure

Developer:    Streko Graphics, Inc

Publisher:    The Adventure Company

Released:  Q1 2007

Platform:    PC

Minimum Requirements:   See end of review


Additional Screenshots





by inferno



The worlds of the clans, the Tetrahedron and the Sacred Rings which control it all return in The Sacred Rings -- Streko-Graphic’s sequel to Aura: Fate of the Ages. Here we travel once again to the magical worlds of the Keepers. Is it necessary to play Aura in order to understand this new adventure? No, not really, but it helps. Aura gives the gamer the correct mind-set for understanding the puzzles in The Sacred Rings, and also sets up the story. However, this sequel’s own tale is well developed and it can be played nicely as a standalone game.

Once again we play the part of a young man named Umang, from the Keeper’s Clan. The Keepers are a race of beings so far advanced that they can create imaginative worlds using the technology of the Sacred Rings. The Rings are four concentric circles which operate much like a gyroscope -- the power from within them rages and focuses in strength, finally creating a portal to the worlds they have created. I will tell you now: the worlds are creative, stunning and include many characters with which to interact.         

The Story  

At the end of Aura: Fate of the Ages we watched Umang disappear into the portal just as Durad and his hoard came forth into the Keepers' world. The Sacred Rings picks up the story at this point. We see that Bargul and his evil magician Gugon are the ones who are really behind this unfriendly takeover. Durad is only a “puppet” for their heinous plans. Bargul tells his henchmen to find the tetrahedron that Umang has in his possession. “Do what you want with the boy, but bring the artifacts to me!” It is his intention to enter the world into which the Keepers have managed to escape. And we now realize that Umang has once again become the hunted.

Umang lands on the other side of the portal, alone in a dark and unforgiving world. It is a world which seems to exist hundreds of years after the reign of the Keepers. An odd little man notices Umang's appearance outside his strange house and goes out to investigate. His name is Nikafor, and he brings the unconscious Umang inside to rest. Umang awakens and begins a friendship with Nikafor. It is here that our quest begins.

 The Look and Feel

The graphics are beautifully rendered. Each world that Umang visits displays a distinct visual flavor. I particularly enjoyed their varying color palettes -- from the crystalline clarity of the Alchemist world, and the somber and foreboding atmosphere of the Cemetery, to the verdant lushness of Nafal's World. The 360 degree panning fosters a sense of immediate immersion. Though the backgrounds and scenery are lovely to view, some of the characters we interact with still seem a tad wooden during the cut scenes. However, the voice work does make up for their lack of animation -- Umang's in particular. I felt his dialogue, as well as that of Nikafor, was particularly entertaining. This leads me to the ambient sounds and underscore, which complemented the storyline quite well. I love good music in adventure games, and I must say that The Sacred Rings does not disappoint. I heard at least eight different themes as I traversed the game’s universe. Each one worked wonderfully with the atmosphere that the developers were trying to evoke.     

Game Play

This is a point and click first person adventure with many (and I do mean many) interesting and mysterious places to discover and explore. I found the installation to be easy, though time-consuming, with four CDs involved in the process. The game plays from the hard drive and a CD does not need to be in the drive. There were no glitches. A point in the game's favor is the short introduction, containing two cut scenes comprising a succinct synopsis of Aura: Fate of the Ages. Afterwards, one returns to the Main Menu to begin the adventure. Besides the normal Save, Load, Options and Exit buttons in this Menu, I liked seeing a Video section where one could view the cut scenes already shown. The interface is very easy to use. The ESC key will bring up the Main Menu -- while the first two videos will play at the beginning of each gaming session, hitting the space bar will get you back to the Main Menu.

The game appears to be divided into chapters, apparently to separate the strange worlds and environments that Umang must visit. The puzzles and tasks are fascinatingly clever and grow nicely from the storyline. A right click will bring up the inventory, which is located at the bottom of the screen. Umang's notebook or journal, which holds many important clues, is located on the right. Both the inventory and the journal are simple to use. Many of the puzzles are mechanical; some are inventory based and others are color based. Some are interesting number puzzles (my personal favorite was the candle puzzle at the Mausoleum in the Cemetery world and the “Tower of Hanoi” in reverse in the stormy world of Reina). There are a few paths that Umang will need to tread which are quite maze-like, and one wicked doorway puzzle in Reina which was hysterical.

There aren’t any action or timed sequences within The Sacred Rings. However there are a number of “stealth” scenarios where you must be very careful not to get caught. If you listen to what Umang is thinking you can avoid some precarious situations. Still, you can be either captured or die in this game -- but restarting is easy from a previous save. In an adventure such as this, it would be nice to have an unlimited save structure instead of the eight slots allowed for the game. However, this can be worked around by copying the saved game folder in its entirety and then pasting it into a separately created folder for safekeeping, then writing over the original saves. I managed to create over forty-eight saves this way.

Now I won’t go into the endings here. There are a number of them. The main one was quite satisfying…but the alternatives left me cold; they gave the impression that the developers just ran out of steam. While the idea of multiple endings is commendable, my humble opinion is that alternative endings should be either fully executed, or left as wishful thinking on the cutting room floor. 


Even with the above criticisms, I had a great time playing this game and was immersed from the start. Did I enjoy this adventure better than the original? That is difficult for me to answer, for I thoroughly enjoyed the former and appreciated the latter for its continuation of the storyline. It is evident that Streko has indeed worked hard to improve their saga and increase its “adventure value.” Would I recommend playing The Sacred Rings? Absolutely. The beautifully detailed graphics, atmospheric music, absorbing puzzles, dozens of cut scenes and fascinating story all work together to make what is, for the most part, a lovely and intriguing experience.         


Grade B

Recommended System Requirements:

OS: Windows2000/XP

CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon Processor

RAM: 512MB

Disk Space: 3.5GB

CD/DVD-ROM: 16x or higher DVD ROM Drive

Video: 64MB 3D Accelerated Video Card

(DirextX  9.c Compatible)

Sound: DirectX 8.0 Compatible

Input: Keyboard and mouse

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows2000/XP

CPU: 1.2 GHz Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon Processor

RAM: 128MB

Disk Space: 3.5GB

CD/DVD-ROM: 16x or DVD ROM Drive

Video: 64MB 3D Accelerated Video Card

(DirextX 8.1Compatible)

Sound: DirectX 8.0 Compatible

Input: Keyboard and mouse

Played on:

OS: Microsoft Windows XP Home SP 2

CPU: Pentium D 950  3.4GHz 800MHz


Video: BFG nVidia Geforce 7600GT OC 256MB 128bit
Sound: SoundBlaster Audigy


Monitor: Northgate 20' Flat Panel Monitor
DirectX Version: 9.0c


May 2007

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