Yoomurjak's Ring


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Private Moon Studios

Released:  April 2009

PC Requirements:   see review below





by gremlin


What is it?

When was the last time you played an FMV game? Or heard of the prize to a competition being the opportunity to write a game? And what about Microsoft Windows games that run on a Linux PC?

Yoomurjak's Ring is all three of these, and more.

Right now, one at a time! Firstly FMV (full-motion video) games are rare these days because it takes a lot of effort to film all the required content, and they have a reputation for grainy, low-quality video that fits poorly with the rest of the game content. Have Private Moon Studios overcome this expectation with this game? I've not played any of their AGON games, so this is my first contact with their output, but I must say I'm impressed.

Now my second question, the prize to a competition is to write a game? Normally, a prize would be a copy of a game, or perhaps the opportunity to take part in the production as an extra. In this case, the Hungarian town of Eger was looking for unconventional ways of promoting their town as a tourist destination. They also wanted to make use of Géza Gárdonyi’s popular book, The Stars of Eger (also known as The Eclipse of the Crescent Moon), which is studied as part of the Hungarian national curriculum for school, and won the Hungarian version of the Big Read competition. I suppose this is like the competitions that are run for architects to design significant buildings, just in a new medium. Perhaps we will see more of this as the gaming generations become the political leaders of the future.

For some time now I've been meaning to try replacing Microsoft Windows on my PC with Ubuntu - a particularly user-friendly distribution of the Linux operating systems. However, the major stumbling block to such a change was my desire to continue playing modern PC games. Now I cannot report that I've had complete success with this changeover, but I'd say it's about 95%+, and I can write that Yoomurjak's Ring runs perfectly under the Ubuntu operating system, with the help of the well-known Wine package.

Is there a plot?

Jonathan Hunt is a journalist with the New York Times (a fact that doesn't seem to impress many Hungarians!), whose recently deceased mother was Hungarian. The Hunt name may be familiar because he is the great-grandson of Professor Samuel Hunt, the protagonist of the AGON games. The game begins with Jonathan traveling through Hungary by train, to Eger, in order to find a new life. What he finds is a historic city that always seems to bask in fabulous sunshine, full of interesting people and mysteries from the Turkish era of the town, in the mid 16th Century.

The “Yoomurjak” of the game title is an anglicised form of the Turkish anti-hero of the Stars of Eger, Jumurdzsák. And his ring? Well, I don't want to give that part away. However, it turns out that Private Moon Studios have managed to get the same actor to play Jumurdzsák / Yoomurjak as played him in the 1968 film adaptation of the Stars of Eger, György Bárdy. You can look him up on IMDB.com if you like – he has quite a list of credits!

The only hint we have to begin with is a couple of documents in Jonathan's possessions, and a name: Pál Ábray. From here it's up to you what you do with this information. Do you try to track down Ábray, or his relatives, or do you explore the town? Actually, the real story doesn't begin until you decide to track down  Ábray and discover just how connected the modern town is to the past. There are some characters that have small parts to play in the story, but there are others who will be with you throughout.

So, we have mysteries in the past, mysteries in the present, cryptographic challenges, plenty of treasure hunting, a bit of musicology, an underground maze, some chemistry, a beautiful city, and some pretty weird characters.

How do you play?

This game is entirely mouse-based; classic point and click. The locations are full 360 degree bubbles (including floors and ceilings) of real locations in Eger. These are photographs taken from a first-person perspective. It's only during the frequent FMV cut-scenes that we see Jonathan Hunt himself.

There seem to be hundreds of locations – many are just stepping stones between the ones where the action takes place, but they all add to the impression of really walking through the town. The photographs of the locations are high quality, even when you scan around the scene (no dropping to low resolution for fast-pan action here). In some locations, there are small animations of people and action overlaid seamlessly onto the photographs, just to give an impression of life within the scene. The first few times I caught these sequences out of the corner of my eye I thought, “Surely that girl over there didn't move? Did she?” However, eventually I did cotton on to what was going on.

In terms of getting around Eger, you can navigate between most of the town's locations through the streets, but most of the time you can use your map. When new locations are introduced by Juli (the tourist information officer) or other characters that Jonathan meets, there is usually a short scene where Jonathan hands over his map to be marked with the new location. This becomes something of a repeating motif and I found this one of the best indicators that I was making progress.

As far as the user interface is concerned, there's the standard main menu of New Game, Load, Options, etc, and then, within the game proper, there's a menu quarter-disc permanently displayed in the top right corner. This has buttons for your Map, Inventory, Notes, Internet and Menu (to return to the System Menu). The inventory strip is displayed across the top when required and, by the way, some inventory items can be combined to create new ones. The map is a critical part of how you will get around town, as I've already mentioned. Next we have the Notes button, which gives access to a five day log that recalls all dialog text you've seen so far. This means you don't have to remember absolutely everything, but can backtrack through your log as well. And this is just as well, as there is no way to get a dialog repeated just by returning to the same character and trying to ask them the same question again – quite often the game will say that you don't want to disturb them any further. The last button is an Encyclopedia, but that's not available in the English version.

The bulk of the game play in Yoomurjak's Ring is exploration and dialog. There is a lot of information imparted through dialog, and much of the puzzle element of the game is figuring out who you need to talk to next. You will also spend plenty of time searching for items and clues, then finding and decoding texts. There are a few more complex tasks, such as discovering a family crest or triangulating clues on a map, and some of the puzzles require inventory items to be combined to make new items.

Notable Features

Yoomurjak's Ring features a cast of professional Hungarian actors, all of whom have plenty of entries on the IMDB, and who seem to know what they're doing acting in an FMV game. They all seem fluent... however I'm not really in much of a position to judge the dialog beyond very general impressions. Still, the dialog flows, the acting is expressive and watchable, even if I had to maintain full concentration at all times to keep up with the subtitles. Thank goodness for the notes section in the menu.

It is at this point that I have to admit to having tested the Alt-Tab friendliness of Yoomurjak's Ring (in both operating systems) to quite an extent... whilst referring to MaG's walkthrough, especially for the latter half of the game. This is not an easy game, as the puzzles are involved and widely spread around the town. It is quite easy to miss a hint in what someone says and not realise to whom Jonathan needs to speak next, or where he should be going. Also, some of the objects you need to find are quite obscure. This becomes particularly challenging late in the game when searching for five special books. As it happens, Private Moon Studios have published what they call a walkthrough on the Yoomurjak website, but it's actually an extensive hints page, rather than a step-by-step walkthrough.


Watch out for the sound-recognition combination lock and the maze. However, the audio puzzle is not a game stopper as the game will let you through eventually, and the maze has a map – you just have to find it.

As has already been mentioned, this game has Hungarian dialog throughout. This is hardly surprising for a game set in Hungary, filmed in a Hungarian town, with Hungarian actors, and as the result of a competition to promote said Hungarian town -- but it does mean that the subtitles are absolutely indispensable for a non-Hungarian speaker. So much of the game is about the dialog, that I could not manage any other way.

Hungarian belongs to the very narrow linguistic group of Finno-Ugric languages that otherwise just includes Finnish, Estonian and a few highly localised languages in Southern Russia. So it's no surprise that a fluency in English, and a slight knowledge of French, German, and Welsh got me nowhere other than to spot that surnames and personal names are reversed in Hungarian, relative to most European languages.

Whilst we're on languages, I'm not sure who did the translations from Hungarian into English for the subtitles, but whoever it was didn't have their spell checker switched on, because there are a couple of dozen spelling mistakes that seemed obvious to me, and several occasions where the use of English is quite clumsy. One does have to ask where the publisher’s Quality Assurance department was on this one, because the overall quality of the rest of the game is exemplary.

Lastly, although there is a map that shows lots of the locations in this game, there are times when a local 'zip-mode' would have been very useful. There were many times when I knew exactly where I wanted to be within a particular map location, but it still took me five to ten navigational steps to get from the location entry to the required destination within that location. And with locations like the Bishop's Library, which you have to visit quite a few times, this got somewhat irritating. Having said that, compared to the things Private Moon Studios could have got wrong with this game, missing this feature is small fry.


All in all, I enjoyed Yoomurjak's Ring because there is an engaging story with some enjoyable characters, and it's well told in a technically solid package. The acting, music, graphics and film direction (if that's the right term in this context) are all professional and well-polished. There are over 90 minutes of video footage in this game, and whilst that might not sound like much if played straight through, in the context of the game as a whole, there is little repetition (with the exception of the arrival scenes at various map locations). The whole game took me many hours to complete.

I do wonder, however, if a localised version with English dialog (even if dubbed by English actors) might sell better in the regions of the world where Hungarian is less well known. On the other hand, I now think Hungary might be a very interesting and beautiful place to spend a summer vacation.

Grade: A-

What do you need to play it?


  • Operating System : Windows 2000 / Windows XP / Windows Vista
  • CPU : Pentium IV or equivalent
  • Memory : 512 MB RAM
  • Video : 256 MB graphics card
  • Hard disk space : 5 GB free
  • Audio: 16 bit stereo

(I used a custom built 64-bit Vista Home Premium SP1 PC running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual 5200+, with 6 GB RAM, and an XFX nVidia GeForce 8600GT 256MB video card with mother-board sound card, and the same PC but running Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope), with Wine 1.1.22)

Yoomurjak’s Ring can be purchased via download at The Adventure Shop.


June, 2009

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