When J.R.R. Tolkien penned "The Hobbit," he literally created a new genre in writing. Now, 70 years on, authors, directors and game designers alike are all creating works of fantasy and magical tales.
The realm of game design, in particular, allows for a unique perspective in a world of fantasy. Players are able to do far more than simply read about the fantastic tale; they are able to live it first hand. Unfortunately, The Sacred Rings is not a game most people want to live through.
You are introduced to your character, Umang, right away. As with most puzzle / adventure games, most of Umang’s on screen actions are controlled through pointing and clicking with the mouse. In The Sacred Rings, however, this process takes far longer than it should. If a normal human walked as slow as Umang does, it would take several hours to walk from the couch to the kitchen. He also likes to take his merry old time opening cupboards, pulling levers, etc.
Umang is slow physically, but fortunately for the player, he is as sharp as a dagger mentally. The in-game journal fills up very quickly and almost every piece of every puzzle is recorded in the handy notebook.
That brings up another downfall, though. Some of the puzzles just are not fun to solve. There are some that make absolutely no sense and at times, the game actually feels more like doing work than playing a game. Make no mistake, this is not a game you can simply pick up and play. It requires a solid chunk of time to accomplish anything.
Another serious problem the game has is that it refuses to run with another program open. So, if you get stuck in part of the game and need to look at a guide from the Internet, forget it. The game will freeze and not allow you to save.
The game does have one saving grace however. The actual game is gorgeous. The world is finely detailed and there is not a nook or cranny missed. In fact, the beautiful world is one reason that encourages you to keep playing, so you can gaze upon the next beautiful spot of scenery that comes up.
Strangely, the game’s cutscenes are not as detailed as the in-game graphics and some actually look bad and hurt the overall presentation.
It does not help that the game’s voice acting is poorly done either. Voice actors regularly use the incorrect tone. Changes from sarcasm, seriousness, and other elements of speech are missed because of poor voice acting detracting from the game. Fortunately, as is the case with the graphics, the sound during gameplay is well done and actually adds to the presentation of the game.
There’s one other perk to the game and that is that the game requires no disk to play after installation. Other than that, the game does not have many redeeming qualities. Overall, The Sacred Rings is not very entertaining. Fans of the puzzle / adventure genre may want to give this game a look, but this is certainly not a game for everyone, or most people for that matter.
If you are a true hardcore puzzle gamer, then you might get more out of this than most people, but then again, the fact that some puzzles make no logical sense will probably frustrate you as well.
Long after this game is erased from my computer, I’m sure Umang will still be walking down hallways aimlessly, attempting to find his way. He is more than welcome to do that, just so long as I don’t need to watch him. The Sacred Rings gets 2.5 GiN Gems for being a game that is more work than fun.