A Decent Quest

It takes some guts to put out a puzzle game in a declining market that is rife with them. But it really takes guts to put one out that is based on a movie that was put out almost twenty years ago…and your name isn’t Lucas, that is.

Auryn Quest is just that, and it is in many ways not what I expected. Based on The Neverending Story (it’s even hailed as Part I), this game takes you to various places in Fantasia to retrieve the Auryn and help the child-like Empress fight back the nothing…again. Must be like a full-time job.

The first thing I have to comment on about the game is the controls. Keys to move the four directions and the mouse to circle and up/down the view. Okay, this may be just fine for you hot shot Unreal shooter-types, but this is quite unwieldy for a puzzle game. And of course there is no way I could find to change the controls.

The documentation says you take on the role of Atreyu, the hero of the movies. However, during gameplay there is no way to tell who you are, as it is entirely first person perspective, and no one addresses you by name.

The documentation also says you go through six worlds, but it turns out one of them is the start world, which is nothing more than an area with some short paths leading off to the various other worlds. I can’t really hold this against them though, since every "multiple world" style puzzle game pulls this one.

Talk about a paradox, this game is both freeform and linear at the same time. While the engine allows near total freedom of movement throughout each level, you have to play the levels in a specific order, one right after the other.

I originally thought that there was no way to save a game, but later I learned that there is a saved game (only one) and you access it by walking into a certain location (the gazebo) in the start world.

While the 3-D engine allows you to go in any direction, there are a few graphic problems that occur when you are too close to a wall, or something similar. The people you have to look at and interact with (by practically bumping into them, since there really aren’t any special function keys) are a bit blocky and rough, but they’re not too bad since you don’t have to look at them all the time.

The levels consist pretty much of trying to navigate various obstacles to reach the glowing power nodes. You need ten of these before you can go on to the next part of the level, as well as finding the objects or people necessary to move you along. There is a bit of planning, but mostly it is moving on a certain path and/or timing jumps that will enable you to progress.

This game is not going to hit anything out of the park for anyone. Fans of the movie or book won’t see any familiar characters or settings. Die-hard adventure gamers will note the at-times linear play and graphics problems. However, everyone who plays this will see the beautifully-drawn scenery, good 3-D movement, and engaging challenges that make this a decent game worth the money.

I just can’t wait for the Ladyhawk game, which just has to come out now.

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