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"Aura : Fate of the Ages" - Streko Graphics.

May 18, 2022 game review, point&click, puzzle
First-person, pre-rendered puzzle point&click game (2004).

'Aura : Fate of the Ages' - Streko Graphics
"Aura : Fate of the Ages" - Streko Graphics (2004)

Note : Please take these game reviews with a good chunk of salt. They are about my personal experience with a game ; yours might be very different.
Also, I have a professional interest in figuring out what works in a game and what doesn't. I know from experience how hard they are to make !

Streko Graphics is (was) a Canadian game studio, and Aura was their second game. There were supposed to be 2 other Aura games, but only one was completed ("The Sacred Rings", 2007).

The Aura games are often described as 'Myst-like', and I do have to agree with that epitaph (having only played the 1st game).
Something about the style of Aura reminds me of the early Myst games. Other similarities include the use of npc's to tell the story, traveling to different islands and worlds, and of course, the puzzles.

Having said that, there are also some clear differences between the 2 franchises, of which the most obvious one is music & sound effects.
Whereas the music in Myst was used masterfully to help establish the 'magical' Myst atmosphere, in Aura music seems to be pretty random and not always suited to the environment. Also, the use of sound effects in Aura is just plain ... bizar.

The good :

  • The game world looks interesting and sometimes even really beautiful.
    • Study, Grifit's House (Ademika Valley). Aura 1 - Study, Grifit's House (Ademika Valley).
    • Snowy mountains (Dragast). Aura 1 - snowy mountains (Dragast).
    • Astrology World (Na-Tiexu). Aura 1 - Astrology World (Na-Tiexu).
    • Spirit World (Na-Tiexu). Aura 1 - Spirit World (Na-Tiexu).
    • Magic World (Na-Tiexu). Aura 1 - Magic World (Na-Tiexu).
    • Crystal World (Na-Tiexu). Aura 1 - Crystal World (Na-Tiexu).
    • Gate (Unity Island). Aura 1 - Gate (Unity Island).

  • The hint system is pretty well designed (although oddly missing towards the end of the game). Aura 1 - Outside Grifit's house.

The not so good :

  • It seems like the art department had difficulties pinning down the style for Aura. To me, it looks as if these screenshots could have been from 3 different games ...
    • Chair lift. Aura 1 - Chair lift.
    • Cave. Aura 1 - Cave.
    • Teddy bear. Aura 1 - Cave.

  • Navigation is not always obvious & sometimes even requires a bit of pixel hunting. Aura 1 - Outside Grifit's house.
  • I struggled with many of the puzzles. Not usually because they were difficult to solve, but because I couldn't understand the related clue ...
    • Shadows in a cave. Aura 1 - Dragast puzzle.
    • Tiktok. Aura 1 - Na-Tiexu puzzle.

  • ... or I just had no idea what was expected of me (eg. after solving the puzzly bit, I couldn't figure out how to actually activate this device). Aura 1 - .
  • Linear gameplay. I absolutely abhor it.
    • I knew what I needed to do, but the blacksmith was difficult to please ... Aura 1 - Blacksmith (Dragast).
    • I tried to do what every experienced puzzle game player would do, but the game wouldn't let me until after I had finished a quest ... Aura 1 - Door (Dragast).

  • A bit of misplaced action. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the game ... Aura 1 - Action.
  • Bad puzzle design. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't played the game yet, but anyone that has finished the game will know what I'm talking about. Aura 1 - Bad design.
  • I didn't notice the 2 arrows in the menu until I had almost finished the game ... Aura 1 - Menu.
  • There didn't seem to be a way to hear an npc dialogue more then once. This was a bit annoying because npc's tell you what the game expects you to do next.
  • I had lots of problems with mouse clicks either not being detected, or being detected multiple times. I'm sure this wasn't an issue in the original release, but due to the port and/or Windows 10.

My verdict :

I can't say Aura is a great game. It's a game with nice environments and -some- interesting puzzles.
It feels like the game had a lot of potential ; sadly, not all realized.

Do I recommend the game ? Mmm ... yes. But with reservations.

Walkthroughs (you'll need them !) :