Point and click games? Surely that era of gaming is over, right? Ever since developers were able to create dynamic animations and work with superior hardware there can't have been a need for simple point-and-click adventures to persist in the gaming world, right? Tell that to the persistent point-and-click genre that harbours a great number of high-quality, engaging, and challenging games whose style varies almost as much their respective content.
Notable examples of the genre that continue to flourish in the online gaming community are sagas like the prolific mouse-based puzzle series Monkey GO Happy, terrifying horror-fest The House, and the pleasantly stylish Musaic Box series. If you're in the mood for a little bit of the old and wild west in your mouse-driven exploits however, you'd be wise to choose the Aurora series for your light entertainment.
Aurora is a series that is based on perhaps the simplest of concepts due to the genre it belongs to. The simple point-and-click format is a very welcoming prospect to many that otherwise spend their day working hard or playing video games that are perhaps a little more taxing on the brain. Aurora is a very stylish and well put-together adventure that lures you in with a mysterious beginning and then gives you the reins (or more accurately the mouse) for you to discover the rest of the game's content yourself. It's effectively like allowing you to unfold the mystery yourself, and that's exactly what is initially appealing about Aurora, as well as its sequel Aurora 2.
Once you've clicked past the initial storyboard-style cut-scene however, you'll find that the game's intriguing opening scenes and gorgeously illustrated adventure thereafter is just as enticing a prospect as the mysterious nature of the opening premise. Starting as a cowboy wandering in the wild west, you are swept up by a tornado and dropped in a place called Red Hill.
A mysteriously abandoned town whose eeriness is only stoked to raging intensity by the game's wonderfully atmospheric western music, Red Hill is the place that you must explore in order to discover the mystery of Aurora. The woman that goes by this name is feared by all and it is up to you to find out who she is and why this fear persists whilst a faintly-twanging guitar hook repeats spookily in the background - it's almost as spooky as The House, but not quite.
Most of the gameplay in Aurora is spent clicking on things in order to look at them more closely and the rest of the time is spent talking to people. This is typical of a point-and-click adventure, but it's not a light-hearted romp as you'd find in the Monkey GO Happy games - Aurora is intensely spooky from the outset, and things only get spookier. The premise itself is a chilling one, involving what is effectively an escape from a seemingly abandoned town from which the next train is a whole month from the present. You need to explore the town, picking up items, purchasing things from shops, interacting with people, and generally trying to find out what on earth is going on here.
What separates Aurora and its successor from many other point-and-click games is that it is not a linear tale in the sense that many items you'll encounter in both games aren't essential to advancing the story, and some you can't even use at all. Many items are situation-specific as they can only be used in certain areas, and the casual gamer may even be frustrated at the level of knowledge you are sort of expected to have about the game's items, particularly gunpowder, which seems to have many diverse uses throughout that would only be obvious to someone that either spent time in the wild west during the 18th century or a person that has read the Aurora Walkthrough.
Aurora 2 is no less of a challenging experience, continuing where the original abruptly discontinued its gameplay (in an overly hasty manner) and furthering the adventure without really changing the format in any way. The sequel is consistent with the first in its staggeringly eerie atmosphere, which is an unusual attribute for a western-themed game to have. Those expecting action-packed scenes of gun-slinging and bustling bars filled with attractive wild-west women may be disappointed: Aurora and Aurora 2 are all about the slow burn, the build-up to a tense atmosphere that will be unbearable for some but entertaining to all. So if you're looking for game that's fast-paced and a little more friendly to play on your own in the dark, you may be better off having a look at more light hearted point and click games like this one here as the dark, sombre, and frequently chilling ambience throughout the fantastic Aurora and Aurora 2 can be somewhat overwhelming.
Bebop Rating: (Aurora: 7.8/10) (Aurora 2: 7.4/10)