Reviewed: October 28, 2002
Released: July, 2002
The Auryn has been stolen. Without it, The Nothing is free to devastate Fantasia. Your job is to recover the Auryn and return it to the Childlike Empress so that eternal peace can be restored. That is your mission in Auryn Quest.
Game developers have long made it a practice to create titles that use popular entertainment properties such as movies and books as their basis. Some times the License makes the transition smoothly like the recent Spiderman, while other times they ship games like the Scorpion King. Sadly, Auryn Quest, which utilizes the Neverending Story license, is one of the latter type.
Between one of the most irritating gameplay models I’ve ever seen, and some serious performance issues, Auryn Quest pretty much wastes the wealth of source materiel the developers at Dreamcatcher had access to.
Auryn Quest’s box boasts:
Auryn Quest plays from a first person perspective and uses the standard “W-A-S-D” movement controls. This is a good thing because the keys cannot be rebound into other configurations. The only option as far as the controls go allows you to switch the mouse-look to standard from its default of inverted. I know that some people out there prefer to have the mouse inverted. All ten of those people will be able to jump right into Auryn Quest.
Moving on, the “action” in Auryn Quest consists of jumping. Remember the alien levels in Half-Life? Turok anyone? Now imagine an entire title that consisted of first person platforming with no weapons, no real enemies and really craptacular, floaty physics. While the audio tutorial explains away the super low gravity, it just feels shoddy in practice.
While you bound around the levels there are blue and yellow energy balls to collect that allow you to unlock the rest of the areas in the game. The “puzzles” are a snap to solve which only serves to detract further from the fun.
If I haven’t made it clear, Auryn Quest features what is very nearly the worst gameplay I’ve ever encountered. The jumping is monotonous and occasionally frustrating, and is only made worse by shaky visual performance.
The visuals in Auryn Quest look fantastic, but the game runs poorly. Crisp, high resolution textures are the norm, though at times the levels look a little barren. The NPCs are well modeled and interesting to look at. The only issue with the games visuals is the frame rate, which on occasion appears to drop into the single digits. Even on high-end gaming PC the frame rate lags like crazy.
Auryn Quest’s musical score fits the game’s fantasy setting perfectly, with the exception of theme that plays as you explore the Temple of a Thousand Doors. As far as audio goes, the music is the high point of the game. The voice work varies from acceptable to good, although some times the voices don’t seem to work with the characters they belong to. Lastly the sound effects in the game consist mostly of howling wind and running foot steps, neither of which are noteworthy.
Simply put, there are better choices than Auryn Quest as far as adventure games go. It has far too many flaws for even a $20 title. Gamers with a hankering for some adventuring should check out titles like American McGee’s Alice, Lucasarts’ Grim Fandango, or hundreds of other adventure titles now available at budget prices.
The groan inducing gameplay coupled with several poor design decisions and numerous other flaws places Auryn Quest squarely into a low budget category that barely rises above shareware. While the worlds of the Neverending Story might make for a great game, Auryn Quest isn’t it.