Sunday, September 04, 2005


Title: Aura
Author: Tursiops Truncatus Software
License: Freeware

First off, this game has nothing to do with AURA: Fate of the Ages. Second you may notice that there is no screen shot. That is because no screen shot is possible for this game. When you start Aura, your screen goes blank. All of the feedback to the player is oral. Even the menus are oral. It is a fascinating idea. In truth, Aura is not the greatest game, nor is it complete, but the concept makes it worth trying.

The goal of each level is to make your way to the exit. The game is played on a rectangular grid. By hitting an arrow key, you move in that direction, but you cannot see where you are or where you are going. Instead, you get audio feedback. When you take a step, you hear a footstep. If you run into a wall, you hear a thud. There are doors to open, keys to find, rocks to push out of the way, pits and mines to avoid, and ice to slide on. Each has its own sound.

Keeping track of where you are is the hard part. As I played, I sat there with head down and eyes closed, creating a mental map of the level. This is surprising hard at first, but you get better with practice. By playing Aura, I felt I stretched my mental skills in new direction. It is like having to use a certain muscle for the first time. It hurts a little at first. I would highly suggest you resist the urge to get out a piece of graph paper and map out the levels as you are exploring them. You would be missing out on a key part of the game.

Aura has been in "Final Beta" status for two years now. The game contains only twenty or so tutorial levels. It is clearly not complete, and I fear that this is how it will end. It does come with a level editor. A few user made levels are available. The level editor does allow you to cheat and see the levels. You can also see that there are some items which never made it into the tutorial.

For more audio only games, here is a website to look at.


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