Games Convention Special
Release Hungary: September 2006
Developer: Private Moon Studios
A preview by MaryScots 15th September 2006
Hungarian independent developers Private Moon Studios - the adventure community already knows them for their episode game AGON (Ancient Games of Nations) - now present quite an interesting use for an adventure game. The Hungarian city of Eger was looking for means to further tourism and so they hired Private Moon Studios for developing a game, which shall accomplish this through telling a mysterious and thrilling story.
Historically, Yoomurjak's Ring is based on the famous Hungarian novel Stars of Eger by Géza Gárdonyi. The book is about the times when Eger was under Turkish siege in the year 1545 and the Hungarians heroic victory. This book, his own Hungarian descent on his mother's side and two mysterious letters found in the book and addressed to his grandfather, inspire American journalist Jonathan Hunt (those, who have played AGON will remember the name as that of the grandfather, Samuel Hunt) to go on a journey back to his Hungarian roots and to Eger. Not only does he want to explore the city but also research the time travel theories of a certain Professor Pál Ábray, who wrote these two letters to Jonathan's ancestor arround the turn of the 19th century. In Eger he meets an old gentleman, who seems to know quite a lot about these theories and who offers Jonathan, who is very much interested in all kinds of mysteries, the chance to find out about the possibilty of time travel.
Through this story the game combines the sights and the history of Eger and solving the puzzles and mysteries of the time travel enigma. In first person view we explore the city using point and click within high-resolution photo backgrounds. We can pan the camera smoothly and look at everything as if we were really there. I was just about to mention that this technique would be ideal for a virtual travel guide but thats exactly what this game is, partly at least, complete with an integrated encyclopedia. I don't know the adventure game Byzantine released in 1998 personally, but I was told that Yoomurjak's Ring is similar in gameplay and graphics.
For the latter - especially during dialogues and film sequences, plenty of which are implemented - the developers have used the same FMV-technology a lot of adventure games from the 1990's are famous for, although now with up-to-date quality - so don't worry about pixel-hunting. The vast number of photo-backgrounds and more than one and a half hours of filmed material will be pressed on one DVD; something one would have been very happy about back in the day when adventure games with a similar technique were only available on about 6 CD's and required a lot of disc swapping. As an added bonus (for natives at least) famous Hungarian actors were hired to play the parts of the various characters. The main protagonist is especially popular there and another one embodies the same character he already did in the 1968 movie based on Gárdonyi's novel.
As Private Moon Studios are not only game developers but a part of the company is a music label as well, the obvious thing to do was to hire Hungarian rapper, Ganxta Zolee, for the part of the bad guy, who will try his best to prevent us from solving the mystery the more we figure it out. But don't panic, he won't kill us - only knock us out ;-) and after a short nap we can carry on with our endeavour. The investigation, or in fact the puzzles, spread over a period of 5 days, while their level of difficulty will rise until finally on the last day we come upon the master puzzle. This, on the other hand, reminded me strongly of Gabriel Knight 3, in particular because this final puzzle consists of several smaller tasks, where the next is based on the solution of the previous one - a little bit like 'Le Serpent Rouge' from GK3, though, a little less complicated. The puzzle design is mainly based on the active involvement of the player, i.e. in the form of code puzzles, a little bit of heraldry to design a coat of arms or a 3D-puzzle, in which a miniature minaret and a candle are used to find a particular spot on a map. All in all, the game is very interactive and it does look very good, too. It's just sad that due to the cost of voice-overs only the Hungarian version is definite and an English version is planned. But for German players an English version with German subtitles is most probable. The Hungarian version is to be released these days. Further release dates have yet to be announced.