Aura is a pre-rendered panoramic Point-and-Click Game series developed by Streko Graphics and published by The Adventure Company. Its first game, Fate of the Ages was made in 2004, followed by The Sacred Rings in 2006.
Fate of the Ages follows the story of Umang, a member of the Keepers' clan, old wise men who have the power to travel to other worlds using the titular Sacred Rings. Legend has it that whoever can unite the rings with the sacred artifacts of these hidden worlds can gain unimaginable power and eternal life. When an uprising in the clan is about to ensue, Umang's master Arakon tasks him to find a man named Grifit and gather the rings and artifacts to protect them.
The Sacred Rings follows from the first, with the uprising in full swing and Umang being followed by Durad's army, alongside the warmongering Shadow Legion. It's up to Umang to find out where the rings came from and look for a means to thwart the Legion's plans once and for all.
Both games contain examples of:
- Backtracking: Both games contain this, often requiring crossing from one end of a level to the other just to flip a switch or interact with something.
- Clingy MacGuffin: Halfway through the first game, Umang recieves a strange amulet from an NPC, which he can't get rid of until the second. It turns out later that the amulet is a tracking device that Durad and the Legion are using to follow him.
- Cool Gate: How the Keepers get from world to world using the rings. Umang travels through one at the end of the first game, uses another in the second to reach the Keepers' palace, and has to configure one in the palace to send the Shadow Legion back to their homeworld.
- Dismantled MacGuffin: The Rings and Tetrahedrons, which Umang spends the first game building. He destroys them at the end of the second game, after defeating the Shadow Legion.
- Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Umang's model starts off as simply designed, with wiry blonde hair and a young-sounding male voice actor. The Sacred Rings gives him a smoother brown hairdo, a chiseled face, and an older, more mature voice.
- Great Big Book of Everything: In both games, Umang carries a book that gets updated with clues over time, ranging from sketches of upcoming puzzles, to copies of documents found around the environment.
- High Fantasy: The first is steeped in this, being a general Myst clone. The sequel dials it down towards Middle Earth.
- No OSHA Compliance: A large number of levels contain narrow walkways suspended over huge chasms, in typical Myst fashion.
- Spinventory: The game's inventory has a separate window that shows animations of whatever object is selected.
- Themed Cursor: The cursor is an amulet with a green gem in its center. It lights up when something can be interacted with, and arrows appear on it when you can move somewhere.
Fate of the Ages contains examples of:
- Big Bad: Durad, a member of the clan who isn't seen until the very end, complete with an Evil Laugh.
- Cliffhanger: The game ends with Umang activating the Rings and entering a portal, but Durad's soldiers are following close behind.
- Clock Punk: A large chunk of the puzzles in the first two levels consist of highly complicated, intricately designed machines, especially the second level, Dragast.
- Cool Airship: The Journey Ship, which Umang uses to reach other locations in the game.
- Hub World: Na-Tiexu consists of one building with a Portal Door that can be set to four different worlds.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Dragast, Umang lets a prisoner named Arkampus out of a cell, who gives Umang a clue to another puzzle in exchange for not telling anyone that he was released. It turns out at the end that Arkampus was Durad's agent, who planted a tracking device on Umang after meeting him.
- No Pronunciation Guide: The name of the world Ademica is pronounced differently between NPCs, and a narrator calls it "Ademik".
- Shout-Out: The game takes a lot of visual models from Myst III: Exile. Even the opening logo is similar.
- Solve the Soup Cans: Most of the puzzles are this. Amusingly, Umang sometimes has to ask NPCs in the environment on how to solve the puzzle in question.
- Songs in the Key of Lock: The first puzzle of the world Na-Tiexu involves setting an assortment of tuning forks to match sets of tubular bells, with each set related to a certain sound. Solving this puzzle allows access to the rest of Na-Tiexu.
The Sacred Rings contains examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: Many of the characters have fantasy-sounding names, but two in this game are simply called Micheal and Sarah.
- Bigger Bad: The Shadow Legion, led by the warlord Bargul. His consultant, Durad's sorcerer, Gugon, had been manipulating Durad's soul to create the rebellion in the first place.
- Book-Ends: The game starts with Umang being taken into Nikifor's house. After it gets blown up, Nikifor comes back at the end with another, similar house to pick him up from the Keepers' Palace, on the condition of no further explosions.
- Bookcase Passage: Nikifor's house has one, with a switch where the one missing book would be. The passage itself needs to be powered up to open, though.
- Call-Back: With the help of a robotic librarian, Umang can read two books in the palace's library that describe all of the Keepers' worlds, including those from the first game, as well as notes on how their main portal works.
- Cool House: The first level is an elaborate house owned by a hermit named Nikifor, who takes Umang in when finding him having teleported out of the sky. Subverted in that Nikifor doesn't know the whole house, and a secret room contains the dead body of the house's original owner. Umang later discovers that with enough battery crystals, the house can walk.
- Creepy Cemetery: One of the 4 locations in the game proper is a cemetery, with a grave digger who only leaves to fetch new corpses.
- Dark and Troubled Past: The Shadow Legion's executioner, Fird. His son had had an affair with Bargul's concubine Mila. When a man named Trey ratted them out, Gugon brainwashed Fird into killing his own son, and Mila was sealed alive inside a wall. Fird, banished from the Legion, went into hiding since then.
- Have a Nice Death: The game has a number of stealth sequences, where blowing cover can get Umang killed, or rendered unable to finish his mission.
- Magic Mirror: In Gugon's quarters, naturally. Umang uses it to uncover an item behind a bookcase, which can only be seen in the mirror's reflection.
- Mr. Exposition: When Umang finds a broken portal that leads to the Keepers' palace, a man named Micheal shows up to explain the origin of the Shadow Legion, and how Umang is The Chosen One.
- Once More, with Clarity!: A cutscene prologue recaps the events of Fate of the Ages with extra details added, and the first scene of the second includes Bargul looking into an orb showing part of the first game's ending.
- Our Fairies Are Different: At one point, Umang meets an eccentric woman name Reina who calls herself a fairy, though most people think she's a sorceress because of her simple-looking clothes.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Umang meets the ghosts of Mila and Trey in the palace, who resemble glowing versions of themselves without legs. Umang even has to summon Mila's ghost from her dead body.Trey: What are you afraid of? Never seen the soul of a dead man before?Umang: No, this would be the first time...
- Portal Network: The main portion of the game involves using a roller-coaster-like monorail to travel to 4 different worlds, in order to find materials that can activate a portal in the main one.
- Power Crystal: Nikifor's house runs on these, and each section of it requires a certain number to work. Some even have to be stolen from the Shadow Legion.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Nikifor's house is revealed to have one, which works by aligning a set of fuses that overload the engine. Umang has to set it off to stop the Shadow Legion from tracking him down, to which Nikifor chews him out for destroying his home.
- Sequel Escalation: This game's story is widely expanded compared to the first, with more developed characters and cutscenes, better voice actors, and less egregious puzzles.
- Stopped Numbering Sequels: The American release lacks "Aura II" used in the international versions.
- Taken for Granite: When Umang breaks into Gugon's inner sanctum, he can set up a ritual in which any spell would turn the user to stone, which Gugon unwittingly does.
- The Maze: The labyrinth under the palace, which the Legion often throws prisoners into. Choosing the wrong path results in being trapped in the corridor you picked, and a Plot Coupon is necessary to find the way out.
- Took a Level in Badass: Umang does a lot more stunts and heroic acts compared to the first game. He even manages to kill two Mooks in the Keepers' Palace.
- Torture Cellar: Umang comes across one of these in the palace's dungeon. He even has to use a guillotine to cut a pair of manacles from a chain.
- Towers of Hanoi: For Reina to summon lightning, Umang has to arrange a set of Russian-doll-like statues on an altar representing that element.
- Unfinished Business: Mila can't pass on without Gugon's curse being broken, and Trey needs Mila's forgiveness.