What a disaster. The Sacred Rings is the sequel to 2004’s Aura: Fate of the Ages. Aura was a decent enough Myst-style adventure game. It had a few moments, but it wasn’t exactly novel or memorable. In fact, at the start of The Sacred Rings, there’s a cinematic sequence that summarizes that earlier game, and none of it rang a bell. I had to go back and read my review of Aura so I could comment on it at all. Now, after playing The Sacred Rings, I can only hope my brain has a similar reaction. The Sacred Rings is a game I’d like to forget.
Let’s put on our imagination caps and try to envision what some of the meetings were like when developer Streko Graphics decided to put together The Sacred Rings.
Developer A: I think it’s important to separate important locations by at least five rooms, because the more clicking a player has to do, the more fun the game is, obviously.
Developer B: You’re right! I think we should make players click even more than that! Let’s separate important locations by at least ten rooms!
Developer C: Or how about this idea. Let’s create some puzzles where the players have to walk back and forth between those important locations several times. Like we can have some sort of funky power generator, and you have to reconfigure it each time you want to open a specific door. Then players will have to walk all the way down to the machine room and back every time they want to do something.
Developer A: That generator idea makes no sense to me, but I like it anyway! The more clicks the better!
Developer B: Hey, something just came to me! We could make the game really dark, so that in addition to the numerous clicks, we can force players to constantly scan around for exits -- and probably miss some so they have to wander around even more!
Developer A: Yes! Stumbling around in the dark is lots of fun! Keep going, guys!
Developer C: If you like the dark, then you’ll love this! We can randomly kill off players at certain points, like if they walk into the wrong room! And instead of moving players back to a safe spot so they can try again, we can put up a lame ending screen and force them to load their game! Players love loading their game!
Developer A: I don’t know about loading games, but I love these brainstorming sessions. They’re always so productive!
Developer D: Wait, I have an idea that combines those last two ideas! On the loading screen, we could only identify saved games by their screenshots, but since the game is so dark, all of the screenshots will look the same, and so the player will have no idea which game is which!
Developer A: Yes! Now we’re cooking! This is going to be a great game!
I can’t think of another game where the developers apparently tried so hard to make it no fun to play. As a result, The Sacred Rings is just a bad game. The puzzles are tedious, the locations are dark, and the premise is silly (you actually spend more time trying to reunite two dead lovers than you do dealing with the Sacred Rings). So do yourself a favor and skip this game and play just about anything else instead.