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Yoomurjak's Ring

Developer:Private Moon Studios
Release Date:2006

Have you ever wanted to simply go away and leave everything behind? Did you ever seek refuge in a journey? To find peace in a distant land, away from the constant stress and the worries of everyday life…

Jonathan Hunt is at a turning point in his life. His mother has recently passed away. He is unable to get along with his girlfriend Allison. He is not faring any better at work either. The journalist is having trouble with his publishing company. Jonathan is feeling trapped in New York. He is in need of a change. He needs to get away from all aspects of his life and find a new purpose.

It is a good time to get away from New York. Jonathan seeks to discover his mother’s homeland. Thus he crosses the ocean to visit Hungary. But he is not interested in the capital city Budapest. Jonathan’s destination is Eger. He wants to visit the city where the famous Hungarian novel Stars of Eger took place. Yet more than his fascination with the novel has caused Jonathan to pick Eger as his destination.

Jonathan’s copy of the book is a gift from his ancestor Samuel Hunt. Twenty years ago, Jonathan has acquired two letters along with the novel. Written by a man called Pal Abray, the letters are addressed to Samuel. The contents are most certainly interesting. The details are obscure, the information is unclear, but the letters speak of a wondrous machine and a tremendous discovery.

Jonathan does not really believe in the invention mentioned in the letters. But he still wants to find out more information about Abray. Perhaps this quest will offer the journalist an escape from his everyday life. Perhaps it will help him find descendants of Abray, a connection to Jonathan’s past.

But there is more to the journey. Jonathan is in dire need of a significant change. There could not be a better time to discover his mother’s homeland. The journalist travels halfway across the world to find himself. As Jonathan puts it, he “will soon arrive home, where [he has] never been…”

The game begins as Jonathan arrives at his hotel in Eger. He is fascinated by the town’s beauty. He revels in the peace he is able to find at the heart of the city. But he has hardly traveled all this distance to waste his time in a hotel. Thus, he sets out to track down Pal Abray. Perhaps the locals will be able to provide him some information.

It is not long before Jonathan makes his way to the information center. One of the employees, Julianna Sarosi immediately proves to be extremely friendly and helpful. But when Jonathan asks Julianna about Abray, he unexpectedly gets help from another visitor at the center. It turns out Mihaly Jambor knows quite a bit about Abray. Apparently, the old man’s grandfather was Abray’s assistant. Mihaly believes that Abray’s invention was real. He also believes that it was successfully used at least once. The old man arranges a meeting with Jonathan to show him definitive evidence. Unfortunately, Mihaly has a heart attack the night before the meeting and passes away at the hospital.

Jonathan is shaken by the loss of this connection to his ancestors’ past. But he is not about to give up on the investigation. What was it that Jambor wanted to share with Jonathan so badly? Why did the old man dedicate twenty years of his life into researching what happened to his grandfather? How does the novel Stars of Eger and its author tie into all of this? It will be up to Jonathan to get to the bottom of the mystery. Perhaps the journalist can find the truth where Jambor failed. And perhaps in the process Jonathan will discover a sense of purpose and a new motivation to embrace life.

Yoomurjak’s Ring is an adventure game being developed by Private Moon Studios. The team behind the successful episodic AGON series is this time bringing us a first-person adventure game with real actors and locations. Yoomurjak’s Ring is inspired by the novel Stars of Eger written by Geza Gardonyi. However, the game is most certainly not a simple retelling of the story.

Yoomurjak’s Ring has an original storyline that puts players in the role of the American journalist Jonathan Hunt. The young man originally arrives at the city of Eger looking for long-lost connections to his past. But what starts as a few simple questions asked at the town’s information center quickly turns into an interesting adventure with a mystery around Pal Abray’s invention and the famous Hungarian novel.

The demo version of the game used for this hands-on preview deviously ended just when the plot started to thicken. However, based on what was offered during the first part of the game, Yoomurjak’s Ring could deliver an engaging storyline. Combining the historical background of Eger, the issues that lead Jonathan to the city in the first place, and the mystery regarding Abray’s invention, Private Moon Studios could offer a plot with several twists to keep players interested throughout the game. It should be entertaining to see the questions raised throughout the demo version get answered as the adventure progresses. Yoomurjak’s Ring could also give the underlying mystery a much more good perspective by showing players how Jonathan changes throughout the game perhaps finding motivation to carry on with his life in a new direction after he unlocks the mystery.

Yoomurjak’s Ring features an interface that should be instantly familiar to those who have played the first three episodes of the AGON series. The game is played from a first-person perspective. To move the camera, players have to move the mouse while holding down its left button. The mouse icon changes to indicate various actions are available. The icon turns white to indicate that you can move in a given direction. Gears appear when you bring the mouse over a hotspot. Here you can either attempt to interact with the hotspot directly or use an object or an item from the inventory. Unlike AGON however, Yoomurjak’s ring uses photographs of real locations to create its environments. Presented as 360º panaromas, these photographs portray a most pleasant town to explore. The streets of Eger seem to offer a mix of the old and the new, creating a peaceful yet interesting setting for the game.

Five buttons are available on the top right corner of the screen. You can save your progress, load a game, or return to the title screen by using the menu button. The ‘I’ button opens up the inventory. Just like the AGON games, the inventory is displayed across the top portion of the screen. You can select items with a simple left click. If the item is a document, you will see it in a close-up view and be able to read its contents. Otherwise, the mouse icon will turn into the selected item so you can use it on a hotspot. The ‘M’ button brings up the map interface. Acquired within the first few minutes of the game, the map allows players to instantly travel between locations in Eger. As you learn about different locations, other characters will mark them on your map. As always, this feature is a nice time saver, preventing needless wandering around the city. Using the ‘N’ button, it is possible to view transcripts of the conversations you will have throughout the game. Finally, the game has an encyclopedia function that will be available in the full version of the game.

The cutscenes in Yoomurjak’s Ring are brought to life in full-motion video with real actors. Judging from the demo version of the game, character interaction will play a very significant role in the game. In fact, especially during the very early stages of the game, going to various locations and talking to different characters will take up the bulk of your time. Based on the scenes available in the demo, the acting seems to be appropriate. The original Hungarian voice-acting also seemed to fit the characters. However, since the English voice-acting was yet to be incorporated into the demo, there is no telling how it will sound.

Of course having plenty of character interaction doesn’t mean the game will not feature the kind of puzzles AGON players will have come to expect from Private Moon Studios. The demo version included one puzzle where players had to decipher an encrypted message. The process of gathering clues to solve the puzzle and actually breaking the code was certainly reminiscent of the AGON series. Players should be able to expect plenty of other puzzles to keep them occupied in the final version of the game.

Based on what was available in the demo, it seems Yoomurkak’s Ring is shaping up to be an interesting title. Exploring the town of Eger and investigating the mystery behind Pal Abray’s invention could make up for an entertaining experience. There were a couple of minor issues in the demo such as some awkwardly worded sentences or misspelled words. If these issues are ironed out before the final release, Yoomurjak’s Ring could deliver a pretty solid adventure gaming experience. If you find the setting and the preliminary storyline details appealing, Yoomurjak’s Ring could prove to be worth to wait. Especially players who like to see a solid amount of character interaction in their adventure games could find a lot to enjoy in Yoomurjak’s Ring.