When reviewing any game, it’s hard not to draw some initial comparisons to other predecessor games. Seeing Investigative North’s Aporia defined as a first-person, puzzle adventure game, coupled with some early screenshots, leads to the assumption that this one was a shoe-in for a Myst competitor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While this storytelling, adventure game differs from Myst in that it uses no dialogue or text to convey its tale, it’s the puzzles on the other-hand that will leave you wanting it to be more like Myst. This is our Aporia: Beyond the Valley review.
Aporia is indeed a first-person game but movement includes FPS commands like jumping, crouching, sprinting, and swimming which adds additional variety to the puzzle solving. In this game, you can also take damage, which is only restored by using something in the environment. This “something” needs to be discovered, in a unique way, and we’ll leave the rest up to you.
One of the biggest complaints is the default camera view which feels very “low to the ground” and made me feel like I was crouching a lot, especially when walking up stairs.
WASD navigation is simple and your character moves about at a decent speed to help make transitions to the next puzzle less painful. The other good news is load screens are to a minimum from area to area. It was several hours of play before an additional load screen was encountered.
The game has the typical mechanic of your cursor changing to a “hand” on items you can interact with but you also carry a vial of “light” that needs to be replenished. Replenishing involves finding plentiful globes and beakers of light throughout the game world. This seems like a nice way of encouraging exploration. The vial of light is used on puzzles to energize items, connect paths of extinguished light and in some cases “transform” objects and to project overlays onto other objects. There are also “lanterns” that can be lite but seem to provide no other value than “breadcrumb” or mark your trail of where you’ve been.
The Story So Far
You’re literally dumped into the game with very little background. The goal is to traverse this ancient land and figure out what happened here, where are all the inhabitants? Storytelling is done by showing motion hieroglyphic-like drawing scenes that depict an ancient civilization, things are revealed about this “vial of light” you carry and its effects on the community. To encourage further exploration there are also hieroglyphic hand-drawn stills to add to the story that you need to piece together in your mind.
What About the Puzzles
Yes, this is a puzzle game and puzzles do exist. Early on though the puzzles are relatively easy and solved with common sense and might seem too easy for a veteran of this type of play. Also, said puzzles are sometimes too few and far apart between sections of the landscape.
Speaking of Landscape
The game was developed with the CryEngine game engine and there are several beautiful areas but overall, graphically there are no huge surprises. The world of Aporia is open and vast and for the most part linear but very few “nudges” exist to allow you to discover things on your own. The soundtrack is also top-notch and does not take away from the mood of the game.
If you like puzzle adventure games then you can’t do wrong with Aporia. For veterans, it’s a puzzle game you can move along in without getting bogged down by one or more puzzles for too long.
- Fast movement from area to area
- No dialogue to read
- Minimal load screens
- Puzzles are not too difficult and sometimes not varied enough
- Camera view low to the ground
Note: This review was based on a Steam Windows copy of the game, provided by PR.