For a long time, there's been no sign of life from Private Moon Studios, creators of the game AGON, Now we know why: they've been working on a new game, called Joomurjak's Ring. Unlike the serialized AGON, Joomurjak's Ring is a single game—and it's a full-motion-video (FMV) adventure.
Yes, you heard that right. A full-motion video adventure game. In 2006.
And from what I can tell from the demo, it's up there with Gabriel Knight 2, arguably the best FMV game made.
Joomurjak's Ring puts you in the role of Jonathan Hunt, great-grandnephew of AGON's protagonist Samuel Hunt. The game begins with a train journey to the Hungarian town of Eger, with Jonathan on board. Upon arrival in Eger, Jonathan checks into his hotel, and wakes up the next day with no apparent plan—until, that is, the player reads the letters in his inventory and decides to follow up on them. Soon enough, a helpful young lady from the Tourist Bureau has Jonathan running all around Eger to track down people who might know about the mysterious Mr. Abray and his connection to a possible way of travelling through time.
Overall the video quality is good. While the helicopter footage of the train and surrounding landscape seemed slightly out-of-focus, most of the other film clips are more professionally made than in many a "legacy" FMV game with actual Hollywood (B-list) celebrities. The acting is of similar quality. The main character is likable, and so are the other characters I've seen, and, although their acting talents vary, nobody is actually atrocious.
When you're not watching FMV clips—and there are many conversations in the demo version I played—you have two ways of moving around the city of Eger. One, there is the map, which displays icons of all the places you can go to, and which (as far as I can tell) is the only way to actually get to those places using the tried and true method of teleporting. Two, you can walk through the streets of Eger on foot. On foot, Eger is presented as a series of brilliant photographs of the city, each with a 360 degree panoramic view.
The scope of the photographed streets is immense—it certainly feels like someone photographed all of Eger and put it into the game. A few shamelessly gorgeous views from a terrace only help immerse players in the game. I didn't actually find a use for walking on foot in the demo, but you'll want to do it anyway just to soak up the atmosphere. If you've played A Quiet Weekend in Capri, you'll understand when I say that the visuals in Joomurjak's Ring are just as good.
I didn't encounter many puzzles in the 650 megabyte demo, but there were many conversations that furthered the plot, which has already thickened before the game begins and is driven forward relentlessly by the cutscenes. Did someone discover the secret of travelling through time? Unfortunately, the demo ends way before that question can be answered, right after an enjoyable cryptography puzzle that has you decipher a longish message starting from only three letters. I usually can't stand that kind of puzzle, but the progression was so logical that I'd solved it within five minutes.
The demo did a great job of selling the game, as now I'm hungry for more.
What I saw was in Hungarian, subtitled in English, but I am assured the game will be fully dubbed by the time it's available.
This article copyright © 2006, Gunther Schmidl