Stop. Before you continue reading, start downloading from the contest site. At 110MB, it takes a while to download, but it’s well worth it.
There are quite a few Game Maker games which use the built-in 3D functions, but not many, in fact almost none, that manage to pull it off with the elegance and style that Project Aurora does. By developing an art style which embraces the limitations of the engine, Project Aurora takes you back to the classic days of the PS1 with it’s sharp polygonal models and simple textures.
Developed over the course of two years, Project Aurora is a 3rd-person action adventure game, with classic run-jump-sword-to-the-face gameplay. It tells the story of Shade as she attempts to escape from a mysterious complex overrun by malicious robots; and although storyline itself is rather short (with only 5 chapters to play), the content that is there has been polished to a shine. One of the things that makes the game play so enjoyable is the fluid and smooth movement of the character. It doesn’t just feel like your controlling the character – you are the character. Understandably, this carries across into the combat system, where despite there only being 3 weapons being available (including your sword), it still maintains the element of fun found throughout the rest of the game.
However, it’s the character voice overs which really sets the game above any other, comparable Game Maker game. You don’t need to read blocks of text to understand the storyline here; the voice overs effectively tell the story while giving each character their own sense of personality (something which can not easily be portrayed by text alone). The background music and effects also deserve a mention here, as they are effectively used to create a mood about each scene and not just fill in what would be silence.
Despite the game’s undeniable polish, there are a few minor flaws. Firstly, as I mentioned earlier, the game is rather short which is disappointing considering how far it could have been taken (although it is understandable considering it was entered for a contest). There are also no checkpoints, dying will get you a Game Over screen where you are then thrown back to the main menu (though you can load your game and it will take you to the start of the chapter you are up to). Finally, the ending is a little unsatisfying as you’ll see when you complete the game.
In summary, download and play this game. You won’t be disappointed.
Update: The game won 1st place in the BRSD 2 contest!