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Aporia: Beyond The Valley brings a unique approach to the art of storytelling, by not using text or dialogue. It offers new, interesting puzzle mechanics, and elaborate environmental storytelling within an immersive world.

The mystical world of Ez’rat Qin - once a mighty civilisation, now a crumbled ruin. 

You awake after hundreds of years of sleep, in an abandoned land and no memory of your past. Immersed in this world of dark beauty, thrilling mystery and ancient puzzles, you embark on a quest to find out what happened in this world, and to discover who you are.

Aporia: Beyond The Valley is a first person puzzle game set in the world of Ez’rat Qin. Explore a world filled with strange nature, ancient technology, and haunted by a spirit roaming the fog-covered forest. With a whole new story and puzzle mechanics, Aporia: Beyond The Valley presents players with the challenge of actively exploring and piecing together a non-linear story of what happened in this mysterious world. 

Key Features:

  

  

If you download Aporia: Beyond the Valley onto your PC via Steam it is possible that it may not load and run first time. At the time of writing there has been a minor glitch whereby the game installs and updates but errors when you try to launch it. It took me three or four uninstalls, reinstalls and verifications before it worked for me. If you discover this problem after installing and before attempting to launch you should right click on the game in the Steam Games Library, the Click Properties, Local Files and then Verify Integrity. 

However, it is definitely worth persevering until it loads correctly because it is one heck of an adventure. I had no idea what was happening in the game or what the objective was and having read the above parapgraphs from the publisher's website I am still not too sure of what is expected of me, except to have fun trying to solve the puzzles presented to me, mostly in the form of a kind of Light-enduced Magic. Most of the problems have some logic to their solving. Often you are shown a jagged line that looks like it has been carved in the floor and/or the walls and shows what appears to be the embers of a lava flow. These lines or pathways lead from a small pillar to either another pillar or to a door, sometimes to both and sometimes more than one pathway can be seen going in the same direction. Until you can light these pathways up following them will do you little good. Use the light source, a refuelable container you should obtain at the beginning of the game - you can find glowing flasks of light energy all over the place and just clicking on them will add fuel to your torch.

  

  

Some of the tasks and quests you face can cause you to get injured, shown by the screen beginning to fill slowly (or rapidly) with a red mist and a small marker down to the left of the screen appears and slides towards the left as your health fades. When I narrowly escaped drowning I stood and waited for my health to get better but nothing happened and I hadn't found any Health-giving flasks on my travels, thus I thought my next action would be my last. Then I had a brain surge and remembered the visions I had seen earlier on the surrounding walls - some ancient Egyptian looking characters were picking flowers, mixing them with something and then giving them to sick people who then got up and walked off freely.

I searched around for flowers that looked like those in the visions but couldn't see any. What I did find though were pots of fire and they looked like flower pots. So I used the torch on one of them, holding down a mouse button as I did, and lo and behold (well more behold than lo) flowers began to rise from the pot and berries appeared on their stems. Click on the berries, auto eat them and health is bumped up by about a third; there are maybe one or two of these pots in an area but not every area so you have to ensure you save your game regularly, find the way through the danger spots repeatedly until you can succeed without losing too much life.

  

  

Although there are paths and mystical smoke-figures to follow, and eventually you do have to head in the direction they are leading to, there are many different paths you can take to end up at the intersection where another piece of the adventure unravels. You can kick down (certain) walls, swim through tunnels seeking treasure perhaps but more likely another part of a clue, you can cross raging rivers on a rope-pulley raft and you can go just about anywhere you want to. This is why this is known as a sandbox game, you can happily play in your sandbox and let your imagination run wild.

It uses regular WASD keys for movement, Mouse Buttons for some actions, also the F, [Shift] and [Ctrl] keys and to date I haven't found any puzzle that has beaten me because of my lack of dexterity. I have been stuck once or twice but only because I wasn't doing the right thing correctly (if that makes sense); that is I knew what I should be doing but I wasn't executing my actions properly. 

I have not reached an end yet and have played for about 10 hours in total. The screenshots on this page are actual photographs of the game as seen on my monitor, taken using the macro setting on my little Sony Cybershot WX220 camera. You can see from the shots that the background and terrain is interesting and exciting, just right to whet the appetite of any player who enjoys adventures and puzzles. I haven't found anything to fight, which isn't a problemfor me, but it does mean I don't know if there is any combat feature in the game; I suspect not but .....

  

There is a map you can view and move around but it's a rather unusual piece of cartography which basically leaves it up to you to recognise the buildings in your current area and match them with the structural drawings shown on the map to determine where exactly, or even roughly, you are. It isn't an interactive map and there is no "You Are Here" marker to show you whether you are "Here" or "There". There are lots of little nooks and crannies, old ruins, deep undergrowth and cavernous areas to search and many of them will reward you with some light energy, though very little else. Also when looking for specific pieces to solve a puzzle do not only look in the most difficult places for sometimes they are more in the open than hidden.

Along your path, around buildings and specially constructed sites (though what they were specially constructed for is never made exactly clear - could be religious or sacrificial or whatever) you will find small beacons and hanging light pots. I don't know if you are supposed to light each of these to ensure puzzles can be solved but I have been doing so. It is highly possible, because of the non-linear structure, that I have completely missed some of these out altogether. This makes me feel that perhaps they are not toally important except perhaps to light the way for you, but as a superstitious player I won't go past one deliberately without lighting it.

There is an awful lot of fun to be had running around this land, though whether there is an end with a decent climax or satisfying moment I don't want to think about at the moment as I feel I am miles from any form of success. I am simply enjoying the ride and will see where it takes me when I get there. If you approach APORIA: BEYOND the VALLEY with the same sort of attitude as I have done then you will get more out of it than if you consider it to be just a challenge to race through to the end and not worry about exploring the wonderful landscape that the game presents.

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015