Ring II: Twilight of the Gods

Developer/Publisher:  Arxel Tribe
Year Released:  2002

Review by Steve Ramsey (May, 2004)
Ring was a game I played ages ago, and was among my first adventure game experiences. It was a big grand game, based on a bigger grander opera. It was wild, almost psychedelic in its staging. The music carried the whole ambitious enterprise along. It made absolutely no sense, contained some of the most pompous speeches and hysterical overacting ever encountered, and was panned all over the place.

I had a ball playing it, as did many others. It was a "go with the flow" kind of experience. Check out Gordon's review for more details.

The sequel was therefore a game I was looking forward to, and though it has been out a while, I only recently got to play it. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

It wasn't just that it had changed to a third person perspective, nor that you can only carry one inventory item at a time, meaning on occasion you have to remember where you left the one you want (because you dropped it somewhere when something more useful turned up). Nor was it just that the music seemed to take more of a back seat this time, or that there are some run and jump and die sequences, or that many puzzles are "try everything" or "try something and die so you can try something different". Nor was it the glitches on two occasions, or the slightly shimmering characters that looked a bit "stuck on" to the scenes, or the fact that they shuffled their feet and glided rather than stepped and walked.

It was, of course, all of those things.

What the ...??
It still makes little sense, and the voices are at times as diabolical. But the sense of fun was gone. It felt tired and pedestrian, rather than compellingly bizarre and outrageous.

There are plusses. Some of the cutscenes are both good to watch and graphically impressive, the fight with the dragon in particular. The music (when I noticed it) was still stirring and quite magnificent. And in what other game do you get to search for the tears of a loss, and the proof of true love? Or encounter the concept of concupiscence? (the never satiated desire to draw as much of reality as possible into one's self).

But that is a slim backbone on which to hang the rest of the game.

It might well have been more interesting had you played the last bit of the story instead of the first. The betrayal of Seigfried and Brunhilde and the resultant consequences all come in a rush as the conclusion of the game, yet I thought they warranted far more attention. The trials and tribulations that went before seemed to be a precursor to the main game, but yet they constituted the game. Perhaps I am merely showing my ignorance of the opera, or perhaps the game inadequately laid the table for the tragedy at the end, but in my opinion it was potentially the strongest aspect of the whole thing.

Keyboard control
You play predominantly with the keyboard, and an icon will pop up when Siegfried gets close enough to something he can interact with. Inventory items will "shine" to help you find them.

Saves are unlimited, and you can save your progress in the middle of an action sequence, meaning you don't have to start from the beginning if you fail. If you do fail, and haven't saved, the game returns you to the start of the sequence.

Some settings can be tweaked and you can play with subtitles. Some of menus are accessed through the game menu, but others through the program file in the windows folder. Why I don't know; I missed fiddling with some of them until half way through as I didn't realise I could. There are 2 CDs but no disk swapping.

You have to admire a game that is based on an opera that takes about 5 years to stage and about 4 days to see. As such, it gets an extra half star. rating:  

Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2004. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 98/ME/XP, Pentium III 500 MHz, 64 MB RAM (128 recommended or for XP), 32 MB graphic card (DirectX compatible), 45 MB disc space, 40x CD ROM. DirectX 8.1 or higher.