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Aurora, Free Universe Simulation Game
Fans of simulation games and people with God complexes will particularly enjoy Aurora alpha, a universe simulation game. Start with nothing but a sun and a particularly dense asteriod belt and end up with a universe one can be proud of.
The aim of Aurora is to create a universe teaming with life. Out of dead asteroid fields one creates planets by clicking and holding the left mouse button, which creates a gravity well. When asteroids collide, the energy released in their collision creates bigger planets... and new life.
As the game goes on, some planets will grow increasingly larger due to ongoing collisions. A serious collision will cause loss of life, but collisions are necessary for life to exist at all. So the player is drawn into the dance of life and death.
Unlike many games, which exist to give the player a sense of victory, in Aurora all victories are fleeting. No matter how many planets one has, the sun will inevitably one day die and go supernova. When that happens, the awesome forces of destruction unleashed will destroy everything in the universe.
I have a feeling that at some point it may be possible to move beyond one's home sun and solar system, perhaps it is possible now. I have not achieved this lofty goal however.
Graphically and audio-wise, this game is a joy to play. The music is beautiful and the graphics are also unexpectedly slick. Even though this is an alpha version of a game played in a web browser, graphically it still has the power to surprise the player. One hardly suspects when one first views the glowing dot and the surrounding rings what beauty can be called forth after a few collisions.
The controls are fairly simple at this stage. Left clicking creates a gravity well that draws asteroids into it. A gravity well is capable of altering the orbits even of mega planets, so keep that in mind if your pride and joy seems to be hell bent on visiting the heart of the sun. Right clicking allows you to view your world up close and check its statistics. You navigate around your solar system by scrolling in and out. This method is somewhat clunky at the present time, but as this is merely an alpha build we can reasonably hold out hope that the controls will improve with time.
One slight problem not at all related to gameplay is that Aurora is also the name of another recently released indie title which happens to be a simple RTS. At present time the two games can be differentiated by the fact that this Aurora (the Aurora being reviwed in this piece) is currently in the alpha stages of development and can therefore be called 'Aurora Alpha'. May the great sun have mercy on our souls when it moves past beta, for the ongoing confusion will no doubt be terrible.