You will pass magnificent Greek columns, Indian inspired artifacts and sacred chambers of worship. Like a dream, history and possibility tangle; and you know you dare not wake until you unlock its truth. This is Qora.
The story is that you’ve arrived in a new town, your house is having the final touches put on it, and so why don’t you meet the townsfolk while you wait? There’s no cult looking to sacrifice you to their God. Instead, walk around, talk, take in the festivities, maybe accept an ugly looking sweater. Simple enough. But maybe you were drawn to this town for a reason – and when a mysterious voice beckons you, well yeah, that pretty much confirms it. I can’t say too much beyond that, because there’s really not much else to go on.
When the controls listed are ‘the arrows keys’ and ‘space for action’, there’s a good chance there won’t be too much complexity within the interaction. Action has you talk to other characters, jump ledges and remove obstacles in your way. The items you get are used in a linear fashion and similar to the context sensitive areas of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Press the button when an icon appears your head to use the appropriate item or perform the correct action.
Largely, the pixel art is very impressive. A lot has been accomplished here, from a small friendly town built in harmony with the surrounding mountains, to moss covered Buddha-like statues, spiritual beings and other more colourful creatures. There is no one style, instead Qora brings a mix of Middle Earth, South East Asia, ancient Greece and… anime. And like a John Woo film, you will be seeing birds. The music is equally impressive, working well to instigate a calming landscape.
The game is simple by design. It is an adventure game, but not in the Monkey Island vein; there is no branching dialogue paths and only occasionally a follow up conversation will draw additional comments. Though these interactions are a sum of their parts, Qora is your place in this town and world. One example of this is the traveler you will come across several times. A spiritual mouthpiece of the game, they (or is it the same traveler…) are the glib remarks or deliberations we sometimes find ourselves in. Do not avoid this game if you think it might take itself too seriously. Throughout, the devs have added some humorous touches, from a bossy Empress to some curious townfolk. The game does progress in a straightforward way, and the actions you can perform clearly indicated by an icon above your character. Still, there were a few areas I missed out on according to the Steam achievements, so if not for the pixel art and soundtrack, you could try unlocking those on a second or third time through. The game apparently has multiple endings according to the achievements. The one I got was closer to a certain Michael Douglas film (not Wall Street).
Qora excels in its simplicity. There’s no urgency, death or restarting. There are even chairs you can sit down on to take in the scene, maybe get a little introspective. Your character is an androgynous white being so it does afford interpretation that other games seem to tranquilise. Are you even human? It is a game is one played for the journey, as I’m sure some will be a little short changed by the ending, though if you are lucky, you may take something away from playing this.
It is (or was) $10 on Steam, though currently on Bundle Stars you can get it for $2.99, which includes 7 other games!