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Ring (video game)

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Ring: The Legend of the Nibelungen is a 1999 computer game developed for the PC by Arxel Tribe and published by Cryo Interactive. It was inspired by Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas Der Ring des Nibelungen and featured music from the popular performance conducted by Georg Solti. French comic-book artist Philippe Druillet also worked on the game, providing much of the artwork.

It made a departure from the original by binding the stories behind the four parts of the cycle with a surrealist science fiction surrounding a being by the name of Ish, who guided by a voice (played by Charlotte Rampling) discovers the story of the Nibelungen.

Story

The game begins with the introduction of Ish, a being of few words whose body the player is to inhabit for the duration of the game. He is introduced to the statues of four characters from the opera. Alberich, a cruel and sadistic dwarf king, Loge, a fire spirit, Siegmund, the son of Wotan, and Brünnhilde, a Valkyrie warrior.

The story begins with Alberich arriving back in his kingdom. All is not well - he discovers that he has very little left, nothing in the kingdom works, and his worker dwarves have formed a union and have gone on strike. In order to break up the strike, Alberich must find something to satisfy the disgruntled workers, and with this aim in mind, he sets off to procure the gold of the Rhinemaidens.

The second part has the player in control of Loge, the fire spirit. His story intertwines somewhat with that of Alberich's - in the employ of the gods, he is charged by Wotan with retrieving the Nibelungenring and the magic crown of Wotan from Alberich.

The third section tells the story of Siegmund, son of Wotan, as he attempts to fathom the circumstances surrounding the death of his mother and sister.

The fourth section tells the story of Brünnhilde, a half-sister of Siegmund, who saves her brother at the end of the third chapter. Her act enrages Wotan, and she is forced to flee to the necropolis Valhalla where she can obtain a magic artifact to bring back to the asteroid on which the story begins - completing the titular "ring".

References and differences to the original opera

The four individual chapters of the game refer to the first two parts of the opera cycle, Rheingold and Die Walküre (with a different ending - see below) and the story is, for the most part, recognisable from its source material. However, there are a number of noticeable differences.

Firstly, and most obviously, the inclusion of a science fiction backstory that precludes and concludes the game was in no way part of the original Wagner opera. In the opera, Siegmund is killed while fighting his sister Sieglinde's lover, in the game he is saved by Brünnhilde. In the Opera, Wotan confronts Brünhilde for saving Siegmund and confines her to eternal sleep, while in the game the circle is completed by her bringing the magic artifact to the asteroid at the beginning of the game.

It is interesting to note that in the midst of all the Germanic mythology contained within both the game and opera, the name of the central "viewpoint" character, Ish, is pronounced similarly to the German word "Ich", meaning "I" - representing the function of the being at hand.

Gameplay

The gameplay was markedly similar to Cryo's previous Atlantis series. The game presented a first-person view which is controlled by the mouse. The pointer in the centre of the screen determines the object or being to manipulate or the direction of movement.

The game itself is, per the story, divided into four levels which can be played in any order, although it is strongly recommended that the levels be played in order according to the chronology that was intended. The aforementioned asteroid serves as a "hub" to the game, allowing levels to be selected and is also the location of the introduction sequence which presents all of the major protagonists.

Critical reaction

Review ratings
GameSpot 3.7 out of 10 [1]
IGN 2.7 out of 10 [2]

The reaction from the gaming press was by and large extremely negative. Perceived as a relic from the Myst-era of adventure gaming, it was dismissed by and large as an inferior clone with illogical, confusing puzzles.

A point of regular praise among reviewers was the use of music from the performance conducted by Georg Solti, although some believed that it intruded on the game itself and occasionally made it difficult to hear what characters were saying.

Sequel

The game was followed up by a sequel, Ring II: Twilight of the Gods, which brings the cycle to an end, following the two last parts of Wagner's Ring des Niberlungen, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. The game was almost universally reviled by the gaming press and quickly forgotten.fr:Ring : l'Anneau des Nibelungen

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