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Free first chapter of Aurora Hills lands today

Free first chapter of Aurora Hills lands today
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New episodic mystery series from the creators of Meridian 157 debuts on PC and mobile devices

For their debut puzzle-adventure series, Novasoft Interactive sent players to – and below – a remote sub-Arctic island in search of meteorological anomaly in the four-part (with prologue) Meridian 157. While sticking with the tried and true formulas for an episodic encore, the indie Canadian developer have set their sights a little farther south with Aurora Hills, whose first chapter is now available free of charge. 

Founded in 1922, Aurora Hills was once a thriving, prosperous West Virginian mountain town with thousands of residents, owing its success to the region's abundant natural resources and steady influx of tourists admiring its picturesque beauty. Six decades later, however, the town has fallen on hard times. Many residents left due to dwindling demand for coal and lumber, but the flood of departures was spurred by something far more sinister: a series of disappearances affecting both residents and tourists alike, which have alarmingly begun to migrate from the scenic national park to within town limits. 

Against this backdrop, players assume control of Ethan Hill, a park ranger whose job now largely consists of search and rescue but "mostly just searching," as traces of the missing persons rarely turn up any leads. Curiously, some have returned out of the blue, but with no memory of their experiences to aid in the investigation. The authorities have all but given up, and even you have just about lost all hope of ever resolving the mystery. But now an enthusiastic new partner named Jen has arrived, eager to head out on "a reconnaissance expedition sometime deep into the nearby national park."

As with its (unrelated) predecessor, Aurora Hills is a first-person, pre-rendered point-and-click adventure, accompanied by a "custom soundtrack and sound effects designed for a creepy in-game atmosphere." It's easy to tell with just a glance why the game's titular setting was such a popular destination for visitors, with stunning outdoor forest vistas that belie the eerie tragedy now unfolding there. Exploring the Appalachians is no mere sightseeing tour, however, as there are clues to be found, links between cases to be made on your pinboard,  and many "challenging and clever puzzles" to be solved. Aiding you in your task is a camera, journal, and an inventory for collected items and other practical tools no park ranger should be without. There is also as a hint system to nudge you in the right direction if necessary, and an alternate mode to make colour-based puzzles accessible to all. 

Unlike Meridian 157, Aurora Hills is skipping past a prologue and jumping straight into the first of three connecting chapters that together will tell a complete story. While promising to be "considerably longer" than the series debut of its Alaskan predecessor, the good news is that it too is free! Subsequent installments will be sold commercially, but you can begin digging into the Aurora Hills mystery right away on Steam for Windows and Mac, the App Store for iOS devices, and Google Play for Android. 


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