We first came to know Dinofarm Games and lead game designer Keith Burgun by way of their “rogue-like for the masses" 100 Rogues which released on iOS a little over a decade ago. Wow, time sure does fly. The following year in 2011, Dinofarm began working on a new tactical turn-based game called Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure. Like 100 Rogues, Auro was a rogue-like dungeon crawler, but that’s pretty much where the similarities stopped. The gameplay in Auro was far more tactical and quite unlike your typical dungeon crawler with its focus on literally bumping monsters off of the map. After several years in development, Auro finally made its way to the Android platform in September of 2014, and due to some strange technical issues, didn’t arrive on iOS until February of 2015. It was well worth the wait, however. We chose Auro as our Game of the Week when it released and awarded it 5 stars in our review. It really was a masterpiece of design and emergent gameplay, the kind of game you’d never remove from your device.
Well, the design of Auro may have been enduring, but its technical pieces certainly were not. Dinofarm worked diligently on Auro following its release on iOS and Android, honing in on the design and making some rather sweeping changes in preparation for the game’s launch on PC. That majorly overhauled Auro would be known as Auro version 2.0 and it arrived on Steam in April of 2016. The plan was to bring all those big changes to the mobile versions of the game, but due to the various tools and frameworks that Dinofarm had used to build Auro over the course of the previous 5+ years, it just wasn’t really even possible to provide updates to the iOS or Android versions anymore. Heck, even adding basic things like fullscreen support to the then-new PC version was basically impossible. The mobile version of Auro received its last update in June of 2015 and remained stuck on version 1.3 until finally being yanked from the App Store altogether sometime in late 2017.
That was until about a month ago when people in our forums began to notice Auro showing back up in the App Store. As Dinofarm detailed on their blog back in July, solo developer Brett Lowey aka BrainGoodGames aka creator of the excellent Solar Settlers ($3.99) (among others) decided to just up and rebuild Auro in Unity entirely from scratch. This was no small undertaking I’m sure, but bringing Auro from its foundation of popsicle sticks and chewing gum into a widely-used engine like Unity means that it can now more easily be maintained by Dinofarm across all platforms. And that meant that Auro showed back up in the App Store last month in preparation for its huge version 3.0 update which landed on Steam and Android already and arrived for the iOS version this past Friday.
So what’s new? Well, the game works again! This is also version 3.0 (or more specifically, 3.1 to match with the most recent update to the Steam version) and since the mobile Auro was only at 1.3 or so the last time it was updated, the iOS version now contains all of the major overhauls of the version 2.0 PC release from 2016. One thing I’m not overly excited about is that the mobile version is now permanently landscape-oriented rather than portrait as it was originally, which made it a particularly fantastic one-handed game. This is probably because this new version is based off the PC release which was in landscape. Not a huge deal, but worth noting. Also worth noting is that Auro doesn’t quite fill out the full screens of the newest iOS devices, again likely due to it being based on the PC version.
Really though, I’m just nitpicking to a high degree, because the real news here is that a classic mobile game has been resurrected and is playable once again, and not only that but it’s now in a position to be updated and added on to for a long time to come, and it sounds like Dinofarm have a lot of ideas for where they’d like to take the game in the future in terms of new content and features. They even exclaim in the update notes that “We have a lot of new features coming, so stay tuned." Auro really is a brilliant little game, just read Shaun’s original review to learn why, and I’m so happy to see it brought back to life with a potentially bright future ahead.