Did you ever search for the Easter eggs that your parents hid in the garden? That’s probably the first – and maybe only – experience of treasure hunting that most people have. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys clues and puzzles, then you’re probably into crosswords and suchlike, but without the challenge of a big reward at the end, it’s hardly treasure hunting. Here’s something a little more interesting.
Aureum is set in the ruins of a Roman Villa on a Mediterranean island, in which a hoard of gold is hidden. The game’s distinctly uninteresting interface shows the ten months of the Roman calendar year. There’s a clue for each of those ten months, all of which you must solve before moving on to the next year. There are four years in total; a grand sum of forty clues. What makes Aureum an appealing challenge is that ten people who succeed in solving all forty clues in the game will be sent on an all-expenses-paid holiday to a Mediterranean island some time in the year 2000, and one of those ten will find £20,000 – and keep it.
But before you think “Ha, a forty quid investment that’ll net me twenty grand”, think again. This is not an easy game. You may be a whizz at cross-words, Trivial Pursuit and TV quiz programmes, but this is in another league altogether. All the clues are based on pictures, although some of those pictures contain letters, numbers or other symbols. Thinking laterally is essential, as the clues are highly cryptic. For example, see the mushrooms in the screenshot below? Any idea what that means? No, neither have we. Apparently all the answers are contained somewhere in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, just to prove that Attica hasn’t made it all up.
Once you think you’ve solved a clue, you must enter the date, location and type of event in the mosaic that forms part of the game’s interface. If you’ve got them all right, the picture clue will appear cracked and aged. If not, you’ll just have to try again. At least you can attempt the ten clues for each year in any order, although you have to complete an entire year before you can move onto the next.