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January 2017

15

Jan

There are tons of horror games available, but there's no mistaking a Rem Michalski horror game. With last year's release of the Downfall remake behind him, the indie developer of The Cat Lady is preparing to bring his distinctive brand of horror to adventure audiences once again with his latest title, Lorelai.

We don't yet know much about Lorelai just yet, but we do know that the titular protagonist lost what little she ever had one fateful day when "her whole world disintegrated." Rather than break her, however, the tragedy only strengthened her resolve. Refusing to give up, Lorelai is determined that "she will fight. And even death won't stop her from getting it all back."


While that's it for story details thus far, the early screenshots and gameplay footage confirm more of exactly what we've come to expect from Michalski: a side-scrolling, supernatural adventure with deliciously surreal imagery and unique lighting that is sure to send a shiver up your spine even if you don't really know what's going on. And all this creepiness will be wrapped up in a third-person presentation featuring HD graphics, full voice-overs, and an original haunting soundtrack.

Lorelai is still a good year away from release, with a late 2017/early 2018 target projection, but it's getting the jump on a Steam release early with a Greenlight campaign in need of support.



14

Jan

Other than the Cubs winning the World Series, Chicago has been in a world of hurt lately – quite literally, with its escalating violence and horrific murder rate. The city's infamous south side must make for a perilous place to live and raise a family, which is exactly the premise behind Culture Shock Games' upcoming We Are Chicago, due for release early next month.

We Are Chicago follows the story of a young man named Aaron a week before graduation. It hasn't been easy for him, and "having grown up in the tumultuous south side of Chicago, the only constants in Aaron’s life have been his family and the community around him." But lately things have gotten worse and now his best friend is missing, so "as Aaron’s world unravels, players will have to uncover who he can trust, and what’s really going on in the neighborhood. As tension grows and divisions become stronger, Aaron will find himself challenged to figure out the truth, and how to protect his family and the community that he loves."


In keeping with its realistic first-person presentation, the game's narrative goal is to be completely authentic to the Chicago experience. We Are Chicago lets players explore the local area and converse with the protagonist's family and friends, using "conversation-driven choices to uncover what’s truly happening in Aaron’s neighborhood." Instead of capitalizing on sensationalist headlines, the story has been created from first-hand interview accounts as well as the real-life experiences of the developers who grew up in the city's south side themselves. According to lead programmer Michael Block, "It was very important to us to accurately portray the character’s struggles, while allowing players to interact with and see Chicago through a different viewpoint than often depicted."

We Are Chicago is nearing completion on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and is currently scheduled for release on Steam on February 9th. Part of the proceeds will be donated to two charities empowering at-risk youth in impoverished or underprivileged communities, All Stars Project of Chicago and Reclaim Our Kids. To learn more about the game, visit the official website for additional details.



12

Jan

There's good news and bad news for fans looking forward to the expected launch of Eastshade, the upcoming painting-themed first-person adventure. The bad news is that Eastshade has been delayed about a year. The good news is that in the meantime you can play a smaller game set in the same world called Leaving Lyndow, which is due for release early next month.

Although intended to enrich the Eastshade experience with additional background detail, Leaving Lyndow takes place first chronologically and is meant to be its own self-contained experience. This game casts players in the role of a young woman named Clara on her "last day on the island where she grew up." Having graduated with honours and "fulfilled her childhood dream of joining the Guild of Maritime Exploration", Clara's day will be both a busy one and bittersweet emotionally as she must "complete preparations, visit her favorite places, and say her goodbyes before leaving on a journey she may not return from."


As clearly displayed in the screenshots and trailer, Leaving Lyndow features the same gorgeous 3D aesthetic as Eastshade. It is also controlled with the keyboard/mouse or gamepad, but that is where the similarities end. While Eastshade promises to be a much larger adventure set in an open world, Leaving Lyndow is a much shorter and more linear experience that can be completed in a single sitting. Focusing primarily on Clara's story, there will be no painting or crafting involved, though there will be other minigames to complete, as well as branching conversations with other islanders as you make your rounds before departing.

Leaving Lyndow is nearly finished for PC and is scheduled for launch on February 8th at various online retailers, including Steam if its Greenlight campaign is successful. For additional information you can visit the official website and learn more about the reasoning behind the interim game decision through a video from the developer.



10

Jan

There have been plenty of Japanese horror games and movies over the years, but far fewer from Taiwan. That discrepancy is about to get a little smaller in just a few days with the upcoming release of Detention, a new horror-themed sidescroller from indie developer RedCandleGames.

Detention, as you might expect, is set in a school. But this is no ordinary school and no ordinary detention spent cleaning chalk brushes and writing lines. It's the 1960s, with Taiwan under martial law, and players control two students who find themselves trapped in their school during a typhoon. Neither Ray nor Wei understand what has happened or why they are suddenly alone. And as the pair attempt to escape, they soon realize that evil spirits haunt the school and that their surroundings are becoming increasingly threatening, "as if they've entered another dimension."


A rare side-scrolling point-and-click adventure, reminiscent of cult favourite The Cat Lady in its presentation, Detention will be story-driven with a mix of puzzle solving and "terrifying scenarios" to overcome. Players will be confronted with occasional stealth sequences and the need to run away and hide at times, but you'll rely on your wits to survive rather than combat and fast reflexes. The setting is "heavily influenced" by East Asian culture and Taiwanese/Chinese films, literature and music from the '60s and '70s. The era is important, as the political backdrop is intended to help immerse players in an "oppressive and dystopian society." Fittingly, the original soundtrack will fuse "electronic, lo-fi, and rock with traditional Asian instruments."

There's not much longer to wait to get your Taiwanese scare on, as Detention is due to be released on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux on January 12th.




December 2016

25

Dec

Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future aren't the only spectres lurking about this holiday season. The others hail from Britain too, though in decidedly more inclement weather. I'm talking about the otherworldly presence in the latest game in the Dark Fall series called Storm Warning.

There's not a dilapidated train station in sight this time around, but a dilapidated seaside pier instead. Completely out of the blue, you are advised by a "mysterious solicitor" that you are now the "last remaining relic of the Bazalgettes." As the lone heir, you inherit the family-owned pier and all its contents and buildings. The problem is, the "antique attraction closed down, for good, in March 1988. It's a ruin! The old arcades, fairground and promenade are derelict; peeling fairground rides, rusting Victorian ironwork and malfunctioning arcade machines, and of course, the ghosts…"


As teased in the game's first trailer, the game comes by its name honestly, as the pier is beset by a "storm rolling in from the North Sea, with high waves and strong winds set to batter the South Coast." Armed only with a variety of ghost hunting gadgets, you have just a single night to investigate the Bazalgette Pier and try to determine what has been causing the "noises, unexplainable raps, taps and voices, centred around the old Edwardian Penny Arcade," not to mention the "physical contact, manifestation and… trouble". Some inquisitive visitors have even disappeared, and rumour has it that "the Pier is cursed, with many of the old inhabitants still walking the deck, over a hundred years out of time." It all falls on you, as the last member of the family, to attempt to break this curse.

There is currently no target release date for Dark Fall: Storm Warning, and given the uncertain status of indie developer Jonathan Boakes and Matt Clark's other games (the Lost Crown series and Bracken Tor), we won't even venture a guess at this point. Still, given the popularity of the Dark Fall trilogy to date, another new horror game on the horizon from the Darkling Room is always welcome news. To keep tabs on the game's progress, be sure to check out its official website.



23

Dec

Normally having to pay for something you could once get for free would be a bad thing, but not when the new and improved version comes with key upgrades and bundled with other good things, as is the case with Crystal Shard's recently-released Adventure Bundle. Comprising Starship Quasar, Quest for Yrolg and Larry Lotter and the Test of Time, this new three-in-one bundle of former freeware adventures includes a number of important enhancements, including graphical upgrades and full voice acting.

Each game is available separately for Windows and Linux through itch.io and Game Jolt at a cost of $3 or (optionally) more, or you can get all three together in the Adventure Bundle through Steam. For additional details and purchase links, visit the Crystal Shard website to learn more.


Starship Quasar


This one you should already know about, as we reviewed the re-release back when it was still simply referred to as Quasar Deluxe Edition. This character-driven sci-fi adventure follows the travails of a spaceship's crew members as they work through strained relations caused by overwork and lack of downtime. Now "the latest argument has proved too much, with each of the crew stalking off to different parts of the ship. To the medical officer, bringing these warring characters back together will be no easy task." Putting players in control of four different characters, this game focuses less on puzzle solving and more on "the personalities of the characters and their interactions."


Quest for Yrolg


A fantasy adventure first launched in 2008, Quest for Yrolg takes a decidedly different approach to the battle between good vs. evil than most adventure games. Rather than play the do-gooder hero, this game casts players in the role of a "minion of darkness" who must defend his master Yrolg the Necromancer while he attempts to summon a mighty demon from deep within his dungeon. Sent to stop him are "three brave adventurers, a warrior, a rogue and a sorceress, come to his lair to disrupt this dark ritual." You must defeat them instead, as "should the heroes succeed, your Master will be slain, his reign of terror ended, and the world shall be covered with flowers and puppy dogs. That must never happen - this time, evil shall prevail!"


Larry Lotter and the Test of Time


Originally called Warthogs upon its 2006 release, you can be forgiven if the name Larry Lotter and the Test of Time sounds vaguely familiar. That's because the game playfully spoofs the Harry Potter franchise, thrusting players into the shoes (and robe) of the eponymous "notorious slacker." It's exam time at the school of magic, and Larry is "about to flunk all of them because he spent less time studying and more time drinking beer. His last hope is to cheat like there's no tomorrow!" In this case, that means using a spell to reverse time, giving him the chance to "do his day over again until he passes."



21

Dec

The RPG Maker engine may soon need to change its name to RPG/Adventure Maker. The latest adventure game developer to usurp the third-person isometric perspective and 16-bit presentation style from the RPGs of yesteryear is One Bit Studio, whose A Long Road Home is due to release just before Christmas.

A Long Road Home puts players in the role of a young man (with any name of your choice) who becomes wounded and separated from his family when they are attacked along the way to their new home. Behind this plot is a secret cult "led by an alien being called Amuna, who is able to travel between the infinite numbers of planes (dimensions)." Having conquered numerous worlds already, she now has her sights set on this one, and aims to use our hero for her own devious ends. If the protagonist is to reunite with his mother and sister, he must venture through "catacombs, secret temples and frozen mountains" while escaping the clutches of the evil invaders.


If that description, along with the birds-eye pixel art display, sounds like the recipe for a combat-heavy adventure, think again. Designer Gabor Domjan is promising a "classic point and click adventure game, with many text descriptions, puzzles and item usage." There will be plenty of objects to collect and often combine on your journey, which will be needed to overcome the many obstacles in your path. The game even allows for simple mouse control, though it supports keyboard movement as well. The lack of combat means a shorter play time, of course, though Domjan still estimates there will be 5-6 hours of gameplay all told.

The good news is that there's a playable PC demo of the game already available (which was released earlier, but recently received a graphical upgrade). The better news is that the complete game is coming hard on its heels, with final launch planned for December 23rd on sites like itch.io, Game Jolt and IndieGameStand. However, a Greenlight campaign is also underway to get the game released on Steam.



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