Along with the adventures we’ve fully previewed in the past few weeks, there were also a number of other games in various stages of development that we saw at the gamescom in Cologne. Our demonstrations didn't allow for a detailed preview of each, but we can certainly share what we've seen so far. In this article:
- The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav
- Jack Keane 2
- Jurassic Park
- The Lost Chronicles of Zerzura
- Memento Mori 2
- City of Secrets 2 and The Freak Files
- Dream Chamber
- Phobos 1953
- Second Guest
The horror adventure Scratches, by Argentinian developer Nucleosys, depended largely on its haunted house atmosphere and subtle ways of increasing tension until you were too scared to enter the basement even if nothing frightening had actually happened so far. Agustín Cordes has since started a new development studio, Senscape, and is now working on another horror. Asylum will take place in and around the huge, abandoned Hanwell Institute, and at gamescom Agustín gave us a sneak peek from the game. There was no actual gameplay to be seen yet, but the entire ground floor of the asylum was ready to be explored.
The story revolves around a former patient who has hallucinations and decides to go back to find out if something that happened back when he was a patient could have triggered them. The hospital is now abandoned and in poor shape, but when the main character walks the lengthy hallways he remembers them as they were when he was there previously, filled with other patients and staff. Slowly, memories of hatred and pain begin to emerge as you realize what a despicable place it was and what terrible things have occurred within its walls.
Movement is node-based, offering full 360-degree turns in each node. The main character, who remains nameless for now, is always very much present as you can hear him breathing and he will often comment on whatever you look at. The game will contain many more animations than Scratches to make the world seem more alive, and dynamic changes in music and sound effects will complement the extensive exploration. Asylum will be much bigger than its predecessor as the building is huge, and all of it will be accessible, with no closed doors or wings. There will be a map to facilitate fast travel, and the girl at reception, Julia, acts as a guide. Whenever you are at a loss for where you should be going or what you should do, you can go back to her and she will assist you.
Even without any gameplay, the atmosphere alone was enough to create a definite impression. But with no fixed release date and no confirmed publishers, we continue to wait in anticipation for the next bit of information Senscape releases.
In Germany, the Dark Eye universe is very well known. Originally a table-top Role Playing Game, there have been several video games set in the fantasy world of Aventuria, most of them RPGs. Now Daedalic is creating a point-and-click adventure game set in Aventuria, called The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav, and they showed us a bit of this impressive looking game in action.
A small town in the kingdom of Andergast is the main location of the game. Thirteen years ago a seer visited the town, and as nobody liked what he predicted the villagers burned him at the stake. Just before he died, he pointed to a small boy, singling him out as the one to bring the town a great deal of bad luck. The boy, who is called Geron, has now grown up to be a bird catcher, and suffers under the prediction since nobody wants him anywhere near. Getting rid of a plague of crows might just be the chance he needs to prove that his reputation is undeserved, but the task will not be as easy as it sounds.
We were shown a couple of puzzles involving cheating at a lottery by stealing the winning ticket (you'll need to distract a sales woman) and using inventory on the environment to collect leaves made out of metal, such as a copper oak leaf or a bronze maple leaf. Later in the game, Geron has to find a way through an Orc camp by making a statue they worship spew 'blood'. This involves a string of finding and combining objects, because you'll need to cross a stream and find a way to create the illusion of flowing blood from the mouth of the statue.
The game is based on the same engine as A New Beginning, and the hand-drawn backgrounds look beautiful and rich in atmosphere. The characters are based on 3D models but have 2D textures, which makes the animations look very fluid. Chains of Satinav is firmly based in the Dark Eye lore, and though it will not be necessary to have any previous experience with the franchise, players already familiar with it will recognise lots of details, such as the language of the Orcs and a song that until now existed only as text, but has now been fitted with a melody.
I’ve enjoyed the RPGs in the Dark Eye world a lot, and with the rich graphics and pedigree of Daedalic behind Chains of Satinav, I am definitely looking forward to this game, though when it will arrive is still unknown. The German release is planned for spring 2012, but no international publisher has been announced yet.
Along with The Dark Eye, Daedalic also have Deponia in development. Deponia is a planet that functions on different levels. The surface is one big garbage dump, where the lowest social class is doomed to live. The main protagonist Rufus lives there, but he feels he deserves the chance to rise higher one day – quite literally, as the rich live in floating cities above the clouds. Rufus is always scheming and plotting ways to get there, such as building a harpoon to shoot himself to the Monorail that connects the cities high above, but all to no avail. Then one day a girl plummets out of the sky and Rufus sees an opportunity. If he helps her get back, he may gain access to her world. However, as he nurses her back to good health he falls in love with her and his plan falls apart.
The setting provides a unique range of opportunities, and the game will be filled with wacky puzzles like trying to catch an escaping toothbrush and making sure your socks match by dipping them in liquid. The graphics are done in a comic style in full HD, with little funny animations all over the screen. Apart from a few new screenshots and a new release date of Q1 2012, there actually isn’t much new to report since our preview two years ago, as Daedalic have been busy with a lot of other games in the meantime, but with Harvey’s New Eyes just released in Germany, they should now have plenty of time to concentrate on Deponia again.
German developer Deck13 is probably best known for the Ankh trilogy, but lately they've made a couple of non-adventures too. They haven’t forgotten their adventure roots, however, and have kept hard at work on Haunted, a supernatural but funny adventure game. At gamescom it was fully playable in German, giving us the chance to experience first-hand what the game is all about.
Haunted revolves around Mary, a homeless girl in Victorian London. She lost her little sister Emily in a terrible train accident, and ever since that fateful day she has been plagued by visions and dreams in which Emily can be heard begging for help. But now Mary hears the voice when she is awake, too – or maybe she is still dreaming; she's not so sure herself anymore. Unable to escape it, Mary decides to follow the voice and ends up in one of the buildings at the University of London, where she stumbles and loses consciousness. Some time later, she awakes just in time to discover professor Lindsey Ashford about to dissect her, having assumed she was dead. As a fresh corpse is needed to experiment on, the professor orders her manservant Ethan to kill Mary.
During her escape and the six-chapter adventure that follows, Mary meets a number of helpful ghosts that all have a specific ability that Mary can use to overcome obstacles she encounters, just like you would use an inventory item. They follow her around and chat amongst themselves, making fun of the situation and each other. The ghosts are a strange bunch, from a pirate named Oscar the Terrible to a Scottish freedom fighter and a bottled genie.
The game doesn't restrict itself to London, as we will get to visit several other locations including Scotland and Transylvania. The locations are colourful in a dark, slightly eerie way, and Mary and the semi-transparent ghosts look good. The environments are done in full 3D, which isn’t just a way to make the game look attractive, but a feature to be used in exploration and puzzles as well. Some rooms are larger than the screen and you'll have to look (or climb) up and down to see everything, such as discovering what's on a high shelf or under a platform. Instead of simply clicking on an object for a close-up, you can actually move Mary around to have a look for herself. If you're afraid this may cause you to overlook lots of items, don't fear as a hotspot locator is available as well as a hint system.
The game was playable on the show floor, but because of the very crowded and loud circumstances at the fair I wasn't able to play long enough to form a strong impression. The game looks and feels nice, but the puzzles seemed a bit on the easy side, as it was always very obvious to me which ghost would be helpful, though this could very well become harder later in the game. We’ll know soon enough, as Haunted is already out in Germany and will be released in English in the first quarter of 2012.Continued on the next page...