Once again, this month the gaming world converged in that hotbed of adventures known as Germany for the annual gamescom in Cologne. Unfortunately, Adventure Gamers couldn't be there in person this time. But sometimes it's not about what you know but who you know, and with the intrepid staff of Adventure-Treff attending and willing to share their observations with us, we've still got you covered. As usual, there was so much to see and do, it'll take two articles to get through it all. Enjoy the first.
With the claymation adventure Armikrog drawing closer to its early September release date, we visited a presentation at the booth of Versus Evil. It turned out that Terry Scott Taylor, known for the soundtrack of The Neverhood, has returned to provide the music for its spiritual successor. The developers are currently polishing the last animations, but other than that we were told that the game is finished. However, the prototype we played was still lacking some work, and the controls were a little unprecise. Nevertheless, in terms of visual and comedic aspects, Armikrog does a great job. Gamers will be able to switch between Tommynaut and his dog Beak-Beak, who fits through small holes and can see important hints through his black-and-white vision, an interesting element that appears to be implemented well. The puzzles we encountered seemed challenging and clever, which helps explain why the game is supposed to have a length of around 15 hours.
The Weird Story of Waldemar the Warlock
Our Spanish colleague Javier Cadenas (staff member of Aventura y CÍA) has joined forces with the developers of The Weird Story of Waldemar the Warlock. Even though the project, which features beautiful hand-drawn backgrounds, did not meet its minimum goal on Kickstarter, the game is moving along. In fact, Javier is currently hoping that the team will finish this traditional point-and-click adventure later this year. A release should rather be expected in 2016, though, as it is likely the developers will want to avoid the annual Christmas competition.
Waldemar the Warlok tells a twisted tale of British lord Alistair Ainsworth, who summons a mighty necromancer. Right in the beginning, players will have to choose whether they want to help this evil creature get its revenge, or if they want to be a part of the opposite side. Depending on this choice, puzzles will differ throughout the game.
One appointment that originally wasn’t part of our schedule was our meeting with development team Outsider Games from Northern Ireland. The three-man crew, supported by Kevin Beimers (Hector: Badge of Carnage), has been working on their musical adventure Wailing Heights for several months now. Players will slip into the role of Frances Finklestein, the last surviving member of a '60s band, who has to assume control of the various supernatural abilities of a city's inhabitants. Gameplay-wise, Wailing Heights is focusing on dialogue puzzles and music puzzles. The painted backgrounds certainly take time getting used to, while the animations we saw still consisted of placeholders, though we witnessed only a very early version of the game. The game is scheduled for a PC-only release in early 2016. However, ports for Mac, Linux, consoles and mobile devices are not being dismissed as possibilities.
Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet
Work on Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet will soon be reaching completion. At the booth of Application Systems Heidelberg we were given a chance to have a closer look at the first minutes of Nelly's grand adventures. We were a little bummed that Nelly didn't want to collect any items before the first cutscene started, but instead insisted on cleaning up first. Fortunately, this was the only time we had reason to complain about a game that is still waiting for the final touches on gameplay. According to what we were told, Nelly Cootalot will not include elements of pixel hunting, mortal danger, or mazes, which makes it one of the most traditional adventure games we saw on the first day of gamescom. Furthermore, a length of 12-15 hours, 35 locations, and 45 hand-animated characters have been promised. Last but not least, we also found out about Jürgen, a bird who will serve as a helping guide, although we were not able to see him in action ourselves.
After being successfully funded on Kickstarter, Herald: An Interactive Period Drama will be released as a two-parter. Part one (containing two chapters) has been announced for February of next year, with its successor currently aiming for an October 2016 release. Thematically, this 3D point-and-click adventure game will address conflicts between people of different origins. A lot of research has been done to bring a believable 19th century setting to life. This includes interviews with historians on contemporary social events, laws, the state of shipbuilding and other aspects of the time.
Herald will primarily take place on a big sailing ship. Interactions with other characters will lead to player decisions that have an effect on the relationships between the protagonist and supporting characters. Displaying very pretty 3D graphics, the game is presented from a third-person view, while several tracking shots promise visual variety. The protagonist is telling the story of a young woman, which means that a major part of the game will take place in the past. This past (and partially the future as well) can be manipulated by player decisions.
Eurovideo gave us a chance to check out the newest version of Heaven’s Hope by Hannover’s Mosaic Mask Studio. The game has reached its beta status and the presented version can already be played from beginning until end, with both the English and German PC and Mac releases planned for early 2016.
Heaven’s Hope centers around the story of a fallen angel named Talorel, the playable character who has to get back to heaven before anyone realizes he left without permission. This turns out to be harder than expected, as Talorel has lost his halo and wings. Stranded on earth, he finds himself confronted with the era of the Inquisition and other nasty events. During his adventures he receives guidance from two other angels, who also serve as the game’s integrated help feature. However, neither of these two can influence events on earth directly as they are only present as spectral appearances. Two other sidekicks (a mouse and Anselm Homunkulus) turn out to be a little more phsyical as they can be used like inventory items. The Mosaic Mask team is particulary proud of the quest log, which does not exist in written but rather visual form to give adventurers a quick and easy idea of current tasks.
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During the presentation we saw some traditional puzzles, and learned that the game also contains small minigames. Several character skills can be leveled up, for instance the ability to bring the dead back to life. We were told to expect 12-14 hours of play time, around 35 hand-drawn backgrounds, and 30 3D characters. Since the last time we saw Heaven’s Hope, the game has gone through quite an overhaul. Originally containing a pretty dark atmosphere, the mood now seems brighter and more pleasant. Several comedy elements serve this new style very well. One thing that has not changed, however, is our positive impression of the visuals. We were particularly impressed by a variety of individual animations that were created by a film animation studio in Berlin.