Many of us have had days start like this. We wake up with a hangover and a less-than-perfect recollection of the night before. But when you are a palace guard, and you wake up in a room locked from the outside with your armour nowhere in sight, this could be serious. Such is the situation Tandbert finds himself in, waking in a small tower room where the main window appears to have been ripped free of its frame. If he is to report for duty on time, he will not only have to escape this precarious perch, he will need to locate his missing equipment. By the end of his adventures, he may regret not just turning over and going back to sleep.
Whilst the demo I saw of Sick Chicken Studios’ Guard Duty seemed entirely comedic fantasy, developer Nathan Hamley assures me this game has some sci-fi elements as well. The graphics have a retro pixel art look, with the Simon the Sorceror series a major influence. (The fact that some people hate that particular protagonist is acknowledged in the opening scene here, with a picture of Simon heavily pierced by darts.) From the fairly small tower room at the start, I got to the nearby gardens and the palace entrance – though most unsuitably clad for such an august location. The game is fully voiced, and the demo came with gentle background music and sound effects like birdsong.
Control is point-and-click, with a single-click examining and a double-click interacting. Just getting out of the opening room proved quite a challenge, as the exit trapdoor was locked from the other side. Once down on the ground, Tandbert's luck did not improve as he briefly got his head stuck in a wasp's nest. This caused all subsequent dialogue to be heavily mumbled, though on-screen subtitles made the actual words clear. I was told that, later within this same fantasy setting, the villain actually achieves immortality, leading to the subsequent futuristic portion of the game where they become an evil dictator.
More information can be found on the developer's website while you wait for Guard Duty's targeted 2018 release date.
Young Alex has not had an easy life to date. A journey with some friends across Switzerland was supposed to be fun, but an incident on the road has put an end to that. She wakes from the car crash to find herself lost in a deep forest with her friends missing. Searching nearby for help, she comes across an abandoned mansion. But it turns out the previous inhabitants of this place are not as absent as it might seem, and Alex will have to face up to her own dark past if she is to save herself and her friends.
Purgatory is being developed as a solo project by digital artist Joel Mayer. The game features a side-scrolling presentation with retro pixel art graphics, reminiscent of games on the SNES console. The top two-thirds of the screen are taken up by a view of the current location. In the demo this included the remote crash site, a forbidding entrance flanked by two fierce lion statues, and a garden decorated with some disturbing features. The bottom third of the screen includes a detailed head-shot of the protagonist which animates fully with her actions and feelings. The remainder of the bottom bar is taken up by the three available inventory slots, plus Alex's phone which is useful in puzzles, initially as a light source. No sound had yet been implemented into the current build.
This is undoubtedly a horror game, and the author cites inspiration from classic Italian horror movies like Suspiria. Keyboard control moves Alex left and right and interacts with hotspots she stands in front of. Even deserted, the mansion was an uncomfortable place to explore, with foreboding decor and gravestones in the garden. I have no doubt further horrors await in the future. In a nice touch, the phone does not solely serve as an in-game tool, but also as a way of filling in the backstory, as it includes old chats and pictures, telling you about Alex's life without resorting to clumsy exposition.
Purgatory is tentatively on schedule for a late 2018 release. More information can be found on the developer's website.
In the town of Snowport, detective Thomas Horgan has been found dead. Once he was a famous name, but his reputation faded over the years. An old associate of his, arriving in town just too late, was in the frame for the murder, but he has since proved himself in solving a local mystery. Whilst still not on best terms with the police, he has now been able to set up on his own as a detective. As he hunts for his former associate's murderer, the lost and lonely of Snowport bring their troubles to him. Like when a husband does not return home, which means setting out to solve another mystery.
The first episode of Funbakers' mobile-exclusive, augmented reality adventure Silent Streets was covered in the July 2017 Following Freeware. The second, and this time fully commercial episode was being demonstrated at the convention. The same fine art style, black and white with the occasional touch of colour, continues to be used with many of the same locations available. There are also returning characters, including the dour Inspector Gage and the investigative reporter Evelyn McGrath. The game also includes area-appropriate sound effects like before, including music where suitable.
Though most of the gameplay has carried over from the debut instalment, there have been a few tweaks. Originally, walking between locations required you to actually cover that distance for real, or take a cab by making an in-app purchase. This time around, two more options have been added. You can now complete a minigame to advance, or simply wait for the time it would take someone gently strolling to travel that far. The other major changes occur in the augmented reality portions of the game. Previously, objects simply floated in the air against a view of whatever you were actually looking at through your phone. The new system detects a flat surface for the floor, and then locks items onto it. Thanks to this improvement, I was able to perform a full inspection of a body on a mortuary table that appeared to be sitting right there in the exhibition hall.
The first episode, The Boy with the Flowered Skin, is available free on the App Store and Google Play, with further episodes to become available via in-app purchases. Further information about the series can be found on the Silent Streets website.
As a space trader, you have not always operated on the right side of the law. This has come back to bite you, as your latest venture sees you stopped by the authorities. Hopelessly outclassed, you barely escape the confrontation with your life. Now you have to find yourself a new ship and start rebuilding your business. One of your underground contacts, Creamly, should be able to set you up with a new ship, but he's not going to do it for nothing.
Martyn Stonehouse and Gonçalo Monteiro
Massive Galaxy has point-and-click adventuring at its heart, but offers optional trading and fighting elements for a wider game experience. The graphics have a very retro aesthetic, with the classic platforming adventure Flashback cited by the developers as a major influence in the visual design. The overall look also owes something to the film Blade Runner, with tall skyscrapers decked out in bright neon. The latter influence also comes through in the sound design and its synth soundtrack. The character animation matches the simplicity of the graphics, but is effective nonetheless.
The demo included the opening turn-based ship-to-ship fight, showing off the battle interface, though in an unwinnable challenge. Escaping to a nearby city, I had to track down my contact. This proved no easy matter either, as the club he was in had a most unfriendly bouncer at the door. After making my way inside, the task I was given was to pick up a package from a specific set of coordinates, but this “package” proved to be a young girl, presenting me with the first choice in the game. The intention is to have a branching narrative throughout, with my choice to release the girl instead of delivering her as instructed just the first of many choices that will alter how the storyline plays out.
Continued on the next page...
Massive Galaxy is zeroing in on a 2018 release target. More information can be found on the game’s official website.