Adventure News

August 2009



New point-and-click adventure by Big Fish promises stylish dark mystery

Though Big Fish Games is best known as a casual games portal, its internal development studio has been busy working on a new point-and-click adventure called Drawn: The Painted Tower, which will soon be ready for release.

Following the success of the hidden object/adventure game hybrid Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, the team at Big Fish set out to create a title that would appeal to casual game fans yet be "truly a point and click adventure" this time. The result is a game that sends players on a quest to save a child queen from atop the dangerous "Painted Tower" in a dark and dreary world, solving puzzles and entering magical paintings full of fantastic characters along the way.

The first screenshots and trailers display the game's distinctive art style, which Drawn's Art Director Brian Thomson describes as "off-kilter and skewed", contrasting the dreary, hopeless "real" world with the rich worlds of paintings born of imagination. And in the words of Producer Chris Campbell, "the higher we go in the tower, the more the rules are thrown out", from giant statues of snails to rooms in a stone griffon's mouth.

The game's casual orientation comes primarily from its shorter projected length (and lower cost) and user-friendly features like a dynamic, objective-based hint system that even adventure gamers will appreciate. As for any other differences from more traditional adventures, we won't have to wait much longer to find out, as Drawn: The Painted Tower is scheduled for release some time later this week.



Iceberg terminates publishing deal for upcoming game over copyright issues

Normally we’re announcing new publishing details, but today’s news goes the opposite direction, as Iceberg Interactive have cancelled their publishing deal with Homegrown Games for their upcoming PC adventure, The Last Chariots of the Gods.

While no specific details were cited, in a press release issued today explaining this unusual decision, Iceberg revealed that “there were issues and concerns raised by a third party surrounding ownership and usage of certain rights claimed by the developer.”

The Last Chariots of the Gods is inspired by Erich von Däniken’s novel (and perhaps “how much” is the crux of this matter) and tells the story of archaeology student Marcus Bauer, who is sent to investigate claims that ‘Vimanas’ from ancient Indian legends were actually alien spacecraft. His investigations reveal that there may be some truth to the legends, and he soon finds himself caught up in the middle of a vast and ancient conspiracy.

There is no word from Homegrown Games about alternate publishing plans just yet.



First details revealed about Daedalic's comic adventure set on a planet of junk

While the English-speaking world patiently waits for the first Daedalic Entertainment game to be localized (with Edna & Harvey and The Whispered World on the way), the German company continues to stockpile even more impressive new projects. This time it's Deponia, announced just prior to the recent games convention in Cologne, with more details made available today.

Though the first screenshots are impressive in their lovely hand-painted artwork, the game is named after the planet of trash on which it's set. A "fast-paced comedy of errors and one of the most unusual love stories in gaming history", Deponia promises a "a unique game world in the style of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Matt Groening." The point-and-click adventure will take players to a variety of unusual locations, from "Kuvaq, an improvised village built inside a giant trash heap, to the swimming black market and the dark corners of the elevated planetary railways".

The story revolves around a many named Rufus. Not your ordinary adventure game protagonist, Daedalic explains that:

Rufus is not a pleasant guy. Ill-tempered and entirely too convinced of his own greatness, he lives at the edge of a small settlement somewhere in the most remote sector of the garbage-covered planet Deponia. He dreams of a better life in the floating cities of wealth and beauty high above the planet surface. When the angelic Goal falls from these privileged spheres down into a neighboring trash heap, Rufus sees his chance. He decides to bring the unconscious beauty back to her home. Only a vague hope of making it off Deponia at first, he soon formulates an unscrupulous plan, as he learns that he is a dead ringer for Goal's upper-class husband. The planned handover is only the beginning of a wild chase across Deponia full of twists, turns and mystifying mix-ups...

There is currently no release set for Deponia, even for its native Germany, but Daedalic did reveal that the game is being developed for PC and "additional platforms" as well.



Trailer of '30s-era adventure from Secret Files developers now playing

Deep Silver has launched the official website for Lost Horizon, and the first thing that will greet new visitors is a new trailer for the game.

The game comes from Animation Arts, the co-creators of the Secret Files series, and presents an epic Indiana Jones-style adventure set in the 1930s. Players take the role of former British soldier and smuggler Fenton Paddock, who is sent to look for a missing expedition in Tibet at a time when Nazis are searching for occult weapons, including the mythical key to Shambala. When he departs, Paddock has no idea that his search will soon turn into a quest across three continents.

The cinematic, action-packed trailer offers a first glimpse of the mythical locations, glamorous girls and evil villains in the game, and can be viewed only at the Lost Horizon website.

No firm release date for Lost Horizon has yet been announced, but the game should be available some time next year.



Previously download-only sequel ships to North American retailers

Boxed-game diehards will be pleased to know that Still Life 2, previously only available as a download, has at last been released on disc and is shipping to stores across North America.

In this controversial sequel, the East Coast Killer has recently struck again and it’s up to Victoria McPherson to discover his identity. Victoria is sent to Maine to investigate his latest victim, and her only lead comes from a critical journalist named Paloma Hernandez, who is mysteriously kidnapped by the East Coast Killer himself. Players will alternate control between Victoria and Paloma in their attempts to capture and escape the killer, respectively.

Originally released in May of this year, Still Life 2 is now available to purchase on disc for $19.99. A free demo is downloadable from the official site, and our full review offers additional details.



Dual playable characters to offer multiple game styles

There's good news and bad news today, as bitComposer has announced that Dr. Jekyll will be starring in a new adventure due next year. The problem is, he's bringing that Mr. Hyde guy along with him.

Well, bad news for him (them?), anyway. For gamers it's all good, as the adapted Robert Louis Stevenson classic will let players control both characters in Jekyll & Hyde. In 19th century London, Jekyll unwittingly creates a potion that unleashes Hyde, his dark and dangerous alter ego, while seeking a cure for the plague. With a mobile chemistry lab allowing transformation at any time, "alternating between the roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, players will search for an antidote to the epidemic while slowly uncovering a conspiracy involving an occult sect. The investigation will lead players deeper and deeper into London’s mysterious underworld."

Along with classic adventure gameplay, Jekyll & Hyde will occasionally unleash something of a monster of its own, incorporating "action- and skill-based elements" as well. It remains to be seen how prevalent the action will be, and we may not find out for a while yet, as the game is currently targeting a release in the third quarter of 2010.



Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island, Black Mirror 2 and Heavy Rain headline first wave of trailers

With the GamesCom convention being held this week in Germany, it was only a matter of time before the latest video trailers were publicly released, and now the first wave have arrived.

First up is Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island, the new adventure from Autumn Moon. Loosely inspired by that other "island" franchise, the comic adventure stars ghostly buccaneers Papa Doc, a vooju priest; Jane Starling, a lovely female pirate; and Blue Belly, a bashful ship's cook, who must work together to discover a way to reinhabit their bodies after being separated from them by a curse. That won't be easy, however, as ghosts have only limited ability to directly influence the world around them.

In Black Mirror 2, players step into the shoes of young man named Darren twelve years after the events of the first game. When a pretty woman he meets at a small photo shop in New England disappears, Darren decides to investigate, and his research eventually leads him to a very familiar English village called Willow Creek.

Last but certainly not least is Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer. A unique form of interactive movie that expands on the innovations of Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, the new noir thriller promises multiple playable characters and gameplay that is based around story, emotional involvement, and the player’s decisions and interactions, rather than more traditional genre elements.

More trailers are still to come in the coming days, so stay tuned.



Chapter 2 now available for download on PC, WiiWare to follow soon

When the Tales of Monkey Island launched last month, it had been nearly a decade since the previous installment in the beloved franchise. Fortunately, this time around it's taken a whole lot less than that, with today's release of Chapter 2 - The Siege of Spinner Cay.

The second tale picks up where the first episode left off, with Guybrush sailing the seas in pursuit of a legendary sponge that will rid the world of the pirate-zombifying pox that he himself released. Unfortunately, he's not alone in his quest, as pox-infested pirates are also after the sponge, while an unpoxed pirate hunter is hotly pursuing him. Worse still, the Mer-People of Spinner Cay are caught in the middle, and it's up to Guybrush to protect them.

At present the new episode is available only as part of the full-season PC package from Telltale Games, though it will soon be available on the Wii Shop channel for 1000 Wii points. Unlike many of the other Telltale adventures, there is no demo specifically for The Siege of Spinner Cay, as the available sampler from Chapter 1 will continue to represent the entire season of Tales of Monkey Island adventures.



The Siege of Spinner Cay set for release this Thursday

With only two days left before the release of Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 2, there hasn't been much revealed about The Siege of Spinner Cay. Following the recent release of the first screenshots, however, today Telltale has unveiled a trailer for the upcoming game.

The last episode saw Guybrush unleash a nasty pox that turns all pirates into zombies -- an affliction already affecting his own hand as well. In the next installment, the "pox-plagued pirates lay siege to the innocent Mer-People", and it's up to Guybrush to defend them while avoiding the "persistent pirate hunter hot on his trail". The trailer highlights Guybrush's reunion with his wife Elaine, though the reunion will prove to be a short one.

For more information about the first episode of Tales of Monkey Island, be sure to check out our review of Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.



Debut of new downloadable comedy series available for purchase

The first installment in a series of comedy adventures from independent Israeli developer Corbomite Games, Pizza Morgana: Episode 1 - Monsters and Manipulations in the Magical Forest, has now been released.

Presented in hand-drawn 2.5D with simple point-and-click controls, Pizza Morgana is the first of five planned games that will take players on a journey into a “magical dimension filled with monsters, vampires, faeries, and daemons, which all just happen to be employed as pizza delivery guys.” The debut episode follows the events that lead the heroine of the game, Jackie, into the magical land of Terramagia. Also introduced are Abbie Positive, a second playable character and Jackie’s guide through the game, and a robotic cop known as a Watcher.

Pizza Morgana, Episode 1: Monsters and Manipulations in the Magical Forest is available to download now for $8.95, or as part of a full season package that costs $34.95. To order the game or get a taste of it with the free demo, head over to the official website.



Popular online retailer to offer individual episodic downloads for PC

Whether you're a Monkey Island fan feeling a little light in the wallet these days, or a skeptical observer wondering if the series resurrection is worth all the fuss, now you can test the waters with just a single downloadable episode on PC.

While the Tales of Monkey Island episodes will be released individually on WiiWare, to date the new series has been offered only as part of a full-season bundle of all five "chapters" for PC gamers. Given the more serialized nature of the storyline this time around, it's likely that most fans will want to see the series through to completion, but now there's a choice to download only the first episode, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, for $8.95 exclusively through Amazon US. Better yet, buying one downloadable episode through Amazon will still allow gamers to upgrade to a full-season package from Telltale for a reduced price if so desired. Details of this crossover arrangement have not yet been announced, however.

For more information about the debut episode, be sure to check out our review of the game. Chapter 2 - The Siege of Spinner City is scheduled for release on August 20th.

Note: Amazon is an Adventure Gamers affiliate.



Series creator Jordan Mechner offers first draft of "Red Serpent" online

For the many fans of The Last Express (among the relatively few who played it) comes a bittersweet revelation from Jordan Mechner this week, as the game's creator unveiled a "fragment" of a previously-unreleased prequel screenplay called "Red Serpent".

On his personal website, Mechner posted the 48-page screenplay written in 2002. The story takes place mostly in Paris in 1904, ten years before the events of The Last Express, detailing an "early adventure of Robert Cath (still in medical school) and his best/worst friend Tyler Whitney". According to Mechner, the story bears certain similarities to The Da Vinci Code, but was written prior to the release of Dan Brown's novel, and takes a more tongue-in-cheek approach to the subject matter. In fact, the tone is one of the reasons Mechner cites for abandoning the screenplay, claiming that "it’s not really of a piece with The Last Express. It’s more fluffy and lightweight. It can’t quite decide whether it wants to be a movie in the Indiana Jones/Da Vinci Code spirit, or a spoof of that kind of movie."

With no small amount of self-deprecation, Mechner also notes that as a first draft it "screams out to be tightened, strengthened, improved. It’s full of flabby scenes and missed opportunities, with too little happening in too many pages. The plot is half-baked." Nevertheless, the screenplay should still provide a fascinating read to Last Express fans, even if it's a painful tease of what might have been.



Wadjet Eye Games brings back indie parody to digital download

The Adventures of Fatman, produced independently by Socko! Games, was released commercially in 2003 but discontinued some time later. Now six years after its original release, Fatman is available for purchase again.

The game is a LucasArts-style parody that follows the adventures of the superhero Fatman, who protects the city of Shadowlawn. Bored with the lack of villainous activity in Shadowlawn, Fatman suddenly finds himself trying to stop the evil supervillain Toxicman.

The Adventures of Fatman can be downloaded now at a cost of $9.99 from Wadjet Eye Games, where a playable demo can be found as well. This game represents the first title on Wadjet Eye’s new “recommended list”, with several other games lined up and a new one to be introduced every two weeks.



Surreal colour-themed title launches Mamba Games' Odyssia adventure label

In a double dose of welcome news this week, fledgling publisher Mamba Games has announced a brand label exclusively devoted to the adventure genre called Odyssia, to be launched with this fall's release of Outcry and The Void.

Adventure gamers should be familiar with the surreal Russian puzzle-adventure Outcry already, but The Void is not only a new revelation, but something that sounds altogether new in its own right. Developed by Ice-Pick Lodge, creators of the equally-hard-to-pigeonhole Pathologic, the new game takes place in The Void, where souls go in a state between life and death. Players will have a single tool to assist them: The Colour, which is "the only food for the dying souls in The Void; every soul feeds off it and is desperately struggling for every drop they can find, as this is the only means to save themselves and return to mortal life."

While this is a rather nebulous description of what to expect, players can count on at least a certain amount of action in fights with "golems, bloodthirsty predators and other spawns of The Void." Unlike traditional action games, however, here "all in-game actions are realized through drawing", and players will need to determine which colours to use in which situations.

Whether that fits any popular definitions of "adventure" remains to be seen, but Odyssia considers it one, and along with Outcry will help launch a new digital download portal dedicated to the genre on September 25th. Better yet, Mamba plans to continue expanding Odyssia's adventure game lineup with 16 new products between now and the end of 2010.

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