Adventure News

January 2011



New video for Pendulo's comic adventure released as official website goes live

It may not be The Next BIG Thing just yet, but with the launch of the official website and a new trailer today, we're a couple little steps closer.

The new adventure from Pendulo Studios casts players in the dual role of journalists Liz Allaire and Dan Murray in 1940s Hollywood. It's a Tinseltown quite different from our own, however, as monsters are real and many of them work in the movie business. Naturally, this raises a few disturbing questions, like "what if they were now forced to play in kids' movies, romantic comedies or even musicals? And what would happen if, at the end, they decided to rebel?"

In keeping with the Hollywood theme, the latest trailer is presented as a (mostly) black-and-white silent film, introducing the two stars and some of the bizarre characters they'll meet in their adventure. Along with the new video, the official website of The Next BIG Thing has now gone live, which offers additional information about the game and its oddball cast.

While no firm release date has been set, The Next BIG Thing is currently scheduled for release on PC and Mac in April.



iOS port of comic Shakespeare-inspired puzzler and free demo now available

William Shakespeare probably never imagined himself on the iPhone. Then again, he probably never imagined one of his classic plays being reimagined in mif2000's Hamlet. But both are true today, as Alawar has just launched the iOS port of the quirky comic puzzler.

Originally released for PC last April, this "twisted" verison of Shakespeare's story casts players as a little man from the future, who unwittingly arrives in the past just as Hamlet is about to rescue his beloved Ophelia. Unfortunately, he crash lands right on top of the Danish hero, and now it's up to him to assume Hamlet's role and ensure that "history" carries on as intended (more or less).

Ported to multiple iOS platforms, Hamlet is available at the App Store now for $2.99 on iPhone/iPod Touch, and $3.99 on iPad. There are "lite" versions to demo for free on each system.

For full details on Hamlet, be sure to check out our review of the PC original.



Video heralds the release of Norse-themed first-person puzzler next month

The doors to Utopia don't open to the public until next month, but Iceberg Interactive offered a sneak peek inside today with the first trailer for Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok.

Baron Wittard sends players into the lonely, failed creation of the titular eccentric architect, a city inside a building intended to house thousands. Called 'The Utopia', the baron's dream design was scheduled to open two years earlier, but a series of unfortunate incidents plagued production until it was abandoned altogether. As a photographer, it's your job to enter the baron's gloomy, unfinished building just to take pictures for your magazine, but you'll soon find that you're not alone, as there's "something malevolent lurking at his city".

The trailer introduces a few locations from Wittard's Utopia, and includes a narration by the architect himself, warning us about the evil, electrical presence foretold by Viking prophesies that he himself unleashed.

Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok is currently scheduled for release in the UK on February 18th. In the meantime, don't miss out on our recent hands-on preview.



New Ben and Dan adventure cancelled; JoWood insolvent; White Birds closes doors

Ouch. It's been a painful few weeks for the adventure genre, as one prominent publisher has declared itself insolvent, one notable developer has closed its doors, and one promising game has been officially canceled.

On January 7th, Austrian publisher JoWood issued a statement announcing the company's material insolvency. The brief message does optimistically express hope that the company will continue, but for now there can only be questions about its future. The name JoWood may not be overly familiar to adventure gamers, but as the parent company of DreamCatcher/The Adventure Company, this could well mark the end of a long, prolific contribution to the genre. As yet there are no firm details about the future of key titles scheduled to be released, including the highly-anticipated Book of Unwritten Tales and Haunted.

But wait, it gets worse. As recently reported on the French website, White Birds co-founder Michel Bams revealed that the company was forced to shut its doors in late 2010 due to financial trouble. Best known as the company established by Benoît Sokal after leaving Microïds, White Birds has been responsible for such adventures as Paradise, Nikopol, and Sinking Island since forming in 2003. Lately the French developer has turned its attention to iOS apps and DS games like Crime Scene/Criminology.

Finally, it's time to say goodbye to Ben and Dan, at least for now. On their website yesterday, indie developer Zombie Cow Studios announced that they are cancelling production of the episodic series starring the heroes of Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please! While simultaneously releasing the first images of Revenge of the Balloon-Headed Mexican, the developers cited mainly creative reasons for the "insanely difficult decision" to cease production on the new series.

Let's just fast-forward to next week, shall we?



Jordan Mechner classic now available for DRM-free purchase and download

Digital distribution has been a boon to the adventure genre, as new titles are released and classics revived. Having previously seen the likes of Tex Murphy and Gabriel Knight offered as downloadable adventures, today it's The Last Express, available now at

The creation of acclaimed designer Jordan Mechner, The Last Express is quite unlike any other adventure due to its rotoscoped graphic style, cinematic storytelling, and real-time events that play out independently of your actions. Set right before the first World War, players control Robert Cath aboard the Orient Express running from Paris to Constantinople. Arriving to discover your friend murdered, you must try to discover what happened by eavesdropping on and interacting with the diverse cast of international characters, each of whom seems to have crucial secrets to hide.

The downloadable version of The Last Express is being released as a "Collector's Edition" that is customized to run on modern PCs and includes bonuses like "the Original Soundtrack, a walkthrough and an original making-of video interview." Currently available only at, the game is selling for $9.99 / 7.49€ and is DRM-free.

For full details about The Last Express, be sure to check out our review of this 4-and-a-half-star classic.



Viva Media to pubish Daedalic's loonie comic adventure on February 8th

There’s just no stopping Viva Media these days. A mere day after announcing its publishing plans for Gray Matter and Black Mirror II and III, now the company is right back at it with the news that it will be bringing Edna & Harvey: The Breakout to North American shores next month.

Edna believes that something fishy is going on at the insane asylum. Doctor Marcel and his staff are clearly hiding something, and Edna has no memory of her life before the asylum. In order to break out and discover the truth, she and her talking stuffed rabbit Harvey will need to outsmart (and outsmart-alec) the deranged residents of the institute. The other patients, too.

With Edna & Harvey set to launch in the UK in just a couple weeks, the North American version will follow soon after. The Viva Media version is currently scheduled to release on February 8th.



Wadjet Eye to publish last year's retro-styled IGF Student Showcase winner

Most companies may not make 'em like they used to, but Wadjet Eye Games and Josh Nuernberger sure do, as the two are joining forces for an upcoming retro-styled neo-noir thriller, Gemini Rue.

While the name may not be familiar to many, Nuernberger's gritty indie production was an Independent Game Festival Student Showcase winner in 2010. According to today's press release:

    Gemini Rue (formerly known as Boryokudan Rue) is an intense adventure set in a bleak future dominated by the corrupt Boryokudan crime syndicate. Players assume the roles of two very different characters: Azriel Odin, an ex-assassin searching for a defector from the Gemini system, and "Delta-Six," a hospital inmate whose memory has been wiped by mysterious, Big Brother types. As fate brings the two men together, players explore a world where life is cheap, identities are bought and sold, and a simple quest for redemption can change an entire galaxy's fate.

Unlike most newly-announced games, there isn't even long to wait for Gemini Rue to arrive, as the game is scheduled for release on February 24th. Those interested in a disc version will need to pre-order before that time for a Limited Edition CD, expected to ship some time in March. The game can also be ordered in downloadable form both now and after the game's launch.

To place an order or to learn more about Gemini Rue, check out the game's official website.



Viva Media to publish high-profile dtp titles in February and March

For North American adventure gamers these days, "What about us?" has become a common refrain. Today there's a welcome answer to that question, as Viva Media has just announced an agreement with dtp to publish Jane Jensen's Gray Matter, along with Black Mirror II and III in the coming months.

Gray Matter, of course, represents Jensen's long-awaited return to the adventure genre. Controlling both American magician Sam Everett and British neurobiologist David Styles, players must try to work out who or what is behind a series of seemingly supernatural phenomena that are somehow linked to Styles' experiments, designed to test psychic ability in the human brain. For full details about the game, check out our recent Gray Matter review. The game is scheduled to be published in North America in February.

Black Mirror II has been available in Europe for some time, but the dark thriller, now subtitled Reigning Evil, is arriving in North America just in time for the third and final installment to arrive worldwide. The second game stars a whole new protagonist than the original Black Mirror, as young American Darren Michaels is inexorably drawn back to the town of Willow Creek and Black Mirror Castle. The third game, which will include the subtitle The Final Fear, will pick up where the second left off, though this time Darren is arrested on suspicion of arson and murder. With no memory of the events, even Darren isn't sure of the truth, as his increasingly disturbing nightmares suggest that he's rapidly losing his grasp of reality. Both games are scheduled to for retail release in February/March.



New DS adventure from Phoenix Wright creator now available

Capcom today released a new DS adventure starring a pointy-haired protagonist pursuing justice, though instead of an ace attorney, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective features a spirit lingering just after his death.

The similiarites with Phoenix Wright are no coincidence, as Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi is the mastermind behind Ghost Trick as well. In this supernatural title, a man named Sissel is murdered but his ghost remains on Earth, though with no memory of his death it'll up to players to piece together the mystery before his spirit departs the afterlife for good.

Sissel's task is easier said than done, as he exists only as a "blue-flamed soul" whose abilities include "possessing and manipulating inanimate objects" in order to overcome obstacles. Fortunately, you'll also have a limited control over time, as you can continually rewind time up to four minutes to try to change events from playing out as they're currently destined.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Dectective is now shipping to retailers in North America, and will be available soon in the UK as well. For more details in the meantime, be sure to check out our preview of the game.



Lace Mamba Global to publish sci-fi FMV adventure for PC and Mac next quarter

The future isn’t so far away anymore, at least in the UK, as Lace Mamba Global today announded its plans to release the futuristic sci-fi FMV adventure DARKSTAR: The Interactive Movie for both PC and Mac this spring.

In DARKSTAR, players control Captain John O’Neil, who awakens from a three century cryo-sleep in the year 2499 aboard a damaged spacecraft. As a side effect of the lengthy hibernation, you have no recent memories or any knowledge of your mission, so you’ll need to begin exploring the vessel as it orbits a strange alien planet on the far side of the galaxy. Soon you’ll discover the shocking news that “the Earth has been destroyed and the crew of the Westwick are the sole surviving members of the human race…or are they?”

Originally released independently last November, DARKSTAR was more than ten years in the making at Parallax Studio. The game features more than 13 hours of live-action footage, starring Clive Robertson ( Sunset Beach/StarHunter) in the lead role of Captain O’Neil, supported by original Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast members Trace Beaulieu, Beth “Beez” McKeever, Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff and J. Elvis Weinstein, along with narration from the late Peter Graves (Mission: Impossible), in what proved to be his final performance.

Lace Mamba Global is responsible for publishing DARKSTAR “worldwide”, beginning in the UK in the second quarter of 2011.



Upgraded version of exclusive iPhone/iPod Touch adventure now at the App Store

Scarlett and the Spark of Life has more life than ever today, as the iPhone/iPod Touch exclusive has now been updated with a visual commentary feature that gives players an inside look at the game's development process.

Originally released by Launching Pad Games in December, Scarlett and the Spark of Life is the first of four planned Scarlett Adventures, starring an unconventional princess who must thwart a kidnap plot with help from an egomaniacal mechanical horse. With today’s update, there is now an option to follow developers Tim Knauf and Tristan Clark discussing concept art, coding decisions, and behind-the-scenes gossip in the same comical tone as the game's script. When the feature is turned on, commentary can be accessed by tapping an on-screen icon, with one or two entries appearing on most screens.

Those who have already bought the game can access the update for free through the App Store's Updates list, while new customers will receive the enhanced version automatically upon purchase. Coinciding with the update is a temporary sale price, as the game is currently available for only 99 cents.



Indie detective's seventh Swedish adventure now available for purchase

It's a happy new year for mystery fans, as MDNA Games today released the seventh adventure in its long-running Carol Reed series, Blue Madonna.

Carol's latest mystery almost never happened. The day after artist Christina Falk called Carol to hire her as a private detective, Christina is found dead, apparently of suicide. With no case to solve but her curiosity piqued, Carol begins investigating the events leading up to the artist's death, and soon turns up several unusual details that she can't help but pursue.

Blue Madonna is now available for downloadable purchase at The Adventure Shop, or on disc from the official website, where a playable demo is also available.

Note: Adventure Gamers is an Adventure Shop affiliate.