Adventure News
 


May 2013

28

May

We'll probably never get a true sequel to the beloved claymation adventure The Neverhood, but if Doug TenNapel's "spiritual successor" Armikrog is able to meet its fundraising goals, we'll soon have the next best thing.

First unveiled more than a month ago with very few details, we now know that Armikrog will tell the tale of a space explorer named Tommynaut and his blind, talking alien dog named Beak-Beak. Together the two of them "crash land on a weird planet and end up locked in a mysterious fortress called Armikrog. Then... the adventure begins!" As you'd expect from TenNapel, it's an adventure that promises "quirky and lovable characters, unique worlds, a compelling story, mind-bending puzzles, great animation, and tons of clay!"

As seen in the game's first screenshots and Kickstarter video, Armikrog will once again be a point-and-click, stop-motion clay and puppet adventure featuring TenNapel's trademark style. Its resemblance to The Neverhood is surely no coincidence. Though the new game has no direct relationship to the 1996 cult classic, it once again teams TenNapel with animators Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield from Pencil Test Studios and many other developers who worked together previously on The Neverhood (and the Earthworm Jim series).

In one sense, Armikrog will have a familiar sound as well, as The Neverhood's composer Terry S. Taylor will be returning to compose and perform an original new soundtrack for the game. In another sense it will sound much different, however, as Armikrog will feature full voice acting. In fact, an impressive list of actors has been assembled for the game, including Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Michael J. Nelsen (Mystery Science Theater 3000), and Rob Paulsen (Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs).

The plan is to make a full-scale adventure similar in scope to The Neverhood by July 2014, but doing so is a costly proposition, which is why TenNapel and co. have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise a lofty $900,000 by June 27th. The developers have already contributed $100,000 of their own money to get the project off the ground, but successful crowdfunding is the only way Armikrog is going to get made, as TenNapel says that failure to reach the goal would result in the whole project being canceled.

Early supporters can snag a DRM-free Windows, Mac, or Linux version of the game with a $20 pledge, while upper tiers include a variety of rewards, many of which include either digital or printed copies of TenNapel's distinctive artwork. To learn more about Armikrog and to contribute to the campaign, visit the Kickstarter page for full details.



28

May

Adventurers have chased magical white rabbits on fantastical journeys before, and Daedalic is ready to send gamers on another with today's release of The Night of the Rabbit.

Conceived by acclaimed indie developer Matt Kempke (What Makes You Tick series), The Night of the Rabbit casts players in the role of 12-year-old Jerry Hazelnut. His summer vacation nearly over, Jerry wants nothing more than to become a magician, and it seems his wish has come true when he meets a magical anthropomorphic rabbit named the Marquis de Hoto, who offers to take Jerry on as an apprentice. Soon Jerry finds himself in his mentor's home world of Mousewood, a land filled with magical creatures and other talking animals, where he discovers that he was chosen to play a crucial role in confronting an evil force threatening to tear apart the fabric of reality.

The Night of the Rabbit is available now exclusively for download on Windows and Mac at a variety of download portals, including GOG and Steam, and will be launching soon on The Adventure Shop.

For more information about the game, be sure to check out our recent preview.



27

May

Anyone who's ever tried to balance artistic inspiration with the realities of everyday life will be familiar with The Novelist's central question: "Can you achieve your dreams without pushing away the people you love?" The game's designer, Kent Hudson is intimately familiar with this question; after more than ten years working on action games including Deus Ex: Invisible War and BioShock 2, he recently quit his day job to focus on the self-funded indie he bills as "a game about life, family, and the choices we make."

This first-person game will offer up a voyeuristic peek into the Kaplan family's summer vacation in a sprawling house overlooking the ocean. The father, Dan, is under pressure to finish his novel, but his desire to satisfy the needs of his wife and son are often at odds with this personal goal. Playing as a ghost who occupies the vacation house with the Kaplans, you'll try to stay out of sight while eavesdropping on their conversations, reading their thoughts, and jumping into their memories—all with the goal of figuring out what these characters truly want.

Chapter by chapter, players will decide which goals Dan should pursue and which to let go. Each choice will have consequences on the family members' relationships and change how the story unfolds. According to Hudson, "With a different sequence of events in every playthrough, The Novelist gives life to a unique experience each time you play. The decisions you make will define the Kaplans’ lives, but they may also tell you something about yourself."

While not a traditional point-and-click game, The Novelist's focus on story and character and its lite stealth gameplay seems well suited for fans of dramatic adventures. Hudson originally conceived the game as part of a 2011 GDC lecture entitled "Player-Driven Stories: How Do We Get There?", in which he explored new ways for game designers to draw players into a narrative.

The Novelist can be preordered for $14.99 (a 25% discount over the $19.99 launch price) from the official website. DRM-free PC and Mac downloads are planned for release sometime this summer. The game is also up for voting on Steam Greenlight.

 



25

May

It was only a matter of time until pirates discovered the abundant treasures of Kickstarter, but that's no problem when they come bearing gifts like the titular heroine of Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet.

The sequel to Alasdair Beckett-King's popular freeware adventure Spoonbeaks Ahoy! once again casts players in the role of the swashbuckling, eye-patch-wearing, cuddly animal-loving buccaneer. This time around, her old nemesis Baron Widebeard has "kidnapped a fleet of birds and hypnotised them to do his bidding. What is he planning? Can he be stopped? In what way is a frozen volcano involved?" It's up to Nelly to foil his plans in an adventure that will take her "from Port Rubicund in the South Seas to the lonely isle of Gloomholm in the icy north. She'll meet outlandish characters and face perplexing challenges in her quest for the Treasure of the Seventh Sea."

A traditional hand-drawn cartoon point-and-click adventure, The Fowl Fleet promises such piratey adventuring goodness as racing arisocrats for fun and profit, piloting an airship, taking advantage of a short-sighted old man, and lying to strangers with no consequences, interacting with more than 45 characters in 35-plus locations along the way.

Development on Nelly Cootalot 2 has been underway for quite some time, but in order to complete the game as planned by June 2014, Beckett-King is seeking £15,000 by Saturday June 29th on Kickstarter. Early backers can snag a DRM-free version of the game for only £4. The price doubles to £8 once the limited offer is fulfilled, but those pledges will also include the soundtrack and your name in the game's Rogue Gallery. Upper tier pledges earn rewards such as a disc version of the game, posters, a treasure map, ringtone, early beta access, and a variety of in-game appearance opportunities.

For a taste of what to expect, you can still download Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! for free. This 24 MB adventure can be found at the AGS website. While it serves as a delightful primer for the sequel, the new game will be "something much better (and much bigger)" than its freeware predecessor.

The current plan is to release The Fowl Fleet for Windows, with WINE wrappers for Mac and Linux. iOS and Android versions are possible depending on the success of the campaign. If the game fails to meet its funding target, Beckett-Smith says he won't abandon it, but would necessarily need to cut out a significant amount of content and key features, as well as taking much longer to complete.

To learn more about Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet or to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit the Kickstarter page for full details.



17

May

Solving your own murder may sound impossible, but not when you're a ghost, which is the premise behind Jack Haunt: Old Haunting Grounds, a new supernatural point-and-click pulp mystery adventure set to release next month. 

The titular star of Jack Haunt has just a single night to discover the truth behind his demise and the house in which he was killed, which he is being forced to leave after haunting it for decades. As you investigate, you will "unravel the house’s ghastly tale, discover whodunit, raise the dead, find your remains and live out the fantasy of being a dime-store novel detective. And if you can’t find your body before the sun goes down? Then its lights out for good for ol’ Jack the Private Investigator."

Despite the rather grisly-sounding subject matter, indie developer EvolvingPoet Media is promising to contrast the game's "horrendous implications" with "quirky '50s-cheese writing (and humor?)" and simple hand-drawn graphics, as seen in the first screenshots. In searching the long-abandoned house for clues, you'll encounter puzzles that promise to "make sense and relate to the story", though an in-game hint system will provide help if necessary. With more than 200 objects to interact with, including side quests, there should be lots to explore in these Old Haunting Grounds, purportedly providing over six hours of gameplay all told.

EDIT: Mere days after first being announced, a playable demo for Jack Haunt has now appeared out of thin air. This alpha demo reflects a "not-quite polished state" but does provide a lengthy first-hand look at the full game to come. The 33 MB demo can be downloaded directly from the developer.

Jack Haunt is currently on track for downloadable release sometime in June for PC, with Mac and Linux releases hopefully to follow soon.



16

May

In most murder mysteries, the best you can hope for is to reveal the killer at the end. But most games aren't Cognition, as the third episode in the four-part series released today lets players actually step into the shoes of the killer him/herself.

The new episode, subtitled The Oracle, picks up right where the previous installment left off, with "a body hurtling down the Enthon Towers' 33 stories to smash onto a parked police cruiser." This latest crime scene floods Erica Reed's psychic perception with "powerful visions of past murders and betrayals that occurred in this mysterious luxury apartment building. As Erica discovers more about the serial killer who's baiting her, she realizes that she's not the only one having visions. Now the only way to stop the Oracle is to step into the killer's shoes."

Unlike in the first two games of the series, this time players will alternate control between Erica and the Oracle. In doing do, the FBI agent will uncover the murderer's identity, along with "a series of gruesome discoveries regarding the case Erica most wants to solve: the murder of her own brother".

Available exclusively for download, the official website has several launch day-only deals. For those who have been buying episodes individually, the final two episodes can be purchased together for only $9.99, or if you're just starting now, the full-season pass can be bought for $19.99.  After May 17th, the prices will increase to $14.99 and $29.99, respectively (or Episode 3 alone for $9.99).

To learn more about Cognition, check out our review of the debut episode or play the demo yourself. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight if you'd like the game to release there as well.



15

May

While other teens are gearing up for summer vacation, you can always count on Nancy Drew to seek out another mystery to solve each year. This time she's up against the Ghost of Thornton Hall, released today for PC and Mac.

In Nancy's 28th full-fledged adventure, "Jessalyn Thornton’s fateful sleepover at the abandoned Thornton estate was supposed to be a pre-wedding celebration, but the fun ended when she disappeared." With Nancy Drew on the case, the teen sleuth soon discovers that some people "refuse to speak about the estate’s dark past. Did something supernatural happen to Jessalyn, or is someone in Thornton Hall holding something besides family secrets?"

Available on disc for PC and Mac, Ghost of Thornton Hall is now shipping from select North American retailers and directly from Her Interactive, where the game can also be downloaded digitally.

If that isn't enough Nancy Drew entertainment to keep mystery fans occupied, the first teaser for Nancy's fall adventure has also been unveiled as Nancy goes after The Silent Spy.



14

May

It's been six years since we last saw Jack Keane in his titular first adventure, but this summer he'll be returning in Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within, and clearly he hasn't learned a thing in the meantime.

In Deck13's swashbuckling sequel, Jack has ingeniously landed himself in a Shanghai jail, circa 1899, in order to learn the secrets of a legendary treasure from an imprisoned shaman. Of course, Jack being Jack, he's forgotten to plan an escape as well. Getting free will be just the first of his bumbling adventures, as "mysterious treasures, ruthless villains, two distractingly beautiful women and tons of clever humour await the most lovable treasure hunter to have ever sailed the seven seas in a comical tour de force around the globe."

Along with controlling Keane himself, at times players will get to direct his two love interests: the beautiful, city-bred photographer Eve, and the equally stunning but much rougher-around-the-edges Amanda, returning from the first game.You'll guide the three protagonists through such locations as Egypt, Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro, and Germany using either the original WASD keyboard controls or a more standard point-and-click method added after the game's German launch in response to fan complaints.

There is currently no firm release date for Jack Keane 2, but the game will be published by Nordic Games sometime this summer. In the meantime, to learn more about The Fire Within, check out our preview of the game.



13

May

It's been a long time since everyone's favourite pointy-haired defense lawyer appeared in court, but he's all set to make a comeback this fall when Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies releases digitally for Nintendo 3DS.

Dual Destinies is set eight years after Phoenix's last case, and he returns – quite literally – with a bang. His first new case begins with the destruction of a court room, and it's "down to Phoenix Wright and his team at the Wright Anything Agency to discover the cause of the destruction. Players will have to battle it out in court against Gaspen Payne, the younger brother of Winston Payne from previous Ace Attorney titles, as they defend the accused."

The new game promises to once again challenge players to "investigate each crime scene... to uncover any hidden evidence or clues. The drama continues in the court room as players present their evidence, challenge witnesses and begin to unravel the truth behind each of the cases."  This time around, however, it will be displayed with "dynamic 3D visuals, making it possible to change views and zoom-in on areas."

Joining Wright are fellow lawyer Apollo Justice and a new Associate Attorney named Athena Cykes, whose "unique ability to psychoanalyse witnesses introduces a brand new element to proceedings. Using Athena’s ‘Mood Matrix’ players can detect the emotional state of a witness and tell whether they’re surprised, angry, happy or sad. Players can compare these feelings with the statement given by the witness, point out any contradictions between the two and challenge the witness testimony."

There is no firm release date scheduled for Dual Destinies so far, but you can look for Phoenix Wright to arrive back in Europe and North America sometime this fall. Unlike past games, however, the game will be distributed digitally, with no word as yet of a boxed version release.



4

May

If King's Quest (with maybe a little Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry mixed in) had been set in a modern day metropolis, it might look a little something like City Quest, an indie comic adventure now seeking crowdfunding through Kickstarter.

This game tells the simple story of a "small town farmer that comes to the big city to make his dreams come true." What could go wrong? Well, just about everything, it seems, as "on his way to great success, he'll solve puzzles, meet and converse with shady individuals, and make many poor decisions, often resulting in violent low resolution death." Players will get to pursue one of four different lifestyles under the big city lights, including:

  • Hobo: Live the exciting life of a street urchin! Eat Garbage! Panhandle! Sleep in the trash!
  • Lady/Lad of the Night: Make new "friends"! Sell your body! Fight the oppressive pimp overlords!
  • Mafioso: Bust some kneecaps! Rise up in the family! Or maybe even become an informant!
  • Politician: Join the Rat Party! Make shady deals! Slime your way to the top!

The debut commercial adventure from two-man indie developer Stone Monkey Studios, City Quest features a blatantly retro style, complete with pixelized graphics, midi-type music, and icon-based action commands reminiscent of early Sierra. In keeping with the Sierra spirit, there will also be plenty of often gruesomely hilarious deaths in an extremely low-res comic style. However, the developers have promised to make these mishaps "reasonably painless for you as a player", encouraging experimentation without fear of losing progress.

Stone Monkey has been working on City Quest for some time now, and could be finished as early as September if they receive $8,000 by June 2 through Kickstarter. A mere $5 will earn the early bird "bumpkins" a DRM-free download of the game on PC, Mac, or Linux, while upper tiers include perks like your name in the credits and even an appearance in the game itself, plus plenty of physical rewards as well. The developers intend to complete the game regardless of the crowdfunding outcome, but failure to meet the goal would necessarily involve fewer features and less polish in the finished product.

Fortunately, you can experience first-hand exactly what kind of adventure you're in for, as there's already a playable browser-based demo to check out for yourselves. If you like what you see and wish to learn more or contribute to the campaign, visit the Kickstarter campaign for full details. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight while you wait for its release.



4

May

If at first you don't succeed, try again with better people – or at least with bigger names. That seems to be the motto behind Gato Salvaje's second Kickstarter appeal after the first one fell short last summer. But they're impessive names at that, as the Spanish developer plans to bring aboard renowned comic book writer Greg Rucka and actress Ash Sroka, best known as the beloved Tali’Zorah from the Mass Effect RPG series.

AR-K is a planned four-part series that tells the story of an ex-cop-turned-journalism student named Alicia, who lives in what she thinks is a Utopian society. But after discovering a mysterious golden sphere that leads to a series of unexpected events, Alicia becomes caught up in a complicated web of research that suggests the world she lives in may not be everything she's been led to believe.

Warning: includes puzzle spoilers for Episode 1


The first episode, originally subtitled Sex, Lies, and Class Work, was released in 2011, and the developers have been busy working on the self-financed second installment ever since. In order to complete the final two chapters, however, they are seeking $100,000 by May 26 through Kickstarter. A limited-time $20 pledge will grant backers all four DRM-free episodes on either PC or Mac and iOS or Android, while upper levels include such goodies as the soundtrack, artbook, beta access, and a variety of physical rewards such as an exclusive "USB floppy disk".

You can check out the first episode for yourselves free of charge, as it's available for download either from the developer's website or from the App Store. This game serves mainly as a prologue, in which Alicia desperately tries to overcome a nasty hangover and learn the name of the mystery man she took home with her last night.

If you'd like to see the series continue, visit the Kickstarter page to contribute.