Adventure News
 


September 2013

30

Sep

The Holocaust. One of humanity's darkest hours, and not the stuff games are made of, surely. Or is it? Developer Luc Bernard thinks differently, and hopes his latest title Imagination is the Only Escape will inspire players to think about the people involved and want to learn more. Initially planned for release on the Nintendo DS in 2008, it languished in the doldrums for several years before recently re-emerging on Indiegogo for PC.

Billed as an "educational adventure game", that doesn't mean it's a thinly disguised history lesson: the intention is to bring the events of the Holocaust to life through the eyes of a young Jewish boy named Samuel. Living in Paris in 1942, he's an ordinary boy, going to school, playing with friends, getting up to mischief. Then one day the Nazis come, and his mother has no choice but to send him to a sympathetic Catholic priest who smuggles him out of the city and down to a small village hidden in a forest in southern France. Struggling to deal with everything that has happened and unable to cope with the death of his mother at the hands of the Nazis, he retreats into a fantasy world. There he meets a fox called Renard, who tells him that if he restores peace to the forest, she can bring his mother back to life.

There's no getting around it: Imagination Is The Only Escape will be tough going for many. Intended as more of an interactive experience than a traditional adventure game (Bernard draws parallels with The Walking Dead), it will nevertheless mostly be pure 2D point-and-click, and it looks absolutely stunning. Will any of this be enough to persuade people to overcome their squeamishness? Are we ready for games about such serious topics? Only time will tell.

Seeking $125,000 on Indiegogo, the game is so far struggling to meet its funding target, though as a flexible funding campaign, the developer will receive any funds contributed, regardless of the final outcome. A minimum pledge of $10 will result in a DRM-free download of the game for PC or Mac. Bernard's tentative goal is to release the game next year on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Ouya (with the possibility of Wii U and PS Vita later on).

To learn more and contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit the game's Indiegogo page.



29

Sep

The world of Interactive Fiction (IF) has been thriving for the last twenty years, despite losing much of its commercial viability. Its ancestry is firmly rooted in the text adventures of the 1980s, such as those produced by Infocom and their contemporaries; in recent years, however, its definition has expanded to include all sorts of text-based games, from parser-based adventures to hypertext fiction. The Interactive Fiction Competition has long been a platform for these games, and has become a centrepiece of the IF community.

Since its creation in 1995, the competition has played host to some of the most well-received works of IF. Past winners include:

  • Slouching Towards Bedlam (2003) – A disturbing steampunk adventure that allows you to react to the story however you see fit.
  • Lost Pig (2007) – A jovial romp in which you play as a sweet but simple orc who needs to retrieve a pig escapee.
  • Andromeda Apocalypse (2012) – A science fiction piece where you play as someone mysteriously stranded on a deserted planet and must escape before an impending supernova destroys it.

This year there are thirty-five entries – seven more than last year. To play them, either online or as a direct download, go to the IFComp site and follow the instructions. If you wish, you can just play the new games without voting; if you do decide to vote, however, there is a requirement for you to play at least five of the entries beforehand.

The competition ends in six weeks' time, on the 15th November, after which the winners will be formally announced and the various prizes awarded.



28

Sep

Florida in the Roaring Twenties: sunshine, jazz, prohibition, and... real estate agents? Never one to take the obvious path, A Golden Wake is the first commercial title from developer Francisco "Grundislav" Gonzalez, better known for his popular Ben Jordan freeware series. 

A world away from Ben Jordan's paranormal investigations, A Golden Wake delves into the seedy underbelly of Miami in the 1920s. It's an era more commonly associated with flappers, mobsters carrying violin cases, and moody black-and-white gumshoes, but here instead we're invited into the life of Alfie Banks, real estate salesman. Young Alfie has recently arrived from New York seeking the American dream, only to get swept up in the less-than-pretty events surrounding the founding of Coral Gables, The City Beautiful. (In case you're worried, though, it's a "game about real estate in the same way Resonance was about particle physics.") Based on real-life events, locations and people, this is the "story of an innocent man's descent into greed and corruption, and his eventual redemption."

As with Grundislav's earlier titles, the interface is pure old-school point-and-click and the graphics are unapologetically low-res and lovingly hand-drawn, though they're definitely looking sharper this time around. We're also promised a jazz soundtrack, full voices, and at least one character dancing the Charleston.

A Golden Wake will "hopefully" be released for Windows sometime in 2014, but (as Ben Jordan fans know all too well) Gonzalez is not a man to be rushed. You can follow events at his development blog or the game's official website.



25

Sep

ClickShake Games’ founder and sole employee Jay Ziebarth, colloquially known by the moniker Zeebarf, clearly feels that sometimes the best way to move forward is to take a few steps back. And so it is that his upcoming second commercial entry in the Ballads of Reemus series, currently seeking funding through Kickstarter, is actually a revisiting of the original free-to-play Several Journeys of Reemus browser games.

Once again, Reemus the exterminator finds his chances of starring in his own heroic ballad quickly going from slim to none. His rivals at Pest-Go have reduced eliminating pests to child’s play for even the most unskilled commoner. Luckily for Reemus and his sidekick Liam the purple bear (though potentially fatal for everyone else), a sudden invasion of killer Death Slugs gives the duo one last chance to prove their mettle and immortalize their names with their own glorious ballad.

If you’re familiar with the previous Reemus outings, fear not: Zeebarf has promised that although the reboot will incorporate the familiar story elements of previous chapters, The Ballads of Reemus 2 will expand on them with all-new puzzles, longer gameplay, and will include features befitting of a standalone commercial release, such as voice acting. Essentially, all five previously released chapters will be rolled into one, improved upon and polished, to tell the complete saga of Reemus and the Death Slugs.



The game will still use the same clean hand-drawn 2D animation, silly humor, and outstanding voice acting as the previous Ballads release, When the Bed Bites. But don’t just take our word for it: a short prototype is already available for preview on the game’s Kickstarter page.

The Ballads of Reemus 2 is currently planned for a June 2014 launch on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms (with future mobile release plans in the works). You can support the game and reserve a digital copy at the lowest Kickstarter tier for $15 CAD (approximately $14.50 USD). The campaign will continue to run until October 19, seeking $15,000 before that deadline. In the meantime, you can still catch up on the talented indie developer's previous freeware games.



21

Sep

Traditionally, adventure games take us to exotic locations, let us act out unfamiliar fantasies, or place us right in the middle of alien worlds and distant times. But can intriguing tales be found in our everyday experiences? Does the life of a geek offer up potential for a story gamers will love? The creative minds behind Geek’s Lair: The Crazy Scientist, Osolin brothers Maj and Žiga, think so.

Geek’s Lair is the story of Peter Frog, average Joe, science student and run-of-the-mill geek. Peter’s ordinary life takes a left turn when he stumbles upon information about a mysterious virus. During his investigation into the matter, Peter ends up on the lam while pursued by authorities for a crime he did not commit. Could an ordinary guy be the one to save the world?

Rendered in 3D with a cel-shaded art style, the game is intended to be a humorous take on the classic point-and-click adventure formula. The emphasis is on realistic situations, but the brothers are not averse to lampooning pop culture icons: “Conversations resemble the ones from popular movies and series, sometimes in a different context bringing them to new dimensions.”

The developers have been working on this project for the past 10 months, and have recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to complete it. Interested gamers can reserve a copy of the game for Android or iOS for 15€ (10€ if you take advantage of the Early Bird Special). While the game is not planned for widespread release on desktop PCs, there are special contribution tiers to pick up a limited distribution PC version of the game. The campaign will run until September 27, 2013, and features flexible funding, meaning the developers will receive all pledges regardless of the goal being met.
 
Geek’s Lair is slated for release later this year. To learn more about the game and contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit the Indiegogo page for full details.



18

Sep

Calling all lovers of mystery-laden islands and ancient mechanical complexes: a new indie game has appeared on Kickstarter in hopes of bringing adventure fans more of that puzzling goodness that they know and love but never get very often anymore.

Currently in development by the dual talents of Cyrus Conner and Chris O'Donnell, Project: Monolith is a first-person adventure game set on an island complex known only as the "Monolith." Inspired by works such as the TV show LOST and the Myst series of computer games, the island featured here is chock full of hulking, delapidated machines and assorted technological devices just waiting to be discovered.

Mouse and keyboard in hand, players will be sent into the environment with no knowledge of who they are or what the Monolith's ultimate purpose is. Understandably, the developers are being tight-lipped about story details, but they have said that the player must explore the Monolith, solve puzzles, and reactivate the machinery found across the island in order to uncover its mysteries.

Complementing this mysterious environment is the game's unique art style. Rendered in full 3D, Project: Monolith's world is shaded entirely in black, white, and grey tones. Even jungle foliage, which one would typically expect to be a vivid green, is presented without color, lending an oppressive, otherworldly feel to the game.

Most playthroughs are expected to last less than four hours, with less experienced and more exploration-minded players taking longer to encounter everything that the game has to offer. The developers have said that they want Project: Monolith to be a "more digestible experience," something that they feel many players will appreciate.

In order to bring the game to light by March 2014 on PC, the developers hope that their Kickstarter campaign will net $225,000 by October 10. Intrigued gamers can score a digital copy of the final game for $10, with alpha and beta build access provided for $15 to early birds, or to latecomers for $20.

In addition to the Kickstarter page, more information can be found on Project: Monolith's official webpage.



17

Sep

Picture this: It is night. You are alone. You find yourself locked in a room. A room in deserted Darkwood Manor. Your only chance at escape: a cryptic message challenging you to solve a puzzle. Welcome to Night Detective, a newly-announced point-and-click "picture puzzle" game by fledgling developer TreeFall Studios.

Night Detective casts you as the eponymous nocturnal sleuth, who operates only under the cover of night and whose identity remains a mystery. Whether vigilante or simply an odd duck, the Night Detective takes it upon himself to investigate the disappearance of Thomas Herman, respected London businessman, puzzle lover and owner of Darkwood Manor.

In doing so, players will navigate their way through hand-drawn first-person environments, seeking exits from rooms by interacting with objects in the environment and finding and upgrading items. Each room will require a certain combination of items to be “activated” based on a clue given in that room. The right combination will open the path to the next area.



While the majority of the gameplay will involve typical adventure game fare, Night Detective will also incorporate certain shooting elements such as blowing apart small locks, fighting enemies, even a sort of boss battle. According to the developers, "once you have found the revolver, you can switch to it at any time and interact with the environment in the style of an arcade shooter."

The game is currently running a Kickstarter campaign, though its minimum goal of only $750 has already been exceeded. A $5 pledge ($2 for early supporters) is the minimum required to receive a copy of the game. Expected to be released in November, the game will appear on PC, though some of the more exorbitant stretch goals include ports to other platforms such as Windows Tablet, Wii U, 3DS, and Xbox 360. The Kickstarter campaign runs until October 6, 2013.

To learn more about Night Detective, you can visit TreeFall Studios' webpage or head over to their Kickstarter to support the game.



10

Sep

It's no groundless sales pitch to say DEVICE 6 is a game that defies easy categorization. The upcoming iOS adventure clearly delights in uncertainty. Simogo, the same team behind the disturbingly bizarre Year Walk earlier this year, has not revealed a great deal about their new game, but it is certain DEVICE 6 will be another foray into the surreal and uncanny.

In this "thriller in which the written word is your map, as well as your narrator", the protagonist, Anna, "wakes up in a castle on a remote island, with little recollection of how she got there. All she remembers is an unusually unpleasant doll…” Via text and images, some clues begin to remove Anna's shroud: a bookshelf filled with dated science texts, a calendar on the wall reading September 1946, and an image of a monitor reading “0227”.

Gameplay will largely be narrated and navigated with text and maps. Certain passages of text will feature a concept the developers have dubbed “visions”, a visual glimpse into the text in which “you’ll swipe to 'move' around in the text", manipulating some of the visions to solve puzzles.” Simogo describes DEVICE 6 as having “very strong gaming elements, but it has just as strong elements of a book or a classic riddle."

It's hard to get a firm read on a game that has been inspired by the eclectic likes of "Franz Kafka, Agatha Christie, David Cronenberg (mostly Scanners), spy and agent-themed movies from the '60s, The Prisoner, videogames like Professor Layton, 999 and Zelda, and just technology (both old and new) in general." We won't have long to find out more, however, as Simogo aims to release DEVICE 6 late this year.



9

Sep

Violett is the name of a young girl who follows a hole into a magical world of talking kettles, singing frogs and snails that can cook. But despite what you might be thinking, there are no white rabbits in sight in this protagonist's titular adventure.

Polish developer Forever Entertainment's upcoming point-and-click adventure owes more than a little to Alice in Wonderland, but theirs is an altogether darker and more modern take on the idea. Violett is your typical rebellious teen, furious at her parents for ripping her from her old life and friends and taking her to live in an old, spooky house situated (surprise, surprise!) in the middle of nowhere. Sitting grumpily on her bed, she catches a glint of light coming from a mouse-hole in the wall, reaches in and... Well, you probably don't need me to tell you where this is going.

Less dark than American McGee's Alice and more like Coraline, this is the world of a sullen, modern teen's imagination rather than an innocent Victorian child's; a "parallel reality" of magic and a gloomy sort of wonder. The beautiful 2.5D graphics and lilting score (a haunting take on childhood favourites) reinforce the feeling of mystery and uneasiness, though the early trailers (including this gameplay video) do not include any voice work or indeed any words at all, as communication is performed through  pictograms. The game promises riddles and puzzles that will require physics-bending paranormal powers (such as telekinesis) to solve, and you must "fight the evil Spider Queen who's trying to prevent you from ever coming back."

Violett is reportedly in the "final stages" of production for PC, Mac, and Linux, and the developers expect to release the game before the end of the year. If you'd like to see the game released on Steam, you can vote for it now on Greenlight.



8

Sep

Although quietly revealed by its indie developers on Facebook over a year ago, only now is Calm Waters ready to garner more widespread attention with a slew of screenshots and an introductory teaser.

Calm Waters is the debut work of Tayanna Studios, a small indie team based in the UK. The game is a mystery thriller featuring Peter Taylor, distressed and lonely after the recent loss of his wife. For a change in pace, Peter organised a trip to a quiet Greek island, claiming “I needed this holiday. I needed it bad. I'd hired a little private plane and a pilot to take me to the island of Thereus. It was a small port with very few tourists and little distractions.” It seemed to be just what Peter needed, but soon he came to realize just how wrong his first impression truly was.

Local tales and legends, whispered warnings, strange noises, and an ominous nearby island: All these things make Peter feel uncomfortable – something is not quite right. Then people start disappearing one by one. The remaining inhabitants do not seem to be alarmed, or at least they aren't talking about their fears. Is it simple misadventure? Or is there something more sinister at work? Partnering up with fellow tourist Michelle Manning, Peter sets out to discover the hidden secrets of the island for himself.


Entirely self-funded and in development for three years now, Calm Waters is a 2.5D game created in Adventure Game Studio. Although the  environments are rendered in 3D, they are viewed from a fixed perspective. Assets have been created at fairly high resolution, then rendered in-game at 640x480, 32-bit colour, for that "old-school feel.” Similarly, the game controls and plays like a classic point-and-click adventure. Although the lead characters for the game are professionally voice-acted, Tayanna Studios are currently accepting submissions for extras to round out the cast.

Calm Waters is still deep in production, currently planned for release on PC, Android, and iOS devices in summer 2014. You can follow its ongoing development on the studio's Facebook page. A demo for the game is imminent, awaiting a requisite number of likes (12 to go as of writing).



7

Sep

Imagine waking up from a nightmare, only to discover that you've awoken to yet another terrifying nightmare. Now imagine that this happens over and over again, with no obvious means to escape the cycle of unrelenting torment. What should you do?

Dedicated adventurers know: you start exploring this hideous dreamscape!

Based on designer Matt Gilgenbach's struggles with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Neverending Nightmares is a newly-announced psychological horror game from Infinitap Games, which is now seeking funds through Kickstarter. Players are cast as the tentatively-named "Adam," who is the victim of intense, repeating nightmares. While concrete story details are light at this stage, you'll be tasked with determining what elements of Adam's terrifying dreams are real and what elements are the twisted results of his compromised psychological state.

Gilgenbach indicates that the focus in Nightmares will be on exploration, in addition to creating an "accessible and fun" game "for a wide variety of skill levels." Thus, potential frustrations such as complex HUD elements (think health bars and minimaps), puzzle-solving, and hard-to-memorize controls are minimized or jettisoned entirely in favor of a streamlined experience that allows for full immersion in the game's oppressive atmophere. Players will have direct control of Adam throughout the adventure using a keyboard or gamepad.

Played from a side-scrolling, 2.5D third-person perspective, Neverending Nightmares eschews a hyper-realistic graphics style in favor of a black-and-white hand-drawn aesthetic, heavily inspired by illustrator Edward Gorey's macabre works. This quirky presentation is even more jarring when, in one of the game's few uses of color, bright red blood accentuates the story's many horrifying scenes. Another notable use of color is for highlighting usable objects in the game world.

Individual playthroughs are expected to last 1-3 hours, but the developer states that with multiple endings available, several playthroughs will be required to fully understand the story. A short Windows-only demo is already available, showcasing the game's unique style and terror-inducing atmosphere, and serves to illustrate the nightmare-within-a-nightmare mechanic as well.

To scare up the necessary cash for development, Infinitap Games has turned to Kickstarter to raise $99,000 by September 29. In addition, Neverending Nightmares has joined Ouya's Free the Games Fund, which will double the amount raised, assuming the initial campaign is successful. However, in order to be eligible for the Fund's money, the game is required to be an Ouya platform exclusive for six months at launch. The game is scheduled to haunt the Ouya in August 2014, followed by a general release on PC, Mac, and Linux systems in the first quarter of 2015.

Interested gamers can get more information, as well as secure a copy of the game for $15, at Neverending Nightmare's Kickstarter page. An official webpage is also available.