Adventure News
 


November 2014

30

Nov

We've all heard of trolls. They're ugly and mindless and like to hide under bridges terrorising passing adventurers, right? Maybe not, as Troll Song intends to change that perception. Trolls may be primitive, but indie developer Team Disaster are out to show that they also have their own culture, feelings, and a sense of honour and morality. They even make music (sort of).

Sadly, less enlightened types (who presumably didn't get the memo about the whole noble savage thing) have been doing their best to wipe them out. Playing as Clod, one of the few to survive the trollicide, you have to rescue your friends and ultimately (dramatic pause) fulfil your destiny, all while learning about the history of the troll race. 

The game began life in early 2013, winning Best Demo at the AGS Awards. It was so well received, in fact, that the authors decided to transition from an episodic freeware title to a complete commercial one. The plan now is to release late next year, with the first of five "verses" available for free. It will feature "lovingly crafted" pixel art, full voice acting and an orchestral music score. There will be a definite retro feel to the gameplay too, complete with troll-themed verbs such as kick, smash and roar. That's not to say the game's stuck in the stone age, though: there will also be some modern features like a hint system included.     

Team Disaster are aiming to release Troll Song for Windows and Linux, with the possibility of Mac, iOS and Android down the line. In the meantime, you can keep up with developments at the official website or give the original demo a try.



28

Nov

Terror is going to be in the eye of the beholder in 2015, when Spanish developer 3D2 Entertainment plans to unleash The Crow’s Eye on the world. The “first-person terror adventure” will incorporate storytelling, exploration, and some light crafting in the hopes of hitting the sweet spot horror fans have been craving. Of course, meeting or exceeding its $35,000 Kickstarter goal by December 15th will be the team’s first hurdle.

The Crow’s Eye tells the tale of a young man who enigmatically awakens in the abandoned Crowswood University, which was shut down nineteen years earlier after some gruesome creature sightings and several unexplained disappearances around campus. Now in the 1960s, the protagonist must look for recorded messages scattered around the derelict campus – messages recorded two decades earlier, revealing piece by piece the larger mystery surrounding the site’s unsavory history.


In addition to exploring the buildings and surrounding area of Crowswood University for recordings, players will need to solve puzzles and craft items to help them survive the horrors that go bump in this digital night. Rather than a full-fledged combat system, items can be assembled to help you survive encounters by either strengthening you or driving off the monsters. At other times, puzzles must be solved to advance the plot. Enemy encounters are more focused on studying movement patterns to avoid conflict altogether. The development team cites some of its inspirations as BioShock for its narrative and visual influences, and Amnesia for its non-combat approach to enemy encounters.

If fully crowdfunded, the finished game will release for Windows, Mac, and Linux next July, and project backers can snag a digital copy of the game for as little as $10. Visit the Kickstarter campaign page for a full list of rewards, as well as additional trailers, soundtrack selections, and playable demos of the game. You can also vote for The Crow's Eye on Steam Greenlight.



27

Nov

Adventure-loving fans of Ken Follett can rejoice twice today with the news that not only is Follett writing a new novel in his popular Kingsbridge series, but an adventure game based on his first, The Pillars of the Earth, will be developed by Daedalic Entertainment to coincide with the new book's release.

Ken Follett

While no specific details about the game have yet been revealed, Follett's original novel (published in 1989) is set in the 12th century in the fictitious town of Kingsbridge, South England. It is a "time of brutal conflicts between nobility, clergy and the simple people, suffering from exploitation and famine. Philip, the young prior of Kingsbridge, dreams of building a cathedral. He, Tom, the master builder, his stepson Jack and the smart Aliena, daughter of the earl, will have to fight for life and death against their enemies before their dream can become true and the pillars of the earth will start to grow towards heaven…"

The as-yet-unnamed adventure will mark the first officially licensed Ken Follett videogame, and Daedalic's founder and CEO Carsten Fichtelmann believes that, "Together with Bastei Lübbe and Ken Follett we determined that the genre of adventure games is the best and most suitable way to adapt and express the substantial depth of such a historical novel. Adventure games are interactive literature, and we at Daedalic dedicated ourselves to the perfection of this genre’s playing experience."

The only downside to today's news is that there's a long time to wait. With Follett's novel not slated to be released until fall 2017, we'll have to wait until then for the game as well. When it does arrive, it will be launched across multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and iOS devices.



26

Nov

There are plenty of swines in politics, but that notion will take on a whole new meaning in the upcoming comic steampunk adventure Viktor, which is currently raising funds through Kickstarter.

The titular hero is an "impulsive, but a good-hearted boar" who does what any self-respecting tusked pig would do when he loses his job: set out to become the "ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire!" Along the way, he will "engage in all sorts of adventures like an airship fight, meeting the love of his life in an anarchist basement, helping Tesla test a brand new incredible machine and lots of other crazy stuff that may or may not involve sex, drugs and classical music."


The road won't be a normal one, but then nothing about Viktor is normal, including the hand-drawn cartoon world in which it's set. Although very similar to our own geographically, "each country is either a semi-historical representation of a real country, or a flat-out parody that may or may not have people laughing with anger." Populating these skewered lands are a number of wacky characters who will "often be bizarre, and sometimes based on real people such as the genius inventor antilope Tesla or the dog Emperor Franz Joseph."

In order to complete this point-and-click adventure (with a few minigames "just to keep you screaming") by December 2015, indie developer Studio Spektar has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 by December 19th. A DRM-free download of the game for PC and Mac is available to backers for as little as $10. To learn more about the game and support its production, visit the Kickstarter page for complete information. You can also download the playable PC demo to check the game out for yourself.



23

Nov

Independent developers Innervision Games are asking for support on Kickstarter not just to develop a new adventure game, but to help push the medium into the next dimension of Virtual Reality. Although it can be played conventionally on PC, Ethereon is an exploration game designed specifically with the Oculus Rift in mind.

Ethereon transports players to a colonized water planet somewhere in space. There you will need to solve a series of puzzles rooted in logic to uncover information about the mysterious civilization of this world and find the necessary element needed to escape. Further plot details are being left intentionally vague, as the main aim of the game is one of immersive, first-hand discovery, but the developers have promised interactions with the planet’s underwater creatures as the player’s path takes them beneath the waves to their journey’s end.


Far from your average first-person point-and-click adventure, Ethereon is presented with added “hand-presence” through NimbleVR technology, meaning players can actually use their hands to grasp and interact with objects in the virtual space as they would in real life. Although the game’s VR capabilities have been designed for the Oculus Rift, a non-VR version for PC will be released alongside it, with some possible home console opportunities in store for the future.

Headed up by Tony Davidson, the development team consists of several veterans of both the video game and motion picture industries. Davidson himself contributed to the development of Riven, so it should come as no surprise that Ethereon flows from a similar vein.

Slated for a November 2015 release, Ethereon must first meet its $35,800 crowdfunding goal by December 21st. To learn more or contribute, head to the game’s Kickstarter page, where digital copies start at $20. If you’re still undecided, demos for both the VR and non-VR versions are already available for download.



21

Nov

In 2009, indie developer Remigiusz Michalski shocked and horrified adventure gamers with the surreal, gore-filled Downfall – at least, the relative few who actually played what proved to be a fairly niche title even within the genre. Now, following the much broader success of his follow-up The Cat Lady, Michalski is revisiting his debut title with an eye to drastically overhauling it for re-release in 2015.

The story will remain essentially the same, casting players in the role of Joe Davis, who stops at Quiet Haven Hotel with his wife Ivy for what he believes will be a peaceful one-night stay. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however, as "things soon start to go wrong. Ivy's panic attacks get worse and soon she disappears. Strange goings on begin around the hotel. Nothing is what it seems anymore. Joe is left alone, trying to understand what is happening, trapped between reality and the nightmare."

But while the overall premise and ending remain the same, much will be different this time around. Michalski claims that "most paths leading up to main events" will be altered. In addition, all of the dialogue has been re-written to make them "more interactive in the vein of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us."


Along with the script changes, the game's interface and production values are being revamped as well. Gone is the point-and-click control scheme and presentation of the original, replaced with improved Cat Lady-style side-scrolling and keyboard-controlled mechanics. The new version also promises high res graphics and all-new animations, a brand new musical score, and will now feature full voice acting. Another similarity to The Cat Lady will be Jesse Gunn reprising his role as Joe Davis, as the new game will "answer some of the questions [fans] have been asking about Joe." Michalski also aims to be more judicious with the gore and obscenities, though make no mistake – the remake will be every bit the "mature" experience as its predecessor.

There is currently no firm release date scheduled for the new Downfall, but Michalski and publisher Screen 7 are currently targeting the second quarter of 2015. In the meantime, you can still play the original version of the game, which is now available to download as legal freeware.



19

Nov

Fans of procedurals or the popular Phoenix Wright series of interactive courtroom adventures will have no objection to the newly announced Bohemian Killing, a first-person murder case with a steampunk twist that’s currently raising funds through Indiegogo.

Created by Polish developer The Moonwalls, Bohemian Killing places you in the role of Alfred Ethon, an inventor of some renown in post-Revolution Paris who is placed on trial for the brutal murder of a young woman. With the deck already stacked against you due to your ethnicity and the public’s lingering racism (Alfred is of Gypsy descent), you will have to endure razor-sharp questioning and witness statements in the courtroom. Your only option: Defend yourself by providing your own testimony.


This is where Bohemian Killing switches to its secondary game mode: first-person flashbacks to the night of the murder allowing you to freely explore and interact with environments via non-linear gameplay. Actions performed during the flashback segments all play a part in how well or how poorly your defense comes across to the Court, and the developers are promising complete freedom for your imagination to run wild. Who you talk to, how you behave, where you go… it all becomes a part of the storyline. Even the most trivial of actions like jumping up and down may have unforeseen consequences in your testimony. You can disguise yourself, get drunk, even attack others. Lie, tell the truth, plead insanity – it’s all up to you.

Set in a fictional 19th century steampunk Paris, the developers are calling Bohemian Killing equal parts Phoenix Wright and Gone Home, with options to choose between a mode where your legal counsel steers you in the right direction and one where you’re simply cut loose to see how far you can get on your own. Thirteen different endings promise replay value, with none of them being the proverbial “bad” ending.

Interested parties can head to the game’s Indiegogo campaign, where the developers are seeking to raise $13,000 by January 5th (though as a flexible funding campaign, all pledges are collected regardless of the final tally). A downloadable version of the game begins at $10, and could be delivered as early as May of next year to PC, Mac, and Linux users.



16

Nov

Horror fans will want to dare a peek through hand-covered eyes at a new Kickstarter campaign for Scorn: Episode One, an open-ended survival horror being developed exclusively for PC.

Serbian development studio Ebb Software describe Scorn as a first-person horror adventure in a “nightmarish universe of odd forms and somber tapestry” that emphasizes “exploration and interaction with the game world”. The non-linear, maze-like setting is heavy on isolation and atmosphere, with lots of strange architecture and unknown artifacts to investigate and examine. Traditional narrative takes a back seat, as players are encouraged to “give their own interpretation of the events, themes and their role in this universe.”


Scorn’s grim, dark sci-fi setting immediately invites comparisons to action-heavy shooters, but the developers are quick to dispel such notions, claiming: “Scorn is a mixture of exploration, puzzle solving and gunplay. Gunplay is very defined and most of the time players will use their weapons as a last resort.” Though the Kickstarter campaign does mention Resident Evil-style buzz words like “ammo management” and “cover”, Scorn also promises to be comparable to other unique gaming experiences like Journey and Ico.

The development cycle will be a lengthy one of two years, with the first of two planned episodes expected to launch in December 2016 if the developers are able to raise an ambitious €200,000 through Kickstarter by December 23rd. Interested players can secure a digital copy of the game starting at €15. For a full breakdown of the various pledge tiers, as well as additional information about the game (including possible Oculus Rift support), visit Scorn’s Kickstarter campaign.



15

Nov

Adventure games are often filled with vivid cartoon colours, but what would the world look like if the protagonist himself couldn't see colour? And what would it take to bring colour into that world? That is the premise of indie developer Sylvain Seccia's Désiré, a "poetic" adventure now seeking funding through Indiegogo.

The titular character has been colour blind since birth and living in a world of black-and-white. This handicap is not without its consequences: the boy is a "taciturn loner, ill at ease" as he tries to mark his place in a world that has "never brought him much joy." Now, however, he is about to meet several characters from his childhood who will "elicit in Désiré intense emotions and alter his vision in surprising ways. Is colour at the end of the road?"


Although an "old style" point-and-click adventure inspired by the genre's classics, the game is also atypical in that "unlike today's clichés of immediacy and speed, Désiré drags you into a subtly poetic and contemplative ambience." Inspired by the works of French writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline and based on the personal experiences of the game's own designer, Désiré promises a tale that is "both ragged and delicate...repugnant and alluring... wistful and light-hearted... but most of all, it is distinctly human and profoundly singular." Music will be crucial to the story as it "carries meaning and emotions", and the protagonist's changing emotions will be conveyed through more than 80 minutes of original piano music.

While a fair bit of work has already gone into the game, in order to finish it Seccia and his team are seeking an additional €15,000 by December 16th on Indiegogo. Although no firm release date has yet been announced, successful funding should see the game released sometime in 2015. Désiré will be distributed free for Windows, but backers will have the opportunity to download the game for Mac and Linux with a minimum €10 pledge. For complete details, visit the Indiegogo page to learn more.



13

Nov

Being dead isn't usually the preferred condition, but being undead has proven to be awfully enjoyable in the adventure genre so far. Indie Australian developers Intuit by Design are looking to continue that tradition with the upcoming Vincent the Vampire, currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

The setting for Vincent the Vampire is anything but ideal, at least for the living. The populace of this "ancient, decrepit city" include the likes of "Vampires, Werewolves and Cyborgs, but other inhabitants include cultists, a monk reincarnated as a pot plant, and a psychotic '80s super computer, lawyers, ghosts, thieves, vacationing demons, the Underlord, Death and many more." Vincent is a lowly human photocopy technician who suddenly sees the light of his meaningless existence – just in time to be brutally murdered and awaken the next day to find he's a vampire.

 

It turns out that Vincent's world is in the throes of an ancient war that only he can save it from – not because of his newfound powers, but because "nobody else can be bothered." His supernatural abilities will come in handy, however, as throughout his adventure he will "learn to control his new vampire powers such as hypnotism, the ability to talk to plants and transmogrification." This helps provide the game with multiple puzzle solutions, and along the way there will be optional side quests for each of the secondary characters.

Featuring a distinctive hand-drawn art style and inspired by the LucasArts classics, Vincent the Vampire promises to be darker than many adventures, tackling themes like "murder, war, regret and depression", but also maintain a "fun sense of humour in the form of a war ended by sentient 3D Printers... a murderous chicken hitman... and much more."

The game is currently on target for completion by October 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux, but in order to do so the developers need to raise $30,000 AUD by December 15th on Kickstarter. An early bird tier offers backers a DRM-free copy of the game for only $10 for a limited time, after which the price jumps to $15. To learn more about the game, head on over to the Kickstarter page for full details.



11

Nov

The swamplands of deepest Louisiana have remained largely untouched and undisturbed, barring the occasional voodoo ceremony or God-of-Madness-worshipping cult. But HeyKiddo! Games is aiming to change all that in 2015 with the release of their gothic horror adventure Ingonga, at least if they’re able to secure the necessary funding through Kickstarter.

In Ingonga, players will take on the role of young Luna, a woman searching an isolated island in the Louisiana bayous for her missing mother. Twenty years ago, an unspeakable evil was unleashed in this very place, and as night falls and Luna delves deeper into the island, it becomes clear that not all is as peaceful and serene as it first seemed.

Drawing on the developers’ darkest nightmares for inspiration, Ingonga is a first-person survival horror game that relies on exploration and wits to advance its story, though some occasional action elements like stealth and combat will be included in flashback sequences. Players will sometimes stumble across videotapes recorded twenty years earlier by a witness to the atrocities committed here. Watching these will offer insights into the story and provide clues to solving some of the island’s puzzles.

Designer Rhett Chassereau is implementing another staple perfect for the swampy setting: voodoo (this is Louisiana, after all). Contrary to its popular portrayal, however, his approach to the religion is one that will benefit and protect the player rather than acting as a malign force with which to contend. Some enemy designs are directly influenced by local folklore, and aspects of the religion are integrated into the gameplay as well. Protective gris-gris can be constructed from items found on the island; some of the Loa (voodoo spirits) play a role in either aiding you or leading you astray on your journey; and Veves, the Loa’s divine symbols found around the island, send you on side missions in unique settings.

The game’s trailers already look quite atmospheric and not for the faint of heart, but in order to finish production the developers are seeking to raise $65,000 by November 30th on Kickstarter. A digital copy of Ingonga is available starting at $15, and the game is slated for release exclusively on PC by November 2015. To learn more, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details.



3

Nov

The latest project from Lucas Pope, indie creator of the acclaimed Papers, Please, will be trading in Eastern European paperwork for salty sea air, creaking decks and nautical mystery in the upcoming Return of the Obra Dinn.

The Obra Dinn is a merchant sailing ship that set out from London in 1802, bound for the Orient and carrying a cargo of trade goods. When it failed to arrive at the Cape of Good Hope six months later it was declared lost at sea, thought to be just one of all too many casualties the East India Company suffered at the hands of pirates or rough seas. Until, that is, on the 14th of October 1808, it finally drifted into port, battered and apparently abandoned, the remains of its crew still lying where they fell. The player, as the East India Company's investigator, has to board the ship and uncover what happened.

It might sound like just another spooky abandoned locale, but the game is shaping up to be a good bit more than that. For one thing, it uses an intriguing core mechanic: a pocket watch that can take you back in time to the very moment of a person's death. Just that exact moment, mind you, and not for long, but long enough to help you start putting together the pieces of the Obra Dinn's fate. Pope promises that it won’t follow the “collect items and look for clues structure," and indeed the brief demo available looks to be anything but typical. Flitting from moment to moment, inspecting frozen tableaux that aren't always what they seem, there's a powerful sense of something dark and evil. Your leisurely perusal of them clearly belies the frantic struggle that played out in the ship's last moments.  

Flamboyantly atypical, too, are the graphics. Pope has a soft spot for the Mac Plus and its 1-bit graphics, so despite being in free-roaming 3D, the visuals are both low-res and monochrome. No colours, no shades of grey, just black and white. There's a certain amount of stippling to indicate shading, but otherwise it's reminiscent of very early 3D games, such as the original Elite or Driller. It also feels a little like an animated pen-and-ink drawing (albeit one drawn by an artist with an obsession for straight lines), which is appropriate to the setting. The production is rounded off with silent movie-style interstitial cards subtitling the limited dialogue and sparsely-used but stirring orchestral music.

Return of the Obra Dinn will be available for Windows, Mac and possibly Linux, but there's no word yet on a release date. In the meantime, you can check out the 15-minute demo first hand.



2

Nov

Exploring strange happenings and enduring frightening circumstances are common activities for adventure gamers, but it's a bit of a rarity when a game's spine-tingling story is based on real-world events. Nevertheless, that's exactly what is promised by the upcoming first-person horror adventure Kholat, currently in production by Polish indie IMGN.PRO.

The game is based on an actual 1959 event known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident, in which nine climbers died on Russia's Ural Mountains under mysterious circumstances. An investigation by Russian authorities at the time revealed puzzling clues, including high levels of radiation on some of the victims' clothing and skeletal trauma without external injury. Although various theories have been put forth to explain the deaths, the incident has never been fully explained, providing lush ground for speculation and conspiracy theories, including those involving the paranormal.

Kholat is set a number of years after the incident, thrusting players into the shoes of an explorer given the chance to discover exactly what happened in the icy Russian wilderness. Details about the exact nature of the gameplay are vague at the moment, but players can expect it to be heavily focused on narrative and exploration. There will be a few enemies along the way, but the developers indicate that the player’s only option in dealing with them will be to escape, leaving the focus on examining the real-time 3D environments (presented using the Unreal Engine 4) and interpreting the story as it unfolds, rather than on twitch-based gameplay or combat. Of course, players can expect their share of hair-raising moments, as evidenced by the inclusion of a “fear management system.”

Kholat is currently planned for release in the first quarter of 2015 on PC and Mac via Steam and other digital distribution platforms, although some as-yet-unannounced territories will also get a boxed retail release.



1

Nov

In 2010, critically-acclaimed Interactive Fiction (IF) author Andrew Plotkin set up a Kickstarter project to fund a commercial text adventure, Hadean Lands. It received nearly four times its goal. Now after a four year wait, the game has finally been released.

Hadean Lands is billed as a “classic text adventure,” where the entire game world and all the gameplay is entirely in text. You play as an apprentice alchemist “marooned in an alien, airless wasteland.” To leave, you'll need to repair your starship single-handedly, discovering new rituals and using your various alchemical skills to achieve this.

Being a classic text adventure, this of course means puzzles. The game promises to be an immense puzzle-fest, and players can expect a substantial world to explore with what Plotkin describes as the “most complex puzzle structure” he's ever designed.

To learn more or purchase Hadean Lands, check out the official website. It is available now for Windows, Mac, Linux, and also for iOS devices, each at only $4.99.