Adventure News
 


February 2015

27

Feb

Normally the phrase "it's a dog's life" isn't considered a good thing, but it is when the canine in question is the star of a new upcoming point-and-click adventure Seventeen Uncles: A Pug's Life, currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

Life does indeed become pretty rough for Kirk the pug, a "happy family pup and Grub Relations Executive in the local bee-run honey factory, whose life is turned upside down when a deal with the Devil goes horribly wrong following the death of his darling wife Dilys." Now in order to win back his wife's soul, Kirk must venture through a variety of bizarre locations, including a "tattoo studio run by an octopus, a rocket launch site manned by an axolotl astronaut and a massive termite mound cut off from the rest of the world since the end of the great war with the ants." As if that weren't enough, along the way he'll run into a handful of other zany characters such as "occult armadillos, pub crawling sloths, stink selling bats, taxi driving dung beetles and many many more."


A one-man production by indie developer Jonathan Cheetham, the game's 2D hand-drawn graphics clearly show off his artistic inspirations, including LucasArts classics like Sam & Max Hit the Road and cartoons like Rocko’s Modern Life and Adventure Time. According to Cheetham, Seventeen Uncles will be "family friendly without being too sickly sweet and boring, but not afraid to have some darker themes without resorting to excessive violence, gore or foul language." In between the comedic dialogue will be puzzles that are "logical with the fun cartoon nature of the visuals", though if you need some help you can "consult the psychic tick that lives on your head... who, in exchange for a little mammalian blood, will tell your future and give you some puzzle hints."

To this point Seventeen Uncles has been entirely self-funded, but in order to finish it for PC, Mac, and Linux before the end of the year, Cheetham has turned to Kickstarter to raise a modest £3,000 by March 25th. A minimum £7 pledge is all that's required for a downloadable copy of the game upon completion. If you're on the fence, a playable alpha demo for PC is already available for download.

If you like what you see so far, you can help out a puppy in need on the Kickstarter page. You can also drop by the game's official website and vote for it on Steam Greenlight.



23

Feb

First The Last Door, then Ron Gilbert's Thimbleweed Park, and now the upcoming comedy/mystery adventure The Darkside Detective... looks like the chunky pixel is back in style!

The Darkside Detective is Francis McQueen, the "sole member of the criminally underfunded Darkside Division" in Twin Lakes City, a place where "cultists crawl, where demons dwell, where the occult… occults?" Whatever the evil threatening his town, "he’s there, ready to investigate the cases that nobody else will." He'll have several cases to solve here, as rather than presenting a single unified mystery, The Darkside Detective is a "micro-adventure game" consisting of the "most bizarre and obscure cases that come across his desk."


Originally conceived in less than eight hours at the November 2014 Galway Game Jam by Irish indie developers Paul Conway and Christopher Colston, the success of the prototype inspired this full-fledged commercial version, with writer Dave McCabe and composer Ben Prunty joining the expanded DoomCube team. The early screenshots show off the game's distinctive pixel art style, while the trailer highlights McQueen's "humorous bite-size investigations into the occult and extraordinary." But you can do more than just passively observe, as a browser-based demo is already available to play at GameJolt.

Currently in production for PC, smartphones and tablet devices, there is no firm release date scheduled yet for The Darkside Detective, but the game is slated to be completed sometime later this year. In the meantime, you can keep up to date at the game's official website and vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



22

Feb

What if one day you awoke to find yourself alone on an island, with no memories of how you arrived there? That is the basic premise of Helsinki Noir's upcoming game, Black Island, a 2D first-person adventure that aims to meld cinematic storytelling with gameplay inspired by classic titles like Myst.

In Black Island, your solitary exploration uncovers signs of recent habitation, as though everyone left quickly. Your memories slowly come back to you in flashes that both disturb and intrigue you, offering clues about who you are and why you find yourself in this strange place as you attempt to find a way off the island.


An early teaser provides a glimpse of the live-action videos that will gradually reveal the main character's memories, while an additional gameplay clip and screenshots show off the slideshow-style graphics composed of heavily-photoshopped images of locations around the developer's native Finland.

The game is slated to arrive on Android and iOS devices this spring, though a release on PC and Mac is also possible if the game is successfully Greenlit on Steam . For more information, interested gamers can keep up to date through Black Island's official website.



19

Feb

In 2013, gamers were treated to a disturbing surrealist freeware adventure aboard a train called Sepulchre, which hinted strongly of more to come. Today that "more" has been revealed, as the original game by Owl Cave will be surrounded with both prequel and sequel installments in the commercial release of The Charnel House Trilogy this April.

The original Sepulchre was an "unsettling take on trains, historians and huge bags" that starred museum curator Dr. Harold Lang. Awaking aboard a most unusual train, players had to interact with fellow passengers in order to "piece together Dr. Lang’s memory and steer him through turmoil and train-based unease."


Bookending that story in The Charnel House Trilogy will be a prequel episode, "Inhale", and a follow-up finale, "Exhale". The former casts players in the role of a young woman named Alex Davenport as she "waits impatiently for an urgent delivery. A delivery that will change her life. Haunted by snatches of a past she can barely face, Alex longs to escape her room, her apartment, her life. And yet unseen forces seem to conspire against her." The finale picks up Alex's story once again after she too awakens in a familiar location following a a "brush with tragedy". Players must help Alex in her "desperate search to find the doctor she met and travel to the mysterious island of Augur Peak. Can she survive the journey? Why does she want to escape? And what is the dark and terrible secret from her past that doesn't seem to want to stay hidden?"

If the pixel art on display has a familiar style, it might be because one of the artists is Ben Chandler, whose credits include the 2014 Aggie Award-winning Blackwell Epiphany and Wadjet Eye's upcoming Technobabylon. While the name Owl Cave may not be instantly familiar, the design team also has an established genre pedigree, with Richard & Alice's Ashton Raze and Lewis Denby co-developing the game along with another artist, Ivan Ulyanov. Unlike their previous adventure, The Charnel House Trilogy will be fully voiced.

There isn't long to wait for The Charnel House Trilogy, as the game is slated to be released for PC in April on Steam. In the meantime, you can still download and play the original Sepulchre. Registration is required, but the game is free to play.



18

Feb

In 2009, the semi-interactive webcomic Homestuck was launched, a kind of "mock adventure game" combining a story about teenagers who become trapped inside the world of a video game with a comedic parody of the genre. It went on to gain a cult following of fans, bolstered by community involvement in the comic's direction. In 2012, creator Andrew Hussie took to Kickstarter to raise funding for a proper video game set in the Homestuck universe, garnering nearly $2.5 million dollars by campaign's end.

Three years later, Hussie's What Pumpkin Studios has announced that the first episode of the planned four-part game, titled Hiveswap, is nearly ready. The plot revolves around Joey, a young girl who gets sucked through a portal and trapped on Alternia, an alien planet. In Joey's quest to return home, she will join a group of "troll rebels," discover the "true meaning of friendship," and somehow save the world in the process. Although set in the same universe as Homestuck and loosely based on existing canon, the game's story is completely standalone and intended to be accessible to series newcomers, though references to the webcomic peppered throughout should satisfy diehard fans as well.

As seen in the first screenshots released, the point-and-click adventure will be played from a third-person perspective, with stylized 3D animated graphics providing a whimsical view of the proceedings. The developers promise that, despite its origin in parody, players will have honest-to-goodness puzzling gameplay and a variety of adventuring tasks to perform.

Hiveswap is scheduled to arrive this spring, with the other three episodes set to follow throughout the year on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms. For more information, head for the game's official website.



16

Feb

Back in 2013, you may have come across an online demo of a game called Stairs, a psychological first-person horror adventure in the vein of Amnesia. Now indie Swedish developer GreyLight Entertainment has turned to Kickstarter to complete work on a full-fledged commercial game by the same name. Though not a remake or extension of the original demo, it expounds on the concept of telling dark tales of man’s inhumanity toward man, all in the context of a chilling horror narrative.

Stairs tells the story of Christopher Adams, a journalist tracking three missing persons whose disappearances all appear to be connected to an old, abandoned factory. Upon examining the site, Christopher comes across some enigmatic stairs, leading down… but down to where? The team is hesitant to give away too many details, but as Chris descends further, he (and the player) will experience various dark and creepy stories, a new one on each floor. These surreal vignettes are set in various locations and will all be based on disturbing real-world events. As the developers claim, “We want to remind you of just how disturbed and depraved humanity can be. Stairs is that reminder.”


Adding another wrinkle to the gameplay, players will be able to utilize three tools to help them get the most out of the gameplay-driven narrative. Christopher’s photo camera lets him see otherwise invisible things and interact with objects in the environment via some supernatural influence. His video camera and tape recorder have more of a storytelling function; players may choose a location in each level to leave the camera or recorder, and retrieve them later in the hopes that they’ve chosen wisely and captured something of interest.

With a release date planned for July 2015, GreyLight has their hopes set on raising $30,000 via Kickstarter by March 18th. All those interested in making the descent this summer will be able to reserve a digital copy of the PC-only release starting at $7 for a limited time.



15

Feb

Being an identical twin could have its perks in an adventure game, but it could also lead to danger if your sibling is in trouble and pleads for your help before suddenly disappearing. That is the premise of Mirrored, an upcoming episodic mystery series from indie developers Ozan Civit and Cardboard Sword.

Mirrored casts players in the role of a man named Rob, who gets a phone call from his twin brother Nick, an anthropologist he hasn't seen for several years. Making out only garbled words like "they're coming", Rob rushes to his brother's office. But Nick is already gone, and now it's up to you to "reveal the truth about his dark connections and conspiracies weaved around you." As you begin to unravel the "enigma of the green mask", you must investigate your brother's connection to the theoretical physicist Dr. Richard Hudson and stay a step ahead of the secret operatives that are trying to track you down.


The series will consist of three individual episodes, each containing motion comic-style cinematics and a single first-person setting that can be explored thoroughly by rotating the camera 360-degrees around you. Accompanied by an original soundtrack, each installment should offer 45-75 minutes worth of investigative gameplay, including item collection and a variety of story-driven puzzles.

Mirrored was originally planned only for iOS platforms, but now the developers have set their sights on a PC/Mac version as well, for which they've launched a Steam Greenlight page. The first chapter is scheduled for release on iPhone and iPad this March, with the final two episodes to be completed before year's end. There is currently no firm launch date set for the debut PC/Mac port, but if all goes well we could be seeing it by the third quarter of 2015.



12

Feb

Many players expected to find horrific secrets lurking in the deserted Greenbriar home in 2013's Gone Home, only to discover a surprisingly poignant modern familial drama instead. The prospect is certainly compelling, however, and now a new indie developer comprised of experienced industry veterans is running with that Gone Home-meets-horror game concept in the upcoming House of Caravan.

House of Caravan casts players in the role of a young boy named Lester Bernard, who "awakes in the titular mansion with little knowledge of how he got there or why – other than vague memories of a kidnapping" at the hands of strangers on his way to school. In order to discover his role in the abduction and escape his predicament, over the course of one night Lester must thoroughly explore his surroundings, digging deeply for clues and solving a variety of environmental puzzles along the way.


Described as a "novel take on the room escape genre", House of Caravan takes place in the early 20th century and is set entirely in a single mansion in the fictional northeast American town of Candlewood. There players will find a "dark and twisted narrative to uncover, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and classic horror films." Rendered in realtime 3D, the mansion promises to be "littered with lore and puzzles that, under the right scrutiny, may reveal the sinister history of the Caravan family." In keeping with the single setting, however, it won't be a long adventure, offering just a couple hours of exploration.

While the game's Spanish developer, Rosebud Games, may not mean much to people, the team's past credits include the likes of Silent Hill: Origins, F.E.A.R. Extraction Point and The Witcher, so their horror bonafides are certainly well established. We'll see how they fare with the adventuring when the game is released for PC and Mac sometime this spring. To learn more in the meantime, drop by the game's official website.



8

Feb

It's been nearly 200 years since Mary Shelley brought Frankenstein to life, but two centuries later her creation is still raising ethical questions about humanity and inspiring artists to explore them, such as Niklas Hallin in his upcoming point-and-click adventure, Belladonna.

When the titular Belladonna and her husband, doctor Wolfram von Trauerschloss, are left grieving the loss of their young child, the doctor "launches into a dark obsession, devoting his life to the quest of conquering death. The madness spreads and Belladonna is soon dragged into the despair, but the tale takes surprising turns as the dead are brought back to life and the living are not to be trusted." The game casts players in the role of a "corpse girl rising from the dead in an abandoned laboratory" who must now "unravel the mysteries concerning [her] own death and reanimation."


Described as a "mystery point-and-click adventure in classic style", Belladonna itself has been brought to life by just one man, indie Swedish developer Niklas Hallin. This "twisted and dark" gothic adventure is not a Hollywood-style horror game, but rather an eerie exploration of the "place beyond life and death [that] puts you into the mind of the unliving creatures and their worldviews." Progressing through the story will involve reading some "longer texts which are inspired in style by Mary Shelley's novel" and grappling with themes such as the role of villains and heroes and moral value systems.

While there is currently no firm launch date scheduled yet for Belladonna, the best news of all is that after two years of development, the game is now complete. To learn more while you wait, drop by the game's official website, and to help hasten its release you can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



7

Feb

While we're still waiting on the first full adventure to make use of Senscape's Dagon engine, now we can look forward to another in the form of Seclusion: Islesbury.

Seclusion stars Jason Endel, a detective whose wife disappeared nine years earlier, only to turn up dead in a car crash five years later. Still tormented by this unsolved mystery, Endel heads to the nearly deserted town of Islesbury when his wife's name is referenced in newly discovered clues to a murder investigation. For Jason this is "more than a murder case, it's a chance to come to terms with his wife's death and to make his life bearable again." But closure won't be easy in this "town with an infamous past", as there will be "a lot more to this journey then simply solving the secrets behind a few murders. Things are always worse than they seem to be in this world."

Much like Asylum, Seclusion will be a first-person, node-based adventure that allows 360-degree panning at each realistically detailed stop, which range from "desolate apartments to lonely streets, dark woods to dangerous cliffs, and more." Created by small Turkish developer Silent Game House, the game's fictional town was largely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's New England settings, and though no timeline is specified, events occur before the spread of mobile phone technology, an important detail in emphasizing the protagonist's loneliness in Islesbury.

There is no firm release date scheduled yet for Seclusion: Islesbury, but if all goes well we could see the game launched sometime this summer. In the meantime, keep your eye on the official website for more information.



5

Feb

“If you can Google, you can play."

That may sound like a strange qualification for a video game, but not when the game is Her Story, an upcoming live-action, non-linear crime story in which you must piece together evidence exclusively through filmed interview archives.

In Her Story, your own computer becomes a police terminal that allows access to seven different 1994 video interviews in which "a British woman is interviewed by detectives about her missing husband." Instead of merely viewing the video footage passively, however, in order to find relevant details you must "type search queries and the database returns clips of the answers where the woman speaks those words."


While the investigative concept may be simple, indie developer Sam Barlow, perhaps best known to adventure gamers as the writer/designer of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, claims that "it’s a mechanic that quickly reveals its richness and complexity. At times it can feel like you’re engaged in a genuine dialogue with this woman and her story. It’s a unique way to interact with a narrative, a sculptural way of viewing a story – and something that can only be done interactively.”

When asked about the actual objective, Barlow responded that "there is a end-game of sorts, triggered somewhat organically", but that the focus isn't on "solving the case" so much as exploring the suspect (played by actress/musician Viva Seifert) and scenario more deeply. It's a very personal process, as he went on to note: "What's fun about the game is that some players might get the 'specifics' of the crime quite quickly, so they're playing a Columbo style story where you know the who but perhaps not the why. Others might get a conventional whodunnit if they unravel the story more linearly, etc. It's fascinating how robust stories can be, how they can cope with being rearranged quite dramatically."

There is currently no firm release date for Her Story, but the game is due to arrive soon on PC, Mac and iOS devices. If you'd like to see it available on Steam, you can vote for the game now on Greenlight.



4

Feb

First-person puzzlers are making a comeback! Though unlike in Myst's heyday, they're often done in real-time 3D these days. The latest in the new crop of exploration- and puzzle-based adventures is Pneuma: Breath of Life, which is set to debut later this month.

The titular Pneuma is a god who witnesses the "genesis of the universe" in a "narrated story of self-discovery, exploring the fundamental nature of being." If you think that's hard to wrap your brain around, you're all set for the game, which promises to be a "difficult puzzler designed to force players to think outside the box and explore beyond what they know as reality."


The game's real-time 3D environments are powered by the Unreal Engine 4, and Pneuma's "comical self-obsessed inner monologue" will be voiced by actor Jay Britton. Gameplay promises to consist of a "series of environmental challenges that require perception, observation, and lateral thinking skills to succeed." As a god, you'll be able to overcome obstacles through your ability to "lift bridges, rotate platforms and move entire rooms all with the power of your mind."

A collaboration between British teams Deco Digital and Bevel Studios, Pneuma is already well along in production. In fact, the game is due to be released as a timed Xbox One downloadable exclusive on February 27th. But non-Xboxers fear not, as the game is also planned for PC with Oculus Rift support. There is currently no firm timetable for the PC port, but it has already been successfully Greenlit on Steam. While you wait, you can learn more about the game through the official website.



3

Feb

If at first you succeed, try again and make it even better. That seems to be the motto behind Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock, a popular freeware sci-fi thriller being updated and re-released later this month as a commercial adventure.

Morningstar casts players in the first-person spaceboots of a contractor named Powell, whose seemingly routine job soon becomes "a deadly mission to save the merchant vessel Morningstar and her crew." After a crash landing kills one fellow crewman and seriously injures the captain, Powell is "on his own to repair the ship and find a way to escape the strange gravity well of the empty planet they've landed on." Making matters worse is the discovery of a "much larger and better equipped ship and her crew, all dead, and not by natural means. What—or who—brought down these ships and is killing their crews? Why? And can Powell find a way off-planet before he shares the same fate?"


A first-person, point-and-click adventure with panoramic scenes by Red Herring Labs, Morningstar was originally released as a freeware adventure, which is still playable in your browser. The commercial version of the game is being published by Phoenix Online, and promises to include brand new puzzles and scenes, an extended storyline, remastered cinematics and soundtrack, and full voice acting to go with a more streamlined interface.

There's little time to wait for Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock, as the game is scheduled to launch for PC and Mac on February 17th at a cost of $9.99 at various online retailers.



1

Feb

It's been a long time since the final bell tolled on the Clock Tower series, but fans of the classic PlayStation horror series (and horror fans in general) can rejoice at the return of designer Hifumi Kono, as well Takashi Shimizu, the director of The Grudge, in a new PC adventure called Project Scissors: NightCry.

In NightCry, you have been invited aboard a decadent ship for what turns out to be the "cruise of a (possibly short) lifetime." You'll soon discover that "while your surroundings are luxurious and the guests are friendly, not everything is as it should be. The guests and the crew start to turn up dead, the victims of some foul murderer." The survivors become increasingly suspicious of each other, and as night falls a "baby’s cry echoes throughout." Your task is to explore the ship, talk to your fellow passengers and crew, and "search for clues that will lead you to the killer as you float, lost, on the open sea. But be forewarned – your actions will determine how many survive to the end."


NightCry shares many similarities with its spiritual predecessors. It's primarily a 3D point-and-click adventure in which you "investigate the strange and often gruesome happenings. Players click on objects in the environment to investigate and obtain items, helping to solve puzzles and gain more clues." However, you will also be stalked by a "dark presence" brought on board by a group of stowaway cultists. With no weapons or means of defending yourself against this danger, your only option is to "run or hide in order to survive your encounters with this evil." Escaping won't be easy, however, as "this evil force isn’t confined to simply roaming the ship's hallways, elevators, or rooms." The decisions you make and the actions you take will determine your fate in one of a number of multiple endings.

Originally announced as a mobile-only title for iOS, Android, and Vita, the developers have taken to Kickstarter to give the game a large screen treatment on PC. To do that, they'll need to raise an ambitious $300,000 goal by February 23rd. An minimum $25 pledge will get you a downloadable copy of the game upon completion, projected for the end of this year. To support the game and learn more about Project Scissors: NightCry, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details.