Adventure News
 


January 2016

31

Jan

Cyan’s Myst formula of graphic adventures has been successfully implemented by many developers over the two-plus decades that have come and gone since. The latest to follow in these footsteps is Cyprus-based indie Lydia Kovalenko with her debut title Panmorphia, which is now available for PC, Mac, and Linux.

As legend tells it, one special child is born in each generation, a sentinel bound to the world of Panmorphia’s four elements. With their power, these sentinels can transform into animal shapes that represent those elements in times of trouble. You are the latest of Panmorphia’s sentinels, and are able to take on the form of cat, bird, or fish, allowing for new ways to explore Panmorphia and overcome its many obstacles.


Panmorphia is a first-person, point-and-click adventure that lets players explore a mystical world, solving a variety of puzzles along the way. With an inventory to store collected items and a dynamic map and notebook to track discoveries, the game's photo-realistic environments can be explored both day and night, taking players from the heights of rocky hills to the depths beneath the water.

Originally released on iOS and Android devices, Panmorphia has now been released for PC, Mac, and Linux through itch.io. There is a playable demo available for each platform as well, if you’d like to try before you buy.



29

Jan

Now here's a game you're sure to be of two minds about, though not in the way you might think. It's an upcoming mystery adventure called Splitmind, a surreal thriller that sees players piecing together their lost identity by unlocking playable memories from the past.

Splitmind stars a "shadow" named Kaplan, who awakens in Mnemosyn, the "land of memories", with no recollection of who he is (or was) or how he came to be there. But by exploring Mnemosyn, Kaplan discovers the means to relive key events from his past in the "Unnamed City". Recovering his lost identity and piecing together the mystery of what happened to him in the last several years won't be easy, however, as it puts him on the trail of the Tarot Killer, a serial murderer who disappeared without a trace before apparently turning up ten years later with a new victim. Kaplan's fate seems connected to this "dangerous maniac" and it's up to players to help him figure out how it relates to his lost memories.


As seen in the early screenshots and trailer, Splitmind is a 2D hand-drawn adventure that promises a mix of film noir and the fantastical while hearkening back to the classic point-and-click experience with "tasty dialogs and exploration phases, puzzles, riddles and many items to find, use and combine." Along the way, you'll encounter a variety of interesting characters, including your main ally Maria, the harsh-mannered pawn shop owner Luis, and Irma the heartless fortuneteller.

There is no firm release date scheduled yet for Splitmind, but developer Rendal Studio is currently on track to complete the game sometime this year for PC, with mobile versions to follow in 2017.



20

Jan

While the days of text parsers are largely behind us, the resurgence (at least in the West) of visual novels has renewed popular interest in text-based interactive experiences of late. Taking its cue from that trend, indie studio Unimatrix Productions has created a free-to-use game engine called Storycentric Worlds, which is due for release this spring. Better yet, the company's own graphic adventures will soon be re-released in an illustrated text format made possible through the new engine, beginning with Lifestream in April.

Creator Christopher Brendel claims Storycentric Worlds is designed to represent the "pinnacle of interactive fiction, combining classic room-based explorative text game mechanics with a stylish graphical interface and plenty of modern bells and whistles like pictures and sound." There is no parser for inputting one's own commands; instead, player interaction occurs though predetermined text choices unique to each scenario, including inventory use, as seen in the screenshot below from the reimagined Lifestream, which will contain more than 150 images and over an hour of music.

Following Lifestream, other Unimatrix adventures will be similarly converted throughout the year, including existing titles like Shady Brook and The Filmmaker, as well as the previously-unreleased Stonewall Penitentiary. The engine itself is currently in closed beta, and will be compatible with a variety of platforms upon final launch in April, including PC, iOS, and Android.

Prospective developers interested in learning more about Storycentric Worlds can drop by the official website for additional details.



15

Jan

With Shardlight now in the home stretch towards release, developer Wadjet Eye Games is already looking ahead to its next project, which has now been confirmed to be Unavowed.

Described by designer Dave Gilbert as a "dark urban fantasy set in modern day New York", the new game is named after an ancient society dedicated to fighting evil. As a "victim of a supernatural attack that left your life in tatters," joining the group offers your only hope of discovering the truth behind what happened to you. Fortunately, you are not alone, as "at your side are five team members that you can team up with, each of whom have unique powers and knowledge to assist in solving the game's challenges. Your old life might be over, but you can still forge a new one."

While no further details have been publicly revealed, the game's first screenshots display the same kind of high quality, atmospheric pixel art that has become the company trademark throughout its own Blackwell series and other published adventures, including the acclaimed Gemini Rue, Resonance and last year's Technobabylon.

There is currently no firm release target for Unavowed, but we'll certainly be keeping a close eye on its development in the coming months.



12

Jan

Ever since To the Moon tugged on our heartstrings back in 2011, the game's many fans have been clamouring for a sequel. We haven't been cheated in the meantime, with the smaller A Bird Story released along with several holiday "minisodes" and even a platypus-themed comic, but a full-fledged follow-up has remained elusive. Until now, as at long last indie developer Kan Gao and Freebird Games have unveiled Finding Paradise.

Though it can be played as a standalone adventure, Finding Paradise shares story elements in common with both of its predecessors. It once again stars a pair of doctors who visit dying people on their deathbeds and are able to "traverse through a patient's memories to artificially fulfill their last wish." This time around, the patient is none other than Colin, the little boy from A Bird Story, now elderly. While details about Colin's wish fulfilment have yet to be revealed, we do know that the game will involve a "main plotline revolving around the patient's life story, as well as an over-arching plot involving the doctors themselves."


As seen in the early screenshots and trailer, Finding Paradise will once again feature detailed, isometric pixel art accompanied by an original score. The teaser includes once such track, entitled "Time is a Place". The full game, of course, will offer plenty more where that came from.

The developer is currently hoping to complete the game by the end of this year, but admits that final launch will "probably" slip into early 2017. That should give us plenty of time to stock up on Kleenexes.



9

Jan

Most end-of-the-world stories offer up the obligatory barren wasteland, a desperate survival against hostile forces (human or otherwise), and often a pervasive sense of hopelessness and oppression. However, gamers wishing for a tale that explores more uplifting themes while still retaining an appropriately desolate setting will be pleased to know that Wanda: A Beautiful Apocalypse has been funded successfully on Kickstarter.

Produced by Myanmar-based indie developer Kodots Game Studio and set to release soon, Wanda tells the tale of two robots who find themselves on a planet devastated by cataclysm, with no memories of what happened or what they are doing there. Rather than focusing the narrative solely on survival, the game promises to explore themes like friendship and hope in difficult times, since the robots’ child-like innocence allows them to take pleasure in actions and details that most humans would see as insignificant in the same situation, like watching the moon together or drawing pictures on abandoned buildings. Though frightened by their isolated circumstances, the bond they forge will help them to overcome challenges as they explore their unfamiliar surroundings.


The game will be free of “comprehensible dialogue,” instead using context and the robots’ interactions with each other to tell the story and engage players emotionally, a goal bolstered by promises of a “show, don’t tell” narrative and an emotion-infused symphonic soundtrack by composer David Lister. Throughout the game will be puzzles to solve that range from moving rocks in order to navigate the environment, to collaborative logic puzzles that require guiding both robots around the scene in order to achieve progress.

Played from a third-person 2.5D isometric perspective and controlled using a point-and-click interface, the graphics are described by the developers as being reminiscent of a children’s book. Indeed, the pastel colors and cartoonish, non-threatening character models convey a gentle, almost hopeful mood, a stark contrast to the gritty, dark realism of other post-apocalyptic settings.

Although the Kickstarter has ended, interested gamers can still reserve their copy at the game’s official website for $6.99. Digital goodies like a comic, art book, and soundtrack are also available for those willing to spend a bit extra. If enough post-Kickstarter sales bring in the cash needed to surpass stretch goals not met during the campaign, Mac, iOS, and Android ports are a possibility, but for now, assuming no last-minute delays, Wanda is fast approaching its PC-only February debut.



7

Jan

Myst-style adventures may be an endangered species these days, but there's a new one being conceived right now in the imaginary world of Anamedia.

Anamedia drops players into the realm of Levanda, set within a giant willow tree. There you expect to find your friend, but the entire tree community seems to be deserted when you arrive. In seeking clues to what happened, you discover the diary of a stranger named Karr, who tells of an "unknown land called Anamedia", a once-idyllic world whose "fragile equilibrium" is now in jeopardy, as the massive machinery it depends on lies idle. It's up to you to reach Anamedia alone to "restore [the] stability of that world, unveiling its origins, culture and language" in the process.


The creation of Similia, a two-woman indie Italian team, Anamedia is a node-based point-and-click adventure in which players must make their way to and then through the four regions of Anamedia. Along the way are a host of puzzles that promise to be varied in both type and difficulty but never demanding any technical or scientific knowledge that would prove to be insurmountable to the less mechanically inclined, requiring just a "bit of logic and intuition" to solve. Some of those puzzles are already on display in the early PC demo, available to download from the developer's website.

The demo will have to tide gamers over for a while, as it will still be some time until we see the full game completed. Similia is optimistically targeting a late 2016 digital release for Windows, Mac, and Linux, though sometime next year seems far more likely.



2

Jan

Bickering protagonists Prince Nathaniel and Princess Loreen barely escaped the first round of Royal Trouble back in 2010. Now they're back as newlyweds, but there's no happily ever after for them, as trouble finds them again in the casual adventure sequel Hidden Honeymoon Havoc.

Following a magnificent royal wedding, Nathaniel and Loreen anticipate an equally wonderful resort honeymoon, but their plans take an abrupt turn for the worse when they "decide to make an ill-fated detour to the Merry Castle, touted for its rollercoasters and magic tents. Who would have known it was another trap that will land them in hot water yet again?" Can they survive their new ordeal, and just as importantly, can their short-lived marital bliss withstand the pressures of the obstacles that now confront them?


As seen in the game's screenshots and trailer, Hidden Honeymoon Havoc uses the same whimsical art style of the original. And once again, players will alternately control both Nathaniel and Loreen as you "explore the castle, pick up useful items, solve tricky quests, help other captives and play witty mini-games while making your escape."

Available exclusively on iOS platforms, Royal Trouble: Hidden Honeymoon Havoc can be downloaded free from the App Store with the full game unlocked through in-app purchase.