Adventure News
 


March 2016

31

Mar

Indiana who?

Animation Arts may be best known for their Secret Files and Lost Horizon series, but the German developer has been quietly working on the start of what looks to be another potential globe-trotting franchise. Owners of Android devices can already see for themselves with the release of Preston Sterling and the Legend of Excalibur, though PC and iOS gamers will need to wait a little while longer.

The titular hero of the new game is a fearless "adventurer, traveller and treasure-hunter all rolled into one." His newest challenge, however, will be a true test of both his courage and abilities as he attempts to "find the most mystical artefact in English mythology: Excalibur, the sword of the legendary King Arthur." Nothing in life that's worth having comes easy, of course, but Preston soon finds that "the hunt for this fabled treasure will involve far more danger than he could ever have imagined."


As displayed in the screenshots and trailer, Preston Sterling uses the same realistic, highly detailed graphic style as the studio's other games, but this time the action is split between first- and third-person perspectives for the puzzling and more dynamic activities (sneaking, running, etc.), respectively.

Preston Sterling and the Legend of Excalibur is already available for download on Android devices from either Google Play or Amazon. The iOS version is expected shortly, with the PC release, which will include enhanced graphics and other platform-specific changes (but no voice acting), is currently on track to arrive by the end of April.



20

Mar

Ever wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut, bounding around the moon in your spacesuit with the blue marble of Earth overhead? In Deliver Us the Moon, the forthcoming episodic survival adventure from indie Dutch developer KeokeN, you'll get the chance to find out just how beautiful it looks up there. Except, of course, it's never that simple; you've got nefarious plots to uncover and the whole population of that blue marble to save, too. 

The year is 2069, and despite the best efforts of environmentalists we have almost depleted the Earth's resources. Even coming together under the banner of the World Space Agency in a last-ditch effort to research the moon's possibilities and save mankind, our nations still haven't been able to put aside past history and selfish interests. That's where you come in: as a former astronaut, since gone rogue, you're perfectly suited for a secret do-or-die mission. You have to go to the moon and explore the abandoned facilities there, uncovering their secrets and hidden agendas in your quest to "deliver" it for humanity. Yet again, the fate of the world is on your shoulders – well, yours and those of a small robot called ASE (short for All-Seeing Eye).


Early demo footage looks stunning, with carefully realised and (literally) atmospheric bases interspersed with treks across the lunar surface. Designed as an open world, you can explore in first- or third-person perspective. If you get tired of walking you can drive around on lunar rovers or reach those hard-to-get-to places using a jetpack. Fittingly, you'll also have to deal with a variety of environmental hazards and carefully manage your oxygen levels if you want to stay alive. Seemingly more about survival and exploration than traditional puzzle-solving, you will nonetheless need to find and exploit the technologies you discover in order to proceed. The choices you make along the way will also shape the future of mankind, leading to a variety of different endings.

Having recently reached its ambitious goal of €100,000 through Kickstarter, the first episode of Deliver Us the Moon is due to blast off for Windows and XBox One in August, with the remaining four episodes planned for three-month intervals after that. Versions for PlayStation 4, Mac and Linux are also possible in future. If you want to discover more, you can download the WSA Space Center for a comprehensive interactive introduction.



19

Mar

The Turing Test is meant to be the definitive measurement of machine sentience, but this summer we humans will be put through our own strenuous examination when The Turing Test is released as an interactive adventure this summer.

Players are put in the first-person shoes of Ava Turing, an engineer for the International Space Agency as she "attempts to uncover the truth behind the research base on Jupiter’s moon, Europa." The story "explores the phenomena of consciousness and challenges the meaning of human intuition" as it examines mankind's "inherent need to explore, protect and survive." As you venture "deeper into Europa’s ice crusted core and transcend the line between man and machine," you must undertake a variety of interactive puzzles that "only a human could solve."


In order to succeed in your goals, you will need to "power up and take control of artificially intelligent machines, manipulate giant structures and solve complex tasks." Your main tool in freely navigating this 3D world is the Energy Manipulation Tool, which allows you to transfer power from one object to another, but you will also "learn the significance of player control as you switch between multiple perspectives to solve The Turing Test’s most challenging puzzles."

Created by the developer of Pneuma: Breath of Life and published by the Square Enix Collective, The Turing Test is on track for release this August on PC and Xbox One. To learn more about the game, visit the official website for additional details in the coming months.



17

Mar

Musicals are few and far between when it comes to video games, but perhaps the tide is turning. Hot on the heels of the cast numbers in Deponia Doomsday comes a brand new episodic "point-and-click musical" called Midnight at the Celestial Palace, which is set to debut later this year.

The game stars a 37-year-old "manchild and professional underachiever" named Greg, who suddenly finds himself "whisked away to a magical dreamland hidden beyond the stars." There he befriends the honourable anthropomorphic otter Sir Squiggles and together "the two embark on a harrowing journey through the whimsical realm of Dreamania in a quest to reach the wondrous Celestial Palace." As our heroes soon discover, "a great peril" is lurking in the shadows around them, but one thing's for sure: they plan to meet their challenges with a song in their hearts.  


As the early screenshots and trailers display, Midnight at the Celestial Palace is a classic-styled fantasy adventure with "storybook-like art and animations in a cozy retro style", full voice-overs, and a humorous story filled with entertaining but "non-I-wanna-break-things-because-its-so-dang-frustrating" puzzles. The game's real standout feature, however, is the interactive musical element, in which players themselves get to direct the content of the songs.

Planned as a series of three parts by indie developers Orrery Games and BlipHaus Design, the first chapter of Midnight at the Celestial Palace is currently on schedule for PC release sometime later this year. While you wait, if you'd like to see it released on Steam, you can now vote for the game on Greenlight or drop by the official website to learn more.



16

Mar

Adventure gamers are experienced thieves, but you'll need to be at your burgling best in indie developer Spider Key Games' newly-released Spellbind.

Spellbind casts players in the role of 16-year-old Luppe, the self-proclaimed "king of thieves" and the "head of the biggest gang of street urchins in the town of Riathon". Your reputation is on the line, however, when the leader of a rival gang named Ricko publicly challenges you to "enter the cellar of Lord Amatar’s house and steal his oldest and most expensive bottle of wine." This won't be an easy challenge, as the very name of Lord Amatar is feared by all, and surely such a prized possession will be well protected.


This first-person casual puzzler uses the familiar slideshow-style presentation in taking players into and under Lord Amatar's "big old house". Along the way, you will need to solve "up to 12 different riddles and many other puzzles" throughout the game's expected 3-hour play time.

Interested puzzle lovers need not wait, as Spellbind is already available for PC, Mac, and Linux. You can find the complete list of purchase links at the game's official website.



13

Mar

If there's one thing that adventure games have taught us, it's that exploring creepy castles in the dark on your own is probably not a great idea. Unless you enjoy scaring the bejeebers out of yourself, in which case you'll be happy to know that UnderDread has now opened its own castle doors to intrepid adventurers.

Set in the early 18th century, UnderDread casts players in the first-person role of a man whose daughter has been kidnapped. Having stopped your horse-drawn carriage to rest at a "local tavern overlooking what appears to be a beautiful nearby castle surrounded by wonderful meadows", your scenic stay turns out to be a nightmare when you awaken the next morning to find your daughter Lisa missing. The only clues point to the castle, and with your desperation increasing, you "travel to the mysterious destination determined to find your daughter alive."


In freely exploring the castle's ruined catacombs, a deeper mystery will begin to unravel, as "it becomes clear other children have disappeared as well." Scattered long the way are notes from both a detective and local researcher who also came to investigate before vanishing themselves. Relying on your trusty lantern to illuminate the way, you'll soon discover that "the castle is full of dark secrets and dangerous monsters, and only by solving tricky puzzles and by avoiding treacherous traps will you discover ways to progress." As demonstrated in UnderDread's gameplay trailer, since you cannot combat your evil foes with brute force, your only chance to survive these encounters is to evade them or make strategic use of their weaknesses.

Having snuck up on us in the dark itself, the best news of all for horror fans is that UnderDread is already available for PC download on Steam.



12

Mar

Last year, an unheralded little adventure called MechaNika introduced adventure gamers to Mango Protocol's offbeat, appropriately twisted "Psychotic" world, a meta setting in which the indie Spanish developer has plans for multiple stories. The next such adventure to take place in this world is Agatha Knife, a spin-off prequel of sorts, taking place before the events of its predecessor with a new lead protagonist.

Agatha is an insomniac, but she has much bigger problems than merely trying to get to sleep. You see, she loves animals but she also enjoys eating meat. To make matters worse, she works in the slaughterhouse of her mother's butcher. Struggling to reconcile killing the animals she loves to eat the meat she craves calls for creative solutions that will "make her animals happy while they surrender with no fear to the adorable little butcher and her sharp knives and saws." In doing so, Agatha goes about creating her own religion called Carnivorism.

Sound a little psychotic? Then you're getting the picture. And speaking of pictures, the new game features the same deceptively cartoony graphics that belie this series' surprisingly dark narrative untertones. Both MechaNika and Agatha Knife are ostensibly about children, but they are decidedly not children's game. Those who have played the earlier game will recognize Agatha as one of the key characters in "Nika's plan to build her ultimate weapon to destroy all the uncool things in the world", but it is not necessary to play that game to enjoy the new one, which is set before the events of MechaNika.

There is no firm timeline for Agatha Knife just yet, but if all goes well we could be seeing it as early as September or October on PC, Mac,and Linux. In the meantime, for a glimpse of the developer's "Psychotic Adventures" in action, including both MechaNika and Agatha Knife, check out the series video on YouTube.



6

Mar

By themselves, both climate change and nuclear war could drastically alter the way humanity functions, but what if both of these catastrophes came along to wipe us out? This is the apocalyptic premise of the upcoming episodic adventure The Descendant, set to debut later this month from Swedish developer Gaming Corps.

A five-part 3D sci-fi adventure, The Descendant takes place in a future where the planet has been devastated and only a few thousand individuals are saved, stored for centuries in cryogenic stasis in underground bunkers known as “Arks.” Following the world’s recovery, all of the Arks opened, except for one: Ark-01. Players will experience the story across two timelines, future-past and future-present, controlling two main characters. In the past timeline, players will get to know Mia, a janitor tasked with maintaining the facility in which the descendants are housed as it falls apart around her. In the present timeline, you’ll control Donnie, one of the investigators charged with finding any survivors trapped within the unopened Ark-01 facility. As the game unfolds, Donnie will discover that both his mission and the purpose of the Ark project are not what they seem to be.


While exact gameplay details are being kept tightly under wraps, the developers promise that the episodic narrative will be paired with a variety of features, including investigation, puzzles, and “tense action sequences,” along with branching dialogue choices. In addition, player decisions are said to have consequences that will affect the “future of mankind.”

The first installment of The Descendant is slated for PC release on Steam March 24th, with the remaining four episodes expected throughout the year. As an alternative to the planned individual episode price of $3.99, players may preorder a season pass for $14.99, which gives access to all five episodes as they release, and for a limited time includes extras like 48-hour early access and digital downloads of the game’s soundtrack, poster and art booklet.



5

Mar

Many games revolve around investigating strange or unexplained murders, but only a few titles, such as Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, go a step further and make the player both investigator and unwilling perpetrator of the murder spree. Polish developer Pentacle seeks to weave the latter kind of tale in their upcoming first-person horror adventure The Works of Mercy, and has taken to Kickstarter in order to secure the necessary funding.

Inspired by films such as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, the plot begins with the protagonist’s wife and daughter kidnapped. In order to secure their release, the player is forced to commit horrifying murders of apparently random individuals. As the mystery deepens, you will be drawn into a “dark world” which gradually becomes a “surreal vision of the protagonist’s mind captured in a lethal trap.” In addition to investigating the usual questions, such as who the tormentor is and why he has targeted your family, the game promises to raise powerful philosophical questions as well, such as how far someone would go to save another’s life and how to cope with the guilt of killing seemingly innocent victims?


According to the developers, gameplay will contain "subtle elements of combat", with unexpected attacks from enemies, but the main focus will be on exploration to find items that unlock new areas and puzzle-solving to proceed in the game. A brief press demo allowed us to sample the game’s opening sequence, showcasing the photorealistic graphics inside the protagonist’s house, one of several environments in the full game. In freely exploring the 3D location, we were able to use the telephone; physically pick up, examine, and throw objects away; and rummage through the various rooms in the house. Dialogue trees during a phone conversation with the kidnapper, in which you’re instructed to call an escort service and lure a hooker to the house to be killed, allow for varied options in how to respond. The game will be presented in first-person perspective and may be played with keyboard and mouse. However, Pentacle is also planning support for “all major VR headsets,” promising enhanced immersion for players with access to such peripherals.

For gamers looking to support Pentacle’s endeavor to bring their psychological thriller to life, the Kickstarter goals are surprisingly modest at a mere $15,000 CAD, as the majority of funds needed for the game are coming from Pentacle’s own finances. Prospective backers can snag an early-bird copy of the game for $14 CAD, and $20 after that until the final deadline of March 19th. The proceeds from a successful campaign will go toward paying for more artists and “community-focused” development time, though the developers promise that the game will eventually be released no matter the outcome.

Production on The Works of Mercy is currently focused on PC, but releases on other platforms are planned for Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, though some of these releases are contingent on the success of the Kickstarter campaign.



3

Mar

Ron Gilbert's "The Cave" was a living, breathing entity, but imagine if an entire city were alive – what stories it could tell! What kind of stories? To find that answer, you might want to consider backing A Place for the Unwilling, which is currently seeking crowdfunding through Kickstarter.

A Place for the Unwilling is not about one big story, but many little mysteries to uncover. There is a larger story arc involving the possible destruction of the city if you don't intervene, but you are not a mighty hero and much of your time will be spent simply exploring the city, talking with your fellow inhabitants, and making the best use of your time. Described as a "sandbox game set in an open world", the clock is always running in this city, and as "each day will last a fixed amount of time, managing your schedule will be key, as you can’t be everywhere." As a trader fortunate enough to escape the factories, you must earn money by visiting clients and closing deals, and as you do, the threat to the city will become more apparent.


Other than being inspired by Lovecraft, little more has been revealed about the story so far by Spanish developer AlPixel Games, but that's because their main focus is on establishing the setting itself. Free exploration is central to the experience, but rather than creating a huge world filled with empty travel and irrelevant characters, A Place for the Unwilling will provide a more contained environment packed full of details to discover and "around 18" people that have been carefully crafted with with own personalities and backgrounds, all presented in a gorgeous painterly style.

Another change from traditional adventures is that the game will not feature puzzles so much as organic tasks that suit your role in this city, whether haggling over products, reading newspapers for profitable tips or additional story clues, eavesdropping on important conversations from a distance, or finding directions and tracking down certain characters on a given day – that is, if you manage to accomplish your objectives in time.

Sandbox-style adventures are few and far between, so if you're interested in A Place for the Unwilling, there's still time to support its Kickstarter campaign, which has just a couple weeks left to reach its goal of €20,000 by March 16th. A €15 minimum pledge will provide backers with a downloadable copy of the game for PC and Mac upon completion, which is currently on target for April 2017.