Adventure News
 


May 2016

29

May

Many of the greatest obstacles in life are those we create in our own minds. That makes probing the human pscyhe ideal for video games, providing a rich setting with unlimited possibilities. The latest developer to dig into this fertile psychological soil is UK studio Thermo-Dynamic Games with its upcoming episodic adventure, Echoes.

Although specific story details are being kept under wraps for now, Echoes promises to follow "a patient’s journey through counselling and overcoming their mental issues." The first episode, Diagnosis, will introduce the character and establish the "unique 'mind break' game mechanic where players will have to overcome challenging and alien sections of the environment in order to progress and discover the story behind it all."


The first screenshots and trailer highlight the game's minimalist art style in delving the subconscious, although some parts of the game will include a more realistic look as determined by the story. Players must explore various dream states, solving puzzles along the way to reveal more of the truth behind the character's troubled mental state, with gameplay ranging from "charming to challenging" as you progress.

The complete Echoes experience will comprise between three and five episodes in total, though the final number has yet to be determined. Nor is there a firm release date yet for the series launch, but we can expect to see Diagnosis available for Windows and Mac sometime later this year. In the meantime, you can follow its progress through the official website.



21

May

Hopefully by now we've all gotten past the "do games need to be FUN?" question. The answer, of course, is no they don't. If you're still not convinced, enter the latest exhibit into evidence, The Grandfather.

The titular character is a loving man who never felt that love reciprocated. Experiencing only anguish instead, he became "a very miserable man; he hated what his life had become." What's worse, the source of his misery was the person to whom he was most vulnerable: his "cold hearted, miserable, emotionless wife" who "made his existence beyond miserable, killing his desire to do everything he had ever loved to do in life.”


Inspired by a true story, clearly this "sad tale of an old man who is tormented by the coldness of his wife" is not meant to be an uplifting adventure, but rather a thought-provoking psychological drama. Created by indie developers MPR ART Hallucinations (The Lady) and David Szymanski (The Moon Sliver, The Music Machine), this is a "story-driven point-and-click puzzle/horror game" featuring fully voiced narration, a procedural soundtrack, comic book-styled hand drawn art, and promises a variety of "challenging puzzle types".

Available now for Windows and Mac on Steam, if you're not sure you're up for a feel-bad tale like The Grandfather, you can always try before you buy through the downloadable demo on Steam.



19

May

We all know by now that creating sentient machines can only lead to disaster. But what about sentient corn? As bizarre as that possibility sounds, we're going to find out later this year when indie Canadian developer Finish Line Games completes its home-grown production of Maize.

There wouldn't even be any thinking, talking corn if two scientists had not misunderstood their instructions. But what's done is done, and now players must "explore the desolate farm for clues to the past, venture deeper into the underground research facility, and make a few…colorful friends along the way, including a grumpy Russian knock-off of the most technologically advanced toy ever created: Teddy Ruxpin."


If all that sounds too zany to be true, then you're getting the right idea. Described by the developers as an "absurdist comedy wrapped in a first-person adventure with no shortage of weirdness", the game promises to channel the "elements of Monty Python and the funnier episodes of the X-Files". Along the way, players will discover a "cornucopia of highbrow puzzles to solve" throughout an American Heartland environment wrapped up in slick-looking 3D wrapping.

There is currently no firm target date for Maize, but we can expect the harvest to occur on PC sometime later this fall. You can follow its progress through the final stages of growing season through the official website.



16

May

Ghost stories are great for giving ourselves a scare, but they're nothing to take seriously, right? Well, not so fast, says indie developer Dreadlocks, along with 2,243 people who helped contributed more than £56,000 to crowdfund Ghost Theory through Kickstarter.

While Ghost Theory certainly isn't the first game to explore supernatural phenomena, or even to do so using real research equipment, this game claims to be a "serious take on ghost hunting and paranormal research", with investigations set in "real" haunted locations and conducted using the latest modern technology. Players assume the first-person role of a clairvoyant hired by a strugging university department to become the secret "front-field operative in paranormal investigations." Rather than a single narrative, the game will consist of numerous non-linear missions, each a "playable sandbox with its own story waiting to be unearthed." At the end of each case, your performance will be evaluated before getting your next mission briefing.


Ghost Theory will take players to several real-world locations with documented disturbances, from "the infamous Goldfield Hotel in United States, to the abandoned Poveglia island in Italy, and to Suicide Forest Aokigahara in Japan." You will even visit 30 East Drive, Pontefract, home to "the most violent poltergeist in Europe." Of course, this is a game as well, and the developers claim to be drawing inspiration from "the very best horror movies and stories." However, the main goal is to find ghosts here, not fear them. Players shouldn't "expect ghosts to be jumping out at you from the darkness for no reason. In fact, most of them won't respond to your mere presence at all. Unless you make them. It is your task to find out how, if you hope to meet your objectives."

As you freely explore the 3D environments, you will need to employ a variety of ghost-hunting equipment to discover clues, such as a UV lamp, full spectrum camera, EMF Meter, EVP recorder, and a pendulum for spectral divination. When technology isn't enough, you'll need to depend on your own special clairvoyance ability, which "allows you to experience flashbacks associated with an object's history, which may feed you important information about a ghost’s past or reveal further clues connected to your investigation."

Although still a fair way off, Ghost Theory's successful Kickstarter campaign has put it on track for release on Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 as early as September 2017. To help while away the time as you wait, you can head over to the official website to learn more about the game.



15

May

Step aside, Mr. Holmes. Make way, Professor Layton. Dr. Doyle has nearly arrived as the star of his own point-and-click mystery adventure, Dr. Doyle and the Mystery of the Cloche Hat.

A missing hat may not sound like a very important crime, but it is when it happens at the same time an "unidentified body is found beaten to death in a dark alley". The mysterious murder and theft in the small village of Prescott Lane calls for the services of the eponymous protagonist, a man of "questionable morality, dubious intent and unreserved inquisitiveness." His suspicious nature is aroused immediately, and armed only with his wits and trusty suspenders, the "good Doctor sets out to find the truth and solve the mystery of the cloche hat."


Created by indie Cyprus developer PnC Narratives in the style of detective classics from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie, the third-person adventure features a distinctive hand-drawn art style portraying southeast England in the 1920s. Players will guide the protagonist in searching for clues to combine with the environment, and interrogating suspects and witnesses with their method of choice to entice the answers required. Using your own powers of observation, you'll need to "make assumptions, reach conclusions and decide the guilty party."

Sparing us all an extended wait time, Dr. Doyle and the Mystery of the Cloche Hat is nearly upon us, with the developers hoping to release the game for PC as early as next month, with iOS and Android ports a possibility farther down the line. In the meantime, you can vote for the game on Greenlight if you'd like to see it released on Steam.



14

May

Pirates and point-and-click adventuring have been a perfect match ever since the days of Monkey Island. Now indie Italian developers imaginarylab are hoping to continue that trend with their upcoming title Willy Morgan, a  game featuring humour, a cartoon look and twisted perspectives reminiscent of the LucasArts classics. 

In 1699, so the story goes, infamous pirate Captain Kidd and his ship the Adventure Galley were being hunted down by the English and Spanish when they disappeared off the American coast. Two years later, Kidd himself was found and captured, but of his ship, crew or hold full of booty there was no trace. As is traditional, he took the secret of the ship's location with him to his grave, and people have been searching for it ever since. People such as Willy Morgan's father, famous archaeologist Henry Morgan, who disappeared himself under mysterious circumstances a decade ago during a family holiday-cum-treasure hunting expedition in the ominously-named Bone Town.


Time passed, as time tends to do, and Willy got on with growing up without a father as best he could. At least until a strange letter arrived, ten years late, stirring everything up again and sending him back to the location of the ill-fated holiday to find out what happened, and maybe even track down the Adventure Galley. 

Further story details are sparse for now, but the game will have pre-rendered graphics, all stylistically “deformed” with curves and bulges and odd angles. Although the early screenshots don’t show any characters, the final version will feature Willy as the third-person protagonist. The developers promise at least 50 locations to explore and 15 NPCs to interact with, as well as a mix of linear and non-linear puzzles to solve.

If the weather stays fair, Willy Morgan will set sail for Windows, Mac and Linux sometime in 2017, with the possibility of mobile and console platforms down the line. If you want to investigate further, you can head over to the official website



13

May

It's been far too long since the last solo effort from everyone's favourite pointy-haired defense attorney. Sure, he shouted his "Objections!" and "Take thats!" in 2014's Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, but there he had to share the spotlight with the other titular protagonist. In Spirit of Justice, due to arrive this September on Nintendo 3DS, there won't be a top hat-wearing, puzzle-loving archeologist in sight.

That's not to say that Phoenix will be all alone in his new adventure. Indeed, the other ace attorney, Apollo Justice, will be involved in a case of his own with "explosive implications" at the Wright Anything Agency while Wright finds himself in the Far East. The latter's latest legal battles will be fought against the Royal Priestess in the "Kingdom of Khura’in, origin of the Kurain Channeling Technique, where mysterious séance trials decide the fate of all defendants." There players will be introduced to the "Divination Séance" gameplay mechanic, which allows the ability to "revisit the last moments of a victim’s life." In order to discover the truth, Phoenix will need to "unravel the discrepancies and contradictions between the Royal Priestess’s Insight and what is shown in the séance."


Of course, all (or at least most of) the usual fan favourite gameplay elements will return as well, as Capcom promises the new game will be "filled with puzzling cases to solve using popular investigative techniques from previous installments". Along the way, there will be "many" familiar faces reprising their roles, along with some highly distinctive new additions.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice will be launched this September in North America and Europe as a digital download through the Nintendo eShop.



10

May

Krillbite Studio scared the bejeebers out of us in 2014 with our childhood fears in Among the Sleep. Now the indie Norwegian developer is setting its sights on purely adult anxieties in the form of its upcoming Mosaic.

Very few story details have been unveiled so far, but Mosaic will be a "narrative-heavy game that tells a story about urban isolation". The male protagonist feels this despair deeply, having "lost his hopes and joys, in a life that lacks meaning." The first teaser highlights this depressing sense of "alienation and mundanity where every day is the same", until something dramatic happens that promises to change his live forever. What that means, we still don't know for sure.


Unlike the realistic 3D graphics of the developer's previous title, Mosaic seems to swing to the other end of the pendulum, featuring a highly stylized, angular aesthetic, as displayed in the trailer and early screenshots released.

There is no firm timeframe for Mosaic's release, but it is currently on track to be completed for Windows, Mac, and Linux sometime next year, with console versions possible but not yet confirmed. To learn more about the game in the coming months, you can keep your eye on its official website.



7

May

While the days of $3 million-plus Kickstarter campaigns may be over for adventure games, the popular crowdfunding platform continues to be a boon for smaller indie developers. Just days after the successful close of Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure, now Lantern Studio's LUNA: The Shadow Dust has followed suit.

Although very few story details have been released so far, LUNA casts players in the dual roles of a young boy and his spherical cat-like critter companion as they attempt to restore balance to their world. At the edge of that world is an ancient tower filled with puzzles and challenges to be overcome in order to ascend its heights and ultimately discover "the darkest secret beyond the tower itself."


The game features stylish hand-drawn backgrounds, but even more impressive is the traditional frame-by-frame character animation. And with two playable characters, there's double the animation normally required. Both characters will be necessary to proceed, as the developer also promises "double the difficulty" with puzzles that will test "not only your logic...but also your reaction speed, music sensibility and, most importantly, your imagination."

Thanks to the 1,110 backers who pledged £17,570 to the game's development, if all goes well we can hope to see LUNA: The Shadow Dust released for PCs, iOS and Android devices as early as next summer. To help ease the wait, a demo is already available, either playable in your browser or downloaded for either Windows and Mac from links available on the Kickstarter page.



5

May

There seems to be no slowing down Glitch Games. Hot on the heels of their recently-released A Short Tale comes news of the indie UK developer's next adventure, The Forgotten Room.

While very few details have been revealed so far, The Forgotten Room puts players in the gumshoes of a detective investigating a missing person's case. The trail leads to a mysterious house, and naturally this is where "things start going downhill."


Just like the developer's previous titles (including the mobile-exclusive Forever Lost series), The Forgotten Room is a first-person adventure with pre-rendered graphics and intuitive point-and-click (or tap) controls. As demonstrated in the early screenshots and teaser trailer, the game will be steeped in dark, haunting atmosphere.

There is no firm release date quite yet, but The Forgotten Room is charging hard towards Windows, Mac, iOS and Android release later this spring.



1

May

Usually the only dinosaurs involved in adventure games are the old PCs playing them, but there will soon be a not-so-terrible lizard starring in her own Cretaceous quest. Enter Zid & Zniw Chronicles: Zniw Adventure, an indie point-and-click title currently in development by Polish couple Lukasz “Crash” Mikolajczyk and Karolina “Twarda” Twardosz.

Zniw Adventure serves as a standalone prequel to Twarda’s planned comic book Zid, Zniw, and Others, telling the story of a young female dinosaur named Zniw who finds herself far away from her home city. In order to return, she must pass through the prehistoric land of Polisemia, a “savage” and dangerous place. It will be the player’s job to guide Zniw back home to her family, while avoiding threats and interacting with various characters encountered along the way, including other dinosaurs, birds, and snakes.


The game is played from a 2D third-person perspective and features a whimsical cartoon art style. The kinds of puzzles players can expect to see include inventory obstacles, combining items in order to create a backpack (which serves as the game’s inventory), and logic challenges in which you must collaborate with another character. There’s also a hunger-management system, where Zniw must find an occasional snack before a timer runs out, or risk passing out from lack of food. While the implications of falling unconscious in a dangerous land suggest some intriguing consequences, the developers indicate that the game will be family-friendly, avoiding such things as violence and blood.

Primarily mouse-driven, the game features a “verb coin” interaction system. While solving puzzles will be required to progress, picking up hidden pebbles scattered around the environment unlocks extra features, such as concept art and arcade-style minigames, which are playable with either keyboard or optional gamepad. An encyclopedia feature reveals information about game lore, characters, and locations, and includes “educational” information about various species encountered throughout the game.

Zid & Zniw Chronicles: Zniw Adventure is tentatively scheduled for PC release in mid-to-late 2016, though as production is being done in the developers’ spare time, this date is subject to change. To help tide gamers over, a playabe demo of the game is available for download now, starting right at the beginning of Zniw’s journey. If you like what you see of the early sampler, you can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.