Adventure News
 


June 2016

30

Jun

"And the winner is... We don't know."

What kind of award announcement would THAT be on Oscar night? But that's exactly the crisis facing the Academy when its list of winners is stolen, and that's only the beginning of their problems. Luckily for Hollywood, Detective Hayseed is on the job in his own self-titled adventure coming later this year.

As part of a "nefarious plot to overturn the established Hollywood order", the list of Oscar winners has disappeared and it's up to the "legendary" Detective Hayseed (after he wakes up) to find and stop the culprit before he carries out his threat to blow up the ceremony. But this is Tinseltown and Hayseed's madcap investigation will be anything but normal, as along the way he'll need to perform all sorts of odd tasks like freeing a space captain and drugging piranha with Xanax to succeed.


Detective Hayseed: Hollywood is a traditional third-person comic adventure with "cartoon animations over painted backgrounds." The story promises to include plenty of jokes for all ages, including a wide variety of humorous pop culture references (and some familiar faces, as seen in the first screenshots and trailer released). Gameplay will involve classic genre staples like logic puzzles and "persuading a series of game characters to perform tasks so as to provide the vital information. Some require manual dexterity, others a MacGyveresque ability to assemble complex equipment from assorted parts."

Created by Czech studio Zima Software and published by mamor games, there is no firm release date yet for Detective Hayseed, but it's not too far off as the developers are targeting a third quarter PC release. In the meantime, you can help support the game by voting for its Steam Greenlight campaign.



25

Jun

Full motion video definitely isn't dead. Doctor Dekker is, though, and one of his patients killed him. In the upcoming FMV whodunit The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, it'll be your task to delve deeply into these troubled minds in order to deduce the culprit, hopefully without going mad yourself.

Assuming the role of a therapist, it will be your task to ask the right questions of Dekker's six patients to uncover the truth behind your colleague's death. Only by thinking like a psychiatrist rather than a detective will you get the results you seek. But beware the secrets that you unlock, as doing so exposes you to "the shadow reality that your patients inhabit – a world full of X-Files strangeness and horrors that go bump in your head."


Both the gameplay and presentation sound similar to last year's popular Her Story, albeit with a few key differences. There is no traditional exploration or inventory collection, though there will be "a few juicy bits of evidence you’ll need to have a look at. An autopsy report, a Cthulhu-esque Periscope video, Dr. Dekker’s diary and more." To really unravel the mystery, you must type in your own keyword-based queries to unlock varied FMV responses that either push the story forward or perhaps nudge you in the right direction if you're on the wrong track. But as each patient is "touched in some way by outer-worldly strangeness", the more you probe, the more tenuous your grasp of your own sanity becomes, a condition that impacts the ending you'll get.

Unlike Her Story, not only does Doctor Dekker have a definitive ending, it actually has many possible conclusions. The game will randomly select which of the patients is the murderer at the start, which impacts the entire line of questioning. Although some of the content is similar across all storylines, this should encourage at least a degree of replayability to see alternate outcomes. Indie developer D’Avekki Studios anticipates a single playthrough should take about 2-3 hours to complete, but 5-6 hours or more will be needed to experience the different endings and find all available 1000-plus video responses.

Filming has not yet begun, but production funding is already in place, so if all goes well we could be seeing The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker released for Windows, Mac, and Linux by the end of this year. In the meantime, you can throw the game your support on Steam Greenlight and learn more about it through the official website.



24

Jun

Alice & Smith has certainly been busy lately. First there was the paranormal alternate reality thriller The Black Watchmen. Then came the announcement of the first TBW spin-off, the story-based hacking sim NITE Team 4. Now the Montreal-based developer has unleashed on Steam Early Access the oddly-titled Ahnayro: The Dream World, yet another facet of the Black Watchmen shared universe, though the exact relationship to these other titles is apparently being kept a mystery for now.

Ahnayro takes a slightly more relaxed approach to Alice & Smith’s reality-bending game formula, although the studio’s familiar research-heavy mechanics appear to be firmly in place. Rather than the high-pressure world of espionage and cyber-warfare, in this story-based puzzler players assume the role of someone capable of exploring their own subconscious through lucid dreaming. You are haunted by “mysterious figures from the Victorian era,” tormenting you at night for reasons unknown. In order to end your suffering, you must piece together the meaning of these strange dreams.


Each dream is broken into multiple “fragments,” containing pictures and items that share a common idea or theme which must be discovered, then the connections between fragments pieced together as well. Each fragment can be explored in any order, meaning that if you get stuck on one puzzle you can work on others in the meantime. Audio narration provided with each fragment advances the story and provides further clues to the fragment’s answer. By solving all the fragments and piecing together their connection to each other, you can finally summon up the tormentors and confront them to end your suffering.

While mainly controlled using the mouse, players can expect to Alt-Tab in and out of the game’s client for online research into each puzzle’s clues to find all the information needed to solve them. Such information promises to span real-world topics like “art history, mythology, historical events and figures,” as well as the “hidden connections between them.” In a nod to the game’s alternate reality gaming roots, when its full release arrives, Ahnayro will only be playable at night, though during Early Access this feature can be disabled. The opportunity to solve ARG-related content is also being teased for those who make it to the end of the current Early Access release, though the exact nature of this content has yet to be determined.

Ahnayro: The Dream World is slated to release in its final form on Steam for Windows and Mac sometime this fall. Those interested in gaining Early Access in the meantime can snag a copy for $5.99, a 50% discount off the expected launch price. For more information, cruise on over to the title’s official website.



23

Jun

Waking up alone and disoriented in alien-looking desert territory is frightening enough, but what if you have limited time left to save yourself and discover what has happened to this world? This is the urgent mandate behind Breached, a short but replayable 3D sci-fi adventure by Drama Drifters that has just been released.

Players take on the role of Corus Valott, who has awoken from a long cryogenic sleep. In the opening moments of the game, it becomes clear that the desert settlement around you is in ruins and your shelter is in disrepair, with only eight days of oxygen left to survive. It will be your responsibility to help Corus survive by repairing the shelter, examining the surrounding territory, and slowly piecing together the mysterious events leading up to the apparent catastrophe.


The “genre-bending” title promises a variety of activities, including "data mining" entries in Corus’s journal throuh linking tags to piece together the past and piloting drones to explore the derelict buildings and inhospitable environment for clues and equipment which can be used to repair the shelter. There are several obstacles to deal with, including your own looming death from lack of oxygen, as well as “glitches,” mysterious anomalies found throughout the landscape that are hazardous to the drones you are piloting.

Played from a first-person perspective using point-and-click controls, a typical playthrough is expected to last about two hours. However, subsequent playthroughs are encouraged in order to experience everything the game has to offer, providing an element of replayability to the otherwise condensed experience.

Breached is available now via digital distributors for Windows and Mac platforms. For more information, head over to the game’s official website.



22

Jun

They say that death is life's next great adventure, and certainly in this genre that's repeatedly true. The latest death-is-only-the-beginning tale belongs to a skeleton named Skinny, who's set to star in an upcoming comic adventure from Italy called The Wardrobe.

Dying too young is cruel enough, but Skinny suffered the double indignity of being killed by a plum. Unaware of his deadly allergy to the fruit, Skinny blissfully bit into one on a picnic with his best friend Ronald, only to go into anaphylactic shock and die while Ronald ran off in terror. Adding insult to... well, death, Skinny awoke in his new skeleton form, sentenced to spend eternity watching over Ronald from his friend's wardrobe. But now things have changed. In order to "save his best friend’s soul from eternal damnation, Skinny will be forced to reveal himself and make Ronald admit his 'crime'."


As clearly displayed in the game's first screenshots and trailer, The Wardrobe is a hand-drawn point-and-click adventure strongly influenced by LucasArts and other Golden Era classics. Developed by C.I.N.I.C. Games and published by Adventure Productions, the game promises more than 70 bizarre characters across 40-plus unique locations. Along the way there is a host of player involvement, with four types of actions for each hotspot, loads of items to collect in a "thoracic inventory", and dozens of puzzles to solve, often in zany ways. This is a game that obviously doesn't take itself seriously, blending a sense of humour and "hundreds" of pop culture references with a willingness to deal with "mature and non-politically correct themes."

There is no firm release date scheduled yet, but The Wardrobe is currently set to be completed sometime this fall on Windows, Mac, and Linux. In the meantime, you can learn more about the game at its official website and vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



20

Jun

One of the wonderful things about the indie game development is the sheer diversity it brings with it; there's something for everyone. In the case of Farnham Fables, an episodic series from Ethrea Dreams, that something includes princes who take the bus, lizard people on farms, a retro aesthetic last seen in the late ‘80s, and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

The kingdom of Farnham itself is a diverse place, full of the aforementioned anthropomorphic lizards, rat folk and even, on occasion, humans. Unlike most fantasy kingdoms, though, it also features TV and public transport. In the series' first episode, Cally, the daughter of one of the King's guardsmen, is super-excited when her aunt Naigye agrees to take her to visit the castle. Naughty Cally sneaks off and runs into the King, but rather than being annoyed he takes her and Naigye back to the throne room, sits them down and tells them the story of the time he fell ill and his sons went to visit the lizard village in search of a cure, which is then played out in flashback. Each new episode will be a self-contained story, involving the people of Farnham and occasionally beyond, ranging from small, personal events to "grand adventures".


We cover quite a few retro-inspired games here, but few that are such a blast from the past as this one. More of an interactive storybook than a traditional point-and-click adventure, the tale is told primarily through a text pane at the bottom of the screen, with static illustrations above and a verb list on the left. Everything that happens is described in the gentle style of a children's story, and the game promises that every action you can take will get a unique response. The pictures are simple cartoons, all flat colours and limited shading reminiscent of a late-period text adventure, accompanied by a jaunty MIDI soundtrack.

The first (Windows-only) episode of Farnham Fables, entitled The King's Medicine, is available now through the developer's website and Steam. The second episode is due as early as next month..



16

Jun

Is Dexter up to his old tricks again? Well, no, wrong franchise, but there's another serial killer on the loose who only kills criminals, and you'll be tasked to catch him (or her) in Apeirogon's upcoming adventure Silhouette.

Silhouette puts players in the gumshoes of Detective Jim Grayson, a homicide detective on the hunt for a "serial killer whose motives are confusingly unclear." In the wealthy part of the town of Rutherford, a string of murders have occurred with one unusual detail, namely that "all of the victims were known criminals. Pedophiles, Rapists, Mafioso and Drug dealers." Even stranger is that the killer has "purposely left behind clues at every crime scene that led directly to the next." The police had been able to hide the murders from the press until now, but the front page story in today's newspaper just made your job a whole lot more difficult.


The early screenshots and trailer showcase the game's distinctive 3D graphics, but you can get a much closer look at Silhouette through the 1 GB downloadable demo already available, although the developer notes that it's a "proof of concept" prototype that isn't fully representative of the final version.

The creation of just one man, Peter Ryan, Silhouette is currently scheduled for a two-part PC release. The "Prologue" will debut this fall on Early Access, with purchase at a reduced price including the second installment for free upon completion. In the meantime, to ensure that the game is launched on Steam, you can vote for the game on Greenlight.



15

Jun

Usually saints are equated with holiness and miraculous blessings, but the opposite can be said for Saint Kotar, an upcoming psychological horror adventure due for release in 2017.

Saint Kotar is the name of a "lonely, ancient" rural mining town tucked away from the rest of the world behind the mountains of Croatia. At first glance it seems like a lovely place, with "scenic views of the charming area, sparsely scattered houses, and church bells tolling in the distance of the quiet valley." Upon closer inspection, however, something is very wrong with this once-thriving community, with "many houses deserted and falling to ruin, dark foreboding forests and a ghastly scent of decay filling the air." Terrifying local legends cause the remaining townsfolk to pray each night the moon is full.

In October 2006, three protagonists are invited to travel to Saint Kotar to attend a rare medieval art exhibit: There's Benedek, a bible-fearing university professor; Nikolaym, a morphine-addicted museum curator; and Viktoria, a journalist specializing in paranormal mysteries. Soon after their arrival, the three "find themselves dragged abruptly in a macabre series of murders, allegedly related to Satanic worship and witchcraft." As they begin investigating the town's darkest secrets, the protagonists must "struggle not only against the unknown, but against themselves too, ultimately uncovering the vile truth of their own past."

Created by indie developer Tanais Games, Saint Kotar promises a blend of classic-styled point-and-click adventure and psychological horror narrative inspired by the likes of Lovecraft and Poe (and a little Jane Jensen). The early screenshots show off the game's hand-painted 2D art style, which will be accompanied in the final game by full voice acing and an original soundtrack.

We won't see Saint Kotar on Windows, Mac and Linux until sometime next year, but in the meantime you can learn more about the game through its official website.



12

Jun

The world of Pan may involve lost boys, fairy dust, and pirate ships, but the world of Pan-Pan will involve broken spaceships, "environmental narrative storytelling" and "world-shifting riddles" when it launches this summer. It's twice the Pan!

Pan-Pan casts players in the role of a space traveler whose ship has landed on a strange world and needs to be repaired before you can begin your "pilgrimage" home. While that's about it for story details at this stage, the game promises to be an open-world adventure that encourages exploration and personal choice in how you go about overcoming the obstacles confronting you.


The first screenshots of Pan-Pan show off the isometric perspective and minimalist art style being used, while the trailer offers a sampling of the "tranquil sounds of a melodic soundtrack" from composer Simon Viklund that will provide the ambient backdrop to the experience. While there will be characters to interact with through the game, the main story beats will be told through direct interaction with the 3D environment as you "use a mix of tools, gadgets and devices to solve puzzles and uncover the path home."

Created collaboratively by SPELKRAFT and Might and Delight, Pan-Pan is already well along in production, with a PC launch target currently set for August on Steam.



11

Jun

If it seems like people are already starting to lose their humanity by spending more time plugged into technology than ever, imagine what it will be like in the future when we essentially abandon an increasingly dystopian real world in favour of a utopian virtual one. This is the bleak and troubling backdrop for the upcoming sci-fi thriller from Daedalic and writer Martin Ganteföhr called State of Mind.

Set in 2048, State of Mind casts players in the role of Richard Nolan, a "father and journalist from Berlin who discovers that he and his wife and son have been subjects to mind uploads." Something has gone wrong with Richard's upload, however, creating an incomplete dual version of himself existing in a "secret Virtual Reality project" even while he continues to exist in the physical world. Realizing that he has become "literally a torn man, Richard sets out on a dramatic and dangerous search for salvation. He aims to reunite with his family, as well as with his own split self. On his way, he soon realizes that this journey isn’t only about him, but about the future of mankind."


State of Mind is a third-person, story-driven adventure that allows players to switch between multiple protagonists in the two separate game worlds. Although no further story details have been revealed so far, Daedalic claims that the game is an "existential drama"  that "explores themes of separation, disjuncture and reunification". And it's all presented in a distinctive, low-poly art style as seen in the first screenshots unveiled.

There is no firm launch date just yet, but State of Mind is currently on target for an early 2017 release on Windows, Mac, PS4 and Xbox One.



8

Jun

Disney's decision to discontinue its own game development may have seemed like bad news at the time, but it's turning out okay for adventure fans, as former Black Rock Studio members are collaborating with the writer of popular puzzler The Room to create Blackwood Crossing, a story-driven adventure coming out later this year.

Blackwood Crossing explores the relationship between sister and brother Scarlett and Finn, a pair of "orphaned siblings growing apart as Scarlett is coming of age and leaving childhood behind." Their lives are about to change, however, as "when they cross paths with a mysterious figure, a seemingly ordinary train ride evolves into a magical story of life, love and loss."


While further story details are being kept under wraps for now, the early screenshots and trailer show off the vivid first-person 3D graphics while hinting at some of the soul-searching story content and surreal mysteries awaiting Scarlett and Finn on their railroad journey.

Blackwood Crossing has no fixed release date just yet, but is currently on track for completion on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sometime before the end of the year.



6

Jun

Though we've likely all experienced childhood night scares, not all monsters are scary and mean. In fact, some of them are kind and crucial to our welfare, like the dream monsters in Deceptive Games' upcoming four-part adventure, The Secret Monster Society.

The monsters in this game definitely aren't the stuff of horror movies and nightmares. They live in a world deep inside ours called the "Underworld", where they supply human beings with dreams. Without this "perfect harmony" maintained between worlds, "our dreams would fade, and with it, our imagination, creativity and inspiration." So it's imperative that nothing bad happen to the Underworld – but something is about to, unless a little monster named Blithe Dalrich, with the help of his best friend Aphonic, can manage to save both his world and our own.


If there are any lingering concerns about The Secret Monster Society being scary, those will be instantly put to rest by the colourful graphics and comic sensibilities. The game will be fully voiced with more than a hundred "zany" characters to interact with, and all high resolution artwork and animation is being hand-drawn to make it feel like "Saturday morning cartoons." The gameplay, meanwhile, is being fashioned after the genre classics, promising "plenty of puzzles and mini-games", including the ability to travel through time. Each episode should provide about two hours of exploration, dialogue, and other adventuring goodness.

The first of four planned episodes is nearly complete for PC, with the developers hoping to launch on Steam through a successful Greenlight campaign. To whet your appetite while you wait, a short demo is available, set right at the start of the game. To follow the further progress of The Secret Monster Society, you can learn more from the developer's website.



5

Jun

Hacking simulation games allow players to engage in highly-stylized fictional acts of cybercrime and espionage, without the risk of the pesky prison sentences and exorbitant fines that accompany such activities in the real world. For those who appreciate prominent story elements to go along with their virtual hacking, Montreal-based developer Alice & Smith has announced NITE Team 4, an upcoming standalone spin-off from The Black Watchmen, their paranormal alternate reality adventure that completed its second season earlier this month.

NITE Team 4 revolves around the eponymous cyberwarfare unit of the Black Watchmen organization, putting players in the shoes of a new recruit to the team. Players will be tasked with attacking and infiltrating “hardened computer networks” in order to complete missions and support the agency’s goals.

As demonstrated in the game’s public alpha (available for both Windows and Mac), gameplay will include such activities as bypassing firewalls, stealing and deleting private files, and directing field agents to set up listening posts to intercept communications data. A few of these activities appear as graphical mini-games: firewalls are cracked by guiding a glowing icon through an obstacle-laden maze, for example, and decrypting data from listening posts requires “sorting” a series of data packets into sets of nodes.

Much of the interaction, however, takes place in a realistic command line interface alongside a map of the world, with players entering keywords, IP addresses, and filenames to connect to servers shown on the map and carry out various objectives. Intriguingly, the developers claim that many of the objectives and other aspects of the game feature intelligence community terminology gleaned from information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

While NITE Team 4’s narrative will contain references and characters familiar to players of The Black Watchmen, Alice & Smith promise that prior experience with their original series is not necessary to follow the storyline of this new title.

There is no firm release date for NITE Team 4 just yet, but the developers are aiming to get it into Early Access for Windows and Mac sometime this fall. For more information in the meantime, including access to the public alpha, sneak over to the game’s official website.



4

Jun

Many sci-fi stories warn us of the dangers of advancing too far technologically, but what if society actually paid heed to such dangers – or at least, tried to? This is the intriguing backdrop to the upcoming Whispers of a Machine from indie developers Clifftop & Faravid.

Whispers of a Machine (briefly unveiled under the alternate title God's Algorithm) is set several generations in the future, when the world has "regressed to a pre-industrialisation state". Fearing the "potentially catastrophic emergence of a self-aware, super intelligent AI-entity", there was a global movement to "discontinue all use of advanced robotics and artificially intelligent computers." Worldwide technological collapse ensued.

Naturally, such a massive upheaval isn't without its challenges, as a federal homicide detective named Vera is about to discover. Sent to a rural outpost called Nordsund to investigate a series of murders, Vera soon discovers that "the victims and their murderers are factions in a war about technology and religion. While some want to awake the AI-god, seen as a last deity in a godless world, others are vehement technophobes. Did the government have an ulterior motive in sending Vera to Nordsund?"

The game will be a "mostly traditional" third-person adventure that promises hand-painted 640x400 graphics and classic puzzle-solving. But it will also feature some action elements and the use of cybernetic implants that confer special powers to the protagonist to assist in her investigation. According to the developers, progress will be achieved through a fairly non-linear game world, with multiple endings that hinge of player choice.

If a mystery in a remote Scandinavian outpost sounds familiar, that's probably because one of the two founding developers for the game is The Samaritan Paradox's Petter Ljungqvist. The other is Kathy Rain's Joel Staaf Hästö, though the two men plan to recruit additional help in order to complete the project. With production still in the early stages, there is currently no firm timeline for release, but if all goes well, Whispers of a Machine will be heard from on Windows, Mac, and mobile platforms sometime in 2017.



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