Adventure News
 


November 2016

25

Nov

Contrary to its name, it turns out you actually get two shots at OneShot. That's because the former freeware adventure has now been dramatically upgraded and expanded for commercial re-release early next month.

OneShot is set in a world on the brink of final destruction, its light almost completely extinguished. Only "barren wastelands" remain, and what's left really isn't worth saving anymore. But that won't stop young Niko from trying. As the "life of a lost child and the fate of a steadily decaying world hang in balance", players must guide Niko and the glowing bulb he holds on a journey in which not everyone he meets is interested in preserving this mysterious place.


Although resembling an RPG with its retro-styled, isometric presentation, OneShot is a puzzle-adventure that requires "utilizing items, characters, and the environment to progress." But its graphical style isn't the only non-traditional aspect to be found. Unlike most games, where failure simply results in a reset, consequences of your actions in OneShot are permanent. What's more, this a game whose actual solutions break the fourth wall, with elements that promise to "go beyond the game window". Oh, and it also has a haunting soundtrack, plus "pancakes, rams, T-shirts, and more."

If any of this sounds familiar, that's because the game was created by Mathew Velasquez in just a month and initially released as a freeware adventure back in July 2014. That original version is still available to play, but since then it has undergone a significant update and expansion. The commercial re-release will include a much more fully-realized story that's approximately twice as long as before, with many new areas to explore and characters to interact with, along with "tons of new puzzles" to solve. While still retaining the same visual style of its predecessor, old areas in the new version have also been given "major graphical overhauls."

If you missed your first shot at the game, the wait for the next isn't much longer now, as OneShot is due to launch on Steam for Windows on December 8th.



24

Nov

The thought of tickling the ivories may not immediately conjure up painful images of psychological torment (unless your forced childhood lessons scarred you for life), but that's going to change early next year with the release of the horror adventure The Piano.

The Piano is set in the 1940s and stars a man named John Barnerway, a "failed pianist born to German and American parents who migrated to Paris before the Second World War." When his musically celebrated brothers die, John finds himself thrust into an unwelcome spotlight by the media in search of answers. But John too wants closure on their mysterious demise, and so as he "battles his own demons, he sets out to solve the mystery once and for all – searching the streets of Paris for clues, while navigating the darkest corners of his own mind."


Rather than a conventional adventure, The Piano promises to combine "traditional adventure game storytelling and puzzle-solving with survival horror elements and a haunting, claustrophobic atmosphere." Solving puzzles grants access to "deeper layers of John’s memory", while enemies who wish to conceal the truth must occasionally be warded off if you're to successfully "connect the clues, and solve the dark and harrowing riddle of the Barnerway case." Fortunately, a range of abilities will be unlocked as you progress, "changing John’s perspective on the events unfolding." The game's first trailer shows off some of these elements, as well as the noir-styled, largely black and white 3D presentation.  

Five years and multiple iterations in the making (including a previously released "short-form first-person prototype") by indie developer Mistaken Visions, The Piano is not far off now, with a target release date sometime in January for Windows and Mac.



22

Nov

"Edutainment" may have become something of a dirty word in gaming circles, primarily because the "edu" part of the equation often feels dry and forced, while the "tainment" bits tend to fall short of the intended goal. Indie developers The Young Socratics are seeking to change that perception by fusing the two elements seamlessly together in their upcoming science-based adventure Odyssey: The Next Generation Science Game, which is currently seeking crowdfunding through Kickstarter.

Odyssey tasks players with responding to the distress call of a 13-year-old girl named Kai from one of the Caribbean's exotic but remote and ominously-named Wretched Islands. Upon your arrival, however, you find that the threat of pirates has caused Kai's family to construct barricades all around. And yet, desiring rescue, they have also left behind clues in scattered pages torn from Kai's journal, in which she recorded both current events plus her "intellectual journey across 2000 years of astronomy and physics through Socratic dialogues with Dad, and her own observations and experiments guided by those conversations." As you undertake the "progressively complex scientific reasoning problems" to overcome the barricades, in the process you will also be "reconstructing the creative ideas and arguments of some of the world’s greatest scientists and philosophers."


Inspired by games like Myst, Odyssey is a "first-person explorer game" that allows free roaming through its beautiful 3D island environments, which are on display in the early trailer and in-game footage video. The puzzles you encounter along the way represent the "chronological progression of ideas in astronomy and mechanics," so instead of merely reading about scientific theory and advancements throughout history, players will find themselves actively engaged in "scientific reasoning and argumentation[...] from the ancient Greeks to Newton." This approach reflects the developers' belief that scientific ideas are best learned through a blend of hands-on experimentation and "minds-on abstract thinking" within a storytelling framework, just as they were "invented by the philosophers of the past."

The plan is for the game to include three chapters, ranging in topics from the origins of science, the spherical earth and physics of Aristotle, and the heliocentric universe of Copernicus and Galileo. The third chapter will end "midway through Galileo's physics" and be picked up in a proper sequel, with further topics to include the mathematics of uniformly accelerated motion and Galileo's ideas about inertia and the mathematics of projectile motion. If your head is already spinning, fear not, as learning is meant to be part of the fun. The Young Socratics expect the game to "be played by children aged 11 and above, and adults who are looking to learn about one of the greatest intellectual narratives in the history of human civilization."

Normally for Kickstarter projects, this is where we include the do-or-die line about needing support to be completed. But since we're coming late to the party, the good news is that Odyssey has more than doubled its original goal of $15,000 already. However, there's still time to contribute, with a December 6th crowdfunding deadline and a minimum $10 pledge required to secure a downloadable copy of the game for Windows or Mac. After crunching the numbers, the developers have set May 2017 as their target for the game's completion.

To learn more about Odyssey: The Next Generation Science Game and follow its progress in the coming months, visit the official website for additional details.



18

Nov

Asian mysticism tends to get short shrift in video games, at least in the western world. But Spanish developer Fosfatina is looking to help change that with the announcement of Saucer-Like, coming early next year.

Saucer-Like is described as Asian-inspired "animist fable" about a boy named Yanagi, who is facing his "life's most transcendental day. With a divided heart he faces an irrevocable decision that might either unite him with his clan, or tear them apart forever." But he isn't the only once facing such a dilemma, as "the rest of the townspeople struggle with this very same decision, and the consequences it will bring. For once the unavoidable ritual begins, there will be no turning back..."


While plot details on what exactly is involved in this "reflection on the individual's role in society," what we know for sure is how stylish it is. The early screenshots and trailer showcase Saucer-Like's distinctive hand-painted backgrounds and 2D animations with an anime look. The developers are promising more than 40 scenes to explore, accompanied by an instrumental soundtrack that complements the game's evocative mood. But while the aesthetic may be anything but traditional, the gameplay will be much more familiar, offering an "old school point and click adventure" experience.

There is no firm launch date just yet, but Saucer-Like is currently targeting completion for Windows in January 2017, with Mac and Linux versions to follow. In the meantime, the game is seeking support through Steam Greenlight.



17

Nov

October may be over, but that doesn't mean the end of all-things-horror for another year. The latest to emerge from the shadows is a 3D adventure called Gray Destiny, coming early next year from indie Romanian developer VisualPath Studio.

Players initially control a man named William, who inherits a mansion following the mysterious death of his aunt and uncle, along with the unexplained disappearance of their daughter. What at first seems a blessing may prove to be a curse, however, as upon your arrival you discover that "something terrible" seems to have happened there. As you cautiously explore the abandoned building in an attempt to discover the truth behind the fate of the family, you will need to "solve puzzles, riddles and follow the clues" to proceed, but must also be aware that "you are not alone in that mansion."


As seen in the early screenshots and trailer, part of the game takes place in darkness, with just the beam of your flashlight showing the way, though daytime scenes will be playable as well. You'll also have another source of light that is integral to your investigation, as "there are clues, areas, puzzles, enemies and hints only visible when you use your UV light." The developer promises some "intense scenes" involving Quick Time Events to "evade, counter, or complete an action." However, this will not be the main focus of the gameplay, as your wits will be your primary tool in "avoiding the entity that haunts the mansion." Later in the game, you will have the opportunity to switch between different characters to make use of each person's unique abilities when required.

Gray Destiny is currently being developed for Windows, Mac, Linux and Steam OS. While no firm release date has yet been revealed, the game is on track for completion sometime in the first quarter of 2017. In the meantime, be sure to drop by the official website to learn more.



6

Nov

We adventurers love to gallivant across the world, battling dastardly criminals, unearthing mystical artifacts and having amusing misunderstandings with the locals. For all that globe-trotting, though, the Dark Continent of Africa remains relatively unexplored. With their upcoming mobile VR title Rangi, Moroccan indie studio Funsoft is looking to change that, offering a chance to explore the culture, folklore and mythology of the cradle of civilisation.

The Nchi live in harmony with the land thanks to the kindly music giants that watch over them. Unfortunately, the neighbouring Zuluki have hatched a plan to steal the giants' energy, bringing discord and leaving them disoriented and lost. Balance must be restored, and it's your job to undo the damage, replenish their energy and overcome the saboteurs.


Based on the short pre-alpha trailer, Funsoft's vision of Africa looks sun-drenched if minimalist, featuring a warm but blocky stone temple with primitive art and symbology breaking up otherwise textureless walls. Even if the style is at least partly driven by the limitations of mobile VR, it's an attractive look. The music is similarly warm, gentle and rhythmically tribal. We're promised a "poetic and mystical experience" that incorporates the native art into challenging" puzzles and encourages players to explore and interact with a rich environment.  

Rangi is due to be unleashed in early 2017 for Gear VR, and hopefully other VR platforms down the line. If you want to explore further, you can venture over to the official website to learn more.



6

Nov

If you're an up-and-coming puzzle-adventure, you can do a lot worse than to name-drop the likes of Myst and The Witness as inspirations. That's heady company and a worthy goal for The Artist, a minimalist puzzler from indie one-man developer Motoda Media coming later this month.

Players will find themselves thrust into the titular artist's "canvas world," in which you must "solve the strange puzzles scattered across his island to find a way back home." Failure to do so will result in being trapped there forever. Along the way, you will discover hidden journals to read that will provide clues to this mysterious world, and perhaps your unwilling imprisonment in it.


Although the "devious puzzles" built into the game's open-world environment is indeed reminiscent of Myst, the full 3D exploration and stylized presentation hew closer to The Witness in design, taken to a more minimalist extreme of angular shapes and blocks of colour here, as seen in the screenshots and trailer. The action is backed up with an orchestral score to provide welcome atmosphere in this solitary first-person experience.

There's not long to wait for The Artist's budget-priced release, as the game is already finished for PC, with the developer promising "full VR compatability for both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive." Mac and Linux ports are also possible in future. For now, the game is seeking traction on Steam Greenlight with the goal of releasing sometime in November.



5

Nov

From tech implants gone wrong to hypnotic suggestion to mind-altering drugs, human memory seems to be a precious commodity in many dystopian-future sci-fi tales. This is true once again in the Void & Meddler trilogy, which promises to blow your mind in more ways than one with the recent release of the second installment, Lost in a night loop.

Void & Meddler first debuted a year ago, introducing the story of a young woman named Fyn who is suffering from amnesia. Why she has no recollection of this time, we don't know, as co-developers no CVT and Black Muffin want players to feel the "frustration" of not knowing what has happened. What we do know is that, "tired of the last two years she spent wandering without a goal and without memories, among disenchanted strangers, and pitiless scavengers," Fyn decides she's had enough. In this "single night intrusion into Fyn's life and hopes," the game gives players just "a few hours to make things right, and seek strong, pure and substantial memories. In a city where genders and species melt into each other, maybe she’ll find the long lost touch of humanity missing from her life."


While promising plenty of traditional 2D point-and-click adventuring, including "old school mechanics" like inventory and multiple interaction menus, Void & Meddler also offers different ways to resolve certain puzzles, as well as variable story elements that impact how each of the six acts (across three episodes) will end. But the main focus of the game is neither story nor gameplay, but rather the atmospheric "fragments and details, rainy nights and blurry lights." Inspired by the likes of Philip. K. Dick, William Gibson, David Cronenberg, Shinya Tsukamoto and Gregg Araki, the developers have deliberately set out to create a world "full of fuzz literature, pixel music and analog dreams." Emphasized by the "sound and fury of organic bass and aggressive synthesizers," each episode is meant to be "packed with psychedelic detail that plunges the player into the deepest thoughts of this unsympathetic character."

If you're sufficiently confused and intrigued, that's precisely the point of the Void & Meddler experience. To learn more about the game (or rather, to become even more intentionally bewildered), check out its official website. Last year's first episode, Nobody likes the smell of reality, can be purchased as a standalone episode on Steam, but the second (and upcoming third) installments are only available as part of a full-season pass.



4

Nov

In contrast to all the dark, dreary, fear-inducing horror titles emerging this time of year is NAIRI, a game that is "trying to make everyone's world a little happier." That uplifting goal certainly seemed to resonate with people, as this "cute" point-and-click adventure with "adorable visuals, compelling characters and engaging puzzles" has just met its crowdfunding target on Kickstarter.

NAIRI tells the story of two unlikely heroes who find themselves thrust together under extraordinary circumstances. There's the titular young girl, a skeptical and stubborn upper-class child whose life has been extremely sheltered until she is suddenly separated from her family and cast out into the city slums. There Nairi meets Rex, a charismatic rat and "notorious criminal-turned-scholar." While specific story details are still sparse, we know that "together they adventure through the animal-inhabited oasis city of Shirin" as they uncover its "dark history and mysteries."


Described by indie Dutch developer HomeBearStudio as a "child-friendly story with subtly mature themes, inspired by works such as The Last Airbender, Toy Story and Spirited Away, the lighter, more whimsical tone of NAIRI's story is "juxtaposed with a strong focus on character development and a darker overarching theme." The "adorable visuals" are done in a vivid painterly style that brings Shirin to life. Carefully constructed around the development of a mysterious tower, Shirin comprises a number of unique districts and inhabitants, from the Royal Palace to public bazaars to dark ruins and crypts.

While much of the gameplay above ground will include inventory gathering and character interaction, with certain choices affecting the path each player's story will take, the dungeons promise to be "more puzzle-oriented than the overworld" and therefore more challenging. Fortunately, Rex's journal serves as a hint system, and a map system will help prevent any disorientation. In fact, the developers have stated their clear intent to avoid the usual genre pitfalls like pixel-hunting, backtracking, and obtuse puzzles.

Freshly bolstered by more than €7,500 through its Kickstarter campaign, HomeBearStudio can now buckle down with an eye to completing the game by its targeted PC release date of March 2017. In the meantime, you can follow NAIRI's progress through the developer's website.



3

Nov

What would you do if you found yourself trapped on a creepy space station with nothing but a computer to help you escape? That is the premise of Code 7, a very atypical, text-based, five-episode adventure game which recently received funding on Kickstarter.

Created by two-man German developer Goodwolf Studio, Code 7 tells the story of Alex, a hacker who finds himself on a space station with quite literally nothing but a computer to enable him to interact with the systems and other characters. Episode 0: Allocation, an hour-long prologue (designed as a rapid-prototyping project at Cologne Game Lab and available free from GameJolt), introduces the series’ intriguing hacking-based gameplay.

As you use DOS-like commands to access systems, bypass security doors, and communicate with Sam, a woman who is trapped with you on the station, you come to realize that all robots at the facility seem to be under the influence of a malevolent AI entity called S.O.L.I. As you help each other and uncover more information, it becomes clear that something known only as Code 7 is at the center of the mystery, and it will be up to you and your companion to find out what it is. Future episodes will introduce other characters to interact with, and the decisions you make during the game will influence their relationships with you and the outcome of each episode, leading to multiple endings in which some characters may not survive.


A variety of puzzle types are promised, and several are showcased in the prologue. Sometimes all that is needed is a log-in name and password, and your job is to find it, either in the system or by directing Sam to search for it in her location. Other times, you will have to hack a system using a graphical mini-game or help your companion bypass dangerous entities or situations by directing them on a mini-map. Other obstacles include balancing air pressure in two corridors or the energy in a system in order to gain access to another area.

Surprisingly for a text game, Code 7 is fully voice-acted and features both sound effects and a musical score. Much more traditionally for Interactive Fiction, players will use the keyboard to input commands and navigate the game, but those for whom typing is awkward or frustrating will be happy to know that an autocomplete feature and fairly forgiving timed sequences means that even slow typists are likely to find success.

The first episode of Code 7 is scheduled to arrive on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms in April 2017. While the crowdsourcing effort is now complete, those who missed out can still preorder a season pass at $14.99 or glean more information about the upcoming series by heading to the Kickstarter page and the game’s official website.