Adventure News
 


May 2017

22

May


Last year, adventure gamers had the unusual opportunity to take on the role of a mechanical squid powered by the ashes of a genius inventor’s deceased granddaughter in indie Polish developer Paperash Studio's Dark Train. The game followed the exploits of Ann 2.35f, formerly Ann Tagrezbung, whose mission was to deliver her grandfather’s final invention – the eponymous Dark Train – to a mysterious client. Now, Paperash are returning to this bizarre setting to bring players a standalone prequel of sorts, titled Dark Train: Coupe.

Like its predecessor, Dark Train: Coupe will feature paper-based graphics, in which each scene is conceptualized and built as a physical model, then scanned and enhanced with digital effects. Once again the story centers around the Border City, a place where buildings are revered as gods, blueprints are the holy texts of their religion, and the ashes of the deceased are mixed with the material used to make bricks for the city’s construction. This game will feature Ann Tagrezbung as a main character, though as the events take place prior to Dark Train she is teased as being “quite lovely, unmechanical and still human,” in contrast to her decidedly non-human form in the original game.


Whereas Paperash’s debut offering involved solving logic puzzles and a story told through “atmosphere, symbolism and non-textual narrative tools,” their sophomore work will be more of a “digital gamebook” featuring “rich dialogues and decision-based story progression.” The developers say that their goal for Dark Train: Coupe is to “tell the story in a more traditional way” so that more concrete details can be included. Despite the “simple” dialogue mechanic, gamers are promised a variety of features, such as “collecting, exploring…easter eggs…” and “risk vs. reward decisions.” There will also be “hidden story arcs that can be experienced only in certain situations,” raising the prospect of multiple playthroughs to uncover everything the game has to offer. While the new game will not require familiarity with the previous one, the two stories are promised to “fit in together and explain the whole thing.”

Dark Train: Coupe is chugging toward a third-quarter release this year on Steam for Windows and Mac. Those interested can find out more about the game, as well as the original Dark Train, on the developer’s website.



21

May


Reaching for the moon may be a noble ambition, but doing so literally may be fraught with peril, as we'll find out when indie two-person Italian developer Iperurania Arts releases its dark fantasy adventure Beyond the Sky later this year.

Beyond the Sky stars a young woman named Selene, who lives in a tower and dreams of reaching the moon. One night, however, she is tricked by a wolf and suddenly "finds herself lost in a dark wood." From this point on, making her way through the forest becomes as much a journey of self-discovery as it is a means of escape, as "with the help of the inhabitants of the forest she’ll learn to explore the surrounding world in a different way, to perceive beyond appearances and to face her fears." In doing so, players will be confronted by such thought-provoking themes as "the sense of life and death, loneliness, sadness, uncertainty, power, war" and more.


A hand-drawn, third-person point-and-click adventure that promises an "experimental mix of game and literature," Beyond the Sky will forsake traditional inventory gathering in favour of a variety of fully-integrated "hard puzzles that will challenge your mind, puzzles that are not mere obstacles but actual narrative elements." Progress is achieved not merely by how you are able to affect your environment, but through your expanding perception of it, as "at the beginning Selene can interact with the surrounding world in a limited way, but during the game she’ll become more self-confident and she’ll learn to look beyond appearances and interact with the world in a deeper way."

The final release of Beyond the Sky on Windows and Mac isn't due until late 2017, but there's no need to wait to check it out for yourself, as a playable alpha demo of the game is already available for download. The demo is also available though the game's Greenlight page, where it is currently seeking public support for release on Steam upon completion.



20

May


Water can come in all sorts of forms. It can flow freely as a liquid, harden and freeze at sub-zero temperatures, or even evaporate into wispy steam. Those kinds of transformative properties could sure come in handy in an adventure game, which is just what will happen with the upcoming release of indie Croatian developer Duje "Dux" Šegvić's The Legend of Snowblind.

The game casts players in the role of an elemental named Flake, who is lost without any memory, and yet is the only one who can save the world from impending doom. Fortunately, Flake is able to change into four water-based shapes, from a small cloud that can fly to a giant ice monster capable of brute force in order to overcome the obstacles in his path. Sometimes he'll "need to be bad to do good" in his quest to save the "heartgem of the planet" against all odds, and along the way he'll meet a host of bizarre characters, including a dreamy elephant, a one-horned moose, a clumsy hedgehog, and even a bigfoot.

Inspired by the LucasArts classics, The Legend of Snowblind is likewise a hand-drawn, third-person point-and-click adventure, though with its own shape-shifting gameplay twist. The game actually began life as a freeware adventure way back in 2006, the first episode of which is still available for download (or you can simply watch it in its entirety). This version of the game is no mere remake, however. Instead, it's an "entirely new game with considerable quality improvements" in every respect, including gameplay, story and graphics, plus an original soundtrack, so its free predecessor should not be considered representative of the upcoming commercial release.

The Legend of Snowblind is currently on track for release on PC and mobile platforms sometime next year, with a crowdfunding campaign likely to help speed the process along and offer other quality enhancements. To learn more about the game and support its development while you wait, be sure to visit its conceptual Steam page.



19

May


Life is tough for any down-on-his-luck detective, but even more so when you're a bespectacled anthroporphic cat with a massive bowtie and no job prospects. The good news is, such hardships make for great adventure game fodder, as we'll discover next year with the release of Happiless.

As a feline detective on Sadmir, a planet with so little crime that you're forced to take jobs like finding lost keys and reuniting alcoholics with their longsuffering wives, the kidnapping of highly respected Professor Cookie (who has a PhD in caramel science) is a godsend. But the deeper you investigate, probing the minds of an eclectic cast of characters including a Baba Yaga, a wood goblin, Lady Coffee and Mr. Icecream, and even bizarre hybrids like unicatcorns, you'll also begin to discover more about yourself and your own past.

The first adventure from indie Russian studio Revolution Fist, Happiless is a classic-styled, third-person point-and-click mystery whose stunning hand-drawn artwork is displayed in the first batch of screenshots. While its offbeat characters and bizarre premise suggest a purely comic experience, the developers actually promise a "serious exciting story that takes place in an unserious world."

With an expected playtime between 10-15 hours, there is still a fair bit more development required, but if all goes well, we could see Happiless released on Windows, Mac, and Linux next spring, with mobile and perhaps even console ports to follow. Fortunately, we won't have to wait as long for a little sample while we wait, as a playable demo is planned before final release. You can follow the game's progress in the coming months through the official website.



18

May


You just can't keep Tex Murphy down (or quiet). Many have tried, from in-game adversaries to real-world marketplace realities, but none have succeeded. Now everyone's favourite futuristic gumshoe is poised for another triumphant return – not merely in the previously-announced fan-made remake of Overseer, but in a newly-revealed expanded version of that game, as Poisoned Pawn will now stand alone as an original new Tex Murphy adventure... and possibly set up a grand finale to follow.

The original goal of Poisoned Pawn was to remaster/remake/reboot Overseer using modern technology, but now the game has grown into an "official sequel" to 2014's Tesla Effect. Based on Aaron Conners' upcoming novel Tex Murphy and the Poisoned Pawn, the new adventure will pick up right after the previous game's events in 2051 and "follow St. Germain and Tex as they explore many aspects of Tex's past with greater clarity." The events of Overseer will remain the "primary focus" of Poisoned Pawn," but parts of Martian Memorandum, Under a Killing Moon, and The Pandora Directive will be represented as well, giving players the chance to revisit "some of the most iconic moments from Tex’s previous cases in a whole new light."


Beyond simply providing a nostalgic reminiscence of a storied franchise, the ulterior goal is to set up a possible series finale after Poisoned Pawn. As developer Chaotic Fusion teases, "nothing in the Tex Murphy universe (since the events of Mean Streets) has been an accident. The game has been played, the pieces have been set, and now it is time to look back and pay closer attention to the man behind the curtain, before making the final move." That final move, however, will be a costly and time-consuming ambition, so the ability to send Tex out with the "BIG bang (ideally, in space)" he deserves, Poisoned Pawn will need to be a financial success in order to pave the way for a climactic finish.

To learn more about Poisoned Pawn while we anxiously await its February 2018 release target, check out the newly-revamped official website for additional details.



16

May


Things just got real on Steam. Real locations, real actors, real horror. Well, okay, technically it's all fiction, but indie French developer Cyril Danon's newly-released The Fan is about as real as videogames get otherwise.

The story follows a demented serial killer who abducts women in order to "fulfill his dark fantasies" within the "darkest places of Paris underground." He's just kidnapped his latest victim – bound, gagged, and terrified in his basement – but he must first prepare the ritual during which he will show her "true love." As the story unfolds you will learn more about this killer and his victims, and in the end "you may be the one to ultimately decide their fate." Which of the five different endings you experience will depend on the choices you, the player, make throughout this short but all-too-realistic psychological thriller.


The Fan uses a combination of live-action film and more than 600 still photographs to create its "creepy and unsettling atmosphere," as demonstrated in its gameplay trailer. Although featuring a familiar first-person, point-and-click interface, the game is driven more by "discovery and choices" than by puzzles, which makes for a relatively short one-hour experience for a single playthrough. The ability to make different decisions to alter the narrative and effect a different outcome, however, gives the game a degree of replayability to see how things might turn out differently.

If you dare step into this terrifying scenario, you can do so right away, as The Fan is available now on Steam for Windows PC. A Mac version is also planned, but not expected until sometime this summer.



12

May


Normally an "overture" marks a new beginning, but with its latest release, indie Italian developer Expera Game Studio has delivered the second of three acts of A Tale of Caos: Overture, which is itself a follow-up to the free Prelude that came before it.

Overture casts players in the role of an apprentice technomancer named Terribilia Van Quinn (Terry), a young woman who is as "ingenious as she's impulsive and distracted." Along with her talking mechanical owl companion Heimlich, an invention of her own design, Terry is serving an apprenticeship under the "legendary Albion McMaster, known as the greatest technomancer ever, a grumpy and enigmatic man." McMaster is on the "trail of a mysterious artifact," and as his eager pupil Terry finds herself "wandering through a fantastical world of monsters, mysteries and humor" on a quest involving "alchemy, wizardry, kind trolls and witless bandits, giant birds and toxic trees" and much more along the way.


Expera's A Tale of Caos series actually began life with the freeware release of Prelude, and the first act of Overture soon followed suit as another free offering. Since that time, however, the developers have radically overhauled the latter for commercial episodic release, launching the updated version for purchase in December 2016. The recent release of Act II promises to add more than six hours of gameplay, with plenty of new story developments, characters, and puzzles. 

Available only as DLC on Steam (free to owners of Act I), the middle installment will be followed as early as next month by the final episode of Overture. That's not it for A Tale of Caos, however, as the larger story arc is still just getting started, with more adventures still to come. To learn more about the series and check out the playable prelude, be sure to drop by the developer's website for additional details.



9

May


Life is full of peaks and valleys, and while the latter is usually a negative thing, the opposite will be true later this year with the release of Investigate North's Myst-style 3D adventure, Aporia: Beyond the Valley.

Aporia casts players in the first-person role of an amnesiac who awakens from sleep after hundreds of years in the "mystical world of Ez’rat Qin – once a mighty civilisation, now a crumbled ruin." With no understanding of either your own past or that of the valley of "dark beauty" around you, you must "embark on a quest to find out what happened in this world, and to discover who you are," avoiding traps and solving "brain twisting puzzles" along the way.


Described as an "experimental, story driven, non-linear puzzle game," Aporia tells its tale of "humanity, technology and civilization" entirely without words, leaving players to draw their own conclusions from the environmental clues uncovered. Brought to life by the CryEngine, the valley promises to be filled with "strange nature, ancient technology, and haunted by a spirit roaming the fog-covered forest." You are free to choose your own way forward, utilizing as-yet-unrevealed "new, interesting puzzle mechanics" to overcome obstacles in your path.

Desktop explorers don't have too much longer to wait, as Aporia: Beyond The Valley is currently on schedule for completion on PC sometime before the end of the year.



7

May


Ssshhhh... listen. You hear that? It's the sound of Inner Voices, a new first-person 3D horror game due to release in just a few days on PC.

Inner Voices casts players in the role of John Blake, a man who finds himself "trapped inside a dark dimension." While you know who you are, you can't recall your past, and in your quest to "regain your memories and to figure out what is really going on," all you have to rely on are your wits and "the voice leading you through this haunting realm." As you traverse the "semi-randomised world build from memories of our protagonist, broken and twisted by some dark force," you will need to find clues and solve puzzles in order to piece together the mystery of what's happened to you. But be forewarned, as in this surreal world, "nothing is as it seems to be."


Created in free-roaming 3D using the Unreal Engine 4, Inner Voices has been "designed from day one for both traditional and virtual reality play." With an original setting that has been heavily influenced by writers like Lovecraft, Poe, and Stephen King, each playthrough will include randomly selected locations from a pool of almost 50 to explore, giving the game a rogue-like quality rarely seen in adventure games. Adding even more to the replayability, the "grim story" promises three different endings determined by your approach to solving the game's "logical puzzles with different level of complexity and difficulty" along the way.

You can check out Inner Voices for yourself, as a playable demo of the game is available through Steam. If you like the first taste, the main course is right on its heels, as the full game is due for Windows PC release on May 10th. You can also learn more about the game through its official website.



2

May


Pixel art adventure games and Lovecraft go back at least as long as Shadow of the Comet, and The Last Door has proven that there's still plenty of life left in this winning combination. Indie Italian developers PsychoDev sure hope so, as this week they'll be releasing their own retro-styled Lovecraftian adventure named Chronicle of Innsmouth.

Years ago, private investigator Lone Carter was sent by the curator of the Library of Miskatonic University in Arkham to Innsmouth to look into a missing persons case in the "despised" coastal city beset by disturbing tales of "journeys to exotic lands and of weird religious rites." Once there he stumbled upon the town's "cosmic insanity" and was left to face the consequences of his discovery. Meanwhile, on a trip through New England in present day, a "young and naive man" hears of Innsmouth for the first time and is compelled to travel there himself. These two stories will end up intertwined by "events occuring in the shunned fishing town under the ever-watchful eye of the mysterious and reclusive inhabitants."


Loosely based on Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth, this game promises that "horrific occurrences and an atmosphere of creeping terror lead the player deeper and deeper into a web of grotesque and mind-bending intrigue." This is accomplished through an old-school verb interface and pixel art as an "homage to the adventure games of the early '90s." Players will control both protagonists as times – Carter's smaller role depicted in black and white – and in order to succeed you will need to "investigate, gather information, and solve enigmas" along the way. But beware the answers you seek, as you may not like what you learn.

If you can't wait for your next Lovecraft fix, you won't need to be patient much longer, as Chronicle of Innsmouth is due to be launched on Steam for Windows PC on May 5th. To learn more about the game in the meantime, visit the official website for additional details.