Adventure News
 


June 2017

25

Jun


While many quaint little towns are inviting and friendly and warm places to visit, in adventures you can be sure they're all concealing something they don't want you to know. That's perfect for the prying eyes and minds of gamers, and would-be detectives will get the chance to unearth another town's hidden secrets in The Grimsworth Reports: Woodfall, coming later this summer. 

Players assume the role of Chuck Grimsworth, a down-to-earth special government agent who is "tasked with investigating reports of bizarre, unexplainable, and assumptively paranormal events." When called in by the deeply troubled sheriff of Woodfall, Chuck soon discovers a "bloody crime scene with gory, horrifying cult symbols left on each wall." But the deeper he probes, the more questions arise out of the "personal revelations about the lives and mannerisms of Woodfall’s denizens." It appears that "there’s more than just one mystery to solve in this town, and each decision you make and conversation you carry on brings with it the opportunity to open new game paths – and close other doors forever."


The Grimsworth Reports is a side-scrolling mystery that can be controlled either by mouse, keyboard, or gamepad, although in all other respects it promises to play like a traditional 2D, hand-painted point-and-click adventure. There will be puzzles to solve, items to find and use, and even side quests to complete, the latter depending on how you choose to approach the game. Players will need to converse with the local townsfolk, with branching dialogue options that determine which story path you take, ultimately culminating in one of three different endings. 

Though the final PC release of The Grimsworth Reports: Woodfall is not due until sometime in August or September, you can catch a first-hand sneak peek of the game through its downloadable demo while you wait. 



18

Jun


Music is often a vital part of a game's presentation, but usually it's a background element, designed to enhance mood without drawing attention to itself. Not so in Worm Animation's upcoming Beat the Game, which puts music directly at the forefront of the player experience.

Beat the Game stars a young man named Mistik, who crashes his motorbike and now finds himself on a journey to "uncover the mysterious, abstract universe" around him. As a music producer always in pursuit of the "ultimate track," this means exploring the "beautiful, dream-like environments" to discover and record a catalogue of interesting new sounds. Then you can fire up your "portable holographic music mixer complete with volume faders and effects," allowing you to "use your samples in any combination you like. From mellow, dusty rollers, to upbeat, acid house, Beat The Game’s intuitive sequencer ensures every combination sounds good—it’s just a case of creating something that fits your mood."


It's unclear what, if any, story exists beyond the music-creation element, but with indie designers Cemre Ozkurt and Yesim Demirci Ozkurt inspired "as much by twentieth century surrealists, Dali and Ernst, as modern European techno," the game promises a surreal desert world to explore with a "cast of warm, funny characters and a visual style that draws on classic animation." A scanner will help you to track down sounds, and while Mistick is controlled in third-person, at times you can "rapidly hunt the desert for hidden objects by remote controlled 'Roboball' with its first-person camera." 

There is no firm release date for Beat the Game just yet, but it's in the final mixing stage itself, with completion scheduled sometime this summer on Windows, Mac, Linux and Xbox One. To learn more about the game in the meantime, check out the developer's website for additional details.



17

Jun


Lack of replayability is a fact of life for most adventure games, but the opposite is true for Vidar, a randomized, story-driven adventure that has just come out of Steam Early Access. In Vidar, it's the inevitability of death that makes it so replayable. 

The people of the eponymous small town are dying, one by one. Caught in the middle of a blizzard, Vidar is also at the mercy of a beast who kills a villager every night, forcing the remaining inhabitants to "confront their impending deaths." The townsfolk have "heavily interdependent relationships," so "when one person dies, everyone else’s stories change." In order to save as many people as you can, it is up to you to enter a "puzzle dungeon" and "use your tools and your environment to help navigate to the center of the cave before everyone in town is dead." 


The exploration of themes like "grief, community, nostalgia, [and] loss" is a little darker than usual, and the bird's-eye RPG-style presentation is less common in the adventure genre, but what really makes Vidar stand out is its randomization – not just of the story but the gameplay as well. An arbitrary narrative path is predetermined each night, and "because the order of deaths is random, the story and quests you receive will be different every time you play." What's more, the environmental puzzles encountered throughout the four distinct "biomes" (each with "new takes on classic mechanics") will be randomly selected as well, chosen from a "bank of hundreds" to provide new challenges each time you play.

In Early Access since January, the final version of Vidar is available now on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux. A playable demo is available to download on Steam as well, and you can learn more about this highly ambitious project through its official website.



15

Jun


Elijah Wood may be best known as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but lately he's become more invested in interactive experiences. After lending his voice to Double Fine's Broken Age, now Woods has turned his sights to a VR project called Transference, which was revealed by Ubisoft at this year's E3.

Promising to bridge the gap between movies and games, Transference stars Macon Blair (Blue Ruin, Green Room) and thrusts players into a digital recreation of a "deranged" man's mind in order to investigate the "secrets of a home concealing a corrupted truth." As you navigate surreal household environments, you will encounter the various members of a dysfunctional family, each with his or her own story and a "unique perspective on events buried in their memories." As you begin to find clues to the family's history and "learn the rules of a place bent on breaking them," you will also make choices that determine their fate. This is no small responsibility, as "the choices you make from every angle ripple through time and space" and create a multi-branching narrative.


Despite being a renowned actor himself, Woods' involvement is behind the scenes, as he and his company SpectreVision are collaborating with FunHouse, a division of Ubisoft Montreal, to produce the game. Transference is being developed specifically with virtual reality in mind, offering "full interactivity for touch control on all VR platforms through PlayStation Move, Oculus Touch and HTC Vive Controller." However, the game will also be playable on traditional PC and console platforms.

There is currently no firm release target for Transference, but for now the game is on track for completion sometime next spring. In the meantime, you can follow its progress through the official website.



14

Jun


Poor Tehran, the city that just can't keep its alleys safe. To be fair, most big cities can't, but the Iranian capital keeps having its serial killing sprees made into adventure games. The first was 2013's Murder in Tehran's Alleys 1933, which is back in the news with an updated re-release, and now there's a murder mystery sequel out called Murder in Tehran's Alleys 2016.

As its title suggests, 2016 is a modern-day sequel starring the grandson of the original protagonist. The game focuses on the crimes committed by Jamshid Farrokhi, a crystal meth addict. While badly hallucinating under the influence of the drug, Jamshid "ruthlessly kills his whole family – his wife, 12-year-old daughter and newborn son." Upon sobering up, he realizes the heinous acts he has committed, but rather than turn himself in, he "decides to avenge those who were responsible for his decadence and for turning him into a human less worthy [than] an animal." Not only does he savagely murder anyone he deems guilty, but he records the "unimaginable violence" inflicted upon them and the "heartbreaking" confessions of his victims. Assigned to investigate the case is 32-year-old detective Faramarz Afshar, who soon finds himself caught up in "the most difficult challenge of his life."


Described as a "tribute to David Fincher’s Se7en," Murder in Tehran's Alleys 2016 follows in its predecessor's footsteps in presenting a traditional third-person, point-and-click adventure. Promising a wide variety of environmental obstacles and more than 15 minigames to complete, players will also encounter 34 different characters to interact with across more than 25 locations. Along the way, there will be many documents to find and read, a user-friendly PDA to use, and 25 minutes of motion comic cinematics to drive the story forward. All this is expected to add up to over five hours of gameplay.

But 2016 isn't the only Tehran alley news. The first game, though stylish and authentic to the culture (no surprise as the developers hail from Iran), was beset by crippling translation problems and bugs, turning an otherwise promising game into an exercise in frustration. Fortunately, 1933 has been updated and re-released with improved translation and performance fixes, plus reworked puzzles and redesigned in-game documents, promising a much-improved gameplay experience. 

You can find both the enhanced Murder in Tehran's Alleys 1933 and the new Murder in Tehran's Alleys 2016 on Steam, exclusively for Windows PC.



12

Jun


What's better than hearing that there's another Life Is Strange series on the horizon? How about TWO new series on their way, the second being a new three-part prequel revealed today, called Before the Storm

It's three years before the storm, to be precise, as players will return to Arcadia Bay in control of a "rebellious 16 year-old Chloe Price who forms an unlikely friendship with Rachel Amber; a beautiful and popular girl destined for success." Both names will be instantly familiar to fans of the first game, though as a prequel no prior familiarity is necessary. Either way, players will soon discover that "when Rachel’s world is turned upside down by a family secret, it takes this new-found alliance to give each other the strength to overcome their demons."


The early trailer and screenshots display the same distinctive aesthetic of the original, though this time out it's not French developer DONTNOD behind the game (their next Life Is Strange adventure is a totally separate project), but rather American studio Deck Nine Games. The goal of the game, according to Square Enix's Lee Singleton, is to capture the exact moment anyone can relate to: when they encounter "a particular person who significantly influenced their life; the person that ultimately shaped who they became."

Before the Storm is scheduled to debut on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on August 31st. In the meantime, you can learn more about the series straight from the game's creators through their developer video.



11

Jun


If you've ever been stuck in the middle of nowhere because your car breaks down, imagine what it's like for ship crews in the infinite expanse of outer space. You can't just call for a tow, so thank goodness for the Salvage and Rescue Operations Initiative, which is at the heart of STARDROP, Joure Visser's indie sci-fi adventure that recently launched on Steam Early Access.

Set sometime in the distant future, when human expansion has begun to exploit the vast business opportunities of space, the game stars a Salvage and Rescue operative named Aryn, who is "accompanied by her close friend and pilot of their ship the MCCV-2, John Kindley." Together the two of them explore the galaxy in search of "derelict spacecraft lost in time or ships [that] are are in need of help." But the pair get more than they bargained for on a seemingly routine mission to a vessel stranded in the Cassiopeia constellation. As they begin to "unravel the mystery about its identity," they soon discover that "there's a lot more to this ship then they could ever suspect." 


Described as a "first-person adventure and exploration game" inspired by the likes of Portal, Firewatch and Alien: Isolation, STARDROP promises an unusual combination of story-driven events and open-world exploration. Players are free to roam "multiple spacecraft, outposts, stations and more," some of them required and some of them accessible only through optional side missions. Along the way, you can interact with a number of different kinds of interfaces like "control panels, elevators and security systems as well as other various interactive objects such as computer interfaces where you can read emails, listen to audio logs and more."

There are also challenges in your path, however, as you will encounter a "range of light environmental puzzles and a touch of light stealth mechanics" that will need to be overcome in order to advance. Assisting you in your task is your equipment, including your helmet light and scanner, a DataPad that lets you "receive mission objectives, read crew logs, view your location on the mini-map or remotely control certain androids," and a propulsion system that enables you to navigate any zero-gravity environments. 

An early version of STARDROP is now available on Steam Early Access, representing about 35% of the full game, including the first chapter and two side missions that should take about 90 minutes to complete. According to the developer, "almost all of the base gameplay features have been implemented," though still in an unpolished state. The full version isn't expected to be complete for another year, but you can check out Chapter 1 before committing in the meantime, as it is available as a free demo download. You can also learn more about the game from its official website.



10

Jun


Normally when we call something a "comic adventure", we just mean that it's done in cartoon style and meant to be funny. But two-man indie developer Gamechuck has taken that phrase to a whole new level with the upcoming All You Can Eat.

Abusing the privilege of an "all you can eat" coupon, a young man has been "living inside a 24/7 diner for the last ten years." Now, however, his freeloading ways are in jeopardy, as "the diner is about to close for good and our hero is going to end up on the street unless he finds a way to keep the diner open." And so begins a "light-hearted comedy with dry and slightly weird humor."


While the premise certainly sounds bizarre enough, it's the presentation that really sets All You Can Eat apart. Described as an "interactive comic" inspired by the likes of Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes, the game has been literally designed like a three-panel, black-and-white newspaper comic strip. Progress is achieved through a series of player choices and interactions, each of which "creates a new comic panel, furthering the story." This is no mere gamebook, however, as you can also pick up and use items, and talk to other characters just like any traditional adventure. A single playthrough is intended to take less than an hour, but it can be replayed with other choices to see how events play out differently. As an added bonus, you can even print out your story upon completion, just like a real comic book. 

While there's no specific release date for All You Can Eat just yet, the game has already been completely developed and Greenlit on Steam, so final launch on Windows, Mac and Linux should be following soon. 



8

Jun


Superstitious people may want to avoid black cats, but criminals should beware crossing John Blacksad, the anthropomorphic feline detective and titular star of the upcoming adventure game from Pendulo Studios. 

Blacksad is set in the early 1950s, when corruption is rampant in the the money-obsessed sports world, particularly boxing. When the owner of a boxing club is murdered and his star fighter disappears on the way to the ring for his next big match, it's up to John Blacksad to delve the seedy underbelly of New York City to investigate the crime(s). 

Based on the comic series by Spanish creators Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad is the latest game from Pendulo (Runaway, Yesterday series), this time co-produced with Ys Interactive and published by Microïds. While we know little about the game so far beyond its basic plot, we do know it will be in 3D, and based on the single image revealed so far, looks to have a more realistic visual design than the studio's previous games – "realistic" except for the pointy-eared, whiskered detective, that is. 

With the game still early in development, Blacksad remains a fair way off, with release on Windows, Mac, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch due in the fourth quarter of 2018.



7

Jun


Minecraft is all about building, so it should come as no surprise that Telltale plans to build on the success of its own Minecraft: Story Mode with a new five-part season beginning next month.

The second season once again follows (either male or female) Jesse and his/her friends on a grand new adventure, and just in the nick of time. Having previously "vanquished the Wither Storm, saved the world, and become totally super famous heroes, life has gotten a bit more...complicated." Now stuck with reponsibilities to fulfill instead of being intrepid explorers roaming the world, "old friendships have started to fade – at least until Jesse's hand gets stuck in a creepy gauntlet that belongs to an ancient underwater temple." And so begins a whole new odyssey with "old pals and new comrades alike" that promises to be "filled with tough choices, good times, and at least one temperamental llama."

The new season sports the same blocky art style as before, with voice actors like Patton Oswalt, Catherine Taber, Ashley Johnson, and Scott Porter returning to reprise their key roles. While Season 2 picks up after the events of its predecessor, and decisions made the first time around will carry over here, there is no prior familiarity needed for newcomers to jump right in. And if you want to play socially, this game will also include Telltale's "Crowd Play" feature, which "allows friends and family to engage with the adventure together by helping to decide the direction of the story from any mobile device with an online connection." 

The first episode, Hero in Residence, is already close at hand, with a digital launch date scheduled for July 11th on Windows, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, iOS and Android devices. A physical disc version is planned for later this fall.



4

Jun


Building on the more realistic take on science fiction seen in movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Alien with its “Truckers in Space” theme, Macedonian-based indie studio KAMAi MEDIA has recently released the first episode of their space mystery Sonder. via Steam Early Access.

While a mystery set aboard a spaceship isn’t in itself revolutionary, it’s the specific approach the developers have taken here that is of interest. Citing visual design influences by artists such as Ron Cobb and Syd Mead, the team hopes to add something new to a well-worn formula. One of their stated goals is to find a way to tell its story in a non-linear format. They’ve accomplished this by making the characters stuck in an ever-repeating time loop, repeating the same actions day-in and day-out until being compelled to change their behavior. That compelling force? You, the player.


Players don’t take on the role of any particular protagonist in Sonder., at least not in the traditional sense. As a free-floating omnipresent conscience (or camera), you are able to take direct control of any character as you choose, or none at all aboard the spacefaring transport vessel. Events will play out with or without your input, though interfering in the course of things, whether by interacting with other crew members or equipment, will cause the flow of time to vary. It is up to you to lead the crew to their salvation, or deliver them to their doom.

Being caught in a time loop means that, as time resets and the world returns to the loop’s moment of origin, nobody in it, save for the player, retains any memory of what has transpired. This knowledge is what will ultimately move the narrative along, provided you are in the proper place at the proper time to learn the pertinent pieces of information. Time is more than just a plot device, and you can actually manipulate it by rewinding or fast-forwarding to specific events at your leisure as you inhabit a character’s persona in third-person or simply wander the halls free of any avatar.

The game’s first episode (of six planned in total) is now available as a work-in-progress via Steam Early Access, though there are some story paths that will end abruptly as they haven’t been fully developed. More information, as well as a developer video diary, can be found on the game's website.



3

Jun


Visiting decrepit old castles may not be everybody's idea of a good time, but over the years they've been prime destinations for would-be adventurers. Now another old keep can be again with the recent release of The Secret of Castel Lupo exclusively for iOS and Android devices.

Actually, the game's young stars aren't just visiting the titular castle in the heart of the Alps – thanks to a recent unexpected inheritance, their family owns it. Twelve-year-old twins Simon and Violet Weird weren't aware that they are the descendants of a "mad alchemist" from the 1500s, let alone that his legacy would be passed down to them. But now it has, so the two children set out to explore and discover for themselves what "bloodcurdling secret is hidden in the basement of this decayed mansion." No matter which protagonist you choose to play, or how you determine the story should advance, it turns out to be an "unforgettable holiday...as they try to outwit or outrun nasty knights, plasticine monsters, hundred year old mummies and devilish gardeners."

The Secret of Castel Lupo is primarily a text adventure, presenting detailed descriptions from which you choose your course of action by selecting highlighted words. However, you will also collect inventory items that you can use instead, or make use of each child's hobby. Simon is a chemistry genius who can mix up formulas in his science kit once he has the necessary ingredients, while spider-loving Violet has a net to help her catch wayward insects. You can only play as one child at a time, but after completing the game as the first, you can start again with the second. Rather than simply a cosmetic difference, the "puzzles and their solutions change radically", essentially creating "two completely different adventures." Either way, the castle is home to "twelve characters to interact with, thirty-five rooms full of puzzles and riddles along with some mini-games designed specifically to teach players about important moments of history."

Although designed with children eight and above in mind, with a goal of helping create a passion for reading, there's no reason why The Secret of Castel Lupo can't be enjoyed by adults as well. You can learn more about the game through its official website, or you can jump right in and check it out first-hand. A trial "lite" version exists on both iOS and Android, which offers about 20% of the complete experience. Full versions are also available at the App Store and Google Play



1

Jun


Virtual reality offers a unique way of getting inside one's head, and that is especially true in the newly-released puzzler FORM, which takes you through the surreal subconsicious of the game's protagonist. 

FORM tells the story of Dr. Devin Eli, a "brilliant physicist at the global technology mega-conglomerate Mindful Laboratories" who also has "superhuman powers of geometric visualization – the unintended consequence of a childhood trauma." Working at a remote Alaskan research facility, Dr. Eli is "on the brink of uncovering the meaning behind a mysterious signal coming from a secret artifact – The Obelisk." In order to do so, he will need to use his special powers to "solve stimulating puzzles and explore surreal environments built from Dr. Eli’s memories, dreams and fears."


Described by indie developer Charm Games as "2001: A Space Odyssey meets The Room," the game confronts players with a variety of obstacles that will require you to "assemble puzzle pieces, unlock doors and open rifts to alternative realities." The further you progress into the "deeper and more distant recesses of Dr. Eli’s mind," the more "complex and intertwined" the challenges become in your quest to "discover a path toward Dr. Eli’s true destiny." These obstructions promise a "mix of new and classic puzzles inspired by contextual problem-solving games," but all have been designed to "capture an inherent 'VR-ness.'" You can play either standing or sitting, but "whether opening mysterious cubes or creating shapes and patterns of pure energy, make use of the dexterity, manipulation, and tactile sensation only possible with motion controls." 

Puzzle lovers can jump right into FORM, as the game is available now on Steam. However, unlike some games that can also be played on standard PC monitors, FORM requires a VR headset and motion controller to play. For now it is only compatible with HTC Vive, but Oculus and PlayStation VR versions are expected to follow in time. To learn more about the game, drop by the official website for additional details.