Adventure News
 


August 2017

26

Aug


What if you met someone briefly in a bar, only to find out later that the same person you met has completely changed in disturbing ways? This is the basic idea behind Calligram Studios’ Phoenix Springs, an upcoming “neo-noir mystery adventure” which has been successfully funded through Kickstarter.

Phoenix Springs tells the story of Iris, a woman who meets a young man in a bar, only to lose track of him for a while. When she finds him again, “something is not right. He has become a recluse. He is a billionaire. And most terrifyingly of all, he’s dying of old age.” In order to solve the mystery of what has happened to him, “she travels to Phoenix Springs, a desert oasis, home to a strange community.” It seems to be a paradise, but “under utopian appearances, she soon realizes the inhabitants conceal dark secrets that are hard to unveil – and harder to believe.”


The art style is reminiscent of games such as Journey, combining 2D art and 3D modelling to create an unsettling and dream-like atmosphere. Interestingly, Phoenix Springs actually started as a plan for a feature film, but eventually evolved into its current status as a video game. Gameplay is inspired by point-and-click adventures and choice-based cinematic games, featuring mouse-driven mechanics and branching dialogue. In order to avoid frustrations like try-everything-til-it-works inventory puzzles, however, the developers have taken an approach they call a “concept”-based inventory, comprising memories, questions, and conversation topics to be applied in the appropriate place. In this way, Calligram claims that “the puzzles are not obstacles in the way of the story. The puzzles are the story.”

Phoenix Springs is scheduled to land on Windows, Mac, and Linux in March 2018, with Android and iOS versions also planned. Those interested in learning more about the game, or pre-ordering a copy starting at €15, should head over to Calligram Studios’ official website.



25

Aug


Ali Mardan has been a very naughty boy... which is a very good thing for us, as not one but two of the young lad's misadventures are available for download now on Steam. Both games, created by Iranian developer RSK Entertainment, share the same hand-drawn stylized artwork, traditional point-and-click interfaces, and a variety of scenes to explore, characters to interact with, and puzzles to solve.


Alimardan's Mischief
 


Alimardan's Mischief stays fairly close to home, a "cheerful" game in which "naughtiness goes hand in hand with goodness and kindness, damage coexists with making amends, and a world of virtue is gifted in exchange for the occasional bad in the world." The protagonist has "driven everyone nuts with his shenanigans"  like "messing the kitchen, putting banana peels on the floor, and poking chickens," and it soon becomes clear that atoning for one's misdeeds is a whole lot harder than committing them. Originally launched (under the ominously mistranslated title Alimardan's Mischiefs) only on GamersGate back in 2011, the current version released on Steam has been updated with improved localization.

 

Alimardan Meets Merlin
 


In its Steam-exclusive English language debut, the sequel Alimardan Meets Merlin sees the young protagonist venturing a whole farther out in both time and space. Having failed to fully learn his lesson the first time around, Ali Mardan misbehaves aboard a spaceship bound for the moon, and in the process finds himself sucked into a black hole and into a fantastical version of the Middle Ages. Here he quickly discovers that " Merlin, the great wizard of Britain, has gone to fight the wicked Morgana, without leaving any trace." With the Wizard of Oz now in control of the city, the boy "passes himself as the Wizard Baby of Oz" and sets out to "solve the mystery of the missing Merlin, the curse of the wicked Morgana, and of course bringing Excalibur to King Arthur…"



23

Aug


Usually waking up from a nightmare brings a sense of relief, but not if you awaken to find yourself with memory loss and locked in a horrific prison, unsure if you're even really awake. Such is the disturbing premise of the new psychological horror adventure Inmates, coming later this year from Iceberg Interactive and developer Davit Andreasyan.

Stepping directly in the prison-issued footware of a man named Jonathan, you snap back to consciousness in a "run-down" jail cell with no recollection of how you arrived there. And yet, although "terrified and confused, [...] you also feel something else: a painful sense of familiarity." You try to convince yourself that "this is all just a nightmare. Unfortunately, according to the voice coming from the old radio, things are not as simple as you’d like them to be." You'll need to piece together the mystery behind your imprisonment here, and try to maintain a fragile hold on your sanity in the process.


A first-person, free-roaming 3D thriller, Inmates promises an intense psychological horror experience combined with a number of "mind-bending puzzles" to solve along the way. With limited sources of light, you'll need to make your way through the often dark and realistically rendered environments intended to create a "suffocating setting" full of disturbing imagery, as teased in the game's announcement trailer.

Designed to be a shorter (3-4 hour) experience and budget-priced accordingly, there is no firm launch date just yet for Inmates, but it's expected to be released for Windows PC "within the next few months."



20

Aug


The name "Paradise" may seem like an odd choice for a game about an island cursed by ten plagues. But then, we wouldn't expect anything other than odd from the creators of the Rusty Lake series that is on track to expand later this year. 

Rusty Lake Paradise thrusts players onto a "small, remote island in the 18th century." Following the death of your mother, the island seems to have become cursed with the ten plagues. But you have the opportunity to lift this curse, so it's "your job to go around the island, interact with your family and help them vanquish the plague." 

Like its predecessors, Rusty Lake Hotel and Rusty Lake: Roots, the third full-length adventure in the series features distinctive hand-drawn artwork, as seen in the first screenshots released. Promising "a nice mix of puzzles, story and Rusty Lake atmosphere," the game will once again confront players with "ominous situations and bizarre rituals," but this time around will offer more freedom to explore its island setting. 

We don't yet know when Rusty Lake Paradise will be released, but the game should be complete sometime before the end of this year for PC and mobile platforms. You can stay up to date on its progress through the official website, and while you wait can check out the developer's many freeware adventures set in the same universe.



19

Aug


Any good detective has an active sixth sense, or intuition. But all the better to have actual "parapsychic" abilities in order to root out crime and reveal even deeper mysteries, as we'll soon discover in the upcoming release of Earthworms

Earthworms casts players in the role of detective Daniel White, whose paranormal abilities include visions that enable him to solve particularly challenging crimes. The investigation into a missing teenaged girl from a small fishing village seems like just such a case, but the deeper he probes, the stranger the circumstances become, and it soon becomes clear that all the evidence leads to a massive consipiracy on a global scale. 


While the premise sounds suited to dark and gritty artwork, Earthworms is actually presented in a soft, hand-painted style inspired by the works of Edward Hopper. Unlike the realism displayed in Hopper's paintings, however, the mysterious world presented here blends "pulp theme, surrealism and high-end science" together, inspired by titles like Donnie Darko, The X-Files, Stranger Things, and Twin Peaks and designed to elicit "a thrill of horror [mixed] with [a] dose of humor, beauty, ugliness and most often weirdness." There will also be plenty of obstacles to overcome, as the game promises "a lot of challenging logical puzzles [in] addition to classic inventory interactions."

There is not yet a firm release date for Earthworms, but the game is currently on track for completion on PC in November. In the meantime, you can follow its progress through the official website.



18

Aug


Considering how influential Planet of the Apes continues to be in popular culture, it’s surprising that only one major video game title, made way back in 2001, bears the name of the franchise. However, that’s set to change with the announcement that Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is currently in development for release later this year.

A product of FoxNext Games and The Imaginarium Studios, a UK-based motion capture studio founded by Andy Serkis, Last Frontier will be “set between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes films,” and will tell the story of how the “fates of a tribe of apes and a band of human survivors intertwine.” As seen in first screenshots and teaser trailer, the Unreal Engine-powered graphics appear to be top-notch, and mocap performances for characters in the game are being done in-house at The Imaginarium Studios.


Although specific gameplay details have yet to be revealed, the game is being billed as a “narrative adventure game of conquest, betrayal, and survival…where every decision impacts the fragile balance between peace and war." Intriguingly, players will be able to “play both sides of the growing conflict, gaining a deep understanding of the motivations, hopes and fears of humans and apes alike.” Player choice will be a key part of the experience as “the game pushes towards a tense, fragile peace, or a final bloody battle.” Accordingly, multiple endings are planned.

While a firm release date is yet to be announced, Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is set to be available this fall on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Those interested in more details can visit the game’s official website.



17

Aug


How to improve on the Myst-style formula of exploring the alien worlds filled with unknown technologies? For indie developer Lucas Govatos, why not add in a touch of The Talos Principle to "unearth the fate of the race that called these lost worlds home." If that seems like an approach that's up your alley, you'll want to hurry to support Epitasis, which is near its goal on Kickstarter but needs one final push to succeed by August 20th. 

Epitasis puts players in the first-person role of an explorer who takes "a leap of faith" after discovering an ancient portal. Arriving in the midst of "the remnants of an ancient alien civilization," you'll need to thoroughly explore a wide range of open-world environments, from "beautiful wide open plains to the dark recesses of a ruined alien city." You can proceed at your leisure, day and night, but you must search for ancient relics and solve a variety of cryptic puzzles if you're ever to get back home. Fortunately, a still-functioning portal network will allow you to navigate easily between locations you've discovered along the way.


The similarities to Myst and The Talos Principle are no coincidence, as the developer cites those games as two of his greatest influences. This will be immediately apparent when you begin to "use alien machinery, provide power via lasers, disable security systems, and more." As you "learn about the long forgotten technology by utilizing various puzzle elements scattered about," assisting you in your quest is a drone you befriend that will help you overcome obstacles when needed. But beware, as it isn't the only one, and the "other ancient drones aren't so nice."

You can already check out Epitasis for yourself, as Govatos has released a playable alpha demo. The goal is to release the game in June 2018 for Windows, Mac, PS4 and Xbox One, but in order to help ensure that reality, it will need a little more support in its final days on Kickstarter to push it over the top. You can keep further tabs on the game's development through the official website.



16

Aug


Though its handlers may keep changing, the Black Mirror brand lives on, and this fall we will once again get a new installment of the popular Gothic horror adventure series, this time from KING Art Games and THQ Nordic.

In what is being described as a "modern re-imagining" of the series, the new game, simply titled Black Mirror, tells a "totally independent and new story." It stars David Gordon, a young man born and raised in India who, although plagued by troubling dreams since he was a child, has to this point been unaware of the "dark tragedies that lie hidden in his family’s past." Upon his father's death, however, David is called to his "family’s ancestral home, Black Mirror House, to discuss his heritage. Soon he starts suffering from the same nightmarish visions that drove his father to end his own life."


While the familiar series point-and-click gameplay serves as the foundation for Black Mirror, this time around a whole new gameplay element is being introduced, as the ability to interact with "vision-like apparitions" allows players to discover more about the tragic history of the Gordon family. As seen in the early screenshots, Black Mirror will feature the same kind of crisp graphics and third-person presentation of its predecessors, emphasizing once again the "unique atmosphere of madness and psychological distress" that fans have come to expect from the franchise. This may sound like a radical departure for the developer behind The Book of Unwritten Tales, but KING Art was highly instrumental in the creation of Black Mirror II back in 2010, so this really marks a return to the roots of their first major adventure game.

Perhaps the best part of today's news is that we don't have to wait the customary years for such a high-profile game to arrive, as Black Mirror is due to launch on PC (Windows, Mac and Linux) as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 28th. In the meantime, you can learn more about the game and its characters at the official website.



13

Aug


What if your relationship with a celebrity meant that you could not leave your one-room apartment home? What if the only way you could find out about the outside world was through what you could gather from television, radio, and the people in adjacent apartments? What if you were…a marshmallow?

This is the intriguingly bizarre state of affairs in the newly-released point-and-click adventure Maggie’s Apartment, developed by CalArts student Anatola Howard and Duncan Cross. The game takes place within a single room, the eponymous apartment of Maggie Mallowne. Centered on Maggie’s “mysterious involvement with superstar Randy Rosebud,” players are tasked with uncovering “the mysterious celebrity conspiracies of the outside world by talking to her neighbors through her apartment walls,” as well as answering the question of why she is “locked” in the apartment in the first place.


The pastel-heavy, comic-style graphics are as quirky as the premise, and are entirely hand-drawn by the developer. Throughout the game, players will meet and interact with a variety of “wild personalities” including Mrs. Marinara, Hector Cheese, and Beauty the radish. Maggie’s Apartment is “heavily built on dialogue,” but also promises to include “unique animations that match actions and item combinations” players can make during gameplay.

Those interested in investigating the strange world of Maggie’s Apartment may do so now on Windows through Steam. More information about the game can be found at the official website.



12

Aug


Everyone's losing their phones these days! But it's just as well for (adventure game) snoops and voyeurs, as that means there's a new "spiritual successor" to A Normal Lost Phone on its way, called Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story

This time around, a troubled young woman named Laura has "apparently vanished without a trace" and the only clues to her fate are to be found on her cell phone, which you've fortuitously stumbled upon. All interactions take place within the simulated presentation of Laura's phone, and as you begin to investigate, you'll uncover "crucial pieces of information and hidden passwords scattered among texts, apps, photo gallery and social networks." In the process of probing her most private personal details, you'll also encounter a number of "thought-provoking social themes" to contemplate.


If Another Lost Phone's premise and format sound very similar to the game's predecessor, that's entirely intentional, but indie developer Accidental Queens promises a "completely new story, including new puzzles and new mysteries to solve." Even the social themes explored are different than those affecting Sam, the central character in the original. The goal of this game is to be "both unique and instantly recognisable to anyone who has a phone."

While no firm release date has yet been announced, Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story is due to arrive on Windows, Mac and Linux, along with iOS and Android devices late this summer or early fall. 



11

Aug


Most Lovecraftian horror stories hit pretty close to home – that's one of the reasons they're so scary. But indie Norwegian developer Rock Pocket Games plans to take the famed horror author's influence to outer space next year in their first-person sci-fi adventure Moons of Madness

While specific story details have yet to be revealed, Moons of Madness follows the exploits – both external and internal – of astronaut Shane Newehart as he struggles to come to terms with the "supernatural events that occur on research station Trailblazer Alpha, the first scientific outpost on the planet Mars." Along with simply trying to overcome the ordeals of the red planet's harsh environs, players begin to experience "zone-out" hallucinations that comprise "events from Shane’s past, things that will happen in the future, and information about things that should be impossible for him to know." Only by exploring the protagonist's own fragile mental state will you be able to "learn the secrets behind the sinister moons of madness."


Not based on any particular Lovecraft story, the game nevertheless seeks to emulate the "sense that ordinary life is a thin shell over a reality that is so alien and abstract in comparison that merely contemplating it would damage the sanity of the ordinary person." Yet balancing that fear-based fiction is a commitment to "hard science" based on "meticulous analysis of NASA and Space X research" in depicting the travails on Mars. The free-roaming, 3D presentation is meant to provide a "realistic interpretation" of the planet, and the puzzles (promised to be an "integral part" of the game) are designed to "always fit into the environment and make sense in the context."

Currently in development for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, we won't see Moons of Madness until at least the first quarter of 2018, but in the meantime, you can drop by the official website to learn more.



8

Aug


It's hard to know what news to trust these days – except here, of course. (That much is given.) This uncertainty in an "alternative fact" world is at the heart of a new episodic Orwell adventure by Osmotic Studios, as teased in the first trailer for the upcoming Orwell: Ignorance Is Strength.

When a political cross-border crisis occurs, players are thrust back into the service of "The Nation" as a "government official in a top-secret department of the Orwell program." You will once again have the power to dictate the transfer of information, as "given the power to both uncover and fabricate 'the truth', the player must decide for themselves how far they will go in the service of their country and whether the truth is sacred or ignorance is strength."


While no specific gameplay details have yet been revealed for this follow-up to last year's privacy invasion thriller, the reveal teaser highlights the game's inspiration, namely the "fundamental change happening in the way we consume information today – the rise of fake news, the social media echo chamber and the death of 'truth'." 

We don't know yet how far off Orwell: Ignorance Is Strength is from release, but the game is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux and is "coming soon." To monitor its progress in the meantime, visit the official website for additional details. 



6

Aug


Where in the world can a “lazy, good-for-nothing, two-faced guy” be “rewarded with fame, women and power,” not to mention a powerful boost to his political career? According to indie developers Paolo and Andrea Fazzini, collectively known as the Fazz Brothers, it’s in their native Italy in their upcoming point-and-click episodic comedy, BELPAESE.

BELPAESE (meaning “beautiful country” in Italian) tells the story of Peppe Nappiotto, who returns home with no degree, no job, and no money after spending 10 years at Milan University. Forced to face his disappointed mother, the “biggest challenge of his young life,” what can he possibly do to redeem himself? Simple: jump into Italian politics and its “circus of grotesque characters full of colorful, unintentional humor!”


Played in third-person and presented with 2D cartoon-style graphics, the game promises a familiar adventuring experience, with inventory puzzles and a basic dialogue system heading up the gameplay. The developers admit that politics is an “unusual topic” for an adventure game. However, the three-part series plans to use Italy’s “well known” reputation for having a political system “full of crazy twists and turns,” ruled by “buffoons notable for being deficient in brains, a strong work ethic, not to mention being decent human beings.”

The debut episode of BELPAESE, called Homecoming, is scheduled to land September 28th for Windows and Mac, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices, with the next installment planned for roughly eight months after that. More information about the game can be found at the official website.



5

Aug


If you're a psychological horror fan, there's a new Steam release to get you stoked: an indie side-scrolling adventure called Firewood

Following the death of his wife, Firewood's protagonist decides to "move to a cabin far away from town in order to escape from the haunting memories of the past and his country's opressive regime." But you can't ever really run away from the past, as the man learns in his old age, when one day many years later, "events take an unexpected turn and he finds himself [on] a dark journey. Will he be able to find the redemption he seeks?"


Created by two-person Turkish studio Frymore, Firewood is a 2D side-scrolling mystery that promises "psychological horror elements" along the way. A narrative-driven game, there will be some light puzzling to overcome, but no enemies to defeat or combat of any kind, as you're armed only with a lighter and the small inventory you acquire. 

Firewood is available now for download, exclusively on Steam for Windows PC.