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May 2017

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.




April 2017

30

Apr


Capitalizing on the ever-increasing "us vs. them" mentality pervading the world today, indie developer PORT 5 has announced their upcoming game KAPIA, an offbeat comedic 3D adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world driven apart by politics and war.

Following the collapse of the World Union, the planet is divided into coalitions represesting "The West" and "The East." The former consists of economically developed countries who have declared that no assistance will be provided to developing nations, while the latter comprises the "underdog" coalition opposing them. Within this fractured world in which many people live under protective domes, "governments [impose] segregation and propaganda. The West enforce their own independent development without the economically unstable east. Meanwhile, the eastern government impose 'moral improvement programs' to eliminate signs of western influence." Caught in the middle of this ongoing conflict is Stefan, leader of the underdogs, who must deliver an encrypted message to the only person who can decipher it and hopefully end the ongoing war.


That's a heavy-sounding backdrop, but KAPIA promises that the "confusing politics" are set aside to to focus on the "witty characters [that] contrast the gloomy post-apocalyptic setting." As you converse with the "eccentric and often hilarious dome citizens" in your attempt to "discover clues and testimonies to uncover a violent tragedy," there will be a variety of gameplay involved. You'll need to solve puzzles along the way, but you'll also encounter distinct levels that involve some shooting, survival elements, and a "search for useful objects to fix, break, or hack your way through the game. Think outside the box and your creativity will be rewarded."

With just two people working on the game, designed to be the debut title in a planned trilogy (or "thrillogy" as the developers euphemistically describe it), it'll be next year before we see KAPIA completed for Windows, Mac, and Linux. In the meantime, however, you can follow its progress on the official website and support it on Steam Greenlight.



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