Adventure News
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June 2017

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.




May 2017

31

May


The first day of June is nearly upon us, but it's the Last Day of June that interests us the most, as it's the name of a new cinematic adventure coming later this year.

Last Day of June follows the "bittersweet" story of couple Carl and June as they set out on "what begins as a magical outing to their favorite spot." But when tragedy strikes, it'll be up to you, the player, to "unlock the sequence of events that could save the day – and June’s life." Only by solving "emotionally challenging puzzles" will be you be able to turn back time while confronted by the question, "What would you do to save the one you love?”


While we know very little about the actual story details or gameplay for now, the stylish teaser trailer reveals much about the game's artistic vision. Developed by indie Italian studio Ovosonico, Last Day in June presents a "welcoming, painterly world" whose exploration is meant to showcase "the beauty of life and love, but also the contradictions of loss." The goal of director Massimo Guarini and his team is to create a "riveting emotional experience" that transcends the usual boundaries of videogame demographics by making it "universal and relatable" enough to reach a broader audience.

Unfortunately, the interactive Last Day in June isn't as close as the calendar version, but the game is on track for release on PC and PlayStation 4 sometime before the end of this year. In the meantime, you can follow its progress through the official website.



29

May


Horror stories are famous for things that jump out at you unexpectedly, but in the case of Just Ignore Them, it's the game itself that caught us completely off guard, stealthily releasing on PC with no prior fanfare. 

Just Ignore Them stars an eight-year-old boy who lives with his work-at-home mother and is "tormented by monsters that live in his house." As we can probably all attest, "one night can feel like a lifetime of pain, suffering and horror to a child," but in your misery it'll be your job to "discover the mystery of the invading monsters." Along the way, you will be given "a glimpse into the future which can be altered by the choices you make," leading to one of several different possible endings. 


Presented in a retro pixel art RPG style featuring a nearly top-down view, Just Ignore Them promises to be largely story-driven but does contain puzzles to solve in order to proceed. Expected to provide "a few" hours of gameplay for a single playthrough and budget-priced accordingly, the different decisions you can make offer the game a degree of replayability, though the ultimate outcome will be the same in each, setting up a possible sequel later on. 

Available now for Windows PC on Steam, you can try before you buy thanks to the downloadable demo that will give you a good idea of what to expect from the complete game.  



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