Adventure News
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May 2017

25

May


Videogames probably aren't the first thing you think of when you hear the word "Beethoven". But that's exactly what indie developer Act 3 Games had in mind when they conceived The Fidelio Incident, a newly-released exploratory thriller based in part on the German composer's only opera, and in part on real-world events.

The Fidelio Incident casts players in the first-person role of a man named Stanley, who is separated from his wife Leonore when their plane crash lands on a "desolate frozen island" off the coast of Iceland. With Leonore trapped in the smoking wreckage on the mountain, Stanley must not only navigate the "winding and treacherous" path through the arctic wasteland, but also conceal any evidence of their identity because with a rescue team on its way, it's imperative that their "past must remain hidden."


The first trailer and screenshots for The Fidelio Incident show off its crisp 3D artwork, which should come as no surprise from the Art Director of God of War III. With influences such as Dear Esther, Gone Home and Firewatch cited by the developer, the experience promises to be heavy on exploration and light on actual puzzles. In your travels, you will have to find all the incriminating pages of Leonore's journal, which were scattered across the island when the plane went down. Beethoven's libretto, Fidelio, served as a loose inspiration for the game's backstory before being re-imagined for a modern setting, and over 40 minutes of original music will incorporate "themes from Fidelio's overture [transformed] to fit the mood and atmosphere of the game."

If a narrative-driven rescue mission in frozen Iceland sounds like your idea of a good time, there's no need to wait, as The Fidelio Incident is already available for Windows PC on Steam. You can also learn more about it from the official website.



23

May


Monsters don't just hide under our beds and in our closets. Sometimes they're out in the wider world as well. Don't believe us? Then just wait until next year, when indie studio Polygon Treehouse unleashes its side-scrolling debut point-and-click adventure called Röki.

Röki stars a young girl named Tove, who must venture "deep into the forbidden wilderness, a land of dark mystery, ancient magic and monsters" in order to save her family. One such legendary monster living in this wintry wilderness is the titular "towering dark shadowy creature with glowing eyes." Although specific story details are being kept under wraps for players to discover themselves, the fates of both heroine and monster will prove to intertwined, as Röki is "a large part of why [Tove] is venturing so far away from home into this strange, forgotten and mysterious land." More than simply a tale of journeying home, this is a story "about love and loss, and facing up to some of your darkest fears."



Featuring a lovely hand-drawn art style as displayed in the early promotional screens and trailer, Röki may look at first to be a Limbo-styled platformer, but according to Polygon Treehouse it is a (mostly) leisurely point-and-click adventure with an emphasis on exploration, discovery and solving puzzles. Carefully crafted animations will give it a more dynamic look than the genre usually offers, however, as the developers want the protagonist to "run, climb, jump, swing, crawl and squeeze through gaps so that watching her navigate the game world feels like a real delight." That's not to say that a game about "adventure, bravery and courage" won't have a little tangible danger, of course, but any such action elements are intended to be "rarer moments that punctuate the gameplay experience at certain points to heighten the drama, emotion or to perhaps even to scare the crap out of the player (……just a little!)."

Though Röki represents the indie Cambridge-based studio's first game, its co-founders Tom Jones and Alex Kanaris-Sotiriou are established industry veterans who worked together previously at Sony Computer Interactive and Guerrilla Games on titles such as Killzone series. The freedom of independent design has allowed them begin their own development blog about the game, where you can follow its progress in the coming months.

Unfortunately, that'll have to tide us over for a while, as production on Röki is still in "super early days" with a target release set for sometime next year. Initial development is focusing on Windows and Mac, with mobile and console ports likely to follow.



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.



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