Adventure News
 


August 2014

27

Aug

It's been a long time since we last heard from Simon the Sorcerer – not just for his many fans, but for Simon himself. We'll hearing once again from the former-boy-wizard soon enough, however, as indie developer StoryBeasts are currently working on Simon the Sorcerer: Between Worlds, with input from the original series creators.

Between Worlds will be a hand-drawn, 2D point-and-click adventure that harkens back to the earliest games, and the good news for those who wrote the series off when Simon magically became American is that he's back to being British! He's also still a slacker (some things never change). But this newest adventure isn't simply a return to Simon's teenaged fantasy world of yore. This time around, more than twenty years after his debut, Simon himself is all grown up (chronologically speaking). Now in his mid-thirties, he has been "working in Calypso’s curio shop by way of apology for accidentally transforming the old wizard’s granddaughter into a frog." At least, in this dimension. But imagine a parallel dimension where Simon is "good at magic, hard working, respectful, competent"... and actually a girl named Simone. This scenario provides the basic premise for Between Worlds.

In Simone's dimension, her "world is in trouble. All the magic is being drained out of it, leaving the wizards helpless and pouring magic into a world full of people with no idea how to control their new and spectacularly dangerous powers." Simone uses the last of her remaining powers to open a portal to "contact the one person she thinks can save both their worlds – our hero, Simon. Actions carried out in one world affects the same location in the other world. Simon and Simone need to work together to re-balance the magic and then deal with whoever caused all this trouble in the first place, (not to mention the nasty, tentacled consequences of opening up a whole load of dimensional portals all over the place)."

While much of the game will focus directly on Simon, Simone will also be a playable character at times. According do the developers, gameplay as Simon will be traditionally inventory-centric, while gameplay for Simone will involve the use of magic as her powers gradually return. Series fans can also expect to encounter other familiar faces, including Calypso, whose return seemed in doubt following the events of Silver Style's fourth and fifth Simon games. StoryBeasts are not totally ignoring the events of those games, using the "dimension-jumping aspect of the new game to acknowledge them", but they have chosen to treat only the orginal Simon adventures as canonical.

There is no target release date set for Simon the Sorcerer: Between Worlds just yet, but you can follow the game's production in the coming months through the developer's blog.



24

Aug

Norse mythology probably isn't the first association that leaps to mind when you hear the word "noir", but indie developers KreativeSpill are looking to change that with their upcoming adventure Norse Noir: Loki's Exile, currently raising funds through Kickstarter.

Despite his headline billing, the god of mischief isn't moonlighting from his Avengers gig here. The game tells the story of a name named Lars, a Norse immigrant living in the United States in the 1920s. Lars was "once a low-level courier for the local mafia famed for his amazing luck", but nowadays he's a struggling street magician who has run afoul of his mafia creditors. He's got just a few days to pay off his debts, but he soon "stumbles across a series of events that leave him questioning himself, his friends, and even the very nature of reality itself. With muscle-bound mooks breathing down his neck and a mysterious pendant that seems to be making him public enemy number one, Lars is going to have to do some quick thinking, fast talking and probably some swift running if he wants to make it through this adventure!"

As seen in the early screenshots and trailer, Norse Noir features a hand-drawn art style the developers hope will set a "light-hearted tone" for their "glimpse into the swing-era United States." Despite the game's serious-sounding subject matter, Norse Noir actually promises to be "comedy-focused" and a "family-friendly adventure title that appeals to all ages." KreativeSpill claim that "the current plan is to implement at least partial voice acting for the game, and hopefully offer a fully voice-acted title if the option becomes financially feasible."

Norse Noir has been conceived as a series of games that will each feature a minimum of three hours of gameplay, and in order to complete the first episode, the developers have launched a Kickstarter campaign for a modest $10,000 by September 20th. A minimum $8 will earn backers a download of the debut episode as early as this November. The game is currently being developed for PC and Windows 8 tablets, but Mac and Linux versions are also being considered.

To learn more about Norse Noir: Loki's Exile and to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit the Kickstarter page for full details.



16

Aug

Life may be strange, but what's even stranger is Square Enix's sudden attraction to adventure games. Following the release earlier this year of Murdered: Soul Suspect comes news of Life is Strange, an episodic, narrative-driven series currently in production at Dontnod Enterntainment.

Life is Strange is set in the fictional town of "Arcadia Bay, Oregon, where senior student Max Caulfield returns after a 5 year absence. Reunited with her former friend Chloe, the pair begin to uncover the uncomfortable truth behind the disappearance of fellow student Rachael Amber." While this may sound unremarkable at first, the developers promise that "choice and consequence play a key role in how the narrative unfolds." Even that may not distinguish it from a number of other recent story games, but the twist here is that "Max discovers she has a remarkable power… the ability to rewind time. In Life is Strange the player has the power to affect the game’s narrative and also change the course of history itself."

In terms of presentation style, Life is Strange will be a third-person, free-roaming 3D adventure, not unlike Dontnod's previous game, the equally-story-driven but more action-oriented Remember Me.

There is currently no release date set for Life is Strange, but the game is slated to launch on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.



12

Aug

With gamescom 2014 just kicking off today, the news for adventure fans may already have reached its peak (metaphorically speaking), as Activision confirmed today that both the Sierra brand and King's Quest are being revived for a new installment in the venerable classic series next year.

Activision hinted at the Sierra news early this week with a website and teaser, leading to much speculation about which properties might be dusted off under the old/new label. It turns out that King's Quest will be the first adventure series resurrected, with a new game developed by The Odd Gentlemen, the indie developers behind The Adventures of P.B. Winterbottom and Wayward Manor, and self-proclaimed "huge fans" of the original KQ series.

While very few details have yet been released, this promises to be a "fully reimagined" installment that is "fit for both the old and new generation of King's Quest players." Promising a "charming new adventure with an awe-inspiring art style, engaging puzzles, and a wondrous interactive narrative brimming with humor", the new story will see King Graham share his "life's adventures with his curious granddaughter, Gwendolyn. It is through these tales that Gwendolyn discovers the true greatness of her grandfather."

We'll be keeping a close eye on developments of this game, and hopefully it enjoys a better fate than the previously-announced (then quietly cancelled) reboot from Telltale Games. If all goes according to plan, King's Quest is due to arrive sometime in 2015.



12

Aug

Fans of Kan Gao's poignant 2011 adventure To the Moon will need to wait a while longer for a full-fledged sequel, but a bridge episode called A Bird Story is now scheduled for release this November.

A Bird Story is set in the same universe as its predecessor, where technology allows scientists to enter the mind of a dying patient in order to fulfill their lifelong wish before they die. Aiming to provide around an hour's worth of gameplay, the new game recounts the tale of "a boy who found an injured bird", taking place "between a mix of memories and dreams, telling a simple and surreal tale without dialogues." Although a self-contained episode in the sense that it has its own beginning and ending, this installment sets the stage for the sequel proper, as "the boy [will] grow up to be the elderly patient in episode 2."

As seen (and heard) in the game's first trailer, A Bird Story uses the same top-down pixel art style as before, with an original soundtrack once again composed by Gao (with "possible contributions from others"). If you like what you hear of the latter, there are additional preview tracks already available.

Currently in development for PC, Mac, and Linux, A Bird Story is due for release on November 5th.



12

Aug

The word "lullaby" usually conjures up a peaceful, serene image of a child drifting comfortably to sleep, but nothing could be further from the truth in the upcoming horror adventure Albino Lullaby, currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

Very little has yet been revealed about the plot of Albino Lullaby so as not to spoil any surprises, but the game will be set in a dark, subterranean world "clinging to the precipices of underground cliffs". As players explore in free-roaming, first-person perspective, the "highly interactive environment twists and contorts around you in real time as you explore and puzzle your way through its equally twisted narrative."

You won't be alone while investigating these surreal lands "filled with strategy and danger", as you'll also need to contend with enemies along the way. Indie developer Ape Law claims that there is no traditional combat involved, but there will be some "suspenseful stealth segments that can erupt into tense chase scenes." Even if you are seen, you will still have "many options at [your] disposal to avoid and waylay enemies." As you progress, you will gain tools that help you to deal with enemies more effectively, even to the point of avoiding confrontations entirely.

Created using the Unreal Engine 4 and designed from the ground up to support the Oculus Rift, Albino Lullaby is conceived as a three-part series, each episode having its own resolution yet leaving questions still unanswered. The first episode, Witness the Demented, is currently in production for PC and aims to provide around six hours of gameplay. In order to complete it by the end of this year, Ape Law has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 by September 20th. A minimum $10 pledge will earn backers a lengthy playable demo at close of funding, plus a download of the full episode and the official soundtrack this winter.

To learn more about Albino Lullaby and contribute to the campaign, visit the game's Kickstarter page and official website.



10

Aug

The concept of a youngster's coming of age into adulthood is important for many societies, and is often associated with a rite of passage. In tribal cultures, the rite might be associated with bravery and overcoming adversity, thus proving their maturity to the tribal elders or members of the warrior class. This style of ritual is the subject of A Rite from the Stars, an upcoming point-and-click adventure that's currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

The game follows the story of Kirm, a mute boy from the Makoa tribe, as he embarks on a quest to prove himself in trials on the island of Kaykala. There are three paths that Kirm must master: Wisdom, where he must find his way through a trap-laden temple; Courage, in which Kirm and his "power animal," a meerkat, must work together to reach "The Beast's Cave;" and Spirit, where Kirm will learn to enter the spirit world in order to reach the highest point on Kaykala, the "Volcano's Crater." Upon completion of the three paths, there will be a fourth and final challenge for Kirm to overcome before he is judged a full member of the Makoa tribe.

Developed by Spanish indie Risin' Goat, A Rite from the Stars will be played from a mouse-driven, third-person perspective and features whimsical 3D graphics that might initially seem suited for a comic adventure. Despite a few lighthearted moments, though, the publicly-available alpha demo reveals that outright comedy is kept to a minimum. Tasks that players are faced with will differ depending on which path they have embarked upon, and the demo provides examples of gameplay for each path. Courage seems to be "light action"-oriented, whereas the Wisdom path involves solving environmental puzzles (think repairing ancient machinery to open stone doors), and Spirit requires interacting with the unusual supernatural beings found along the way in order to overcome obstacles in the physical world.

In order to bring A Rite from the Stars to reality, Risin' Goat is seeking a total of $40,000 on Kickstarter, with a deadline of September 5th. Early bird copies of the game can be had for $10 and $12, and once these are gone gamers can still get a download of the game for $15. In an interesting twist on the increasingly-popular "get yourself in the game" perks, Risin' Goat is giving all backers at tiers $10 and above a star located somewhere in the game that features a personal quote of the backer's choosing, in addition to featuring the name of their choice in the credits.

A Rite from the Stars is slated for release in February 2015 for a multitude of platforms, including PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U, and Ouya. Interested gamers can get more information at the project's Kickstarter page and at Risin' Goat's official website.



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