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August 2014

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.



9

Aug

Where else would you put a six-year-old boy who believes he's the son of the devil but in a hospital's psychiatric ward? Unfortunately for his fellow patients, Lucius really is Satan's spawn, and he's ready to wreak havoc once again in the upcoming Lucius II: The Prophecy.

The sequel picks up where the original left off, with Lucius the "lone survivor of the burning wreckage his parents once called home, unscathed from the ruthless slaughter he had unleashed." But Lucius's work is not done, as a prophecy in the Book of Revelation foretells the "birth of a child that would end up ruling the world with an iron rod." The next step in fulfilling this prophecy is for Lucius to regain his powers and punish the wicked souls in St. Benedict’s Hospital. But this time it won't be so easy as "little does he know of his new adversaries..."

As seen in the announcement trailer (definitely not for the squeamish), Lucius II promises more of the sinful, murderous mayhem of its predecessor, but the sequel will include a number of differences beyond just the change in scenery. The new game promises to be more of an open sandbox that will provide gamers much more freedom than before as you explore the five-story psychiatric ward and the small town of Ludlow. With over 100 potential victims to stalk and a variety of tools – both physical and supernatural – it is up to you to decide "when, how and who to kill."

Production on The Prophecy has been ongoing ever since the 2012 release of the original, and Finnish developer Shiver Games hope to complete the game for PC early next year. In the meantime, you can follow the progress of Lucius II through the official website.



8

Aug

Bill Tiller clearly has a fondness for pirates. But you can't argue with the man's success, as his credits include The Curse of Monkey Island and Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island. Now the acclaimed artist/designer is heading back to the high seas with a brand new adventure, Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler!, currently raising funds through Kickstarter.

The titular Duke is nothing like the scrawny, bumbling wannabe buccaneer Guybrush Threepwood. Duke is "a massive, brutish pirate" who "usually solves his problems by punching". But he wants to become a "suave and sophisticated swashbuckler", and like his famous predecessor, he has three tasks to complete. In order to become "captain of the pirate ship Brazen Blade, Duke is given an impossible challenge: to win the love of three women. Or, more precisely, to 'sea-deuce' them, as old Slewface says with a leer. Duke has no idea what that means and embarks on a mission to obtain three kisses."

Much like Tiller's previous games, Duke Grabowski will feature gorgeous hand-painted 2D artwork and promises "classic point-and-click goodness" as you "enjoy tropical locations, solve amusing inventory and dialog puzzles, and revel in comic pirate mischief." Along the way, you will have to "win a wrestling match, fire a cannon, attack a fort, rescue innocents, and succeed in love. Multiple times."

Originally conceived as a tech demo, the scope of the project grew to the point of a short standalone game that needs additional funding to complete for PC, Mac, Linux, and Ouya by October 2015. Under the studio name Venture Moon Industries, Tiller and company (including Gene Mocsy, who also collaborated on A Vampyre Story) are seeking $40,000 through Kickstarter by October 6th. A $5 pledge will earn backers a digital-only OUYA download, while a minimum $10 pledge will provide a DRM-free download on the other platforms.

To learn more about Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler! and to support the project, visit the Kickstarter page for full details.



6

Aug

The mind of a sadistic killer is undoubtedly a frightening, twisted place. Which is exactly what makes it perfect as the setting for a horror game, as it will in the upcoming The Corridor: On Behalf Of The Dead, currently raising funds through Kickstarter.

The Corridor's world itself is pretty terrifying. Following a "cataclysic event", violence and murder have become so commonplace that the survivors have turned to an "experimental form of justice" called "The Corridor". This program allows particular individuals to become "Custodians" trained to enter the minds of "suspected murders in an attempt to solve the most twisted and horrific murders."

Inside the killers' psyches, players must collect "memory evidence" of the crimes, but this task will be far from easy. Along with solving puzzles ranging from riddles to phsyics-based obstacles, you must also contend with "unnerving encounters and creatures that will protect key memories from you." Rather than devolving into combat, however, the goal will be to acquire the memories without direct confrontation. Not only can you suffer physical pain, but your psychological state is also at risk, which can "manifest itself as various phenomena such as corridor connection collapse, abnormal control behavior and visual and auditory deliriums." As a Custodian, you'll also need to keep yourself medicated with a drug called Cohesion, but beware the side effects of expiring doses.

The free-roaming, first-person perspective is aimed to emphasize The Corridor's focus on story-driven atmosphere and exploration, and the developers claim that the game also deals with "emotional themes such as love, death, revenge and loss." The gameplay promises to be non-linear, to the point where the ending itself will be dependent on how players approach the experience.

In order to complete the game for PC, Mac, and Linux by January 2016, indie developers Desktop Daydreams Studios have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise £37,500 goal  by September 1st. Early backers can secure a DRM-free download of the game for a pledge of just £10. For full details, visit the Kickstarter page. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



5

Aug

Who says video games can’t be educational? An upcoming point-and-click title Unnecessary Sentience looks to not only be a surreal adventure, it’s also indie developer Joe Richardson's Bachelor's degree project in animation. But he needs money to buy the right tools for the job, and that's where gamers (and their wallets) come in.

Although the game's plot is not yet fully formulated, Richardson promises that it will be “funny, and a bit daft”, with dark humor, satire, and “at least one reference to Monkey Island 2”. Richardson is currently toying with the idea of a science fiction theme, and he claims that the game will be “quirky and fun and lovingly hand-crafted… challenging-yet-logical… [and] stylistically unique.”

Produced entirely by Richardson himself, Unnecessary Sentience uses a collage-inspired art style that will utilize Adobe Flash. A free, browser-based test version is already available to play, though it isn’t fully indicative of the final game’s quality.

The game will be around an hour long, but a smaller game also demands a smaller budget, so a Kickstarter campaign has been launched with a goal set at a rather paltry £1,000. Interested gamers have until August 31st to support the project and snag a £5 DRM-free copy of the game.

Unnecessary Sentience is being developed for PC, but a port to Mac and other platforms is at least possible before release in July 2015. For more information, check out the Kickstarter project page.



2

Aug

Perhaps it’s only fitting that something that sprang from a COMA should emerge suddenly with little warning. That is true of MIND: Path to Thalamus, a new free-roaming, first-person puzzle-adventure from indie developer Carlos Coronado.

In MIND, players take on the role of a comatose man. Much like the title suggests, this is not a swashbuckling adventure but a journey into the depths of the human psyche. It’s not about saving the world, but exploring the life of one individual. That certainly does not preclude some amazing imagery though, as players will guide the protagonist “through fantastical forests, dark caverns and deceptive worlds of water and ice that directly relate to his emotional state at each point in his journey.”

This game was originally conceived and announced under the name COMA: A Mind Adventure, but Coronado has since reimagined and refined the concept into its current iteration. As seen in its screenshots and trailer, MIND looks spectacular, making good use of the Unreal Engine to recreate the vivid fairy tale-like landscapes of one man’s mind. Rather than relying on obscure mechanical puzzles or inventory use, this game requires manipulating the very environment itself. Players will use six methods at their disposal to manipulate weather, day/night cycles, and even time and seasons within each area to advance the story.

Best of all, MIND: Path to Thalamus will soon become reality, as it’s scheduled for release on August 5th. Purchase will be available for PC via Steam at a cost of $13, with a Mac version to follow later. Further information can be found on the game’s official website.



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