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February 2017



It's been over a decade since the launch of Psychonauts, Tim Schafer's first release with Double Fine Productions after leaving LucasArts. The wildly creative action-adventure left a lot of genre fans on the outside looking in, however, due to the high volume and difficulty of its platforming elements. If only they'd make a Psychonauts game that could be solved using only the power of one's mind... Oh, they have! It's called Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, though it too will have an exclusive audience when it is released later this month on the PlayStation VR.

Not to be confused with the upcoming Psychonauts 2, this is a standalone bridge chapter that picks up immediately where the previous game left off. The story once again follows the exploits of a young man named Raz and the rest of the eponymous "elite group of international psychic secret agents." Joining Raz are Lili, Sasha, Milla, and Coach Oleander as they head off to "rescue Truman Zannotto, the Grand Head of the Psychonauts. Their mission will take them straight into the heart of the Rhombus of Ruin—a mysterious part of the ocean as deadly as two Bermuda Triangles back to back!" Unfortunately for the rescue team, they soon get captured themselves, and with Raz unable to move, he must "use only his psychic powers to reunite his friends, reveal the identity of the mysterious kidnapper, and free Truman before the madness of the Rhombus consumes all their minds!

Written and directed by Tim Schafer, this episode has been designed for virtual reality using a first-person perspective to view its highly-stylized 3D world. Instead of running, jumping, and fighting your way to success, here players will need to use extrasensory powers to proceed. These include Clairvoyance, which will "allow players to see through the eyes of others, and explore the environment, whilst other abilities such as Telekinesis and Pyrokinesis will allow them to move things around with the power of their mind...or just set them on fire."

There isn't much longer to wait for Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, but you'll need a PSVR system to enjoy it when it's released on February 21st. Maybe it'll come to other platforms if the rest of us focus, concentrate, and will it really, really hard?

January 2017



You might expect a medieval adventure to come from jolly ol' England or somewhere else in Europe, but the latest one comes from Brazil in the form of Kaverna Mortal, from solo indie developer Cristiano Simão dos Santos.

Kaverna Mortal stars a young warrior named Vitorian, who has just inherited many lands only to find them already occupied by unwelcome visitors. In order to reclaim what is rightfully his, he must first conquer the Orcs dominating the region. To defeat them, he will have to survive a dungeon crawl full of dangers and deadly traps.

A first-person, slideshow-style adventure with simple hand-drawn graphics, Kaverna Mortal promises many puzzles to solve in your attempts to "exterminate the creatures of darkness". You will probably die numerous times along the way, but the game has a convenient checkpoint system that lets you restart near the point of your demise. You can check out a few of the tests and traps yourself in the brief 14 MB playable demo available for download.

If you like what you see of Kaverna Mortal, the game can already be purchased for Windows at a budget price of under three dollars.



While we typically think of the internet as a place where we can surf in anonymity, the truth is that users leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs in their wake that can be stored and tracked by both governments and private entities alike. Mainlining, a newly-released point-and-click hacking sim adventure, follows this paranoia-inducing reality to its logical conclusion, casting players as a government agent snooping internet users’ personal data to solve crimes and bring them to justice.

Mainlining is inspired by real-world events, specifically the passing of the Investigatory Powers Act in the UK Parliament, which requires ISPs to store information on websites their customers connect to up for up to a year, and make that information available to a variety of government agencies. Promising commentary on such events with “dark, dry humour” and “gameplay that echoes old school point-and-click adventures,” the came casts players in the role of an agent in the reinstated MI7, a government agency with broad hacking powers under the fictional BLU Pill Act. The agency has recently been hacked themselves, and it is up to you to use your investigative skills to hunt down the cybercrime ring and their members responsible for the intrusion.

Players will have access to various tools and support that enable them to hack computers, gather evidence, and track suspects through a series of cases. Sufficient evidence must be obtained in order to guarantee the “longest custodial sentences possible” for each criminal. This means that timing is critical: “Move in too quickly and you may miss leads linking your case to much higher profile cyber-criminals. Act too slowly and your suspect may detect you and escape.”

The game features a retro-styled pixel art aesthetic and takes place entirely on the simulated desktop of the protagonist’s computer, which in the playable demo sports clever callbacks to real operating systems, namely Windows XP. Similar to a real PC, the game will require both mouse and keyboard to play, and feature a combination of command-line and GUI applications.

Developed by Britain-based Rebelephant (headed up by Dream’s Sam Read) and published by Merge Games, Mainlining is available for download now on various digital portals for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. You can learn more about the game through its successful Kickstarter page and the developer’s blog.



Medieval times are a rich resource for fantasy adventure, particularly when spiced up with some supernatural elements. The lastest such endeavour is AO2Game's Greenwood: The Last Ritual, which is now available for download.

Set in an "alternate medieval Europe", Greenwood cast players in the role of an envoy of the Vatican. It has been over five centuries since the "Age of Darkness" and the war with the demons, with the Inquisition cleansing the land of evil and establishing itself as the head of the Church. But in the rural Greenwood Valley, a young countess becomes possessed by a demon and the exorcism ritual proves a failure, condemning the people to be "cursed with death and madness." Sent to Greenwood to attempt to break the curse, you must "explore the county, communicate with the spirit world, exorcise evil and discover the secrets of the Valley."  

Unlike most adventures, Greenwood is presented from an isometric, almost overhead perspective, though it still uses a traditional point-and-click interface. As you explore, you will need to collect artifacts and items and needed to solve puzzles, as well as learn magic and use it to your advantage. Your own welfare is in jeopardy, so in order to avoid becoming the next victim of the curse in both mind and body, you must rely on the power of pentagrams and light to protect you.

Without any prior fanfare, Greenwood: The Last Ritual quietly released on Steam late last week  for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.



Lots of us may be a little afraid of things that go bump in the night. But what if you're blind, and "night" is all you know... and the things going bump may just be trying to kill you? If that sounds scary enough, then the table is set for The Deep End Games' Perception, coming to PC and PS4 later this year.

Perception is a "first-person narrative horror adventure" starring a young blind woman named Cassie whose dreams are haunted by a mysterious abandoned estate. Through extensive research she finally manages to track down the mansion in Gloucester, Massachusetts, but upon arrival she discovers that "Echo Bluff is worse than her nightmares. A ghostly Presence has tormented its inhabitants over generations, and it now hunts Cassie. She must solve the estate's mysteries or become one of its victims."

So how does one "see" their way through the game as a blind person? By using a visualized form of echolocation, in which vibrations create a murky but functional image of the immediate surroundings. With no means to defend herself, Cassie will need her keen sense of hearing at its sharpest, relying on ambient noises and the tapping of her own cane to navigate her way while attempting to avoid detection. But players must beware creating too much noise, as "there is a cost…sound will attract your enemies and reveal your location."

While The Deep End Games may not be a familiar name, the developers have an impressive pedigree, with series credits including the likes of BioShock, Rock Band, and Dead Space, among others. Partnering with new Polish publisher Feardemic, the Boston-based studio received successful Kickstarter funding for the PC version of the game, but has now added the PlayStation 4 as a platform. There is no current timetable for release, but both versions are expected out sometime in 2017.



It's inevitable that every innovative game will inspire others to follow, attempting to improve and put their own unique spin on the fledgling new formula. Such is the case with Her Story, which has influenced a number of database-centered adventures since its release last year. The latest such game is How to shoot a criminal, an investigative mystery from indie French studio Pandorica that has just released on PC.

How to shoot a criminal puts players in the role Scarlett, a journalist working for a newspaper called The Revenge. The paper is run by an "out-of-control editor" who once believed in truth at all costs but whose ambition has become corrupted as "politics, economics and inner dissension within the newspaper staff [got] in the way." In order to expose the dirty secrets of a paper that is no longer able (or willing) to distinguish right from wrong, players must scour its archives of videos, records, radio programs and reporters' notebooks via the game's internal search engine to find inconsistencies. Only by discovering "definite proof of wrongdoing" will you be able to bring the paper down from within.

As you "search for key words, and the truth behind the different affairs covered by the newspaper" over the course of four days of investigation (and approximately five hours of gameplay), new discoveries are accompanied by one of Scarlett's memories. Through these you'll encounter more than ten different characters central to the mystery, each with their own stories and "intricate relationships". In reliving the newspaper's shady history through more than two hours of full-motion video, the cinematic film noir-styled black and white presentation is intended to evoke the "dark ambiance" of 1930s New York City.

The pursuit of journalistic integrity is already upon us, as How to shoot a criminal is now available on Steam. You can also dig up more about the game on its official website.



The island names may be different, but the familiar old-school adventuring goodness hasn't changed much from the classic days of Monkey Island to the upcoming Bayou Island from Andy Howard Games.

Bayou Island casts players in the role of a sea captain who finds himself trapped on the eponymous island and is unable to get back to his ship. With the island plagued by "mysterious circumstances", it'll be up to players to help the captain uncover the truth about what is really going on. You'll interact with the island's inhabitants, but questions abound about who to trust and what you can truly believe, so you'll need to rely on your logic and puzzle-solving skills in order to succeed.

The name similarity to Monkey Island is probably no coincidence, as the developer describes the game as being "made with the love and inspiration of the point and click adventure games of the '90s." This is clearly on display in the early screenshots and trailer, which show off the game's stylish graphics, original soundtrack and verb coin-style interface.

Even better than a new classic-styled third-person adventure is the fact that Bayou Island is not far off from release, with a PC launch date scheduled for sometime in March. If you'd like to see it available on Steam, you can support the game's Greenlight campaign in the meantime, and pop over to the official website for additional details.

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