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June 2015

12

Jun

It's a mystery why there aren't more mobile adventures made, but one mystery that has made it onto iOS and Android devices is Relentless Software's The Trace.

The Trace casts players in the role of Detective Sam Pearce from the Baltimore PD, who's on the trail of a vicious murderer. While details about a story written by Sherlock: The Network's David Varela are sketchy, the player's assignment is clear in delving into the city's "murky underworld". In order to reconstruct crime scenes and solve the mystery, you must "search for clues, examine the evidence and solve the puzzles that will lead to a watertight conviction."


Designed specifically for mobile platforms by the creators of the Blue Toad Murder Files, the new game lets you explore its realistic and highly interactive 3D environments, allowing you to "navigate from room to room, zoom in to study [hundreds] of objects with ease, and scan for hidden evidence to help you solve this most puzzling of homicides."

The Trace is available now on the App Store and Google Play.



4

Jun

If the concept of a stranger exploring surreal open worlds, solving puzzles and following the guidance of two conflicting interests worked for Myst, there's no reason it can't work again for Quern: Undying Thoughts, a new first-person adventure currently raising funds through Kickstarter.

Players are dropped into a universe made up of connected worlds, arriving at the entrance to a deserted ancient city on a "mysterious island surrounded by oceans as far as the eye [can] see." As you explore, you'll receive indirect guidance from two different sources, one of them a scientist who communicates "through letters, which are factual, rational – written with a logical approach. The other one is an ancient spirit, who makes connection... through visions, [giving] guidance about the spirituality of the island." The two soon prove to have conflicting interests, however, the scientist urging you to "experiment with the environment and manipulate it" while the spirit encourages you to "observe and be a part of it, without physically changing anything." Eventually you'll have to decide which of the two you're going to follow.


Inspired by the works of Jules Verne, Quern is a free-roaming, realtime 3D adventure designed for the standard keyboard/mouse combination, but the developers are also considering a mouse-only option as well. The island promises to be a study in contrasts, some of it warm and sandy and other parts covered with mountainous pine trees, with buildings that are clearly "ancient with relatively modern, mechanical additions." Above you, "the sky is full of rain clouds but it never rains, so the ground is dry and cracked." The game is largely non-linear, allowing you the opportunity to explore at will, all the while collecting objects for use and observing the environment carefully for hints and clues needed for puzzle solutions. You'll also encounter evidence of what happened on the island long before your arrival, which shines additional light on your own important role in the story.

In order to bring the world of Quern to life, indie developer Zadbox Entertainment has turned to Kickstarter to raise £20,000 by July 18th. A limited-time £8 minimum pledge is all that's required for a downloadable copy of the game for Windows, Mac or Linux upon completion, which is currently targeted for March 2016.

For complete details about Quern and to support its development, check out the official website and Kickstarter page. You can also vote for the game through Steam Greenlight.



2

Jun

Old, abandoned buildings can be the perfect setting for first-person exploration adventures, and indie Australian developer Ben Droste is hoping that proves true once again when it opens up the castle doors of The Eyes of Ara, currently seeking crowdfunding through Kickstarter.

The isolated castle in question has been "abandoned for many years, and few but the most foolhardy ever approach its weathered walls." Just recently, however, troubling signs of activity have resumed once more, as "a powerful radio signal has suddenly begun broadcasting from the castle, and the locals have reported sightings of strange lights moving in the mist." It's now up to you to venture inside to discover what has awoken, and to reveal the castle's many long-held hidden secrets.


Inspired in part by classic first-person puzzle-adventures like Myst, The Eyes of Ara is rendered in realtime 3D and promises to include a focus on exploration-based puzzles and environmental storytelling. Rather than interacting with other characters to propel the story along, players will discover what happened through observation, puzzle-solving and item collection, as "hurriedly abandoned rooms, cluttered desks, and cobweb covered trinkets all serve to tell a visual story and give insight into the lives of the castle's former occupants." Players will progress in a semi-linear fashion through the castle's main environments, including its great halls and antechambers, bedrooms and library, and its towers, each with "countless hidden keepsakes to collect, secret bonus rooms, and advanced bonus puzzles that once solved will reveal the final secret."

In order to make this game a reality, the developer is looking to raise $15,000 by July 1st. A minimum $10 pledge will secure a downloadable copy of the game for PC and Mac upon completion, which is currently targeted for July 2016. To learn more about the game and support its crowdfunding efforts, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details. You can also vote for the game's Greenlight campaign on Steam.




May 2015

26

May

The terms "MISSING" and "FMV" made for an impressive combination in Lexis Numérique's 2004 puzzler (also known as In Memoriam), and now indie developer Zandel Media is hoping the same proves true again with the debut of their new live-action mystery, MISSING: An Interactive Thriller.

The first episode of the series (no connection to the earlier title) stars a kidnapping victim named David Newcastle. Abducted for "no clear reason, Dave will have to find his way out and elude captivity while trying to figure out who his captor is." It seems that he is not alone in his predicament, either, as elsewhere "Detective Lambert investigates a series of mysterious disappearances in the city." Lambert will be the main focus of the remaining episodes.


Originally released on the App Store and Google Play to very little fanfare late last year, MISSING now arrives on PC promising to blend '90s-style full motion video sequences with traditional adventuring in which you must "use your brain to solve puzzles, find items and use reflexes in action sequences to help the characters progress in the story." The action will involve Quick Time Events designed to give the game a more cinematic tension to suit the story, as glimpsed in the second video released.

Available only as a single-episode purchase at this time, Episode One is available now on Steam. There are currently five episodes planned in total, but the good news is that the remaining episodes will be released all together, rather than individually. Filming is scheduled to begin this fall.



22

May

If it seems like the last adventure game from Pendulo Studios was Yesterday, that's because it was, back in 2012. And as it turns out, the next one will be too, as today Microïds revealed that its previously announced partnership with the Spanish Studio will be for Yesterday Origins, a pseudo-sequel due out next year.

Very little has been revealed about the game's story so far, but Origins will continue the tale of its predecessor's protagonist, John Yesterday. This time around, however, the modern day events will be explored simultaneously with events dating back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Origins marks the first game from Pendulo to be created in 3D, but the developers are quick to assure fans that the new adventure will "keep the very identifiable cartoon graphical touch that made the studio so successful." The game will be released across a variety of platforms, including PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, iOS and Android, with "optimized visual effects and interfaces specifically designed for each type of platform, whether they require a mouse, a pad or a touch screen."

There is no firm timeline for the game's completion, but it is currently on track for release sometime in 2016.



10

May

Virtual reality has yet to fully arrive for video games, but already an impressive lineup of VR-inspired titles is in the works. One of those is The Assembly, British developer nDreams' upcoming first-person adventure that promises to give players an exploration-heavy experience in a mysterious setting where moral choices abound.

The story revolves around the titular Assembly, an organization that believes society's laws and morals are holding back scientific progress by keeping certain areas of inquiry off-limits due to their ethical implications. In order to advance research into these areas, the Assembly has built an underground bunker where it can conduct any experiment it wishes beyond prying eyes, in the hope that they might discover a universal “theory of everything.” The Assembly operates not unlike a religious cult, with members being initiated into the organization through a series of trials. Over the course of the game, players will play through the eyes of two characters who promise to color the experience with their unique perspectives on the Assembly and its goals: Joel, a disillusioned Assembly veteran who has come to question their methods, and Madeleine, who has been essentially kidnapped and brought to the underground facility to undergo her initiation tests.


The game will be divided into a number of chapters during its projected 3- 4 hour length, with each chapter devoted to one character or the other in alternating fashion. Joel and Madeleine's physical and mental differences will impact how each chapter plays. For instance, Joel is taller than Madeleine, so the tops of doorways will seem closer to the player during those chapters. Their walking paces and footstep sounds will be different as well, and as an insider Joel's commentary on the Assembly and the circumstances of his involvement promise to be of a different tone than the newcomer Madeleine's.

The Assembly’s gameplay will have plenty dialogue and conversation, with puzzles interspersed throughout. In a story written by The Talos Principle’s Tom Jubert, morality is heavily emphasized for the player to wrestle with, with questions along the lines of "Would you kill one person to save ten?" and similar dilemmas that will affect the outcome and endings depending on how the player deals with them.

There will be no fast-paced action sequences, the adventure focused instead on a strong narrative, with exploration and leisurely pacing. Although a standard monitor, mouse, keyboard, and gamepad can be used for controls, The Assembly is being tailored for VR headsets, and is planned as a launch title for both the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. In light of this, the game can be expected to arrive on PC and Playstation Network for PS4 sometime next year when the associated hardware peripherals are released.

For more information about The Assembly, you can click over to the game's official website.



3

May

Player decisions are at the heart of Plugged, a new virtual reality-enabled adventure from indie developer Endtimes Studio, and the first is whether to help support the game in its fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.

Plugged casts players in the role of a man who awakens from a "rather weird dream" with the chance to relive the most important moments of his life, all the way up to his inevitable death. In this surreal kind of memory lane, you can make new decisions that will impact your life in a variety of ways. Of course, that means experiencing the consequences of your decisions as well. The first decision, for example, is whether to attend a job interview at your wife's urging or meet your highschool sweetheart in a hotel rendezvous. Each major choice will create two parallel histories that continue to branch the non-linear story in new directions leading to different final outcomes. To see all the different branches, you'll need to replay the game multiple times to experiment with other paths not previously taken.


A first-person title described as a "look-and-click adventure", Plugged is one of the new generation of games designed to make use of virtual reality. With the Oculus Rift, players can "use their own eyes and head movement to solve puzzles", though the game can also be played conventionally on a regular monitor. Either way, you'll navigate free-roaming 3D locations using the keyboard to move and mouse to rotate the camera. Environments promise to be highly interactive, allowing you to "open [a] fridge, wardrobes, oven, drawers, doors, windows, read books, switch lights on and off, etc., all in favor of completing a certain puzzle." Each story branch has one or two larger puzzles that must be solved in order to progress, as well as optional smaller puzzles that will further flesh out the main character's life.

In order to bring their VR vision to actual reality, Endtimes is currently seeking £20,000 by May 30th through Kickstarter. A minimum £10 pledge will get you a downloadable version of the game for PC, Mac, or Linux as early as this July if the campaign reaches its target goal. To learn more about Plugged and support its development, visit the Kickstarter page and drop by the game's official website for complete details.



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