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June 2015

16

Jun

It's been more than a decade since we last heard about Alida, but the first-person puzzler from indie developer Cos Russo is warming up again with an iOS port this summer and a brand new sequel planned for further down the line.

Alida is named after the fictional musical band who created a theme park island in the shape of a giant guitar, the inner machanical workings of which could even be manipulated to play. When the band's success waned as the island neared completion, the four men became distrustful of each other and divided the property, each creating elaborate puzzle systems to protect their own share of the island. Finally, they abandoned the island altogether. Fifteen years later, however, one of the men is reported missing on the island, and it's up to you to travel to Alida, solve its many puzzles, and discover what happened.


The Alida port is currently complete and in the final stages of testing. According to Russo, if all goes as planned, we could see the game launched on the App Store by the beginning of September.

Perhaps the better news is that Russo is already planning ahead for a full-blown sequel. While no dates or details are available yet, and the game will eventually require crowdfunding to succeed, the developer is teasing fans with the following:

    "Juno was besotted with the Bi-Sphere. Ever since the discovery that’s all he could think and talk about. The circular arrangement of the internal Bi-Sphere devices captivated him as they were flouting gravity, seemingly buried in three dimensional space.
    Juno used these devices throughout the Alida island, including the T-Flyers, and began experiments to try and determine the internal mechanics, spending day after day in the Water House. He certainly got a reaction, whether chemical, atomic or beyond what we know, and to this day the Water House experiment persists.
    I wish he had not. The experiment’s bounds are growing steadily and have extended beyond the walls of the Water House and getting more powerful, with the structure of the Alida guitar next in the firing line. We need to stop the entropy, but not knowing what it actually is, it will be difficult. Do we stop it with an equal force of energy? How will we amass the energy we need and how do we focus it on the entropy? Will the Bi-Sphere itself provide the answers?
    I’ve alerted Juno of the situation.” -Arin

To learn more about the iOS port and upcoming Alida 2, be sure to check out the series' official website.



15

Jun

In two full seasons so far, Telltale's The Walking Dead has focused on its own original characters, but the next installment of the series will be the three-part Michonne, centering around the titular character from Robert Kirkman's comic books.

While few plot details have been released, Michonne follows the iconic heroine who's "haunted by her past and coping with unimaginable loss and regret." Events in the game promise to reveal the previously-untold story that occurred between issues #126 and #139, in which players will discover "what took Michonne away from Rick, Ezekiel, and the rest of her trusted group... and what brought her back."

For those unfamiliar with Kirkman's comics, the author himself describes Michonne as "a reflection of the world of The Walking Dead. She is brutal and cold on the outside, but deep beneath what is broken, she remains hopeful, trying to claw her way out of the darkness that surrounds her." As with Telltale's earlier Walking Dead titles, the new game will not only let players accompany Michonne, but to "shape her journey" through first-hand decision-making.

It should be noted that Michonne is not a standalone release, as it will be necessary to have at least the first episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two installed to play. The game will be launched on all the same platforms, including PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, iOS, and Android. There is no firm release date set, but we can look for the mini-series to debut sometime "this fall".



14

Jun

A little cynicism is healthy for any adventure game fan, but indie French developer COWCAT is aiming to deliver a heaping dollop of it early next year with Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure.

Demetrios stars an antique seller named Bjorn Thonen, who arrives home drunk one night to find that he's been robbed. Deciding to investigate himself, with the aid of his next door neighbour Sandra, Bjorn soon ends up in a "murky affair" that takes them to locations such as France, Germany, and a mysterious African country. The more they travel, the higher the stakes are raised as these two unlikely heroes discover long-concealed ancient secrets.

As serious as the subject matter might sound, the developers promise a light touch with a "distinct use of cynical humor to justify the characters' motivations." Inspired by such beloved series as Broken Sword and Runaway but presented in first-person perspective, Demetrios features hand-painted HD graphics. The environments promise to be highly interactive and contextual, with other characters offering different responses to even the "stupid" actions you take. Puzzles and minigames will be integrated into the story, and hidden collectibles will enable in-game help should you need it. The game will be point-and-click by default, but COWCAT is also considering a gamepad option as well.

There's no need to accept all this second-hand, at least for PC gamers, as a playable demo of the game is already available from the official website. (Note: email submission is required, but the demo comes with no strings attached.) Offering over an hour of gameplay, this demo offers a substantial slice of Demetrios, but the full game should provide significantly more than that at 5-10 hours in total, depending on how thoroughly you explore and experiment. And unlike many early projections, this one is based in some fact, as the current version of the game is an updated remake of a version originally developed 15 years ago but never released.

There is no firm release date for Demetrios just yet, but the current plan is to launch the game for PC, Mac, and Linux sometime in early 2016. Just take that target with an appropriate amount of cynicism.



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.



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