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February 2015

12

Feb

Many players expected to find horrific secrets lurking in the deserted Greenbriar home in 2013's Gone Home, only to discover a surprisingly poignant modern familial drama instead. The prospect is certainly compelling, however, and now a new indie developer comprised of experienced industry veterans is running with that Gone Home-meets-horror game concept in the upcoming House of Caravan.

House of Caravan casts players in the role of a young boy named Lester Bernard, who "awakes in the titular mansion with little knowledge of how he got there or why – other than vague memories of a kidnapping" at the hands of strangers on his way to school. In order to discover his role in the abduction and escape his predicament, over the course of one night Lester must thoroughly explore his surroundings, digging deeply for clues and solving a variety of environmental puzzles along the way.


Described as a "novel take on the room escape genre", House of Caravan takes place in the early 20th century and is set entirely in a single mansion in the fictional northeast American town of Candlewood. There players will find a "dark and twisted narrative to uncover, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe and classic horror films." Rendered in realtime 3D, the mansion promises to be "littered with lore and puzzles that, under the right scrutiny, may reveal the sinister history of the Caravan family." In keeping with the single setting, however, it won't be a long adventure, offering just a couple hours of exploration.

While the game's Spanish developer, Rosebud Games, may not mean much to people, the team's past credits include the likes of Silent Hill: Origins, F.E.A.R. Extraction Point and The Witcher, so their horror bonafides are certainly well established. We'll see how they fare with the adventuring when the game is released for PC and Mac sometime this spring. To learn more in the meantime, drop by the game's official website.



8

Feb

It's been nearly 200 years since Mary Shelley brought Frankenstein to life, but two centuries later her creation is still raising ethical questions about humanity and inspiring artists to explore them, such as Niklas Hallin in his upcoming point-and-click adventure, Belladonna.

When the titular Belladonna and her husband, doctor Wolfram von Trauerschloss, are left grieving the loss of their young child, the doctor "launches into a dark obsession, devoting his life to the quest of conquering death. The madness spreads and Belladonna is soon dragged into the despair, but the tale takes surprising turns as the dead are brought back to life and the living are not to be trusted." The game casts players in the role of a "corpse girl rising from the dead in an abandoned laboratory" who must now "unravel the mysteries concerning [her] own death and reanimation."


Described as a "mystery point-and-click adventure in classic style", Belladonna itself has been brought to life by just one man, indie Swedish developer Niklas Hallin. This "twisted and dark" gothic adventure is not a Hollywood-style horror game, but rather an eerie exploration of the "place beyond life and death [that] puts you into the mind of the unliving creatures and their worldviews." Progressing through the story will involve reading some "longer texts which are inspired in style by Mary Shelley's novel" and grappling with themes such as the role of villains and heroes and moral value systems.

While there is currently no firm launch date scheduled yet for Belladonna, the best news of all is that after two years of development, the game is now complete. To learn more while you wait, drop by the game's official website, and to help hasten its release you can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



7

Feb

While we're still waiting on the first full adventure to make use of Senscape's Dagon engine, now we can look forward to another in the form of Seclusion: Islesbury.

Seclusion stars Jason Endel, a detective whose wife disappeared nine years earlier, only to turn up dead in a car crash five years later. Still tormented by this unsolved mystery, Endel heads to the nearly deserted town of Islesbury when his wife's name is referenced in newly discovered clues to a murder investigation. For Jason this is "more than a murder case, it's a chance to come to terms with his wife's death and to make his life bearable again." But closure won't be easy in this "town with an infamous past", as there will be "a lot more to this journey then simply solving the secrets behind a few murders. Things are always worse than they seem to be in this world."

Much like Asylum, Seclusion will be a first-person, node-based adventure that allows 360-degree panning at each realistically detailed stop, which range from "desolate apartments to lonely streets, dark woods to dangerous cliffs, and more." Created by small Turkish developer Silent Game House, the game's fictional town was largely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's New England settings, and though no timeline is specified, events occur before the spread of mobile phone technology, an important detail in emphasizing the protagonist's loneliness in Islesbury.

There is no firm release date scheduled yet for Seclusion: Islesbury, but if all goes well we could see the game launched sometime this summer. In the meantime, keep your eye on the official website for more information.



5

Feb

“If you can Google, you can play."

That may sound like a strange qualification for a video game, but not when the game is Her Story, an upcoming live-action, non-linear crime story in which you must piece together evidence exclusively through filmed interview archives.

In Her Story, your own computer becomes a police terminal that allows access to seven different 1994 video interviews in which "a British woman is interviewed by detectives about her missing husband." Instead of merely viewing the video footage passively, however, in order to find relevant details you must "type search queries and the database returns clips of the answers where the woman speaks those words."


While the investigative concept may be simple, indie developer Sam Barlow, perhaps best known to adventure gamers as the writer/designer of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, claims that "it’s a mechanic that quickly reveals its richness and complexity. At times it can feel like you’re engaged in a genuine dialogue with this woman and her story. It’s a unique way to interact with a narrative, a sculptural way of viewing a story – and something that can only be done interactively.”

When asked about the actual objective, Barlow responded that "there is a end-game of sorts, triggered somewhat organically", but that the focus isn't on "solving the case" so much as exploring the suspect (played by actress/musician Viva Seifert) and scenario more deeply. It's a very personal process, as he went on to note: "What's fun about the game is that some players might get the 'specifics' of the crime quite quickly, so they're playing a Columbo style story where you know the who but perhaps not the why. Others might get a conventional whodunnit if they unravel the story more linearly, etc. It's fascinating how robust stories can be, how they can cope with being rearranged quite dramatically."

There is currently no firm release date for Her Story, but the game is due to arrive soon on PC, Mac and iOS devices. If you'd like to see it available on Steam, you can vote for the game now on Greenlight.



4

Feb

First-person puzzlers are making a comeback! Though unlike in Myst's heyday, they're often done in real-time 3D these days. The latest in the new crop of exploration- and puzzle-based adventures is Pneuma: Breath of Life, which is set to debut later this month.

The titular Pneuma is a god who witnesses the "genesis of the universe" in a "narrated story of self-discovery, exploring the fundamental nature of being." If you think that's hard to wrap your brain around, you're all set for the game, which promises to be a "difficult puzzler designed to force players to think outside the box and explore beyond what they know as reality."


The game's real-time 3D environments are powered by the Unreal Engine 4, and Pneuma's "comical self-obsessed inner monologue" will be voiced by actor Jay Britton. Gameplay promises to consist of a "series of environmental challenges that require perception, observation, and lateral thinking skills to succeed." As a god, you'll be able to overcome obstacles through your ability to "lift bridges, rotate platforms and move entire rooms all with the power of your mind."

A collaboration between British teams Deco Digital and Bevel Studios, Pneuma is already well along in production. In fact, the game is due to be released as a timed Xbox One downloadable exclusive on February 27th. But non-Xboxers fear not, as the game is also planned for PC with Oculus Rift support. There is currently no firm timetable for the PC port, but it has already been successfully Greenlit on Steam. While you wait, you can learn more about the game through the official website.



3

Feb

If at first you succeed, try again and make it even better. That seems to be the motto behind Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock, a popular freeware sci-fi thriller being updated and re-released later this month as a commercial adventure.

Morningstar casts players in the first-person spaceboots of a contractor named Powell, whose seemingly routine job soon becomes "a deadly mission to save the merchant vessel Morningstar and her crew." After a crash landing kills one fellow crewman and seriously injures the captain, Powell is "on his own to repair the ship and find a way to escape the strange gravity well of the empty planet they've landed on." Making matters worse is the discovery of a "much larger and better equipped ship and her crew, all dead, and not by natural means. What—or who—brought down these ships and is killing their crews? Why? And can Powell find a way off-planet before he shares the same fate?"


A first-person, point-and-click adventure with panoramic scenes by Red Herring Labs, Morningstar was originally released as a freeware adventure, which is still playable in your browser. The commercial version of the game is being published by Phoenix Online, and promises to include brand new puzzles and scenes, an extended storyline, remastered cinematics and soundtrack, and full voice acting to go with a more streamlined interface.

There's little time to wait for Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock, as the game is scheduled to launch for PC and Mac on February 17th at a cost of $9.99 at various online retailers.



1

Feb

It's been a long time since the final bell tolled on the Clock Tower series, but fans of the classic PlayStation horror series (and horror fans in general) can rejoice at the return of designer Hifumi Kono, as well Takashi Shimizu, the director of The Grudge, in a new PC adventure called Project Scissors: NightCry.

In NightCry, you have been invited aboard a decadent ship for what turns out to be the "cruise of a (possibly short) lifetime." You'll soon discover that "while your surroundings are luxurious and the guests are friendly, not everything is as it should be. The guests and the crew start to turn up dead, the victims of some foul murderer." The survivors become increasingly suspicious of each other, and as night falls a "baby’s cry echoes throughout." Your task is to explore the ship, talk to your fellow passengers and crew, and "search for clues that will lead you to the killer as you float, lost, on the open sea. But be forewarned – your actions will determine how many survive to the end."


NightCry shares many similarities with its spiritual predecessors. It's primarily a 3D point-and-click adventure in which you "investigate the strange and often gruesome happenings. Players click on objects in the environment to investigate and obtain items, helping to solve puzzles and gain more clues." However, you will also be stalked by a "dark presence" brought on board by a group of stowaway cultists. With no weapons or means of defending yourself against this danger, your only option is to "run or hide in order to survive your encounters with this evil." Escaping won't be easy, however, as "this evil force isn’t confined to simply roaming the ship's hallways, elevators, or rooms." The decisions you make and the actions you take will determine your fate in one of a number of multiple endings.

Originally announced as a mobile-only title for iOS, Android, and Vita, the developers have taken to Kickstarter to give the game a large screen treatment on PC. To do that, they'll need to raise an ambitious $300,000 goal by February 23rd. An minimum $25 pledge will get you a downloadable copy of the game upon completion, projected for the end of this year. To support the game and learn more about Project Scissors: NightCry, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details.



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