Adventure News
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February 2017

26

Feb

The last few days of one's prison sentence must be an anxious but exciting time, with the monotony of captivity giving way to the freedom of an uncertain future, but all the more so when you're an inmate aboard an orbiting spaceship. Indie developer Sky Trail is certainly counting on that as the premise of Trajectory, a 3D sci-fi adventure due to release next month.

Trajectory casts players in the role of a convict aboard the "prison vessel that is owned by a clandestine, quasi­-governmental agency called Orbitek." In your last fews days before release, you are tasked with daily routines to follow via intercom by the Orbitek warden. Then again, you could choose not to follow them. (You certainly aren't above breaking the rules, after all – perhaps you can obtain freedom on your own?) What happens next is largely up to you, as there is a large pool of randomly selected missions to choose from each time you play, ranging from "general maintenance tasks to daring and valorous exploits." In between, you can freely explore the module in which you're incarcerated. The choice of paths you take affects not only the missions themselves, but which of the various endings you'll get.


A first-person adventure that promises to be both dystopian and whimsical with a humorous tone, Trajectory is set in an anachronistic future in which "floppy disks are still in use, flight trajectories are displayed in ascii graphics and text adventure mini games abound." Different missions require different approaches, but logical deduction will be required to progress. According to the developer, some levels involve the physical manipulation of objects, along with a variety of puzzle minigames such as operating a cargo drone, watering plants remotely, putting out a fire in space, solving electronics puzzles and more. A few missions will have some platforming elements, and one a light bit of stealth, but there is no combat involved at all. Along the way, you will discover collectibles like lost journal entries and computer logs to flesh out the background story.

As with the gameplay variations, the visual design of Trajectory also depends on the current objective. You may find yourself, for example, on "an experimental space desert, recreational holodeck or de-orbiting space station," which greatly alters the look of the game both in setting and style, as teased in the game's screenshots and trailer. Although designed for keyboard/mouse control and standard monitors, virtual reality will also be supported with a user-friendly "specially tailored VR mode."

While no specific date has been set just yet, the launch of Trajectory is not far off, as it's expected to release on Steam for Windows and Mac sometime in March.



25

Feb

Growing up isn't easy. There are sacrifices to make, challenges to overcome, and hard lessons to be learned. But it can also come with great hope and joy, and the journey isn't nearly as lonely or insurmountable when friends are involved. The Gardens Between will offer up an artistic look at the trials of two friends growing up when it's released later this year.

The Gardens Between tells the "bittersweet" story of childhood friends Arina, a "headstrong girl, and Frendt, a boy wise beyond his years," when they tumble into a land of lush but mysterious gardens. Although this surreal world is quite unlike the children's own, it is built out of "objects from their past to form curious combinations of time and imagination." With a newfound ability to travel backwards and forwards in time, their actions have tangible effects on the gardens, and "memories surface as the duo stargaze, illuminating the meaning and depth of their friendship."


Citing inspiration from titles like Myst and ICO, the game is described by indie Australian developer The Voxel Agents as a "dreamy tale of adventure and exploration" that features no spoken dialogue at all. As seen in its early screenshots and trailer, it's set in a visually stylish, 3D storybook world with a "meditative, ambient soundtrack" providing the appropriate mood. Time manipulation will be key to the "hand-crafted puzzle design" encountered along the way.

There is no firm release date yet for The Gardens Between, but the game is currently on pace to be completed for Windows and Mac sometime before the end of this year. To follow its progress in the coming months, be sure to check out the official website.



22

Feb

It may no longer be possible to travel to Yugoslavia personally, but now you can visit the former war-ravaged country in the recently-released "experimental interactive game" A Trip to Yugoslavia, though it will be anything but a vacation while you're there.

Although not based on any real Yugoslavian conflicts, the game takes place soon after the country has fallen apart, although "no one knows what caused it." Some people have fled the region, and some still don't even know that war has begun. Players control an amateur photographer named Dimitry, who has been "caught in the nearby Yugoslavian forest on the outskirts of town." Dimitri is a civilian, not a soldier, so "without any combat knowledge, you have to survive a few months of war in a desolate country."


A Trip to Yugoslavia is an FMV adventure featuring extensive live-action footage, but with a twist. The game is presented as if on a VCR, giving players a somewhat grainy view and the ability to rewind, pause, and fast forward. There's more to the experience than simply watching film, however, including first-person point-and-click scenes in which you must "explore the environment, collect items, [and] hide the bodies," life-and-death Quick Time Events, and decisions to make that will lead to one of ten different endings.

Created by Piotr Bunkowski and Hades Productions, the "Director's Cut" of A Trip to Yugoslavia (including twelve minutes of additional gameplay and three new endings) is available now on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux for under a dollar, further discounted for the first week.



21

Feb

The indie development team behind Mudlarks and A Date in the Park is going off the beaten path in their latest point-and-click offering, the upcoming jungle adventure Sumatra.

Players take on the role of Yandi, a native villager employed by the Pandang Logging Company to help clear parts of the Sumatran jungle on the Indonesian island. Caught in a devastating landslide, Yandi is separated from the other loggers and becomes lost in the jungle, kicking off his adventure. While making his way home, Yandi must survive the untamed wilds, including feral beasts, native Kubu tribespeople, scientists, and malicious loggers.


Indonesian myths and legends will play a role in Sumatra, adding cultural authenticity to the experience. Plenty of puzzles, multiple subplots, playable flashback scenes, and some decision-making elements promise to add even more variety to the gameplay. Inspired by vintage point-and-click adventures such as King’s Quest and Space Quest, and even the seminal platformer Pitfall, the whole thing is wrapped up in retro-styled pixel art and 8-bit soundtrack.

Sumatra is actually a much-expanded version of Cloak and Dagger’s earlier freeware game, Pendek (which is still available for download). Whereas the original game was a 30-minute affair, Sumatra promises at least three hours of gameplay, with many additional scenarios and characters. The game is currently up for voting on Steam Greenlight, and if successful could be launched within a few months’ time at a budget price.



20

Feb

Regardless of whether the problem is war, oppression, or societal exclusion, people look for anything to make the toughest times in life bearable, and one of the most potent of those things is friendship. Polish developer Juggler Games seeks to explore this theme in My Memory of Us, a story-driven adventure coming next year.

The game is set in a futuristic world where an “Evil King and his robot-soldiers” occupy the protagonists’ city and some of its citizens have been “marked and forced to move out of their homes and live in a place that was sealed off from the rest of the city by a huge wall.” Against that bleak backdrop, the story is a “reminiscence of a friendship between a boy and girl,” recounting the tale of how that friendship helped them to survive by carving their own paths in this gloomy world.


While the setting is futuristic, with its robots and fly train-like vessels, the premise is inspired by the developers’ own families and their experiences during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II. As such, history buffs may encounter familiar names and characters as they progress. Still, the goal is to create a game that could just as easily have taken place “in another time and place.”

My Memory of Us will be played from a third-person, 2.5D side-scrolling perspective, with pictogram communication and an aesthetic inspired by “naïve art.” The striking black-and-white graphics are punctuated by splashes of brighter colors to accentuate certain features. Though details are sparse at the moment, gameplay will focus on logic puzzles, and some will require cooperative solutions by the two characters. They “complete each other,” and only when they are together will they be able to overcome the toughest of obstacles.

My Memory of Us is currently in development for PC, with other platforms being considered in time for its 2018 release. To keep up with its development, you can check out the game’s official website.



19

Feb

When your job is to force poor people out of their homes on behalf of greedy bosses, it's not going to do your soul any good. That's what a young man named Price discovered to his horror when Jesse Makkonen's Distraint released in 2015. Now the indie Finnish developer is returning to this surreal world, once again blending reality and nightmare in a "bigger and better" round of side-scrolling adventure due this fall.

The first game saw the protagonist sell out his humanity in the misguided hope of a partnership at his company, McDade, Bruton & Moore. Wrestling with guilt and remorse, Price learned too late that there's a price (pun no doubt fully intended) to be paid for such heartless deeds. Picking up the "sinister tale" where the original left off, the sequel follow a despairing Price, trapped in a prison of his own torment, in his efforts to restore peace and find new purpose in life. But the question remains: "How does one fight without hope?"


Like its precedessor, Distraint 2 is a hand-drawn pixel art adventure with a viewable area set horizontally in of the center of the screen. The people have skinny legs and oversized heads, and a muted colour palette helps establish a disturbing, oppressive backdrop in which reality and unreality are hard to distinguish one from the other. And yet, despite its grim subject matter, the game promises its share of "dark humor" to go with its item collecting, puzzle-solving, and "complex story full of intriguing twists and characters." The eerie atmosphere is created not through "cheap jump-scares or mindless gore but psychological horror with a deeper meaning."

Currently in development for PC, if all goes well we will see Distraint 2 released in time for Halloween this year. In the meantime, you can support the game on Steam through its Greenlight campaign.



18

Feb

Grief is a terrible thing to experience in real life, but it makes for a powerful motivator in interactive entertainment. We're being reminded of that once again with the PC release of Among the Innocent, the first of a series of related "Stricken Tales" that deal with working through painful personal loss.

Among the Innocent casts players in the role of a struggling writer named Peter York, who finds himself trapped on an abandoned farm in the eastern Free State, South Africa in the year 2001. In your attempt to escape, you will need to "keep your wits together as you explore the bleak landscape and uncover (and maybe even solve) the many mysteries that lie in dark corners."


Described by indie studio Zero Degrees Games as a "first-person thriller adventure game," Among the Innocent tasks players with freely exploring twelve acres of 3D farmland, but the gameplay is "heavily inspired by classic point-and-click adventure games of the 1990s," so you'll find yourself examining important hotspots, collecting inventory objects, and solving puzzles along the way. Although the visuals promise to feature dark themes and a "strong horror and thriller aesthetic," the horror here is mainly psychological, in keeping with the dark themes of heartbreak and despair.

Available now on Steam for Windows PC, Among the Innocent is a standalone game, but also represents the first of a five-part series, each of which is "inspired by a stage in the Kübler-Ross model for dealing with grief and loss." Together, the five installments will "form an expansive narrative across multiple decades, characters, and stories both individual and connected."

To learn more about the game and the larger Stricken Tales project, there's a playable PC demo of Among the Innocent on the official website.



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