Adventure News
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October 2016

30

Oct

It’s hard enough sometimes for adults to rationalize the things they do, so asking a child to understand an adult’s decisions, especially when those choices are harmful, can be particularly difficult. Exploring this topic is the crux of Lydia, a narrative-driven adventure game being prepped by Finnish indie studio Platonic Partnership for release early next year.

While story details are being kept vague for now, the game is said to be heavily influenced by To the Moon and focuses on the eponymous character Lydia, whose life has been affected by adult substance abuse. The developers say that their goal is to tell a “very depressing” story that explores how a young girl processes an influential adult’s problems “through her imagination.” The player’s job will be to guide Lydia through the story in an attempt to understand “why adults behave the way they do.”


The surrealistic graphics will feature “atmospheric” greyscale tones tinted with hints of color, accompanied by audio that will further help to convey the story. The developers estimate that the game will take 2-3 hours from start to finish, and aside from a few “simple” logic-based puzzles, Lydia will be story-centric. As such, the controls will be greatly simplified, with no inventory and a single button comprising the user interface. While there will be no voice-overs, players will be able to answer various characters using a multiple-choice dialogue system, though the focus is said to be more on answering questions posed by others, rather than the player doing the asking.

Lydia is currently campaigning on Steam Greenlight, and if successful, we can expect to see the game released for Windows and Mac platforms sometime next spring. For more information, head to Platonic Partnership’s official website for the game.



29

Oct

While we tend to think of dolls as being the source of comfort and joy to young children, put one in a horror game and all hell breaks loose (sometimes literally). As you can imagine with a title like Weeping Doll, the newly-released PlayStation VR adventure, this is not the happy kind of doll story.

Weeping Doll is described as a "dark, story-driven psychological mystery" in which living dolls are "fueled by the negative thoughts of their child owners." Players assume the role of a maid working for a Japanese family living in a Victorian-style home. Here a "tortured girl's doll takes revenge on her parents", and it's your job to thoroughly explore this mansion "filled with hidden tragedies and discover a story that unfolds as you solve its ghostly secrets."


Created exclusively for virtual reality by Chinese developer TianShe Media, the first-person adventure avoids any potential VR-induced motion discomfort by allowing players to play while seated and project their avatar "in discrete steps to whatever spot they want to explore." You'll need to be alert in order to progress, as "every object and every sound plays a pivotal role in solving the mystery of what happened." You'll also need to overcome a variety of challenging puzzles along the way if you're to succeed in unravelling the "dark secrets of the family’s past."

Weeping Doll is available for download now in North America and Europe on the PlayStation Network.



20

Oct

Tracing back genealogies is all the rage these days, but what if you could actually grow your own? That is the unusual premise behind Rusty Lake: Roots, a new indie adventure released today on PC and Android devices. But then, we wouldn't expect anything less than unusual from a series that proudly wears its strangeness on its sleeve.

Rusty Lake: Roots stars James Vanderboom, whose life "drastically changes when he plants a special seed in the garden of the house he has inherited." This seed grows until it literally becomes a family tree, allowing James to "expand [his] bloodline by unlocking portraits in the tree of life." That's about it for story detail, though the game promises that players will be able to actually "experience the beginning and end of characters' lives."


A spin-off of the developer's free Cube Escape games, as well as their first commercial adventure set in the same Rusty Lake universe, Roots features the same distinctive hand-drawn art style as its predecessors, as well as an undercurrent of dark suspense that belies the seemingly peaceful aesthetic and can emerge at any time. The simple point-and-click mechanics make the game "easy to start", while it's 33-plus levels packed full of puzzles to solve will make it "hard to put down."

The budget-priced Rusty Lake: Roots is available for download now on Steam and itch.io for Windows and Mac, as well as Google Play for Android devices. An iOS version is expected imminently, as it is currently undergoing the final approval process for the App Store. (Update: The iOS version is now available as well.)



16

Oct

You've just arrived on a beautiful, unknown world. You have no idea how you got here, or why, but with the aid of messages left behind by a stranger you start to uncover a deeper mystery. The Search, by solo Californian indie developer Jason Godbey, is heavily inspired by first-person adventure classics like Myst and Riven, but with the promise of a "surreal twist".

Following the clues you find and figuring out the purpose of the items you uncover will lead you on a journey through four worlds in a quest to discover a forgotten truth. For all that seemingly sweeping scope, however, it will be a snack-sized experience, taking between half an hour and an hour depending on how much you want to smell the roses and ponder the story, and how good you are at solving the puzzles.


There isn't a whole lot more to go on just yet, but judging by the trailer's gorgeous prerendered environments and serene instrumentals, The Search looks set to capture the same atmosphere of peaceful exploration as its inspirations. Jason is a veteran digital artist, and it really shows; using the familiar slideshow presentation, he's aiming to frame each view like a painting, as if Vermeer or Hopper had decided to make a game. The evidence so far looks promising, with locations ranging from a sunlit pavement cafe to misty woodland paths and a grand house with a vintage patina. Unlike most Myst-style adventures, though, solving the puzzles will depend more on working with your inventory than overcoming obscure mechanical obstacles.

The Search is due to begin on Windows in early 2017, budget-priced to suit its brief length. If you're inclined to investigate further, you can delve into the official website, and vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



15

Oct

Sometime this winter, many of us will find ourselves wishing we could control the weather. But while we won't be able to do that literally, we will be able to do it virtually in Stirfire Studios' upcoming VR adventure Symphony of the Machine.

Players will awaken alone in a "lifeless sun-scorched desert", but it won't stay that way for long. Off in the distance is a tower covered in glyphs that cause the weather to change when a beam of light is shone on them. From one moment to the next your surroundings can change from "blistering heat to refreshing thunderstorms." You'll want to avoid such extremes, however, as "creating the perfect climate for multiple forms of life is the key to cultivating a new world."


Symphony of the Machine requires that you not only utilize the correct glyphs properly, but also learn how to direct and manipulate the light beam with tools via motion control. As you experiment, you'll discover that some solutions "may require a simple bend of the beam, while others call for more critical thinking involving splitting and filtering light to achieve the desired elements." Puzzle-solving is intended to be relaxing and even meditative as you attempt to "breathe new life into a fragile planet." Without any exposition through narration or text, piecing together what "mysterious events disfigured a once thriving ecosystem into a desolate wasteland" can only be gleaned by ambiguous, subtle clues in the environment.

Created exclusively for virtual reality, Symphony of the Machine is currently on track for release on HTC Vive and PlayStation VR in the first quarter of 2017.



14

Oct

It's been several years since we last heard from Oz Orwell, the fraudulent ghost-hunter who found more than he bargained for when venturing into Angst Mansion back in 2012. But ever since The Crawling Chaos... nothing, both for Oz and for gamers. All that changes today, however, with the PC release of Oz Orwell and the Exorcist.

Life hasn't been good to Oz since his one genuine supernatural encounter (which he couldn't even manage to document on film). His website, Ghosts & Mansions, is doing badly, no one trusts him anymore, and he'll soon be forced to face his worst fear: finding a real job. But Oz has one more idea to salvage his reputation and his career. A new paranormal expert has recently emerged on the scene, achieving wealth and fame and success while Oz has found only failure. Calling himself "The Exorcist" (although neither a priest nor a religious believer at all), he lives in an "abandoned, crumbling building, a former mental asylum in the English countryside" that is supposedly haunted by ghosts. Oz believes that a documentary about The Exorcist in his own home will catapult him back into the spotlight, and much to his surprise, the Exorcist agrees to his request for a visit.


Like its predecessor, Oz Orwell and the Exorcist is a third-person point-and-click adventure, although unlike the first game, the sequel is predominantly (and perhaps entirely) in black-and-white. Players will once again control the titular protagonist in an adventure that promises "a carnival of horror clichés: an exorcist, an abandoned mental asylum, ghosts for company and a self-styled paranormal investigator looking for a scoop."

Developed in Italy by Midian Design, creator of numerous other indie adventures including Quantumnauts, The Apotheosis Project and Doc Apocalypse, Oz Orwell and the Exorcist is available exclusively for PC download on itch.io.



12

Oct

If you think the world is hard to wrap your head around now, just wait until you try it in the dystopian future of Asylopole, an upcoming adventure from indie French developer Mickaël Pixoala.

Described as a "satirical old-school adventure", Asylopole stars Adam Murdock, a "psychiatrist working in a gigantic asylum." As you guide Adam in delving into his patients' psyches to determine what's wrong with them, the process becomes a literal one as you "experience totally new universes and fight your patients' worst nightmares."


With its 2D hand-drawn graphics and the promise of non-linear exploration and puzzles to solve, in many ways Asylopole does indeed rememble the classic adventures from the '90s that inspired it, like Blade Runner and Sanitarium. And yet Pixoala has quite a few non-traditional tricks up his sleeve as well, including keyboard/gamepad controls, an in-game network called the Ultranet, minigames, optional side quests, combat, and experience points. (Plus lots of artery-clogging burgers to eat.)

For the more aggressively-inclined player, completing side quests will help raise stats such as health, strength, and stamina to prepare you for violent encounters, though the more pacifistic gamer can rest assured that fighting can be minimized with a friendlier approach to dialogue. If you do find yourself caught up in an unwanted battle, the option to skip it will be provided after a few attempts. If even that's too much, there will be an "adventure only" setting to remove combat from the game altogether.

Largely a solo creation from Pixoala, Asylopole is going to need a little help to be completed, which is why the developer is planning a Kickstarter campaign for the game in the foreseeable future. However, if all goes according to plan, we could see the completed game on PC as early as the end of next year.



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