Adventure News
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March 2016

31

Mar

Indiana who?

Animation Arts may be best known for their Secret Files and Lost Horizon series, but the German developer has been quietly working on the start of what looks to be another potential globe-trotting franchise. Owners of Android devices can already see for themselves with the release of Preston Sterling and the Legend of Excalibur, though PC and iOS gamers will need to wait a little while longer.

The titular hero of the new game is a fearless "adventurer, traveller and treasure-hunter all rolled into one." His newest challenge, however, will be a true test of both his courage and abilities as he attempts to "find the most mystical artefact in English mythology: Excalibur, the sword of the legendary King Arthur." Nothing in life that's worth having comes easy, of course, but Preston soon finds that "the hunt for this fabled treasure will involve far more danger than he could ever have imagined."


As displayed in the screenshots and trailer, Preston Sterling uses the same realistic, highly detailed graphic style as the studio's other games, but this time the action is split between first- and third-person perspectives for the puzzling and more dynamic activities (sneaking, running, etc.), respectively.

Preston Sterling and the Legend of Excalibur is already available for download on Android devices from either Google Play or Amazon. The iOS version is expected shortly, with the PC release, which will include enhanced graphics and other platform-specific changes (but no voice acting), is currently on track to arrive by the end of April.



20

Mar

Ever wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut, bounding around the moon in your spacesuit with the blue marble of Earth overhead? In Deliver Us the Moon, the forthcoming episodic survival adventure from indie Dutch developer KeokeN, you'll get the chance to find out just how beautiful it looks up there. Except, of course, it's never that simple; you've got nefarious plots to uncover and the whole population of that blue marble to save, too. 

The year is 2069, and despite the best efforts of environmentalists we have almost depleted the Earth's resources. Even coming together under the banner of the World Space Agency in a last-ditch effort to research the moon's possibilities and save mankind, our nations still haven't been able to put aside past history and selfish interests. That's where you come in: as a former astronaut, since gone rogue, you're perfectly suited for a secret do-or-die mission. You have to go to the moon and explore the abandoned facilities there, uncovering their secrets and hidden agendas in your quest to "deliver" it for humanity. Yet again, the fate of the world is on your shoulders – well, yours and those of a small robot called ASE (short for All-Seeing Eye).


Early demo footage looks stunning, with carefully realised and (literally) atmospheric bases interspersed with treks across the lunar surface. Designed as an open world, you can explore in first- or third-person perspective. If you get tired of walking you can drive around on lunar rovers or reach those hard-to-get-to places using a jetpack. Fittingly, you'll also have to deal with a variety of environmental hazards and carefully manage your oxygen levels if you want to stay alive. Seemingly more about survival and exploration than traditional puzzle-solving, you will nonetheless need to find and exploit the technologies you discover in order to proceed. The choices you make along the way will also shape the future of mankind, leading to a variety of different endings.

Having recently reached its ambitious goal of €100,000 through Kickstarter, the first episode of Deliver Us the Moon is due to blast off for Windows and XBox One in August, with the remaining four episodes planned for three-month intervals after that. Versions for PlayStation 4, Mac and Linux are also possible in future. If you want to discover more, you can download the WSA Space Center for a comprehensive interactive introduction.



19

Mar

The Turing Test is meant to be the definitive measurement of machine sentience, but this summer we humans will be put through our own strenuous examination when The Turing Test is released as an interactive adventure this summer.

Players are put in the first-person shoes of Ava Turing, an engineer for the International Space Agency as she "attempts to uncover the truth behind the research base on Jupiter’s moon, Europa." The story "explores the phenomena of consciousness and challenges the meaning of human intuition" as it examines mankind's "inherent need to explore, protect and survive." As you venture "deeper into Europa’s ice crusted core and transcend the line between man and machine," you must undertake a variety of interactive puzzles that "only a human could solve."


In order to succeed in your goals, you will need to "power up and take control of artificially intelligent machines, manipulate giant structures and solve complex tasks." Your main tool in freely navigating this 3D world is the Energy Manipulation Tool, which allows you to transfer power from one object to another, but you will also "learn the significance of player control as you switch between multiple perspectives to solve The Turing Test’s most challenging puzzles."

Created by the developer of Pneuma: Breath of Life and published by the Square Enix Collective, The Turing Test is on track for release this August on PC and Xbox One. To learn more about the game, visit the official website for additional details in the coming months.



17

Mar

Musicals are few and far between when it comes to video games, but perhaps the tide is turning. Hot on the heels of the cast numbers in Deponia Doomsday comes a brand new episodic "point-and-click musical" called Midnight at the Celestial Palace, which is set to debut later this year.

The game stars a 37-year-old "manchild and professional underachiever" named Greg, who suddenly finds himself "whisked away to a magical dreamland hidden beyond the stars." There he befriends the honourable anthropomorphic otter Sir Squiggles and together "the two embark on a harrowing journey through the whimsical realm of Dreamania in a quest to reach the wondrous Celestial Palace." As our heroes soon discover, "a great peril" is lurking in the shadows around them, but one thing's for sure: they plan to meet their challenges with a song in their hearts.  


As the early screenshots and trailers display, Midnight at the Celestial Palace is a classic-styled fantasy adventure with "storybook-like art and animations in a cozy retro style", full voice-overs, and a humorous story filled with entertaining but "non-I-wanna-break-things-because-its-so-dang-frustrating" puzzles. The game's real standout feature, however, is the interactive musical element, in which players themselves get to direct the content of the songs.

Planned as a series of three parts by indie developers Orrery Games and BlipHaus Design, the first chapter of Midnight at the Celestial Palace is currently on schedule for PC release sometime later this year. While you wait, if you'd like to see it released on Steam, you can now vote for the game on Greenlight or drop by the official website to learn more.



16

Mar

Adventure gamers are experienced thieves, but you'll need to be at your burgling best in indie developer Spider Key Games' newly-released Spellbind.

Spellbind casts players in the role of 16-year-old Luppe, the self-proclaimed "king of thieves" and the "head of the biggest gang of street urchins in the town of Riathon". Your reputation is on the line, however, when the leader of a rival gang named Ricko publicly challenges you to "enter the cellar of Lord Amatar’s house and steal his oldest and most expensive bottle of wine." This won't be an easy challenge, as the very name of Lord Amatar is feared by all, and surely such a prized possession will be well protected.


This first-person casual puzzler uses the familiar slideshow-style presentation in taking players into and under Lord Amatar's "big old house". Along the way, you will need to solve "up to 12 different riddles and many other puzzles" throughout the game's expected 3-hour play time.

Interested puzzle lovers need not wait, as Spellbind is already available for PC, Mac, and Linux. You can find the complete list of purchase links at the game's official website.



13

Mar

If there's one thing that adventure games have taught us, it's that exploring creepy castles in the dark on your own is probably not a great idea. Unless you enjoy scaring the bejeebers out of yourself, in which case you'll be happy to know that UnderDread has now opened its own castle doors to intrepid adventurers.

Set in the early 18th century, UnderDread casts players in the first-person role of a man whose daughter has been kidnapped. Having stopped your horse-drawn carriage to rest at a "local tavern overlooking what appears to be a beautiful nearby castle surrounded by wonderful meadows", your scenic stay turns out to be a nightmare when you awaken the next morning to find your daughter Lisa missing. The only clues point to the castle, and with your desperation increasing, you "travel to the mysterious destination determined to find your daughter alive."


In freely exploring the castle's ruined catacombs, a deeper mystery will begin to unravel, as "it becomes clear other children have disappeared as well." Scattered long the way are notes from both a detective and local researcher who also came to investigate before vanishing themselves. Relying on your trusty lantern to illuminate the way, you'll soon discover that "the castle is full of dark secrets and dangerous monsters, and only by solving tricky puzzles and by avoiding treacherous traps will you discover ways to progress." As demonstrated in UnderDread's gameplay trailer, since you cannot combat your evil foes with brute force, your only chance to survive these encounters is to evade them or make strategic use of their weaknesses.

Having snuck up on us in the dark itself, the best news of all for horror fans is that UnderDread is already available for PC download on Steam.



12

Mar

Last year, an unheralded little adventure called MechaNika introduced adventure gamers to Mango Protocol's offbeat, appropriately twisted "Psychotic" world, a meta setting in which the indie Spanish developer has plans for multiple stories. The next such adventure to take place in this world is Agatha Knife, a spin-off prequel of sorts, taking place before the events of its predecessor with a new lead protagonist.

Agatha is an insomniac, but she has much bigger problems than merely trying to get to sleep. You see, she loves animals but she also enjoys eating meat. To make matters worse, she works in the slaughterhouse of her mother's butcher. Struggling to reconcile killing the animals she loves to eat the meat she craves calls for creative solutions that will "make her animals happy while they surrender with no fear to the adorable little butcher and her sharp knives and saws." In doing so, Agatha goes about creating her own religion called Carnivorism.

Sound a little psychotic? Then you're getting the picture. And speaking of pictures, the new game features the same deceptively cartoony graphics that belie this series' surprisingly dark narrative untertones. Both MechaNika and Agatha Knife are ostensibly about children, but they are decidedly not children's game. Those who have played the earlier game will recognize Agatha as one of the key characters in "Nika's plan to build her ultimate weapon to destroy all the uncool things in the world", but it is not necessary to play that game to enjoy the new one, which is set before the events of MechaNika.

There is no firm timeline for Agatha Knife just yet, but if all goes well we could be seeing it as early as September or October on PC, Mac,and Linux. In the meantime, for a glimpse of the developer's "Psychotic Adventures" in action, including both MechaNika and Agatha Knife, check out the series video on YouTube.



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