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August 2016

12

Aug

So often "horror" relies on darkness and shadow to conceal hidden dangers that play on our fear of the unknown. But how scary can white be? (Racial discrimination aside.) Well, we're about to find out in The Shattering, an upcoming psychological horror adventure from Polish studio SuperSexySoftware and German publisher Deck13.

The Shattering is the story of a "fragile mind trying to piece itself together after tragic events" and yet is at risk of completely being torn apart. As the unseen protagonist directly inhabiting the "self-created hell" of one man's own thoughts, you must help him avoid going insane by making the correct choices and actions. Failure to do so means "his world falls apart figuratively but also literally: it shatters leaving the player in a white space unable to perform any actions." Successfully navigating the subject's psyche will lead to "objects, letters, documents, and messages scrawled on walls" that offer further clues, but you must determine which are true and which are false in order to make the right decisions.

One glace at the game's screenshots reveals that The Shattering is quite unlike other horror games, as the entire setting consists of the "white, austere rooms of the main character’s own dream." The goal, according to studio founder Marta Szymanska, is to "confront the player with the hidden fears that lie beneath an idyllic illusion of normalcy, only then one can truly understand the despair of the hero."

The nature of the gameplay is anything but traditional either, as interaction is limited in the beginning to "simply moving around the environment, and progresses to moving objects, changing points of view, changes the physics in the game and using other senses such as hearing to complete tasks." As a reflection of the man's current mental state, the rooms will change with your understanding and choices, which not only alters the progress of the game but even the final outcome. A single playthrough is expected to take about three hours, but replays are encouraged in order to try different approaches and learn more about the story of how the man "came to be trapped in his own thoughts" along the way.

The only downside to today's news is that The Shattering is still a long way off, with as-yet-unspecified 2018 release target.



11

Aug

Most horror-adventures challenge players to survive armed only with their wits, but Lethe makes the powers of the mind a little more literal, as you can now discover with the debut installment's PC release.

Lethe puts gamers in the first-person role of an ordinary journalist named Robert Dawn. Saddled by debts inherited from his recently deceased stepfather, Robert decides to trace his family origins. His research leads him to an isolated mining settlement, where he soon "comes into contact with an unknown substance and develops psychokinetic abilities that feed on his life energy." In order to survive, he must find and "consume the very same substance that is poisoning him in the first place." Making matters far worse, Robert finds himself "faced with another, even darker threat, quickly turning the trip into a terrifying battle for survival."


Described as a "first-person adventure with survival horror elements", Lethe requires players to thoroughly explore its gritty 1920s setting, overcoming environmental obstacles by means of "supernatural physics-based gameplay" – namely, your newfound psychokinetic abilities. These allow you to "move, smash, explode or even set things on fire and alter gravity in real time." But beware, as something is lurking in the dark, and when even your mental powers aren't enough, you'll need to run, sneak, and hide to stay alive.

Although subtitled "Part One", Lethe's debut installment has been designed as a standalone experience, with the possibility of at least one more episode to follow if the first is successful enough. To learn more about the game, visit the official website for purchase links and additional details.



10

Aug

While Goichi Suda (or "Suda51") may not be a household name in the West, he's a big deal in the Japanese videogame industry, with such acclaimed titles as killer7 and No More Heroes to his credit, as well as the adventure Flower, Sun and Rain. One game that never received release outside of Japan was 1999's The Silver Case, but that will change this fall when the game gets its long overdue localization in an HD remaster.

The Silver Case is set in the contemporary 24 Wards of Japan, where a series of unexplained murders leads detectives in the Heinous Crimes Unit to believe that the legendary serial killer Kamui Uehara has returned. Twenty years earlier, Kamui was responsible for the the assassination of many government officials in what became known as the titular "Silver Case" before being shot dead. Or was he? The current pattern suggests he's back after all this time, but is he really the one behind the new mysterious killings? As a member of the Special Forces Unit, it'll be your task to answer this question and catch the killer before even more victims lose their lives.


Like many familiar Japanese titles that followed it, The Silver Case is a blend of visual novel and point-and-click adventure. Played from a first-person perspective, you will work your way through a text-heavy story and solve puzzles along the way in order to gradually reveal the truth. The modernized update promises to be "fully remastered, while retaining the same atmosphere of the original." Enhancements will include various graphical updates and increased resolution, as well as interface modifications designed to be more "user-friendly for modern gamers."

While the finished version of the game won't be available for PC until some time this autumn, a playable demo is already available at Steam and Playism. This sampler drops players into the start of a chapter called "Decoyman". (Note that no saved game is available in the demo.)



9

Aug

Leave it to the devil to do everything backwards. While everyone else is busy modernizing games and movies with updated remakes and reboots, the supernatural thriller Lucius is going in the opposite direction with the release of a "demade" version in full 1980s retro style.

The plot of Lucius Demake is just as disturbingly unpleasant as the 2012 original. Players control the titular six-year-old son of Satan in orchestrating "accidents" to kill off the other residents of Dante Manor, often in brutal fashion. Given your unique heritage, you have supernatural abilities like telekinesis and mind control at your disposal, but you'll need to keep your involvement a secret in order to conceal your identity (the finest trick of the devil is to persuade people he does not exist, after all).


Whereas its predecessor was a realistic, free-roaming HD adventure, the new version of Lucius is anything but. Inspired by the mock-up artwork of series fan Gergely Sinko, indie developer Shiver Games decided to hire Sinko to redo the entire game in "uncinematic" 2D pixel art with only 16 colours. The game still features a full-length story (taking 5-8 hours to complete) and an open world to explore, but this time the sprawling manor is presented from a near-overhead perspective. Each chapter promises to follow the formula of the original, apart from "a few instances where you’ll get a more authentic '80s arcade style experience" to better suit the retro design.

Lucius Demake is available now for PC download on Steam. The gameplay trailer shows off the game in action, and you can learn more at the official website.



7

Aug

The bad news for those anxiously awaiting the release of the rest of INFRA is that the game will now been split into three parts instead of the originally planned two. The good news is that part three, like part two, will be available free to owners of the first part already available.

INFRA is a 3D first-person adventure that "deals with the issues of deteriorating infrastructure." Players control an "ordinary structural analyst" who must find a way through "abandoned factories, forgotten tunnels and unsafe buildings in a dangerous, crumbling industrial city and its surrounding rural areas." Doing so will involve solving mechanical and electrical puzzles and taking photos of structural weaknesses, and as you progress you will begin unraveling a "thought-provoking story centered around corruption and deception."


While INFRA involves a generally linear progression, its realistic environments allow free exploration and multiple routes to your goals, along with numerous secrets to uncover along the way. As you progress through the "dozens" of locations, both indoor and out, above ground and below the city of Stalburg, you will learn more about what happened to bring this once-thriving city down. But beware, as you must also avoid the hazards its crumbling infrastructure presents in order to survive the journey.

The creation of indie developer Loiste Interactive, the first part of INFRA was released for PC in January with the plan to complete the full story with a single free update before year-end. Now, however, there will be two distinct installments instead of just one. This may stretch out the final completion date a while longer, but the second installment is due "soon".

You can see INFRA in action through its various gameplay videos and learn more about it though the official website.



6

Aug

The gaming world seems to have wisely caught on to the fascinating possibilities of Scandinavian folklore of late. The latest developer to tap into that rich mythology is indie developer Talecore Studios, who has just ported Midvinter to Android devices after a stealthy PC release we missed earlier this year.

Midvinter is a "cozy little point-and-click fairy-tale" in which players control a little gnome living on an abandoned farm. Or at least, it was abandoned until more humans moved in recently, giving you a purpose once again. It'll be hard work, but it's your task to "keep them safe from the dark creatures that lurk out in the forest. You might even have to call on some of the fair folks for help. Their aid, however, does not come without a price..."


Created entirely by Anna Jenelius (with help from a composer) over the course of six months, Midvinter is described as "Monkey Island meets Over the Garden Wall. The game is set in 19th century Sweden, a significant time period when "over a million people left the country to avoid starvation and build a new life for themselves." Drawing heavily from Swedish folklore and inspired by artists like John Bauer and Alvaro Tapia, Midvinter promises to use its puzzles and riddles to tell a story that has multiple endings.

Originally released under the radar in May for PC on Steam, Android users can now find the game for their preferred platform at Google Play. To learn more about Midvinter, check out the official website for additional details.



5

Aug

It's been over two years since the impressive series debut of The Fall, and with little update since then there's been reason for concern that it may have fallen out of production entirely. Thankfully that is not case, as indie Canadian developer Over the Moon has just released the first major details about the newest installment, Unbound, coming early next year.

The Fall's first episode starred an astronaut named Joseph's, but the actual playable character was his spacesuit – or more particularly, the artificial intelligence controlling its functions called ARID. When Josephs is seriously injured while crashing on an alien planet, it is left to ARID to explore the strange world around her and restore full suit functionality in an effort to save its occupant. Picking up right where the previous game left off, this time around ARID finds that it's her own existence that is "threatened when she is ejected from her body and projected onto a vast global network." Now it's herself she needs to save by invading and controlling "several other robots she finds there, each with wildly different personalities and gameplay styles. Will ARID successfully enlist their help before it’s too late? One thing’s for certain – the process will change her."


As with the last game, Unbound is a side-scrolling adventure that blends traditional character interaction and puzzle-solving with some light Metroidvania-style exploration and combat. The new episode also promises to feature the same "stark, minimalist art direction and sparse, haunting sound design" that made its predecessor so immersively atmospheric, though the developers are promising new characters and gameplay twists to go with the ongoing thought-provoking "journey of self-discovery".

With production going on quietly behind the scenes for some time, we don't need to wait too much longer to see the results, as Unbound is currently on track for release on PC and all three home consoles sometime in the first quarter of 2017. To help get you caught up, the series' first episode will be "heavily discounted" at online retailers in the the next couple of weeks.



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