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August 2014

5

Aug

Who says video games can’t be educational? An upcoming point-and-click title Unnecessary Sentience looks to not only be a surreal adventure, it’s also indie developer Joe Richardson's Bachelor's degree project in animation. But he needs money to buy the right tools for the job, and that's where gamers (and their wallets) come in.

Although the game's plot is not yet fully formulated, Richardson promises that it will be “funny, and a bit daft”, with dark humor, satire, and “at least one reference to Monkey Island 2”. Richardson is currently toying with the idea of a science fiction theme, and he claims that the game will be “quirky and fun and lovingly hand-crafted… challenging-yet-logical… [and] stylistically unique.”

Produced entirely by Richardson himself, Unnecessary Sentience uses a collage-inspired art style that will utilize Adobe Flash. A free, browser-based test version is already available to play, though it isn’t fully indicative of the final game’s quality.

The game will be around an hour long, but a smaller game also demands a smaller budget, so a Kickstarter campaign has been launched with a goal set at a rather paltry £1,000. Interested gamers have until August 31st to support the project and snag a £5 DRM-free copy of the game.

Unnecessary Sentience is being developed for PC, but a port to Mac and other platforms is at least possible before release in July 2015. For more information, check out the Kickstarter project page.



2

Aug

Perhaps it’s only fitting that something that sprang from a COMA should emerge suddenly with little warning. That is true of MIND: Path to Thalamus, a new free-roaming, first-person puzzle-adventure from indie developer Carlos Coronado.

In MIND, players take on the role of a comatose man. Much like the title suggests, this is not a swashbuckling adventure but a journey into the depths of the human psyche. It’s not about saving the world, but exploring the life of one individual. That certainly does not preclude some amazing imagery though, as players will guide the protagonist “through fantastical forests, dark caverns and deceptive worlds of water and ice that directly relate to his emotional state at each point in his journey.”

This game was originally conceived and announced under the name COMA: A Mind Adventure, but Coronado has since reimagined and refined the concept into its current iteration. As seen in its screenshots and trailer, MIND looks spectacular, making good use of the Unreal Engine to recreate the vivid fairy tale-like landscapes of one man’s mind. Rather than relying on obscure mechanical puzzles or inventory use, this game requires manipulating the very environment itself. Players will use six methods at their disposal to manipulate weather, day/night cycles, and even time and seasons within each area to advance the story.

Best of all, MIND: Path to Thalamus will soon become reality, as it’s scheduled for release on August 5th. Purchase will be available for PC via Steam at a cost of $13, with a Mac version to follow later. Further information can be found on the game’s official website.




July 2014

26

Jul

Most gamers are familiar with the "choose your own adventure" concept, where critical choices made during play change the course of the narrative. Jenny LeClue, indie developer Mografi's newly-announced 2.5D point-and-click title, is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and aspires to bring some traditional adventure gameplay and a collaborative "metanarrative" element to the traditional gamebook mechanic.

Planned as a trilogy, the game follows titular protagonist Jenny LeClue, a young gumshoe who’s tired of her boring cases in the city of Arthurton and longs for a tougher case to crack. She's granted this wish in dubious fashion when her mother is accused of murdering the Dean of Gumboldt University, and Jenny is the only one with the detective chops to come to her mother's defense and uncover both the truth behind the killing and the dark secrets lurking in Arthurton.

Although the focus of the game is to be the mysterious plot, players can expect to see some typical adventure gaming tasks, such as interrogations, inventory puzzles, and minigames such as guiding Jenny from one location to another on her bicycle. However, there are a few innovations that Mografi hopes will spice things up, such as the ability to upgrade items, like Jenny's trusty flashlight, or purchase new items like x-ray glasses, in order to gain new abilities that will aid Jenny in her quest to solve the crime. Interrogations will also have a twist, with Jenny able to observe the subject for visible clues that might reveal their guilt or innocence that would otherwise go undetected.

The standout feature of Jenny LeClue, however, is the developer's approach to the story. The "author" of Jenny's adventures, Arthur K Finkelstein, is available to help if you are stuck, but his presence also allows you to change the story to a degree. At various points during the game, you will have to make a choice as to what action Jenny takes next on her journey. Instead of being limited to your own game, though, the decision you make will be fed to a database containing the choices that all the game's players have made. According to the developers, this will enable players to permanently influence subsequent chapters of the story, essentially "writing" the story collaboratively. Although Mografi indicate that "bits of the less-popular choices" may be brought back in future episodes, for the most part they will "go away."

Mografi is currently seeking $65,000 on Kickstarter to fund the first episode, though stretch goals may allow additional episodes to be financed by the campaign. Gamers have until August 21st to grab their $15 copy of "every episode" that receives funding. The game is scheduled to be released in December 2016, on PC, Mac, and Linux, with support for other platforms planned after launch. More information can be found at the official Kickstarter page.



20

Jul

Most of us may think of Finland as a lovely land of lakes, islands, and forests, but indie developer plans to show us a different side of the scenic Nordic country in the upcoming comedy Adventures of Frederik Ceppo, currently seeking funds through Indiegogo.

Players assume the role of the titular character, who lives in the town of Likajoki (which translates as "Filth River" in English). As Frederik, you have an insatiable belief in your own ability to accomplish anything, even though you live in "a home that's almost a dumpster, you get pizza from homeless people and you have to drink your beer in the back room of the bar." You'll soon find that "what’s normal for Mr. Ceppo is abnormal for most of the planet's population", but when trouble arrives in Likajoki, the town's very future falls squarely on the shoulders of this most unlikely hero.

This hand-drawn, fully voiced point-and-click adventure promises to let players explore Frederik's home town and meet its many "crazy" citizens based on real-life characters (as the developers declare, "Finland can be a weird place sometimes!"). During your travels, you'll find yourself investigating a "creepy mansion of a mad scientist" whose secrets you must reveal. Along the way, you'll need to solve "numerous puzzles ranging from helping friends to discovering how strange machines work."

In order to make this game a reality by the end of this year, indie studio HoostBank Games are seeking to supplement their own financing with an additional €10,000 through Indiegogo by September 5th. A minimum €15 will earn backers a downloadable copy of the game for PC or Mac upon completion. Note that as a flexible funding campaign, all pledges will be fulfilled regardless of whether the game reaches its ultimate goal.

To learn more about the Adventures of Frederik Ceppo and contribute to its campaign, visit the Indiegogo page for full details.



17

Jul

Ever wondered what happened exactly where you are in the past, or what will be happening in the same place in future? That is the premise behind Epanalepsis, a decade-spanning, narrative-driven adventure that takes place in the same city block in three different time periods, currently raising funding through Kickstarter.

Epanalepsis focuses on three distinct eras: the 1990s, 2010s, and 2030s. Although connected by a common location weaving the three together, each time period has its own distinctive characters, technology, and storyline, as follows:

In 1993, Rachel moves to an apartment in a run-down building on a run-down block. She goes to the same bar every day. She sees Vanessa every day. She sees the streets changing, new groups moving in and out, but sometimes it seems like something is peeking out of the shadows. Other times, when she’s asleep, she meets someone from long ago in a forest.

In 2013, Anthony is living in an apartment in part of town that’s just past trendy. Every day he sees old signs come down only to be replaced by chain restaurants that caters to the families who turned the gritty apartments into concrete-reinforced condos. He works in his office. He comes home. He plays his games. Sometimes he has a coffee to break up the monotony. He dreads when the sun goes down.

In 2033, the city has sprawled up into the sky. Megastructures have sprouted, casting long shadows over the apartment buildings that have now become fortresses. The city is a cyberpunk hellscape where the black market enhancement dealers avoid the private police corps who protect the growing “Lower City tourism” trade. Signals scatter through the streets, and those with their finger to the datapulse keep feeling like they’re missing something.

Although designed like a traditional point-and-click adventure featuring retro-styled pixel art graphics, Epanalepsis will have a heavy focus on narrative, offering "minimal" puzzles with "sensible" solutions. Although the number of actual environments to explore will be limited, by conversing with the various citizens, you'll be able to learn about their respective decades and how they interconnect.

In order to bring the game to completion by year end, indie developer Cameron Kunzelman turned to Kickstarter to finance production. It has already surpassed its modest initial goal of $5,000, but there are plenty of stretch goals yet to be fulfilled before the campaign closes on August 10th. A minimum $10 pledge is required to receive a downloadable copy of the game for PC, Mac, and Linux when finished. To learn more about the game, including the various pledge options, visit the Kickstarter page for full details.



7

Jul

Office buildings have become hazardous to adventure gamers recently (as anyone who guided the protagonist through The Stanley Parable can attest), and the latest such surreal corporate environment will soon be open for business in The Official.

Very little is know about The Official, as indie developer Tymon Zgainski says that the story is meant to be discovered by players directly as they explore and investigate an "office building which might not be what it initially seems to be." He describes it as a "3D-puzzle-adventure-exploration game about life, work, death and, possibly, the meaning of everything in between." Only by interacting with the environment and solving puzzles will players be able to piece together the mystery of this building and have any hope of escape.

Created with a custom built 3D engine, The Official will be entirely mouse-controlled, as seen in the first trailer for the game. It is being developed initially for PC, but the engine flexibility allows it to be ported to smartphones and tablets as well.

There is currently no firm release date for The Official, but it should be arriving some time this fall. In the meantime, you can follow the game at its Official website.



6

Jul

The iPad made be cutting edge technology, but it’s about to get a little dose of steampunk in a new point-and-tap adventure courtesy of developer Telehorse.

Steampunker is, as the name implies, set in a steampunk-inspired Victorian England, in which a gentleman named Vincent must defend his beloved home planet against evil invading robots from space. To do so, he must “use his imagination and creativity to fix a variety of machines and mechanisms” as well as solve over 30 types of minigames and puzzles.

Featuring a stylized art design, resembling grainy vintage photographs at times and cutout animation at others, Steampunker is the second game in recent memory to draw inspiration from inventor Nikola Tesla, and features a conceptual  soundtrack based upon his work.

While a firm release date has not yet been announced, the game is due to be released sometime this summer, and interested players can head to the game’s official website for continued updates.



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