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January 2016

15

Jan

With Shardlight now in the home stretch towards release, developer Wadjet Eye Games is already looking ahead to its next project, which has now been confirmed to be Unavowed.

Described by designer Dave Gilbert as a "dark urban fantasy set in modern day New York", the new game is named after an ancient society dedicated to fighting evil. As a "victim of a supernatural attack that left your life in tatters," joining the group offers your only hope of discovering the truth behind what happened to you. Fortunately, you are not alone, as "at your side are five team members that you can team up with, each of whom have unique powers and knowledge to assist in solving the game's challenges. Your old life might be over, but you can still forge a new one."

While no further details have been publicly revealed, the game's first screenshots display the same kind of high quality, atmospheric pixel art that has become the company trademark throughout its own Blackwell series and other published adventures, including the acclaimed Gemini Rue, Resonance and last year's Technobabylon.

There is currently no firm release target for Unavowed, but we'll certainly be keeping a close eye on its development in the coming months.



12

Jan

Ever since To the Moon tugged on our heartstrings back in 2011, the game's many fans have been clamouring for a sequel. We haven't been cheated in the meantime, with the smaller A Bird Story released along with several holiday "minisodes" and even a platypus-themed comic, but a full-fledged follow-up has remained elusive. Until now, as at long last indie developer Kan Gao and Freebird Games have unveiled Finding Paradise.

Though it can be played as a standalone adventure, Finding Paradise shares story elements in common with both of its predecessors. It once again stars a pair of doctors who visit dying people on their deathbeds and are able to "traverse through a patient's memories to artificially fulfill their last wish." This time around, the patient is none other than Colin, the little boy from A Bird Story, now elderly. While details about Colin's wish fulfilment have yet to be revealed, we do know that the game will involve a "main plotline revolving around the patient's life story, as well as an over-arching plot involving the doctors themselves."


As seen in the early screenshots and trailer, Finding Paradise will once again feature detailed, isometric pixel art accompanied by an original score. The teaser includes once such track, entitled "Time is a Place". The full game, of course, will offer plenty more where that came from.

The developer is currently hoping to complete the game by the end of this year, but admits that final launch will "probably" slip into early 2017. That should give us plenty of time to stock up on Kleenexes.



9

Jan

Most end-of-the-world stories offer up the obligatory barren wasteland, a desperate survival against hostile forces (human or otherwise), and often a pervasive sense of hopelessness and oppression. However, gamers wishing for a tale that explores more uplifting themes while still retaining an appropriately desolate setting will be pleased to know that Wanda: A Beautiful Apocalypse has been funded successfully on Kickstarter.

Produced by Myanmar-based indie developer Kodots Game Studio and set to release soon, Wanda tells the tale of two robots who find themselves on a planet devastated by cataclysm, with no memories of what happened or what they are doing there. Rather than focusing the narrative solely on survival, the game promises to explore themes like friendship and hope in difficult times, since the robots’ child-like innocence allows them to take pleasure in actions and details that most humans would see as insignificant in the same situation, like watching the moon together or drawing pictures on abandoned buildings. Though frightened by their isolated circumstances, the bond they forge will help them to overcome challenges as they explore their unfamiliar surroundings.


The game will be free of “comprehensible dialogue,” instead using context and the robots’ interactions with each other to tell the story and engage players emotionally, a goal bolstered by promises of a “show, don’t tell” narrative and an emotion-infused symphonic soundtrack by composer David Lister. Throughout the game will be puzzles to solve that range from moving rocks in order to navigate the environment, to collaborative logic puzzles that require guiding both robots around the scene in order to achieve progress.

Played from a third-person 2.5D isometric perspective and controlled using a point-and-click interface, the graphics are described by the developers as being reminiscent of a children’s book. Indeed, the pastel colors and cartoonish, non-threatening character models convey a gentle, almost hopeful mood, a stark contrast to the gritty, dark realism of other post-apocalyptic settings.

Although the Kickstarter has ended, interested gamers can still reserve their copy at the game’s official website for $6.99. Digital goodies like a comic, art book, and soundtrack are also available for those willing to spend a bit extra. If enough post-Kickstarter sales bring in the cash needed to surpass stretch goals not met during the campaign, Mac, iOS, and Android ports are a possibility, but for now, assuming no last-minute delays, Wanda is fast approaching its PC-only February debut.



7

Jan

Myst-style adventures may be an endangered species these days, but there's a new one being conceived right now in the imaginary world of Anamedia.

Anamedia drops players into the realm of Levanda, set within a giant willow tree. There you expect to find your friend, but the entire tree community seems to be deserted when you arrive. In seeking clues to what happened, you discover the diary of a stranger named Karr, who tells of an "unknown land called Anamedia", a once-idyllic world whose "fragile equilibrium" is now in jeopardy, as the massive machinery it depends on lies idle. It's up to you to reach Anamedia alone to "restore [the] stability of that world, unveiling its origins, culture and language" in the process.


The creation of Similia, a two-woman indie Italian team, Anamedia is a node-based point-and-click adventure in which players must make their way to and then through the four regions of Anamedia. Along the way are a host of puzzles that promise to be varied in both type and difficulty but never demanding any technical or scientific knowledge that would prove to be insurmountable to the less mechanically inclined, requiring just a "bit of logic and intuition" to solve. Some of those puzzles are already on display in the early PC demo, available to download from the developer's website.

The demo will have to tide gamers over for a while, as it will still be some time until we see the full game completed. Similia is optimistically targeting a late 2016 digital release for Windows, Mac, and Linux, though sometime next year seems far more likely.



2

Jan

Bickering protagonists Prince Nathaniel and Princess Loreen barely escaped the first round of Royal Trouble back in 2010. Now they're back as newlyweds, but there's no happily ever after for them, as trouble finds them again in the casual adventure sequel Hidden Honeymoon Havoc.

Following a magnificent royal wedding, Nathaniel and Loreen anticipate an equally wonderful resort honeymoon, but their plans take an abrupt turn for the worse when they "decide to make an ill-fated detour to the Merry Castle, touted for its rollercoasters and magic tents. Who would have known it was another trap that will land them in hot water yet again?" Can they survive their new ordeal, and just as importantly, can their short-lived marital bliss withstand the pressures of the obstacles that now confront them?


As seen in the game's screenshots and trailer, Hidden Honeymoon Havoc uses the same whimsical art style of the original. And once again, players will alternately control both Nathaniel and Loreen as you "explore the castle, pick up useful items, solve tricky quests, help other captives and play witty mini-games while making your escape."

Available exclusively on iOS platforms, Royal Trouble: Hidden Honeymoon Havoc can be downloaded free from the App Store with the full game unlocked through in-app purchase.




December 2015

30

Dec

By their very nature, submarines are designed to be stealthy, sneaking up on you when and where you least expect them. So it's entirely fitting that an entire point-and-click adventure set on a submarine managed to swoop in without appearing on the radar, in the form of Undercover Missions: Operation Kursk K-141.

Based on real events in the year 2000, the adventure stars Russian secret agent Belyaeva, who boards the titular nuclear submarine in order to stop a criminal organization from stealing key weapon systems. But you'll need to work fast and think smart, as "after an undercover partner goes missing, you must find the culprit before Kursk K-141 and the truth fall to the bottom of the ocean."


The game's third-person 3D graphics depict almost 50 different scenes, ranging from Russian towns to the outer deck of the Kursk K-141 to its many inner chambers. As you progress through the game's nine lengthy chapters in pursuit of the traitor to your country, you'll encounter "11 mini-game challenges [that] test your skills and wit" as well as "solve unique puzzles, engage with interesting characters, and hunt for clues in your search for the truth."

The Kursk K-141 set sail earlier this month, but if you like what you see, comrades, you can still catch up to it on PC through Steam.



28

Dec

In 2013, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons took the adventure gaming world by storm. Not to be outdone by the dual boys' act, now it's brother and sister Thomas and Lily's turn in a somewhat similarly styled game called The Land of Lamia.

Thomas is eight and Lily six when they both awaken one morning to discover that they've been teleported to a strange world overnight. As they look around, they see that "odd looking plants have grown through the floor while [they] slept and an unsettling fog surrounds [them]. Outside [they] see a complicated path, and massive creatures made of stone." The place seems eerily familiar to a story they've read many times before. Sure enough, when Thomas pulls down a book called "The Land of "Lamia" from the bookshelf, he quickly flips to the chapter that describes their current surroundings. Now they must read it again, not merely for entertainment, but to "start looking for clues about how to survive."


In this "short story-driven puzzle game", each 3D area of The Land of Lamia has its own accompanying illustration and book description that players must reference to discover the secrets of this unusual world and overcome its obstacles. As you "learn about why you're there and what eerie presence may be watching you", along the way you will control both Thomas and Lily simultaneously using a "unique control mechanic" that caters to their different speeds and abilities.

If you like what you see of this sibling adventure, the best news of all is that you can dive right in, as The Land of Lamia is available now on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux.



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