Adventure News
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November 2014

15

Nov

Adventure games are often filled with vivid cartoon colours, but what would the world look like if the protagonist himself couldn't see colour? And what would it take to bring colour into that world? That is the premise of indie developer Sylvain Seccia's Désiré, a "poetic" adventure now seeking funding through Indiegogo.

The titular character has been colour blind since birth and living in a world of black-and-white. This handicap is not without its consequences: the boy is a "taciturn loner, ill at ease" as he tries to mark his place in a world that has "never brought him much joy." Now, however, he is about to meet several characters from his childhood who will "elicit in Désiré intense emotions and alter his vision in surprising ways. Is colour at the end of the road?"


Although an "old style" point-and-click adventure inspired by the genre's classics, the game is also atypical in that "unlike today's clichés of immediacy and speed, Désiré drags you into a subtly poetic and contemplative ambience." Inspired by the works of French writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline and based on the personal experiences of the game's own designer, Désiré promises a tale that is "both ragged and delicate...repugnant and alluring... wistful and light-hearted... but most of all, it is distinctly human and profoundly singular." Music will be crucial to the story as it "carries meaning and emotions", and the protagonist's changing emotions will be conveyed through more than 80 minutes of original piano music.

While a fair bit of work has already gone into the game, in order to finish it Seccia and his team are seeking an additional €15,000 by December 16th on Indiegogo. Although no firm release date has yet been announced, successful funding should see the game released sometime in 2015. Désiré will be distributed free for Windows, but backers will have the opportunity to download the game for Mac and Linux with a minimum €10 pledge. For complete details, visit the Indiegogo page to learn more.



13

Nov

Being dead isn't usually the preferred condition, but being undead has proven to be awfully enjoyable in the adventure genre so far. Indie Australian developers Intuit by Design are looking to continue that tradition with the upcoming Vincent the Vampire, currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

The setting for Vincent the Vampire is anything but ideal, at least for the living. The populace of this "ancient, decrepit city" include the likes of "Vampires, Werewolves and Cyborgs, but other inhabitants include cultists, a monk reincarnated as a pot plant, and a psychotic '80s super computer, lawyers, ghosts, thieves, vacationing demons, the Underlord, Death and many more." Vincent is a lowly human photocopy technician who suddenly sees the light of his meaningless existence – just in time to be brutally murdered and awaken the next day to find he's a vampire.

 

It turns out that Vincent's world is in the throes of an ancient war that only he can save it from – not because of his newfound powers, but because "nobody else can be bothered." His supernatural abilities will come in handy, however, as throughout his adventure he will "learn to control his new vampire powers such as hypnotism, the ability to talk to plants and transmogrification." This helps provide the game with multiple puzzle solutions, and along the way there will be optional side quests for each of the secondary characters.

Featuring a distinctive hand-drawn art style and inspired by the LucasArts classics, Vincent the Vampire promises to be darker than many adventures, tackling themes like "murder, war, regret and depression", but also maintain a "fun sense of humour in the form of a war ended by sentient 3D Printers... a murderous chicken hitman... and much more."

The game is currently on target for completion by October 2015 on PC, Mac, and Linux, but in order to do so the developers need to raise $30,000 AUD by December 15th on Kickstarter. An early bird tier offers backers a DRM-free copy of the game for only $10 for a limited time, after which the price jumps to $15. To learn more about the game, head on over to the Kickstarter page for full details.



11

Nov

The swamplands of deepest Louisiana have remained largely untouched and undisturbed, barring the occasional voodoo ceremony or God-of-Madness-worshipping cult. But HeyKiddo! Games is aiming to change all that in 2015 with the release of their gothic horror adventure Ingonga, at least if they’re able to secure the necessary funding through Kickstarter.

In Ingonga, players will take on the role of young Luna, a woman searching an isolated island in the Louisiana bayous for her missing mother. Twenty years ago, an unspeakable evil was unleashed in this very place, and as night falls and Luna delves deeper into the island, it becomes clear that not all is as peaceful and serene as it first seemed.

Drawing on the developers’ darkest nightmares for inspiration, Ingonga is a first-person survival horror game that relies on exploration and wits to advance its story, though some occasional action elements like stealth and combat will be included in flashback sequences. Players will sometimes stumble across videotapes recorded twenty years earlier by a witness to the atrocities committed here. Watching these will offer insights into the story and provide clues to solving some of the island’s puzzles.

Designer Rhett Chassereau is implementing another staple perfect for the swampy setting: voodoo (this is Louisiana, after all). Contrary to its popular portrayal, however, his approach to the religion is one that will benefit and protect the player rather than acting as a malign force with which to contend. Some enemy designs are directly influenced by local folklore, and aspects of the religion are integrated into the gameplay as well. Protective gris-gris can be constructed from items found on the island; some of the Loa (voodoo spirits) play a role in either aiding you or leading you astray on your journey; and Veves, the Loa’s divine symbols found around the island, send you on side missions in unique settings.

The game’s trailers already look quite atmospheric and not for the faint of heart, but in order to finish production the developers are seeking to raise $65,000 by November 30th on Kickstarter. A digital copy of Ingonga is available starting at $15, and the game is slated for release exclusively on PC by November 2015. To learn more, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details.



3

Nov

The latest project from Lucas Pope, indie creator of the acclaimed Papers, Please, will be trading in Eastern European paperwork for salty sea air, creaking decks and nautical mystery in the upcoming Return of the Obra Dinn.

The Obra Dinn is a merchant sailing ship that set out from London in 1802, bound for the Orient and carrying a cargo of trade goods. When it failed to arrive at the Cape of Good Hope six months later it was declared lost at sea, thought to be just one of all too many casualties the East India Company suffered at the hands of pirates or rough seas. Until, that is, on the 14th of October 1808, it finally drifted into port, battered and apparently abandoned, the remains of its crew still lying where they fell. The player, as the East India Company's investigator, has to board the ship and uncover what happened.

It might sound like just another spooky abandoned locale, but the game is shaping up to be a good bit more than that. For one thing, it uses an intriguing core mechanic: a pocket watch that can take you back in time to the very moment of a person's death. Just that exact moment, mind you, and not for long, but long enough to help you start putting together the pieces of the Obra Dinn's fate. Pope promises that it won’t follow the “collect items and look for clues structure," and indeed the brief demo available looks to be anything but typical. Flitting from moment to moment, inspecting frozen tableaux that aren't always what they seem, there's a powerful sense of something dark and evil. Your leisurely perusal of them clearly belies the frantic struggle that played out in the ship's last moments.  

Flamboyantly atypical, too, are the graphics. Pope has a soft spot for the Mac Plus and its 1-bit graphics, so despite being in free-roaming 3D, the visuals are both low-res and monochrome. No colours, no shades of grey, just black and white. There's a certain amount of stippling to indicate shading, but otherwise it's reminiscent of very early 3D games, such as the original Elite or Driller. It also feels a little like an animated pen-and-ink drawing (albeit one drawn by an artist with an obsession for straight lines), which is appropriate to the setting. The production is rounded off with silent movie-style interstitial cards subtitling the limited dialogue and sparsely-used but stirring orchestral music.

Return of the Obra Dinn will be available for Windows, Mac and possibly Linux, but there's no word yet on a release date. In the meantime, you can check out the 15-minute demo first hand.



2

Nov

Exploring strange happenings and enduring frightening circumstances are common activities for adventure gamers, but it's a bit of a rarity when a game's spine-tingling story is based on real-world events. Nevertheless, that's exactly what is promised by the upcoming first-person horror adventure Kholat, currently in production by Polish indie IMGN.PRO.

The game is based on an actual 1959 event known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident, in which nine climbers died on Russia's Ural Mountains under mysterious circumstances. An investigation by Russian authorities at the time revealed puzzling clues, including high levels of radiation on some of the victims' clothing and skeletal trauma without external injury. Although various theories have been put forth to explain the deaths, the incident has never been fully explained, providing lush ground for speculation and conspiracy theories, including those involving the paranormal.

Kholat is set a number of years after the incident, thrusting players into the shoes of an explorer given the chance to discover exactly what happened in the icy Russian wilderness. Details about the exact nature of the gameplay are vague at the moment, but players can expect it to be heavily focused on narrative and exploration. There will be a few enemies along the way, but the developers indicate that the player’s only option in dealing with them will be to escape, leaving the focus on examining the real-time 3D environments (presented using the Unreal Engine 4) and interpreting the story as it unfolds, rather than on twitch-based gameplay or combat. Of course, players can expect their share of hair-raising moments, as evidenced by the inclusion of a “fear management system.”

Kholat is currently planned for release in the first quarter of 2015 on PC and Mac via Steam and other digital distribution platforms, although some as-yet-unannounced territories will also get a boxed retail release.



1

Nov

In 2010, critically-acclaimed Interactive Fiction (IF) author Andrew Plotkin set up a Kickstarter project to fund a commercial text adventure, Hadean Lands. It received nearly four times its goal. Now after a four year wait, the game has finally been released.

Hadean Lands is billed as a “classic text adventure,” where the entire game world and all the gameplay is entirely in text. You play as an apprentice alchemist “marooned in an alien, airless wasteland.” To leave, you'll need to repair your starship single-handedly, discovering new rituals and using your various alchemical skills to achieve this.

Being a classic text adventure, this of course means puzzles. The game promises to be an immense puzzle-fest, and players can expect a substantial world to explore with what Plotkin describes as the “most complex puzzle structure” he's ever designed.

To learn more or purchase Hadean Lands, check out the official website. It is available now for Windows, Mac, Linux, and also for iOS devices, each at only $4.99.




October 2014

19

Oct

It's rare for Xbox systems to get adventure game exclusives, but that's just what will happen in early 2015 when NERO arrives on the Xbox One.

Described as a "magic adventure in an unknown world", NERO casts players in the role of a child travelling with a mysterious black-cloaked companion. While most story details are being kept under wraps for now, indie Italian developers Storm in a Teacup claim that: "NERO is about love. NERO is about faith. NERO is about feelings. NERO is about questions that need to be answered." If that sounds vague, perhaps it's because "the goal of this epic journey is to find something you really care about", which may be different for everyone – for one person it might be something material, for another something spiritual. The story is based around the simple question, "what are you ready to sacrifice for someone you really love?"

As seen in the early screenshots and trailers, NERO is a free-roaming, first-person adventure with "dreamlike visuals", an original atmospheric soundtrack, and a "rich interactive environment filled with puzzles". Inspired by the likes of Myst and Journey, the developers promise that "the world of NERO is wide, magic and varied enough to make exploring an ongoing challenge." Exploration will be paramount, as there are optional environmental details and bonus puzzles to find that will result in a better understanding of the story. Unlike either Myst or Journey, NERO's "complex" story will be fully narrated as the two protagonists progress in their journey.

There is no firm release date for NERO, but the game is currently on track for release sometime in the the first quarter of next year. In the meantime, you can follow its progress on the official website.



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