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December 2014

12

Dec

What Kentucky Route Zero did for the Bluegrass State, now indie developers [bracket]games are hoping to do for Alabama with To Azimuth, currently in the home stretch (and sorely needing support) on Kickstarter.

To Azimuth is described as an "alien abduction mystery set in 1970s Alabama." The game puts players in the dual roles of siblings Nate and Susannah Windham as they search for their brother Eli, who has mysteriously disappeared. As they begin to investigate, the two "find evidence that Eli may have been taken by extraterrestrials, pulling them into a narrative involving governmental agencies, truth control, and conspiracy theories, while also examining Eli's history with drug and alcohol abuse following his return from serving in Vietnam."


The developers refer to the project as an "adventure game at heart, involving a good bit of exploring environments and finding information and clues, but with a heavy focus on narrative and decision-making by players." Rather than simply alternating between characters, the game will offer "two separate, but intertwining, single-player campaigns." Meaningful player decisions affect both the story and the characters themselves, and "decisions made in a playthrough as Nate can be imported into a playthrough as Susannah and vice versa." Though puzzle-solving won't be the primary focus, you can also expect to encounter environmental puzzles based in real-world logic along the way.

The developers are hoping to complete the game for Windows, Mac, and Linux as early as September 2015, but in order to do so they'll need a groundswell of last-minute support for their Kickstarter campaign. The goal is a modest $20,000, but with only five days to go as of writing, the campaign is in jeopardy of missing its target. For those interested in supporting the game, a minimum $10 pledge will get you a digital copy upon completion.

To learn more about To Azimuth, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



10

Dec

The line between graphic novels and adventure games continues to blur, and the latest comic protagonist to jump ship is Corto Maltese, who is now starring in his own adventure called Secrets of Venice.

Originally created by Italian author and artist Hugo Pratt in 1967, Corto Maltese is a sailor who "combines Mediterranean looks with Anglo-Saxon culture." Living in the early 20th century, he is an "anti-hero who prefers his freedom and imagination to wealth" and like a modern-day Ulysses, he travels to many exotic locations around the world.


In his first interactive adventure, Maltese sets out for Venice in pursuit of a powerful artifact know as the Clavicule of Solomon. But seeking it could prove deadly, as the captain is poisoned and must first procure the ingredients needed to survive. Along the way he encounters "many enigmas and mysterious characters", but in his weakened state he struggles to distinguish dreams from reality. In order to succeed in his quest, he must "avoid bullets and explosions, face the unknown, and eventually open the doors of knowledge."

The first screenshots and trailer show off the graphic design that pays tribute to the artwork of Pratt himself, as well as the "riddle-driven gameplay" that promises five hours of play time. If both elements feel vaguely reminiscent of Red Johnson's Chronicles, it's because Secrets of Venice was also developed by Lexis Numérique, the innovative French studio that was sadly forced to closed its doors earlier this year.  

The best news of all is that there's no need to wait for Corto Maltese: Secrets of Venice, as it has already released for PC and Mac on Steam. The game will also be coming to iOS and Android platforms soon.



4

Dec

By their very nature, unforeseen incidents are never seen coming. Fortunately, we've got a little more warning from indie German developer Backwoods Entertainment about Unforeseen Incidents, a new post-apocalyptic, classic-styled point-and-click adventure now visible on the horizon.

Unforeseen Incidents is set it a world that's been decimated by a deadly virus. The majority of the planet's population is already dead, and to make matters worse, a young man named Harvey Pendrell receives a radio transmission urging him to warn his fellow Yelltown’s survivors that "They are coming."  This cryptic message proves to be just the start of "a journey full of mysteries, inexplicable questions and terrifying revelations" that will ultimately impact the already tenuous future of a fragile human race.


The subject matter sounds incredibly grim, and indeed, the game will place "particular emphasis on an atmospheric game experience" that befits a "world plagued by the most aggressive and lethal virus" ever encountered. But the developers are also inspired by classic LucasArts and other comic adventures like Simon the Sorcerer, so they're promising a light, humorous touch in unveiling "the conspirational dark secrets behind the ongoing catastrophe that threatens to exterminate all humankind."

As seen in the early teaser and screenshots, Unforeseen Incidents will be hand-painted with high resolution 2D graphics. The plan is also to record an original soundtrack and full voice acting, though at least the latter might be dependent on the game being crowdfunded next year. Backwoods are currently in the process of developing a playable demo of the game for PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices, which they intend to unveil sometime in the second quarter of 2015.

To learn more about Unforeseen Incidents, you can follow the game's progress at the official website.



3

Dec

Deadalic Entertainment has been synonymous largely with comedy and fantasy titles so far, but things will be taking a decidedly darker turn early next year when the German company publishes Shining Gate Software's horror adventure Decay: The Mare.

Decay casts players in the role of a junkie named Sam, who arrives at an institution called Reaching Dreams hoping to "kick his drug problem and clean up his miserable life." As if the excruciating process of detox wasn't torturous enough, "during the first night, something goes wrong and he gets stuck in a seemingly endless nightmare." In his state of withdrawal, Sam's dreams and hallucinations feel very real, and he believes that "something is trying to harm [him)... while someone is seeking (his) help."


According to the developers, the grim atmosphere and psychological elements of Decay are inspired by survival horrors like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, as well as classic horror adventures like Phantasmagoria, The 11th Hour, and Gabriel Knight. Rather than emphasize combat and stealth elements, the game will play "like a point-and-click adventure game in first-person view with 3D graphics", focusing on "solving puzzles and revealing a dark and scary story."

Daedalic will be publishing the game as a standalone release for PC and Mac in early 2015, but Decay: The Mare was originally conceived as an episodic adventure, and two of the three planned episodes are already available for Windows 8, Windows phones, and Android devices. And if the series sounds familiar, it's because the developers released an earlier game in four parts through Xbox LIVE Indie Games, simply called Decay.

For more information about Decay: The Mare, visit the game's official website for additional links, videos, and background details.




November 2014

30

Nov

We've all heard of trolls. They're ugly and mindless and like to hide under bridges terrorising passing adventurers, right? Maybe not, as Troll Song intends to change that perception. Trolls may be primitive, but indie developer Team Disaster are out to show that they also have their own culture, feelings, and a sense of honour and morality. They even make music (sort of).

Sadly, less enlightened types (who presumably didn't get the memo about the whole noble savage thing) have been doing their best to wipe them out. Playing as Clod, one of the few to survive the trollicide, you have to rescue your friends and ultimately (dramatic pause) fulfil your destiny, all while learning about the history of the troll race. 

The game began life in early 2013, winning Best Demo at the AGS Awards. It was so well received, in fact, that the authors decided to transition from an episodic freeware title to a complete commercial one. The plan now is to release late next year, with the first of five "verses" available for free. It will feature "lovingly crafted" pixel art, full voice acting and an orchestral music score. There will be a definite retro feel to the gameplay too, complete with troll-themed verbs such as kick, smash and roar. That's not to say the game's stuck in the stone age, though: there will also be some modern features like a hint system included.     

Team Disaster are aiming to release Troll Song for Windows and Linux, with the possibility of Mac, iOS and Android down the line. In the meantime, you can keep up with developments at the official website or give the original demo a try.



28

Nov

Terror is going to be in the eye of the beholder in 2015, when Spanish developer 3D2 Entertainment plans to unleash The Crow’s Eye on the world. The “first-person terror adventure” will incorporate storytelling, exploration, and some light crafting in the hopes of hitting the sweet spot horror fans have been craving. Of course, meeting or exceeding its $35,000 Kickstarter goal by December 15th will be the team’s first hurdle.

The Crow’s Eye tells the tale of a young man who enigmatically awakens in the abandoned Crowswood University, which was shut down nineteen years earlier after some gruesome creature sightings and several unexplained disappearances around campus. Now in the 1960s, the protagonist must look for recorded messages scattered around the derelict campus – messages recorded two decades earlier, revealing piece by piece the larger mystery surrounding the site’s unsavory history.


In addition to exploring the buildings and surrounding area of Crowswood University for recordings, players will need to solve puzzles and craft items to help them survive the horrors that go bump in this digital night. Rather than a full-fledged combat system, items can be assembled to help you survive encounters by either strengthening you or driving off the monsters. At other times, puzzles must be solved to advance the plot. Enemy encounters are more focused on studying movement patterns to avoid conflict altogether. The development team cites some of its inspirations as BioShock for its narrative and visual influences, and Amnesia for its non-combat approach to enemy encounters.

If fully crowdfunded, the finished game will release for Windows, Mac, and Linux next July, and project backers can snag a digital copy of the game for as little as $10. Visit the Kickstarter campaign page for a full list of rewards, as well as additional trailers, soundtrack selections, and playable demos of the game. You can also vote for The Crow's Eye on Steam Greenlight.



27

Nov

Adventure-loving fans of Ken Follett can rejoice twice today with the news that not only is Follett writing a new novel in his popular Kingsbridge series, but an adventure game based on his first, The Pillars of the Earth, will be developed by Daedalic Entertainment to coincide with the new book's release.

Ken Follett

While no specific details about the game have yet been revealed, Follett's original novel (published in 1989) is set in the 12th century in the fictitious town of Kingsbridge, South England. It is a "time of brutal conflicts between nobility, clergy and the simple people, suffering from exploitation and famine. Philip, the young prior of Kingsbridge, dreams of building a cathedral. He, Tom, the master builder, his stepson Jack and the smart Aliena, daughter of the earl, will have to fight for life and death against their enemies before their dream can become true and the pillars of the earth will start to grow towards heaven…"

The as-yet-unnamed adventure will mark the first officially licensed Ken Follett videogame, and Daedalic's founder and CEO Carsten Fichtelmann believes that, "Together with Bastei Lübbe and Ken Follett we determined that the genre of adventure games is the best and most suitable way to adapt and express the substantial depth of such a historical novel. Adventure games are interactive literature, and we at Daedalic dedicated ourselves to the perfection of this genre’s playing experience."

The only downside to today's news is that there's a long time to wait. With Follett's novel not slated to be released until fall 2017, we'll have to wait until then for the game as well. When it does arrive, it will be launched across multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and iOS devices.



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