Adventure News
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June 2016

12

Jun

The world of Pan may involve lost boys, fairy dust, and pirate ships, but the world of Pan-Pan will involve broken spaceships, "environmental narrative storytelling" and "world-shifting riddles" when it launches this summer. It's twice the Pan!

Pan-Pan casts players in the role of a space traveler whose ship has landed on a strange world and needs to be repaired before you can begin your "pilgrimage" home. While that's about it for story details at this stage, the game promises to be an open-world adventure that encourages exploration and personal choice in how you go about overcoming the obstacles confronting you.


The first screenshots of Pan-Pan show off the isometric perspective and minimalist art style being used, while the trailer offers a sampling of the "tranquil sounds of a melodic soundtrack" from composer Simon Viklund that will provide the ambient backdrop to the experience. While there will be characters to interact with through the game, the main story beats will be told through direct interaction with the 3D environment as you "use a mix of tools, gadgets and devices to solve puzzles and uncover the path home."

Created collaboratively by SPELKRAFT and Might and Delight, Pan-Pan is already well along in production, with a PC launch target currently set for August on Steam.



11

Jun

If it seems like people are already starting to lose their humanity by spending more time plugged into technology than ever, imagine what it will be like in the future when we essentially abandon an increasingly dystopian real world in favour of utopian virtual one. This is the bleak and troubling backdrop for the upcoming sci-fi thriller from Daedalic and writer Martin Ganteföhr called State of Mind.

Set in 2048, State of Mind casts players in the role of Richard Nolan, a "father and journalist from Berlin who discovers that he and his wife and son have been subjects to mind uploads." Something has gone wrong with Richard's upload, however, creating an incomplete dual version of himself existing in a "secret Virtual Reality project" even while he continues to exist in the physical world. Realizing that he has become "literally a torn man, Richard sets out on a dramatic and dangerous search for salvation. He aims to reunite with his family, as well as with his own split self. On his way, he soon realizes that this journey isn’t only about him, but about the future of mankind."


State of Mind is a third-person, story-driven adventure that allows players to switch between multiple protagonists in the two separate game worlds. Although no further story details have been revealed so far, Daedalic claims that the game is an "existential drama"  that "explores themes of separation, disjuncture and reunification". And it's all presented in a distinctive, low-poly art style as seen in the first screenshots unveiled.

There is no firm launch date just yet, but State of Mind is currently on target for an early 2017 release on Windows, Mac, PS4 and Xbox One.



8

Jun

Disney's decision to discontinue its own game development may have seemed like bad news at the time, but it's turning out okay for adventure fans, as former Black Rock Studio members are collaborating with the writer of popular puzzler The Room to create Blackwood Crossing, a story-driven adventure coming out later this year.

Blackwood Crossing explores the relationship between sister and brother Scarlett and Finn, a pair of "orphaned siblings growing apart as Scarlett is coming of age and leaving childhood behind." Their lives are about to change, however, as "when they cross paths with a mysterious figure, a seemingly ordinary train ride evolves into a magical story of life, love and loss."


While further story details are being kept under wraps for now, the early screenshots and trailer show off the vivid first-person 3D graphics while hinting at some of the soul-searching story content and surreal mysteries awaiting Scarlett and Finn on their railroad journey.

Blackwood Crossing has no fixed release date just yet, but is currently on track for completion on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sometime before the end of the year.



6

Jun

Though we've likely all experienced childhood night scares, not all monsters are scary and mean. In fact, some of them are kind and crucial to our welfare, like the dream monsters in Deceptive Games' upcoming four-part adventure, The Secret Monster Society.

The monsters in this game definitely aren't the stuff of horror movies and nightmares. They live in a world deep inside ours called the "Underworld", where they supply human beings with dreams. Without this "perfect harmony" maintained between worlds, "our dreams would fade, and with it, our imagination, creativity and inspiration." So it's imperative that nothing bad happen to the Underworld – but something is about to, unless a little monster named Blithe Dalrich, with the help of his best friend Aphonic, can manage to save both his world and our own.


If there are any lingering concerns about The Secret Monster Society being scary, those will be instantly put to rest by the colourful graphics and comic sensibilities. The game will be fully voiced with more than a hundred "zany" characters to interact with, and all high resolution artwork and animation is being hand-drawn to make it feel like "Saturday morning cartoons." The gameplay, meanwhile, is being fashioned after the genre classics, promising "plenty of puzzles and mini-games", including the ability to travel through time. Each episode should provide about two hours of exploration, dialogue, and other adventuring goodness.

The first of four planned episodes is nearly complete for PC, with the developers hoping to launch on Steam through a successful Greenlight campaign. To whet your appetite while you wait, a short demo is available, set right at the start of the game. To follow the further progress of The Secret Monster Society, you can learn more from the developer's website.



5

Jun

Hacking simulation games allow players to engage in highly-stylized fictional acts of cybercrime and espionage, without the risk of the pesky prison sentences and exorbitant fines that accompany such activities in the real world. For those who appreciate prominent story elements to go along with their virtual hacking, Montreal-based developer Alice & Smith has announced NITE Team 4, an upcoming standalone spin-off from The Black Watchmen, their paranormal alternate reality adventure that completed its second season earlier this month.

NITE Team 4 revolves around the eponymous cyberwarfare unit of the Black Watchmen organization, putting players in the shoes of a new recruit to the team. Players will be tasked with attacking and infiltrating “hardened computer networks” in order to complete missions and support the agency’s goals.

As demonstrated in the game’s public alpha (available for both Windows and Mac), gameplay will include such activities as bypassing firewalls, stealing and deleting private files, and directing field agents to set up listening posts to intercept communications data. A few of these activities appear as graphical mini-games: firewalls are cracked by guiding a glowing icon through an obstacle-laden maze, for example, and decrypting data from listening posts requires “sorting” a series of data packets into sets of nodes.

Much of the interaction, however, takes place in a realistic command line interface alongside a map of the world, with players entering keywords, IP addresses, and filenames to connect to servers shown on the map and carry out various objectives. Intriguingly, the developers claim that many of the objectives and other aspects of the game feature intelligence community terminology gleaned from information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

While NITE Team 4’s narrative will contain references and characters familiar to players of The Black Watchmen, Alice & Smith promise that prior experience with their original series is not necessary to follow the storyline of this new title.

There is no firm release date for NITE Team 4 just yet, but the developers are aiming to get it into Early Access for Windows and Mac sometime this fall. For more information in the meantime, including access to the public alpha, sneak over to the game’s official website.



4

Jun

Many sci-fi stories warn us of the dangers of advancing too far technologically, but what if society actually paid heed to such dangers – or at least, tried to? This is the intriguing backdrop to the upcoming Whispers of a Machine from indie developers Clifftop & Faravid.

Whispers of a Machine (briefly unveiled under the alternate title God's Algorithm) is set several generations in the future, when the world has "regressed to a pre-industrialisation state". Fearing the "potentially catastrophic emergence of a self-aware, super intelligent AI-entity", there was a global movement to "discontinue all use of advanced robotics and artificially intelligent computers." Worldwide technological collapse ensued.

Naturally, such a massive upheaval isn't without its challenges, as a federal homicide detective named Vera is about to discover. Sent to a rural outpost called Nordsund to investigate a series of murders, Vera soon discovers that "the victims and their murderers are factions in a war about technology and religion. While some want to awake the AI-god, seen as a last deity in a godless world, others are vehement technophobes. Did the government have an ulterior motive in sending Vera to Nordsund?"

The game will be a "mostly traditional" third-person adventure that promises hand-painted 640x400 graphics and classic puzzle-solving. But it will also feature some action elements and the use of cybernetic implants that confer special powers to the protagonist to assist in her investigation. According to the developers, progress will be achieved through a fairly non-linear game world, with multiple endings that hinge of player choice.

If a mystery in a remote Scandinavian outpost sounds familiar, that's probably because one of the two founding developers for the game is The Samaritan Paradox's Petter Ljungqvist. The other is Kathy Rain's Joel Staaf Hästö, though the two men plan to recruit additional help in order to complete the project. With production still in the early stages, there is currently no firm timeline for release, but if all goes well, Whispers of a Machine will be heard from on Windows, Mac, and mobile platforms sometime in 2017.



2

Jun

Some developers just get it. When Chris and Nic Bischoff (aka THE BROTHERHOOD) copped our Best Adventure Aggie Award for their remarkable debut last year, we wondered how they could top themselves next. And now we know: they're giving us even more STASIS-style goodness for free. While we wait on the indie South African studio's new full-fledged project, we can look forward to a spin-off adventure called CAYNE in the interim, set in the same troubled sci-fi universe.

CAYNE tells the story of a woman named Hadley, who is nine months pregnant and has "woken up to the horrors of a medical facility." Viewing the action from the same isometric perspective of its predecessor, players will guide Hadley through the environment, collecting items and solving puzzles to learn more about the tragic fate of the facility's inhabitants and hopefully find a way to safely escape with her baby.

Although the new game shares the same basic format as STASIS, the Bischoffs aren't content to merely repackage the same elements the second time around. Along with an entirely new story, protagonist, and "disturbing" diary entries to uncover, CAYNE promises to include new environments and even more detailed visual and sound effects than before, plus full voice acting and an original musical score. Designed to be a 1-2 hour experience, CAYNE is not traditional DLC, so you won't need to own STASIS to play it, nor even to understand and enjoy it. The story does tie back to STASIS, but is entirely self-contained.

There is no firm release date planned for CAYNE, but the brothers Bischoff expect to launch it for Windows and Mac sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016, in conjunction with a crowdfunding appeal for their next commercial project. To learn more about the game in the meantime, you can check out the newly-launched official website. And did I mention it'll be free?



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