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October 2014



If ever you needed proof that Interactive Fiction (IF) is still very much alive and kicking, look no further than the Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. Since its inception in 1995 it has become a centrepiece of the IF community, playing host to many critically-acclaimed and highly influential games, such as Photopia, Slouching Towards Bedlam and, more recently, Coloratura.

This year there are 42 entries – seven more than last year. There is something for everyone, from the more traditional parser-based adventures to hypertext and choice-based games. Some even have a bit of both worlds; for instance, one entry is a partly-graphical hypertext game that pays homage to point-and-click adventures.

You can play the entries through the IFComp website, either online or as a direct download. However, to vote on the entries, there is a requirement that you play at least five games beforehand.

The competition will end on the 15th November, after which time the winners will be announced and the various prizes awarded.



Adventure game fans are no strangers to the English town of Cornwall, but instead of hunting ghosts this time, we'll soon be hunting treasure in Cheeky Sprite Studios' The Secret Cove, which is currently seeking some treasure of its own through Kickstarter.

The Secret Cove casts players in the role of a "down-on-your-luck, out of work deckhand" living in a rundown beach cottage. Seeking solace in the bottom of a bottle at the local pub, your fortunes change one stormy night when you "overhear two old fisherman talking tales of Cornish folklore, smuggling and the legend of 'The Secret Cove'. One of the fishermen arrogantly boasts that he has proof that the legend may just be true, claiming he has the journal of a deceased notorious smuggler that will lead him to lost treasure."

In your quest for the legendary treasure hidden "deep within the lost smugglers' tunnels", you will venture both above and below ground, and even underwater, visiting many real Cornish locations such as St. Ives Wharf, Padstow Harbour, Minack Theatre, St. Michael's Mount, Eden Project, Lost Gardens of Heligan, and Tintagel Castle. As you interact with these 3D rendered environments, you can freely explore the "non-linear game world, solve puzzles, find artifacts and create tools to help you on your way."

In order to complete the game by October 2015 for PC, Mac, iOS, Windows 8 and Android devices, the developers are asking for £50,000 through Kickstarter by October 24. Backers who make a minimum £10 pledge will get a downloadable copy of the game. To learn more and contribute to its crowdfunding campaign, visit the Kickstarter page for full details.

Update: Since time of writing, this Kickstarter has been canceled.



The month of ghostly tales is upon us, and helping to usher it in is indie developer Dayv Hack's The Haunting of Willow Hill, now available for iOS and Android devices.

In The Haunting of Willow Hill, you are called in when the titular small town "falls victim to a ghastly apparition’s repeated attacks." It only gets worse upon your arrival, however, as the townsfolk begin dying. As you investigate, you'll discover that a 150-year-old unsolved murder is at the root of the town's troubles, and it's up to you to "decipher the mystery, solve whodunit, and catch the killer before it’s too late."

A free-roaming, first-person adventure, The Haunting of Willow Hill is not a horror game, but rather a "story-driven murder mystery/adventure with haunting overtones." Before you can identify the culprit, you'll first need to "solve puzzles (and) talk to the residents of Willow Hill" in order to uncover the relevant clues.

A mobile exclusive, The Haunting of Willow Hill is available now for only $1.99 at both the App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android.



Many games have been influenced by H.P. Lovecraft, but only one game bears the official licensed seal of approval – or at least, it will if Senscape's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is able to successfully raise enough funds through Kickstarter.

The latest point-and-click adventure by the creator of Scratches and Asylum is a "faithful and painstakingly researched adaptation" of its literary namesake, thrusting players into the dual roles of "both the inquisitive Charles Dexter Ward and Dr. Marinus Willett in a race against time to save Providence (and possibly humankind) from the evil warlock Joseph Curwen, who has made a pact with powerful forces of ineffable cosmic hideousness to exert his abhorrent influence across centuries."

The entire game is set in Lovecraft's hometown, inviting players to "explore mystery-laden Providence and uncover its enchanting secrets, research ancient history of witchcraft and occultism in shadow-blighted Salem, and sneak into an eerie Pawtuxet farm to meet unspeakable horrors lurking underneath." Stops along the way will range from "dusty libraries where awaits the hideous Necronomicon, through excursions to nightmarish cemeteries where time-worn bones tell of horrible past events, to sojourns in the old Salem-Village of crumbling gables and clustered gambrel roofs where wizards of yore still prowl."

Unlike Senscape's other games, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward will be a third-person adventure, though everything else promises exactly what we've come to expect from the indie Argentine studio. There will be "no weapons, no enemies, no jumping, no running, and no dying" in the game, nor cheap scares (or tentacles!), as the focus will be "strictly on story and mood".

In conjunction with the game, Senscape's Agustín Cordes and Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi will be filming "The Shadow Over Providence", which offers "both a behind-the-scenes feature on the making of Charles Dexter Ward and a documentary on Lovecraft’s life in Providence." Viewers can follow along as Cordes and Joshi "travel to Providence and scout the remaining locations that were key in Lovecraft’s lifetime, including the John Hay Library, Moses Brown School, the 'actual' home of the Ward family, and the queer building that inspired Curwen’s old house in Olney Court."

In order to make all this possible, the developers are seeking $250,000 through Kickstarter by the rather fitting deadline of October 31st. A minimum early bird pledge of $15 will earn backers a DRM-free download of the game for Windows, Mac, or Linux. If all goes well, we could see the game completed as early as the end of 2015, as the artists who have completed their work on the still-in-production Asylum can get started on the new game right away.

To learn more about H.P. Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit the Kickstarter page for full details.

September 2014



Claustrophobics have an intense fear of being stuck on elevators, but indie developer Fezziwig Games has made that prospect even more (enjoyably) disturbing for everyone with its debut mobile release, Escape the Hellevator!.

Players control a dying man named Clarence Ridgeway, who's being rushed to the Emergency Room in a hospital elevator. This is no ordinary trip, however, and you'll take your time getting to your destination, as a "mysterious priest forces Clarence to relive his sins on each floor as he plummets to his final judgment. Can you survive the drop and escape damnation?"

Each of the six rooms Clarence visits represents one of his past sins, and he'll need to escape them all in order to complete the journey. This involves solving a series of "fiendish" puzzles and interacting with the real-time 3D environments that let you "swipe the screen to investigate in an intuitive manner", while "each item you pick up can be examined and/or interacted with in a similar fashion."

A mobile exclusive, Escape the Hellevator is available for only $1.99 for both iPad and iPhone at the App Store, and for Android devices at Google Play.



You can imagine that any tale of the cosmos would be many years in the making. That is especially true of Red Dwarf Games' Tales of Cosmos, which has already been in development for several years and will take a little longer yet, though its PC release is at last visible on the horizon.

Tales of Cosmos casts players in the roles of Perseus the Dog and Professor Gagayev, two astronauts who have crash landed on an unknown planet. With nothing to rely on but the "environment and their own resourcefulness", players must help the pair escape and launch them into an even greater adventure that will have you "explore space, discover new planets, recruit the help of local lifeforms, and unravel a cosmic mystery."

Inspired by the point-and-click classics of the '90s, Tales of Cosmos promises what so few modern adventures do anymore: provide a "huge" open world to explore. Travel between the various hand-drawn planets and moons will not only be possible but necessary, as "each planet has numerous characters and objects to interact with, as well as many puzzles to solve." Some puzzles are even interconnected, as "an item acquired on one planet may be useful on another." There's no fear of being bogged down by its scope, however, as an integrated hint system will be available in times of need.

There is still no firm release date set for Tales of Cosmos, but the developers are estimating a PC launch sometime in the first quarter of 2015. To learn more about the game in the meantime, visit the developer's website and Steam Greenlight page.



We're all familiar with the Genesis story of how the world came to be. But what would happen if the world ever needed to be created anew? Enter Exgenesis, a whole new kind of creation story currently seeking funding through Indiegogo.

While details are still sketchy about the game's plot, Exgenesis is set in a dystopian future  where "mankind has completely lost his spirituality and is now living only to fulfill his material needs. This isn’t acceptable anymore. A new beginning is needed. A new earth." But what would that new world be like, and who would inhabit it? These answers will be up to the powers that be, as "they’re already watching us. They’re judging us. They’re already choosing who's worthy of watching the dawn of the new humankind, and those who will take part in it."

This backdrop, based on "real ancient beliefs", sets the stage for a point-and-click adventure that delves the "most intimate places of [your] personality... on a journey to discover the secrets of existence." It will be presented using a mix of real photographs, clay models, and computer graphics in order to create a "dreamlike and mysterious atmosphere." Along the way there will be traditional adventure elements like "puzzles to solve, items to collect and use, places to explore, dialogues", but since the protagonist is you yourself, deciding "what’s right or wrong is up to [you] and the story will take shape accordingly."

Italian indie developers 48h Studio hope to complete this "original take on the genesis myth" for PC sometime in the first half of 2015, and in order to do so they've launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise €35,000 by October 19th. (Note that as a flexible funding campaign, all pledges will go to support the game whether it reaches its target goal or not.) A limited-time early bird pledge of €12 will earn backers a DRM-free download of the game. Ports to other platforms, including Mac, Linux, iPad and Android tablets are also possible if certain stretch goals are met.

To learn more about Exgenesis and contribute to its crowdfunding, visit the Indiegogo page for complete details. You can also vote to have the game released through Steam Greenlight.

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