Adventure News
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March 2014

26

Mar

As we’re increasingly coming to understand, patients in mental institutions were often not treated very well in the last century, to put it mildly. Partly due to a lack of proper medication and sanitation, partly due to the stressful conditions under which nurses had to work in the overcrowded and understaffed asylums, patients were subjected to 'treatments' such as shock therapy, solitary confinement or even lobotomies.

Independent studio Lka.it is basing their first-person psychological experience The Town of Light on a real-life asylum located in the Italian town of Volterra, close to their headquarters. When they learned about the asylum and its terrible, controversial history, they were inspired to create a game in which players can relive the stories, fears and dreams of a few of the more than 5000 patients who lived at the institute at one time.

Although the game is set in modern times with the long-abandoned asylum now just a derelict ruin, through flashbacks and memories of the late ‘30s and early ‘40s you’ll visit buildings that have been painstakingly recreated by the developers. There you'll meet Renee, a young schizophrenic woman interred in Volterra. Her story is fictional but based on real, historically accurate and plausible testimonies and documents. Throughout the game, you will slowly reconstruct Renee’s personality by exploring the asylum and the surrounding park, putting together information from various sources like documents and hallucinations. The game will have several possible endings.

The Town of Light has been in development for over a year for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and will be compatible with Oculus Rift, with a target release this winter. The developers are self-funding the game, but are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise €30,000 in order to speed up the process, hire more professionals to work on the game, and add back in some features that had to be shelved due to their high cost, such as a live orchestra and an additional game location. As a flexible funding campaign, all pledges will go towards support of the game, regardless of whether it reaches its target goal.

A limited-time pledge of €15 will earn early supporters a free downloadable copy of the game upon completion. To learn more about The Town of Light and contribute to its funding, visit the Indiegogo page for complete details. You can also vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.



24

Mar

Polish indie developing team StockPoint hope to make a unique mark on the adventure gaming world, launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund Red Scourge, a point-and-click, semi-historical reimagining of the Polish-Soviet War during the early 20th century. The twist this time around? In place of the Soviet armed forces, the game will see Warsaw besieged by an army of military zombies.

The story will feature two newly-engaged protagonists, Tomasz and Joanna. Tomasz is a young officer in the Polish army who is about to be called in for a special mission, separating him from his bride-to-be Joanna, the daughter of a noble Polish family. During his absence, both characters will learn more about the other, and in the face of the impending zombie war they will both inevitably change forever.



Red Scourge is being envisioned as an episodic game, with the fundraising campaign covering the first of three episodes. Each individual episode is projected to have a playtime of around three hours, and the projected development time for the first episode is about 6 to 8 months.

Specific platforms have not been announced, but contributors can reserve a downloadable code of the debut episode for €10 on the game’s Indiegogo page. While the campaign has been running for several weeks, the game still has quite a ways to go to meet its €21,500 goal by March 31.



16

Mar

While first-person games using a mouse and keyboard have become second nature throughout the years, many adventurers dream of ditching such peripherals for even more natural controls. Untold Games’ upcoming first-person sci-fi adventure Loading Human promises to take a big step in that direction by utilizing the Oculus Rift VR headset to translate players’ real-world movement directly into the game.

The story revolves around writer Andre Gibson and his wife, Michelle. Andre has been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease that is slowly robbing him of his memories, but his wife appears to have the solution. A scientific genius, she has invented Loading Human, a process that transfers the human brain and consciousness into an artificial, robotic body. However, the process requires that the subject relive the moments of their life as they are being transferred to the new body. This poses a problem for Andre, as his memories are compromised by his illness and experiencing even a single discrepancy during the transfer is fatal.

To avoid this issue, Michelle’s consciousness will be downloaded into the same android body as her husband to guide him while the transfer takes place, resolving any inconsistencies in Andre’s memories. However, this merging of minds has a cost: Andre can access her memories as well, and during the process intended to save his life he will come to discover that his wife has a dark side, and that there’s a disturbing truth about Loading Human.

Players will assume the role of Andre, exploring his memories and solving whatever challenges arise. The game is designed from the ground up to use the Oculus Rift, so players can expect not only to experience it through Andre’s eyes, but also to fully interact with the game world as well, using Rift-compatible motion controllers like the Sixense Stem and Razor Hydra, which translate the player’s arm and hand movements into the game.

Although no specific completion date has yet been revealed, the developers indicate that Loading Human is expected to release sometime later this year, on PC and Mac. For more information, check out Loading Human’s official webpage.



16

Mar

Fans of games featuring horribly-mutated Eastern European protagonists have likely been feeling ignored lately, but the upcoming comedy-adventure Paradigm promises to please this particular gamer demographic and, just maybe, garner a few more admirers in the process.

Developed by Jacob Janerka and Pavle Sanovic, the game is heavily inspired by “the late ‘70s and early ‘80s,” but takes place in the near-future. It’s set in a world where parents can genetically-engineer their children, and the protagonist, named Paradigm, began life as one of these engineered embryos. However, something went wrong during the growth process, leaving him with massive deformities. To preserve its reputation, the company who made him dropped Paradigm off in the nearly-abandoned town of Krusz to fend for himself. He now lives there with his dog, Igorshki, and aspires to be the “greatest electronic music artist the world has ever known.”

The plot of the game has not yet been revealed, but it is known that Paradigm’s past will play a role, leading him to become a “terribly ugly reluctant hero.” Played from a 2.5D, third-person perspective, it will be the player’s responsibility to point-and-click through this surrealistic world, where you will meet other strange characters along the way, such as a beat-boxing, mutated eggplant (the result of leakage from a nuclear reactor), and The Cone, a man who believes that he is “the protector” of orange traffic cones.

Janerka has indicated that he and Sanovic are attempting to fund as much of the game themselves as possible. However, a Kickstarter may be launched in the future if more financing is needed before the game can be released.

Paradigm is scheduled to be completed in late 2014 for PC, with releases on iOS and Android also a possibility. More of the game’s irony-laden sense of humor (and ‘80s nostalgia) can be seen at the official website.



8

Mar

A new psychological adventure has appeared on the horizon for 2014. The first commercial game from fledgling developer Curiosity Studios, FOG: The Story of Jacques Matthews is the story of a shipwrecked fisherman who finds his crew missing and himself washed up on a mysterious, deserted island shrouded in dense fog. The game tells his story, from meeting an enigmatic girl who claims to be of help to him, to his attempts at solving the island’s mysteries and revealing the truth behind it.

Far from being merely window dressing, the game’s eponymous fog also serves as the primary inspiration for several of its design choices. In keeping with the constantly shifting nature of fog, the game has been designed from the ground up with replay value in mind, giving level placement, visuals, audio, and even story elements the ability to randomly change from playthrough to playthrough. The developers acknowledge that such a plan will make it “difficult for us to create a long campaign…which is why we are focusing on providing plenty of bonus content and great replayability.”



An example of what this means involves Jacques stumbling across the beached hull of another ship. By examining objects within the environment and collecting audio logs, players may be able to piece together the tragic story of a captain who forfeited his life in order to save those of his crew before the inevitable shipwreck. Alternately, another playthrough may yield quite a different story, that of a captain who has slaughtered his own crew on his descent into madness. As the devil is in the details, and much of a game’s impact relies on its sense of mood, this feature could be a wonderful addition if implemented correctly. There will also puzzles for players to solve, though no mention has been made what form these will take.

Curiosity Studios has placed a big emphasis on gamer input. After a recent online survey asking gamers what features they’d like to see in the final product and what issues were of greatest concern, the developers have started directly addressing the wants and worries of the gaming public by redesigning specific aspects of the gameplay, interface, etc.

The team has begun work on a concept demo for the game, and expects that a Kickstarter campaign will be likely at a later point in the development process. Ultimately, players can expect to get approximately 3-5 hours of game time per playthrough on either PC or Mac. For further updates about the game’s production, visit Curiosity Studio’s website.



7

Mar

Danish animator-turned-indie-developer Alina Constantin has a world she wants gamers to explore, but needs a Kickstart(er) to make the first chapter come alive.

Currently in development at her studio, Amazu Media, Shrug Island is an upcoming 2D point-and-click adventure game set in the same universe as Alina’s award-winning 2009 short film, “Shrug.” Like the film, the game revolves around a group of shape-shifting tribal creatures called shrugs, who survive their island’s seasonal flooding by turning into birds during the inundation, before returning to their home when the tides recede.

The first chapter in the planned four-part story will focus on a pair of shrug children named Li and Shri, who have become separated upon returning home from one such migration. It will be the player’s responsibility to help these two find each other again by switching between them as the game progresses in order to solve puzzles…

But there’s a catch. Because of the shrugs’ close bond with the environment, the island itself plays a “third character” in the story. Music is the island’s “language,” and players will have to learn to “speak” to the island along the way if they hope to reunite Li and Shri. In addition, each character has special abilities of their own, such as Shri’s ability to “transform and move his surroundings,” that allow them to interact with the island in various ways, promising plenty of challenges for players to overcome throughout the game.

The game’s graphics are likely the first thing potential backers will notice. Owing to Alina’s background as an animator, everything in Shrug Island is hand-drawn in a vibrant water-color style. The theme of harmonious living with nature has carried over into the sound effects and musical score for the game: the character “voices” consist of bird-like chirps and squawks, and the soundtrack clips revealed so far include Aboriginal-sounding instruments and effects.

Interested gamers have until March 23rd to back the game, and if the $25,000 Kickstarter is successful, outside publishers are reportedly interested in picking up the tab for the remaining chapters in the Shrug Island saga. Various rewards, both digital and physical, are available for higher pledges, but a digital copy of Chapter 1 is available for a minimum $10 pledge, and all chapters can be had for $30, with delivery provided as each is released.

The game is tentatively scheduled to arrive in October 2014, on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms, as well as iOS and Android devices. More information can be found at Shrug Island’s Kickstarter page, as well as the developer’s official website.



6

Mar

Japanese independent developer iQiOi, led by Jeremy Blaustein (known for his work on the English version of Snatcher, as well as a slew of other properties in Konami’s stable), is reimagining Victorian-era London with a gritty steampunk vibe to explore their own version of the Whitechapel Jack the Ripper slayings in Blackmore, a new adventure now in the crucial final stage of its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

Players will assume the role of Emma Honda-Blackmore, an English-Japanese pioneer for women’s equality by virtue of being the first female medical doctor, who gets pulled into the grizzly slayings and begins to unravel the mystery behind them. Blackmore is a classic point-and-click adventure, with plenty of exploration and puzzle-solving. Additionally, Emma will need to gather clues using gadgets invented by her late father, and will need to participate in forensic investigations that will keep her on the trail of the notorious serial killer. Among her bag of tricks are a high-tech monocle that can take close-up photographs of objects and characters, and her robotic sidekick, Descartes.

To create the game, Blaustein has enlisted the help of several returning members of the Snatcher team to handle music compositions and character designs, and has already secured the vocal talents of such well-known voices as David Hayter (Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid). As a Westerner living in Japan, Blaustein is intimately familiar with both distinctive cultures, and feels confident he has written a game that will work in a Western market while still maintaining its Eastern design elements for a unique combination not frequently found in adventure games.

Blackmore is expected to ship March 2015, and will be released on Steam as well as “other distribution methods” for both PC and Mac. A downloadable copy is available starting at $25 at the game’s Kickstarter campaign page, which has a way to get yet if it’s to meet its $200,000 goal by March 12.



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