Adventure News
 


February 2016

11

Feb

Be careful what you wish for. Like Tom Hanks in the movie Big, the hero of Glitch Games' latest puzzler A Short Tale gets more than he expected when he asks to be small again. It may be a room-escape game at heart, but it's a Toy Story-esque tale of talking toys, oversized furniture and viewing the everyday from a new perspective, and it's available now across a variety of platforms.

You play as Jason, returning to his lost brother Ben's bedroom after years away. Portentously, Jason muses: "I never thought I'd return here, to where everything started. Where everything ended. Something's calling me back to this room..." Wanting to feel closer to Ben, to be little once more, Jason's wish is unexpectedly granted. Except whoever did it didn't know when to stop and Jason shrinks to toy-size, far too small to reach the door handle! Now what was once normal becomes "a strange new world filled with larger than life furniture, troublesome obstacles, and less-than-helpful occupants." Jason needs to find a way out, and hopefully find out a bit more about his brother along the way.


The graphics are pre-rendered in a Myst-style slideshow, depicting a straightforward and realistic look at a child's cluttered bedroom, accompanied by a suitably atmospheric soundtrack. To help with the game's many environmental and object-manipulation puzzles, there will also be an in-game camera for easy reference.   

A Short Tale doesn't even require a short wait to play, as it launches today on PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices. To learn more about the game, including purchase links, check out the official webpage for additional details.



7

Feb

Lucid dreaming sounds great: all the flexibility and imagination of a dream but with enough awareness to decide what happens and live out your fantasies. But what happens when the dream turns into a nightmare and you can't wake up? That's the premise of DARQ, an upcoming psychological horror game from indie developer Unfold Games.

You play DARQ as Lloyd, a boy who comes to realise that he's dreaming only to have monsters from the depths of his subconscious creep up on him. Exploring the zero-gravity netherworld of his darkest desires, you learn to apply dream physics in your search for a way out, walking up walls, creating objects from nothing and otherwise bending and breaking the rules of reality. The monsters you encounter are much too powerful to combat physically, so you’ll need to rely on stealth and cunning in order to survive. You'll also meet many less scary characters on your journey, helping you find answers and meaning in your quest. 


The game certainly looks distinctive, featuring a mixture of 2D and 3D graphics with a hand-drawn look and heavy contrast between light and shadow. Nearly black-and-white and heavy on the bloom, the visuals resemble nothing so much as a dark Tim Burton movie. The soundtrack promises much too, coming from ASCAP award-winning film composer and Unfold Games founder Wlad Marhulets. Sadly, plans for voice work have had to be put on hold.

Taking its inspiration from films such as The Shining, the aim is to slowly build a creepy atmosphere without relying on blood and gore. As well as the physics-based puzzling, sound will also play a significant role, with certain areas asking you to navigate in complete darkness by sound alone. Some elements will be randomly generated, making every playthrough a bit different, and dream logic means the world can change unexpectedly around you. There will also be multiple endings, reflecting the choices you make.

Having received only partial funding through its recent Indiegogo campaign, there is no firm release target yet for DARQ, but the game has already been Greenlit on Steam and we could see it jump out at us on PC, Mac and Linux before the end of this year. In the meantime, you can find out more on the official site.



6

Feb

If a town inspired by David Lynch's Twin Peaks and populated by anthropomorphic animals sounds like just your twisted kind of place to visit, you'll be happy to know you can book your room now at the eerie Rusty Lake Hotel.

The game takes place in the titular hotel, and players assume the role of a kind of butler who must collect the ingredients needed for five exotic dinners, while in between attending to the wishes of the current guests staying there. But these particular guests are here for a reason, because the hotel is "a special place, a place where strange forces prevail." And you are a servant with a secret agenda, having been given a special task by the hotel's owner, Mr. Owl. Fulfilling your goals will require a lot of puzzle-solving to accomplish, and in the end the guests' requests may not turn out at all like they intended.


While Rusty Lake Hotel is the first commercial game from the aptly-named Dutch indie Rusty Lake, it is thematically connected with the ongoing Cube Escape games that are freely available to download from the developer's website, featuring recurring characters and further allusions to the mystery of a "lake containing memories, wandering spirits and the passage of time." The new game largely features the same kind of escape-the-room-style puzzling gameplay as its freeware predecessors, though with a total of six rooms to solve this time around as well as a hotel to roam. And don't be deceived by the hand-drawn artwork, as the slightly cartoony aesthetic belies the underlying malevolence and eerie atmosphere enveloping this mysterious hotel.

Originally released for iOS and Android devices late last year, Rusty Lake Hotel is now available for download on PC and Mac. For purchase links and additional information about the game and the unique world in which it's set, visit the official website.



2

Feb

The sudden surge in Myst-style adventures of late shows no signs of slowing down, as yet another new puzzle-adventure game has recently been released called Monumental.

In Monumental, a five-person team of researchers were "studying an ancient monument from a long-extinct alien civilization" when they mysteriously disappeared. As the player, it is now your task to follow in their foosteps, entering the monument in order to locate the missing team and in the process, "uncover the astonishing final secret of a long-dead alien race."


Rather than a slideshow-style adventure, Monumental is a free-roaming, realtime 3D journey through a variety of unusual environments. Along the way, you will use a number of different tools to solve the "numerous" puzzles you encounter.

Perhaps the best news of all is that the game is already available, having just launched on Steam, excusively for PC.




January 2016

31

Jan

Cyan’s Myst formula of graphic adventures has been successfully implemented by many developers over the two-plus decades that have come and gone since. The latest to follow in these footsteps is Cyprus-based indie Lydia Kovalenko with her debut title Panmorphia, which is now available for PC, Mac, and Linux.

As legend tells it, one special child is born in each generation, a sentinel bound to the world of Panmorphia’s four elements. With their power, these sentinels can transform into animal shapes that represent those elements in times of trouble. You are the latest of Panmorphia’s sentinels, and are able to take on the form of cat, bird, or fish, allowing for new ways to explore Panmorphia and overcome its many obstacles.


Panmorphia is a first-person, point-and-click adventure that lets players explore a mystical world, solving a variety of puzzles along the way. With an inventory to store collected items and a dynamic map and notebook to track discoveries, the game's photo-realistic environments can be explored both day and night, taking players from the heights of rocky hills to the depths beneath the water.

Originally released on iOS and Android devices, Panmorphia has now been released for PC, Mac, and Linux through itch.io. There is a playable demo available for each platform as well, if you’d like to try before you buy.



29

Jan

Now here's a game you're sure to be of two minds about, though not in the way you might think. It's an upcoming mystery adventure called Splitmind, a surreal thriller that sees players piecing together their lost identity by unlocking playable memories from the past.

Splitmind stars a "shadow" named Kaplan, who awakens in Mnemosyn, the "land of memories", with no recollection of who he is (or was) or how he came to be there. But by exploring Mnemosyn, Kaplan discovers the means to relive key events from his past in the "Unnamed City". Recovering his lost identity and piecing together the mystery of what happened to him in the last several years won't be easy, however, as it puts him on the trail of the Tarot Killer, a serial murderer who disappeared without a trace before apparently turning up ten years later with a new victim. Kaplan's fate seems connected to this "dangerous maniac" and it's up to players to help him figure out how it relates to his lost memories.


As seen in the early screenshots and trailer, Splitmind is a 2D hand-drawn adventure that promises a mix of film noir and the fantastical while hearkening back to the classic point-and-click experience with "tasty dialogs and exploration phases, puzzles, riddles and many items to find, use and combine." Along the way, you'll encounter a variety of interesting characters, including your main ally Maria, the harsh-mannered pawn shop owner Luis, and Irma the heartless fortuneteller.

There is no firm release date scheduled yet for Splitmind, but developer Rendal Studio is currently on track to complete the game sometime this year for PC, with mobile versions to follow in 2017.



20

Jan

While the days of text parsers are largely behind us, the resurgence (at least in the West) of visual novels has renewed popular interest in text-based interactive experiences of late. Taking its cue from that trend, indie studio Unimatrix Productions has created a free-to-use game engine called Storycentric Worlds, which is due for release this spring. Better yet, the company's own graphic adventures will soon be re-released in an illustrated text format made possible through the new engine, beginning with Lifestream in April.

Creator Christopher Brendel claims Storycentric Worlds is designed to represent the "pinnacle of interactive fiction, combining classic room-based explorative text game mechanics with a stylish graphical interface and plenty of modern bells and whistles like pictures and sound." There is no parser for inputting one's own commands; instead, player interaction occurs though predetermined text choices unique to each scenario, including inventory use, as seen in the screenshot below from the reimagined Lifestream, which will contain more than 150 images and over an hour of music.

Following Lifestream, other Unimatrix adventures will be similarly converted throughout the year, including existing titles like Shady Brook and The Filmmaker, as well as the previously-unreleased Stonewall Penitentiary. The engine itself is currently in closed beta, and will be compatible with a variety of platforms upon final launch in April, including PC, iOS, and Android.

Prospective developers interested in learning more about Storycentric Worlds can drop by the official website for additional details.



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