Adventure News
 


May 2016

29

May

Many of the greatest obstacles in life are those we create in our own minds. That makes probing the human pscyhe ideal for video games, providing a rich setting with unlimited possibilities. The latest developer to dig into this fertile psychological soil is UK studio Thermo-Dynamic Games with its upcoming episodic adventure, Echoes.

Although specific story details are being kept under wraps for now, Echoes promises to follow "a patient’s journey through counselling and overcoming their mental issues." The first episode, Diagnosis, will introduce the character and establish the "unique 'mind break' game mechanic where players will have to overcome challenging and alien sections of the environment in order to progress and discover the story behind it all."


The first screenshots and trailer highlight the game's minimalist art style in delving the subconscious, although some parts of the game will include a more realistic look as determined by the story. Players must explore various dream states, solving puzzles along the way to reveal more of the truth behind the character's troubled mental state, with gameplay ranging from "charming to challenging" as you progress.

The complete Echoes experience will comprise between three and five episodes in total, though the final number has yet to be determined. Nor is there a firm release date yet for the series launch, but we can expect to see Diagnosis available for Windows and Mac sometime later this year. In the meantime, you can follow its progress through the official website.



21

May

Hopefully by now we've all gotten past the "do games need to be FUN?" question. The answer, of course, is no they don't. If you're still not convinced, enter the latest exhibit into evidence, The Grandfather.

The titular character is a loving man who never felt that love reciprocated. Experiencing only anguish instead, he became "a very miserable man; he hated what his life had become." What's worse, the source of his misery was the person to whom he was most vulnerable: his "cold hearted, miserable, emotionless wife" who "made his existence beyond miserable, killing his desire to do everything he had ever loved to do in life.”


Inspired by a true story, clearly this "sad tale of an old man who is tormented by the coldness of his wife" is not meant to be an uplifting adventure, but rather a thought-provoking psychological drama. Created by indie developers MPR ART Hallucinations (The Lady) and David Szymanski (The Moon Sliver, The Music Machine), this is a "story-driven point-and-click puzzle/horror game" featuring fully voiced narration, a procedural soundtrack, comic book-styled hand drawn art, and promises a variety of "challenging puzzle types".

Available now for Windows and Mac on Steam, if you're not sure you're up for a feel-bad tale like The Grandfather, you can always try before you buy through the downloadable demo on Steam.



19

May

We all know by now that creating sentient machines can only lead to disaster. But what about sentient corn? As bizarre as that possibility sounds, we're going to find out later this year when indie Canadian developer Finish Line Games completes its home-grown production of Maize.

There wouldn't even be any thinking, talking corn if two scientists had not misunderstood their instructions. But what's done is done, and now players must "explore the desolate farm for clues to the past, venture deeper into the underground research facility, and make a few…colorful friends along the way, including a grumpy Russian knock-off of the most technologically advanced toy ever created: Teddy Ruxpin."


If all that sounds too zany to be true, then you're getting the right idea. Described by the developers as an "absurdist comedy wrapped in a first-person adventure with no shortage of weirdness", the game promises to channel the "elements of Monty Python and the funnier episodes of the X-Files". Along the way, players will discover a "cornucopia of highbrow puzzles to solve" throughout an American Heartland environment wrapped up in slick-looking 3D wrapping.

There is currently no firm target date for Maize, but we can expect the harvest to occur on PC sometime later this fall. You can follow its progress through the final stages of growing season through the official website.



16

May

Ghost stories are great for giving ourselves a scare, but they're nothing to take seriously, right? Well, not so fast, says indie developer Dreadlocks, along with 2,243 people who helped contributed more than £56,000 to crowdfund Ghost Theory through Kickstarter.

While Ghost Theory certainly isn't the first game to explore supernatural phenomena, or even to do so using real research equipment, this game claims to be a "serious take on ghost hunting and paranormal research", with investigations set in "real" haunted locations and conducted using the latest modern technology. Players assume the first-person role of a clairvoyant hired by a strugging university department to become the secret "front-field operative in paranormal investigations." Rather than a single narrative, the game will consist of numerous non-linear missions, each a "playable sandbox with its own story waiting to be unearthed." At the end of each case, your performance will be evaluated before getting your next mission briefing.


Ghost Theory will take players to several real-world locations with documented disturbances, from "the infamous Goldfield Hotel in United States, to the abandoned Poveglia island in Italy, and to Suicide Forest Aokigahara in Japan." You will even visit 30 East Drive, Pontefract, home to "the most violent poltergeist in Europe." Of course, this is a game as well, and the developers claim to be drawing inspiration from "the very best horror movies and stories." However, the main goal is to find ghosts here, not fear them. Players shouldn't "expect ghosts to be jumping out at you from the darkness for no reason. In fact, most of them won't respond to your mere presence at all. Unless you make them. It is your task to find out how, if you hope to meet your objectives."

As you freely explore the 3D environments, you will need to employ a variety of ghost-hunting equipment to discover clues, such as a UV lamp, full spectrum camera, EMF Meter, EVP recorder, and a pendulum for spectral divination. When technology isn't enough, you'll need to depend on your own special clairvoyance ability, which "allows you to experience flashbacks associated with an object's history, which may feed you important information about a ghost’s past or reveal further clues connected to your investigation."

Although still a fair way off, Ghost Theory's successful Kickstarter campaign has put it on track for release on Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 as early as September 2017. To help while away the time as you wait, you can head over to the official website to learn more about the game.



15

May

Step aside, Mr. Holmes. Make way, Professor Layton. Dr. Doyle has nearly arrived as the star of his own point-and-click mystery adventure, Dr. Doyle and the Mystery of the Cloche Hat.

A missing hat may not sound like a very important crime, but it is when it happens at the same time an "unidentified body is found beaten to death in a dark alley". The mysterious murder and theft in the small village of Prescott Lane calls for the services of the eponymous protagonist, a man of "questionable morality, dubious intent and unreserved inquisitiveness." His suspicious nature is aroused immediately, and armed only with his wits and trusty suspenders, the "good Doctor sets out to find the truth and solve the mystery of the cloche hat."


Created by indie Cyprus developer PnC Narratives in the style of detective classics from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie, the third-person adventure features a distinctive hand-drawn art style portraying southeast England in the 1920s. Players will guide the protagonist in searching for clues to combine with the environment, and interrogating suspects and witnesses with their method of choice to entice the answers required. Using your own powers of observation, you'll need to "make assumptions, reach conclusions and decide the guilty party."

Sparing us all an extended wait time, Dr. Doyle and the Mystery of the Cloche Hat is nearly upon us, with the developers hoping to release the game for PC as early as next month, with iOS and Android ports a possibility farther down the line. In the meantime, you can vote for the game on Greenlight if you'd like to see it released on Steam.



14

May

Pirates and point-and-click adventuring have been a perfect match ever since the days of Monkey Island. Now indie Italian developers imaginarylab are hoping to continue that trend with their upcoming title Willy Morgan, a  game featuring humour, a cartoon look and twisted perspectives reminiscent of the LucasArts classics. 

In 1699, so the story goes, infamous pirate Captain Kidd and his ship the Adventure Galley were being hunted down by the English and Spanish when they disappeared off the American coast. Two years later, Kidd himself was found and captured, but of his ship, crew or hold full of booty there was no trace. As is traditional, he took the secret of the ship's location with him to his grave, and people have been searching for it ever since. People such as Willy Morgan's father, famous archaeologist Henry Morgan, who disappeared himself under mysterious circumstances a decade ago during a family holiday-cum-treasure hunting expedition in the ominously-named Bone Town.


Time passed, as time tends to do, and Willy got on with growing up without a father as best he could. At least until a strange letter arrived, ten years late, stirring everything up again and sending him back to the location of the ill-fated holiday to find out what happened, and maybe even track down the Adventure Galley. 

Further story details are sparse for now, but the game will have pre-rendered graphics, all stylistically “deformed” with curves and bulges and odd angles. Although the early screenshots don’t show any characters, the final version will feature Willy as the third-person protagonist. The developers promise at least 50 locations to explore and 15 NPCs to interact with, as well as a mix of linear and non-linear puzzles to solve.

If the weather stays fair, Willy Morgan will set sail for Windows, Mac and Linux sometime in 2017, with the possibility of mobile and console platforms down the line. If you want to investigate further, you can head over to the official website



13

May

It's been far too long since the last solo effort from everyone's favourite pointy-haired defense attorney. Sure, he shouted his "Objections!" and "Take thats!" in 2014's Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, but there he had to share the spotlight with the other titular protagonist. In Spirit of Justice, due to arrive this September on Nintendo 3DS, there won't be a top hat-wearing, puzzle-loving archeologist in sight.

That's not to say that Phoenix will be all alone in his new adventure. Indeed, the other ace attorney, Apollo Justice, will be involved in a case of his own with "explosive implications" at the Wright Anything Agency while Wright finds himself in the Far East. The latter's latest legal battles will be fought against the Royal Priestess in the "Kingdom of Khura’in, origin of the Kurain Channeling Technique, where mysterious séance trials decide the fate of all defendants." There players will be introduced to the "Divination Séance" gameplay mechanic, which allows the ability to "revisit the last moments of a victim’s life." In order to discover the truth, Phoenix will need to "unravel the discrepancies and contradictions between the Royal Priestess’s Insight and what is shown in the séance."


Of course, all (or at least most of) the usual fan favourite gameplay elements will return as well, as Capcom promises the new game will be "filled with puzzling cases to solve using popular investigative techniques from previous installments". Along the way, there will be "many" familiar faces reprising their roles, along with some highly distinctive new additions.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice will be launched this September in North America and Europe as a digital download through the Nintendo eShop.



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