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May 2015

26

May

The terms "MISSING" and "FMV" made for an impressive combination in Lexis Numérique's 2004 puzzler (also known as In Memoriam), and now indie developer Zandel Media is hoping the same proves true again with the debut of their new live-action mystery, MISSING: An Interactive Thriller.

The first episode of the series (no connection to the earlier title) stars a kidnapping victim named David Newcastle. Abducted for "no clear reason, Dave will have to find his way out and elude captivity while trying to figure out who his captor is." It seems that he is not alone in his predicament, either, as elsewhere "Detective Lambert investigates a series of mysterious disappearances in the city." Lambert will be the main focus of the remaining episodes.


Originally released on the App Store and Google Play to very little fanfare late last year, MISSING now arrives on PC promising to blend '90s-style full motion video sequences with traditional adventuring in which you must "use your brain to solve puzzles, find items and use reflexes in action sequences to help the characters progress in the story." The action will involve Quick Time Events designed to give the game a more cinematic tension to suit the story, as glimpsed in the second video released.

Available only as a single-episode purchase at this time, Episode One is available now on Steam. There are currently five episodes planned in total, but the good news is that the remaining episodes will be released all together, rather than individually. Filming is scheduled to begin this fall.



22

May

If it seems like the last adventure game from Pendulo Studios was Yesterday, that's because it was, back in 2012. And as it turns out, the next one will be too, as today Microïds revealed that its previously announced partnership with the Spanish Studio will be for Yesterday Origins, a pseudo-sequel due out next year.

Very little has been revealed about the game's story so far, but Origins will continue the tale of its predecessor's protagonist, John Yesterday. This time around, however, the modern day events will be explored simultaneously with events dating back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Origins marks the first game from Pendulo to be created in 3D, but the developers are quick to assure fans that the new adventure will "keep the very identifiable cartoon graphical touch that made the studio so successful." The game will be released across a variety of platforms, including PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, iOS and Android, with "optimized visual effects and interfaces specifically designed for each type of platform, whether they require a mouse, a pad or a touch screen."

There is no firm timeline for the game's completion, but it is currently on track for release sometime in 2016.



10

May

Virtual reality has yet to fully arrive for video games, but already an impressive lineup of VR-inspired titles is in the works. One of those is The Assembly, British developer nDreams' upcoming first-person adventure that promises to give players an exploration-heavy experience in a mysterious setting where moral choices abound.

The story revolves around the titular Assembly, an organization that believes society's laws and morals are holding back scientific progress by keeping certain areas of inquiry off-limits due to their ethical implications. In order to advance research into these areas, the Assembly has built an underground bunker where it can conduct any experiment it wishes beyond prying eyes, in the hope that they might discover a universal “theory of everything.” The Assembly operates not unlike a religious cult, with members being initiated into the organization through a series of trials. Over the course of the game, players will play through the eyes of two characters who promise to color the experience with their unique perspectives on the Assembly and its goals: Joel, a disillusioned Assembly veteran who has come to question their methods, and Madeleine, who has been essentially kidnapped and brought to the underground facility to undergo her initiation tests.


The game will be divided into a number of chapters during its projected 3- 4 hour length, with each chapter devoted to one character or the other in alternating fashion. Joel and Madeleine's physical and mental differences will impact how each chapter plays. For instance, Joel is taller than Madeleine, so the tops of doorways will seem closer to the player during those chapters. Their walking paces and footstep sounds will be different as well, and as an insider Joel's commentary on the Assembly and the circumstances of his involvement promise to be of a different tone than the newcomer Madeleine's.

The Assembly’s gameplay will have plenty dialogue and conversation, with puzzles interspersed throughout. In a story written by The Talos Principle’s Tom Jubert, morality is heavily emphasized for the player to wrestle with, with questions along the lines of "Would you kill one person to save ten?" and similar dilemmas that will affect the outcome and endings depending on how the player deals with them.

There will be no fast-paced action sequences, the adventure focused instead on a strong narrative, with exploration and leisurely pacing. Although a standard monitor, mouse, keyboard, and gamepad can be used for controls, The Assembly is being tailored for VR headsets, and is planned as a launch title for both the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. In light of this, the game can be expected to arrive on PC and Playstation Network for PS4 sometime next year when the associated hardware peripherals are released.

For more information about The Assembly, you can click over to the game's official website.



3

May

Player decisions are at the heart of Plugged, a new virtual reality-enabled adventure from indie developer Endtimes Studio, and the first is whether to help support the game in its fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.

Plugged casts players in the role of a man who awakens from a "rather weird dream" with the chance to relive the most important moments of his life, all the way up to his inevitable death. In this surreal kind of memory lane, you can make new decisions that will impact your life in a variety of ways. Of course, that means experiencing the consequences of your decisions as well. The first decision, for example, is whether to attend a job interview at your wife's urging or meet your highschool sweetheart in a hotel rendezvous. Each major choice will create two parallel histories that continue to branch the non-linear story in new directions leading to different final outcomes. To see all the different branches, you'll need to replay the game multiple times to experiment with other paths not previously taken.


A first-person title described as a "look-and-click adventure", Plugged is one of the new generation of games designed to make use of virtual reality. With the Oculus Rift, players can "use their own eyes and head movement to solve puzzles", though the game can also be played conventionally on a regular monitor. Either way, you'll navigate free-roaming 3D locations using the keyboard to move and mouse to rotate the camera. Environments promise to be highly interactive, allowing you to "open [a] fridge, wardrobes, oven, drawers, doors, windows, read books, switch lights on and off, etc., all in favor of completing a certain puzzle." Each story branch has one or two larger puzzles that must be solved in order to progress, as well as optional smaller puzzles that will further flesh out the main character's life.

In order to bring their VR vision to actual reality, Endtimes is currently seeking £20,000 by May 30th through Kickstarter. A minimum £10 pledge will get you a downloadable version of the game for PC, Mac, or Linux as early as this July if the campaign reaches its target goal. To learn more about Plugged and support its development, visit the Kickstarter page and drop by the game's official website for complete details.




April 2015

30

Apr

To be or not to be? That will be the question answered by the Kickstarter campaign for Elsinore, a new "time-looping narrative adventure game set in the world of Shakespeare's Hamlet."

Elsinore casts players in the familiar role of Ophelia, with a very unfamiliar opportunity to avert tragedy. You are a "young noblewoman of Denmark, who awakes from a terrible vision: in four days, everyone in Elsinore Castle will be dead." Rather than being resigned to this fate, however, you find yourself caught in a time loop that allows you to "relive the same four days over and over again." You must use your time wisely if you're to alter the bleak future you've foreseen.

Described as "Shakespeare meets Majora's Mask/Groundhog Day", Elsinore is a hand-painted, third-person point-and-click adventure that uses its time-looping mechanic to provide a host of story branches. Player choice is paramount, as you can "lie, forgive, assassinate, befriend, or destroy", and the story will react according to your actions. There are life-and-death decisions to be made, but "even the smallest interaction has an impact on the world around you." Trial is encouraged, even if it ends in error, as you can "explore dozens of different outcomes for even minor actions, each time learning new information." The more you experiment, the more you discover about the motivations of complex characters, all of them keeping secrets.


Rather than being a conventional adventure, Elsinore tasks players with collecting information, from "gossip, rumors, stories, lies, journal entries, bloody daggers, bottles of poison, and more" and then presenting it as hearsay or evidence in an attempt to influence the actions of other characters. You'll need to make good use of your time as well. Not only are you unable to see and hear everything going on in Elsinore Castle in a single time loop, as key events play out simultaneously, but "giving the right piece of information to a character at the wrong time can have disastrous results."

Indie developer Golden Glitch Studios, working on the game in their spare time, is currently seeking $12,000 through Kickstarter by May 26th in order to fully fund production. The team's goal is to complete Elsinore by September 2016 for PC, Mac, and Linux, and a minimum $15 pledge is required to secure a DRM-free download of the game upon release. Response has been enthusiastic so far, with the target amount already in sight, but there is a wide variety of stretch goals still to reach that promise to provide a better overall experience.

To learn more about Elsinore and/or contribute to its fundraising campaign, visit the Kickstarter page for complete details, and follow its progress through the official website.



23

Apr

A librarian may not seem like the most adventurous of game protagonists at first, but indie Italian developer Ossocubo is out to prove that perception wrong with their upcoming point-and-click title Blue Volta.

The star of Blue Volta is not just any old librarian but the "The Last Librarian" in the Citadel of Knowledge. Zeno is comfortably encsconced in his "sleepy routine" until he embarks on a quest to find an ancient book. Now he faces a "life-changing trip" during which he will "confront ancient secrets and explore mysterious places teeming with wondrous creatures and enthralling puzzles seamlessly interlocked with the story."

While little is known about the story beyond the basic premise so far, Blue Volta promises to be a "classic point-and-click, third-person graphic adventure" filled with imaginative settings and characters. A few of these are already on display in the first screenshots released, which show off the game's distinctive hand-drawn art style.

Born of a "deep spiritual journey", the game has been in development for the past year, but still has a way to go before completion. While no firm timetable has been set, Ossocubo expects to release the game for PC, Mac, and Linux sometime in 2016. In the meantime, you can follow the game's progress through its official website.



21

Apr

Over time, we’ve seen embattled space-faring crews take on any number of outrageous or dangerous situations, playing the odds and usually coming out on top. But indie developer Crystal Shard has given us a different take on this archetype; instead of facing adversity from a hostile race of aliens or life-threatening conditions on distant planets, the crew in Quasar is threatening to fall apart from the inside out.

In a cramped environment, without privacy, and an around-the-clock assignment with no time to get away from it all, the ship’s crew members have had their latest in a series of disagreements, and have retreated away from each other across the ship, sulking. But with an important mission hanging in the balance, cooperation is vital for success. So it falls on the ship’s medical officer to bridge the divides and restore the crew to its former cooperative status.


With emphasis placed on storytelling rather than puzzle-solving, Quasar spends its time exploring the different characters – each crew member has unique talents according to his or her role on board, and responds to the environment in their own way, according to their personality. Though not meant to be overly difficult or lengthy, Quasar features several puzzles embedded within its gameplay, some of them solvable only by certain characters.

If the game sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because Quasar was originally launched as a freeware adventure in December 2011. Now, however, the team has enhanced the graphics and added full voice acting in a commercial “Deluxe Edition” re-release. You can learn more about the upgraded version of the game at the official website, and purchase the game for PC at the Adventure Gamers Store..



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