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June 2015

27

Jun

Ghostly possession has proven to be a winning adventure game mechanic, and indie Irish developer Outsider Games is hoping to continue that success with Wailing Heights, a “supernatural, body-hopping adventure game” set to debut on PC with a mobile version to follow. Featuring offbeat characters like vegan werewolves, hipster vampires, and gossiping ghosts, the game promises to be “part point & click adventure, part sardonic crime thriller”.

Wailing Heights casts players in the role of Frances Finklestein, a has-been musician whose soul is forcefully removed from his body when he accepts a gig in the titular town, grasping at any opportunity to get back into the spotlight. Separated from your body, you must use the ability to “hop into” and control other creatures. Possessing the ghouls and ghosts of Wailing Heights will let you access specific, monster-only areas, and will ultimately aid you on your path to reclaiming your body and escaping.

As befits a game starring a musician, Wailing Heights places a heavy emphasis on music, and not just as jaunty background tunes, as the body-hopping mechanic incorporates completing song lyrics from the items and information you collect. But the developers also advise keeping your ears open at all times, as songs you hear will actually incorporate hints and clues to the game’s mysteries. You’re not the only one with a musical bent either; there are Motown Zombies, nightly performances at the Crematery, and werewolves favoring country-rock jukebox playlists.

While not strictly a comedy, with plenty of opportunity for adventure and drama in a game described as “Cluedo meets Professor Layton by way of Monkey Island”, the developers do promise plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and witty dialogue along the way. Helping to ensure a comic tone, Hector: Badge of Carnage writer Kevin Beimers is on board, and comic artists like Glenn Fabry and PJ Holden have been enlisted to lend their visual talents as well.

With another six months of planned development time remaining, we can look forward to unearthing all that this self-financed game holds in store when it arrives early next year. In the meantime, to give interested players a sense of what they’re all about (and keep abreast of breaking news), the developers have set up a production blog which includes videos, art previews, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the game.



25

Jun

The characters featured in Norse mythology are likely familiar to most: Thor and his hammer Mjolnir; Loki the trickster and his son, Fenrir the wolf; the Valkyries and their horseback rides to the battlefield to carry the dead to Valhalla. But what about the unlikely mortals who get drawn into the gods' exploits? Telling their story is the basis of tiny & Tall: Gleipnir, an upcoming point-and-click adventure game by French comic artist Antoine "pins" Piers.

Adapted from Piers' comic of the same name, tiny & Tall revolves around the two titular characters, blacksmiths who are tasked by the gods to forge a magical chain, Gleipnir, to keep Fenrir from devouring the world. As you’d expect from their names, the protagonists are a study in contrasts: tiny is “a naive, enthusiastic and, well, tiny creature, while Tall is a tyrannical, bombastic yet cowardly character.” Both will be needed, however, as forging the chain won't be a simple matter: it requires gathering a collection of bizarre materials, including the sound of a cat's footfall and the spittle of a bird, among several other unusual items.


Piers promises an "epic adventure with absolutely unepic characters," and it is clear from the tone of his comic that Gleipnir will be a lighthearted tale as well, diverging somewhat from the more serious treatment Norse-inspired stories tend to receive. Players will be tasked with helping the oft-bickering duo in their quest, using mouse-centric controls to guide them through the hand-drawn, third-person environments while solving a variety of puzzles. All the while, they will be under the “malignant and glowing red gaze of Loki, who, as Fenrir's father, does not look kindly on their goal.”

tiny & Tall: Gleipnir has a tentative release window set for early 2016, but in order to reach that goal, a Kickstarter campaign is being planned for next month. PC is the primary development platform, but Mac and Linux releases will also be targeted as Kickstarter stretch goals. Until then, interested gamers learn more about the game through its Facebook page.



23

Jun

Dealing with grief and guilt can be difficult at the best of times, but all the more so when forced to confront the nightmarish physical manifestations of those feelings. Such is the premise that awaits players in Charlotte's Dream, a retro indie adventure currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

Charlotte's Dream casts players in the titular role of a young girl who "barely escapes with her life after a tragic car accident. Haunted by guilt over the death of her brother, she becomes trapped in a dangerous and surreal dream world." In order to escape, Charlotte must not only make peace with her "darker self" but also "face her deepest fears and uncover the truth that she has denied herself." Yet the mystery runs even deeper than that, as "the game takes a darker turn when Charlotte explores a far more intriguing question: Could it be that her brother is still alive?"


Although described by indie Dutch developer Robert Guiscard as a "love letter to the classic point and click adventure genre", Charlotte's Dream isn't entirely traditional. Along with the usual genre conventions, the game promises to include a "time freeze mechanic" and a "leveling system, with a literal skill tree", in which players earn points for "finding clues, items and solving puzzles" that can be used to buy new skills needed to solve even more puzzles. There will also be a crafting system that rewards exploration with randomly scattered materials. In conjunction with optional recipes, this will "allow the player to craft so-called 'relics', which enable the player to approach puzzles from a whole new angle." In keeping with the freedom to approach obstacles in different ways, there will be multiple puzzle solutions and different endings.

If it looks from the screenshots that Charlotte's Dream would have been right at home 20 years ago, that's because Guiscard actually first designed the game back then (when he was only 12) for the Amiga. Now in development exclusively for PC, the game is being rebuilt from the ground up with "touched up" graphics that stay true to the original colour palette and pixel art style. Controls have also been upgraded to current-day point-and-click standards.

In order to bring this decades-in-the-making adventure to fruition by the end of 2015, Guiscard is seeking €20,000 by August 21st through Kickstarter, with a €10 minimum pledge needed to secure a downloadable copy of the game upon completion. To learn more about Charlotte's Dream and support the campaign, visit the Kickstarter campaign and official website for additional details.



21

Jun

Ever feel like you're going nowhere fast? Well, that may just be a possibility for iOS and Ouya gamers, as indie Spanish developer DarkPath Studio is currently working on a first-person mystery adventure, Nowhere: Lost Memories.

While few details about Nowhere's story have been revealed so far, that's because it's up to players to discover it. You don't know who you are, where you are, or why you're here, yet you "feel... sad... like if something terrible had happened..." As the unknown protagonist, you will wake up "alone, lost and trapped in a mysterious place in the middle of nowhere and the only way to escape seems to be moving forward, but... do you really want to know why are you here?"


Nowhere does indeed seem to be aptly named, as an ominous haze shrouds the eerily deserted town in which you find yourself – but is it really deserted? The game's teaser hints of "something dark" behind this place, suggesting that "you are not the only one who has been here before." A more extensive gameplay trailer introduces the game's real-time 3D environments and physics, touch-based iOS controls, and a sampling of the exploration and puzzles involved in discovering the truth about your situation.

There is no definitive launch date yet for Nowhere: Lost Memories, but the game is on track to be completed sometime later this year.



16

Jun

It's been more than a decade since we last heard about Alida, but the first-person puzzler from indie developer Cos Russo is warming up again with an iOS port this summer and a brand new sequel planned for further down the line.

Alida is named after the fictional musical band who created a theme park island in the shape of a giant guitar, the inner machanical workings of which could even be manipulated to play. When the band's success waned as the island neared completion, the four men became distrustful of each other and divided the property, each creating elaborate puzzle systems to protect their own share of the island. Finally, they abandoned the island altogether. Fifteen years later, however, one of the men is reported missing on the island, and it's up to you to travel to Alida, solve its many puzzles, and discover what happened.


The Alida port is currently complete and in the final stages of testing. According to Russo, if all goes as planned, we could see the game launched on the App Store by the beginning of September.

Perhaps the better news is that Russo is already planning ahead for a full-blown sequel. While no dates or details are available yet, and the game will eventually require crowdfunding to succeed, the developer is teasing fans with the following:

    "Juno was besotted with the Bi-Sphere. Ever since the discovery that’s all he could think and talk about. The circular arrangement of the internal Bi-Sphere devices captivated him as they were flouting gravity, seemingly buried in three dimensional space.
    Juno used these devices throughout the Alida island, including the T-Flyers, and began experiments to try and determine the internal mechanics, spending day after day in the Water House. He certainly got a reaction, whether chemical, atomic or beyond what we know, and to this day the Water House experiment persists.
    I wish he had not. The experiment’s bounds are growing steadily and have extended beyond the walls of the Water House and getting more powerful, with the structure of the Alida guitar next in the firing line. We need to stop the entropy, but not knowing what it actually is, it will be difficult. Do we stop it with an equal force of energy? How will we amass the energy we need and how do we focus it on the entropy? Will the Bi-Sphere itself provide the answers?
    I’ve alerted Juno of the situation.” -Arin

To learn more about the iOS port and upcoming Alida 2, be sure to check out the series' official website.



15

Jun

In two full seasons so far, Telltale's The Walking Dead has focused on its own original characters, but the next installment of the series will be the three-part Michonne, centering around the titular character from Robert Kirkman's comic books.

While few plot details have been released, Michonne follows the iconic heroine who's "haunted by her past and coping with unimaginable loss and regret." Events in the game promise to reveal the previously-untold story that occurred between issues #126 and #139, in which players will discover "what took Michonne away from Rick, Ezekiel, and the rest of her trusted group... and what brought her back."

For those unfamiliar with Kirkman's comics, the author himself describes Michonne as "a reflection of the world of The Walking Dead. She is brutal and cold on the outside, but deep beneath what is broken, she remains hopeful, trying to claw her way out of the darkness that surrounds her." As with Telltale's earlier Walking Dead titles, the new game will not only let players accompany Michonne, but to "shape her journey" through first-hand decision-making.

It should be noted that Michonne is not a standalone release, as it will be necessary to have at least the first episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two installed to play. The game will be launched on all the same platforms, including PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, iOS, and Android. There is no firm release date set, but we can look for the mini-series to debut sometime "this fall".



14

Jun

A little cynicism is healthy for any adventure game fan, but indie French developer COWCAT is aiming to deliver a heaping dollop of it early next year with Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure.

Demetrios stars an antique seller named Bjorn Thonen, who arrives home drunk one night to find that he's been robbed. Deciding to investigate himself, with the aid of his next door neighbour Sandra, Bjorn soon ends up in a "murky affair" that takes them to locations such as France, Germany, and a mysterious African country. The more they travel, the higher the stakes are raised as these two unlikely heroes discover long-concealed ancient secrets.

As serious as the subject matter might sound, the developers promise a light touch with a "distinct use of cynical humor to justify the characters' motivations." Inspired by such beloved series as Broken Sword and Runaway but presented in first-person perspective, Demetrios features hand-painted HD graphics. The environments promise to be highly interactive and contextual, with other characters offering different responses to even the "stupid" actions you take. Puzzles and minigames will be integrated into the story, and hidden collectibles will enable in-game help should you need it. The game will be point-and-click by default, but COWCAT is also considering a gamepad option as well.

There's no need to accept all this second-hand, at least for PC gamers, as a playable demo of the game is already available from the official website. (Note: email submission is required, but the demo comes with no strings attached.) Offering over an hour of gameplay, this demo offers a substantial slice of Demetrios, but the full game should provide significantly more than that at 5-10 hours in total, depending on how thoroughly you explore and experiment. And unlike many early projections, this one is based in some fact, as the current version of the game is an updated remake of a version originally developed 15 years ago but never released.

There is no firm release date for Demetrios just yet, but the current plan is to launch the game for PC, Mac, and Linux sometime in early 2016. Just take that target with an appropriate amount of cynicism.



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