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April 2017



While many Lovecraft-inspired tales take us to gloomy northeastern US locales, Naughty Shinobi's upcoming Shadow Over Isolation will take us to sunny Georgia – though no less without its dark hidden secrets behind the bright facade.

The year is 1984, and players assume the role of Ryan Kappel, a man asked by his aunt to farmsit the family homestead in Kapra County. It's been 17 years since Ryan last visited the Road End Estate, but upon his return, it doesn't take long to "sense unease in the air." His "nostalgic trip down memory lane ends abruptly as he discovers a mysterious chamber that laid dormant in the now abandoned stable in addition to a defunct corporation that had hands in every wrong doing around town and a sinister history that drove the ancient natives to the brink of insanity."

The game's trailers and screenshots show off some of the detailed first-person environments available to explore throughout Kapra County. This is not merely empty scenery either, as the game promises to be "lush with interactive elements both functional and optional." Aiding in your investigation is the "Gray Matter" mode, which lets you "visually analyze observations and connect the dots to produce suitable outcomes." There are even alternate paths to take, allowing you to approach problems in a non-linear way.

While Shadow Over Isolation has been influenced by Lovecraft’s "sanity shattering mythos and storytelling style," the acclaimed writer isn't the game's only inspiration, which helps explain why it doesn't share the same pervading gloomy atmosphere of so many Lovecraftian offerings. Other influences include Stanley Kubrick and the "traditional adventure gameplay designs of the '90s." The main storyline should provide more than four hours of gameplay, along with side stories that "build upon the world’s mythos, urban legends, and characters arcs, including the Fairy Tree Murders case file, Disappearance of Senator Rosenberg, the Blackout of 1979 and much more."

While no firm release date has been set just yet, Shadow Over Isolation isn't far off now, with a target completion on Windows and Mac scheduled for sometime this spring.



Blend a little Sherlock Holmes (Consulting Detective-style), Phoenix Wright, and Dashiell Hammett together, capped off by a Saul Bass poster art influence, and you've got The Wandering Ben's upcoming A Case of Distrust.

In this story-driven adventure, players control a female private detective named PC Malone who must "uncover the truth in a mystery full of deception" in 1924 San Francisco. As you "explore underground speakeasies, smoke-filled billiard halls, classic barber shops, and more," you must pay close attention to clues and character statements so that you can catch suspects in lies. Along the way, "intrinsic challenges face our heroine, as she struggles against a pushback on emancipation, leading to many doubts, both internal and external."

A Case of Distrust is a much smaller, more personal project for AAA industry veterans Ben Wander (BioWare and Visceral) and Mark "Marowi" Wilson (Team Bondi, BioWare, and Riot), who joined forces to create "dramatic stories in settings less-explored by large game studios, focussing on individuals rather than world-saving." Combining an "emotional narrative, a hardboiled mystery adventure, and a historical setting," the game was originally inspired by the Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective board game before being given an interactive treatment falling somewhere between Phoenix Wright and inkle's 80 Days. Although accompanied by some "finger-snapping music that gives style to the roaring '20s," the game doesn't shy away from serious social concerns such as "themes of poverty, racism, and emancipation that tie into contemporary issues."

There is currently no firm launch date for A Case of Distrust, but the game is on pace for release on Windows and Mac sometime before the end of the year. To learn more about it in the meantime, you can check out the official website and support it on Steam Greenlight.



You'd be forgiven for thinking Cloak and Dagger Games' upcoming Football Game is actually a sports title, but really it's a retro-styled point-and-click adventure due to arrive later this year.

The game is set in 1987, and players take control of Tommy, the star high school quarterback (this is American football, not soccer). Life couldn't be better for the young man, for whom the town of East Bend is your "playground." Or at least, it was until now. There's a big game tonight for the Purchase County Turbines, and "your sweetheart is waiting in the bleachers." But on this night, "something is amiss", and players will "join Tommy for a night that you won't forget."

While that's it for story details so far, we're promised a "twisted experimental narrative" with an odd cast of characters to interact with, including "friends, foes, teachers, and an unbalanced mother." It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the developers cite David Lynch as one of their inspirations, along with 1980s American culture. For all its surreal story elements, however, Football Game features a traditional point-and-click adventure game aesthetic, complete with "puzzles and dialog interactions familiar to the genre."

Intended to be a short experience of with up to an hour of gameplay, Football Game will be budget-priced accordingly and released on Steam later this year if its Greenlight campaign is successful.



Ever since Portal blew the door (so to speak) off the physics puzzler sub-genre, there have been no shortage of games seeking to emulate its successful formula. The latest such contender is Time, Space and Matter, a gravity-based sci-fi title coming this summer.

Time, Space and Matter is set in a facility in which a group of engineers were tasked with creating a new technology called the "gravitational-unity modifier". Instead, these "playful" engineers created an obstacle course made up of various gravity zones, and they raced each other to see who could complete it the fastest. Your name is Pete Spencer, and by the time you arrive, the tech remains in place but the facility has been abandoned, so you decide to utilize it for your own purposes while attempting to uncover the "mysterious story behind the technology."

While there is a thin story tying events together, the real focus of Time, Space and Matter is its physics-based puzzle-solving. The three types of gravity zones (directional, levitation, and hyper jump) have a direct impact on the environment, so you must "restrict, move, or turn on/off the gravity zones" to proceed, strategically combining different zone types and manipulating objects along the way. The game promises a blend of both "slow-paced and fast-paced action" in this 3D space, so a degree of hand-eye coordination will be necessary to succeed.

While waiting for Time, Space and Matter to release sometime this summer on Windows and Mac, you can check out indie developer Václav Hudec's previous game, a more conventional (and completely free!) mystery adventure called Blameless.



Janitors in spaceships have proven to be a winning combination in the adventure genre before, and indie developer Slow Bros. are hoping it will be again in their upcoming title, Harold Halibut.

The titular character is a janitor working aboard a massive spaceship when it crash lands on an "unknown planet made up of water." Submerged deep in the ocean and unable to escape, one of the scientists conceives a plan to relaunch the vessel, and this is where Harold Halibut comes in. Players will "join Harold in his clumsy undertakings to stir up the ark-like ship’s stale day-to-day life and find the secrets that lie behind its doors."

While so many games these days focus on the latest 3D bells and whistles, Slow Bros. have gone the hand-crafted route, with "dollhouse sized sets and puppets" made up of "welded metal, carefully sewn textiles against tiny wooden floorboards, and clay faces the size of walnuts." As seen in the game's first trailer, the end result "works like a game but it looks like a stop motion film."

There is currently no target release date for this game, but you can follow the progress of Harold Halibut in the coming months through the game's official website.



Magical books have long been transporting adventure gamers directly into fantastical worlds, and they're poised to do so once again in indie Swedish developer Nellie Johansson's upcoming Bookworms.

Bookworms stars an unlikely hero, a poor librarian named Laura who tends to her comatose grandmother in the outskirts of London with her cat Scruffy above their book restoration shop. The world around them is in trouble as well, society "slowly falling apart, with people disappearing, no new ideas and memories fading away, for reasons nobody knows." Fortunately, Laura is "optimistic and has a lively imagination," with "hundreds of dusty books" to fuel it with. Then one day, fantasy becomes reality when a book left by a mysterious old man teleports her to his library, where she learns that "there are far more worlds than ours, suffering from similar problems, each represented by a book." Something is "destroying the worlds from within," and it'll be up to Laura and Scruffy to "travel through the worlds searching for the cause of their decay."

The early screenshots for Bookworms show off the stylish hand-painted artwork that we can expect in the various book worlds we visit, though with different settings to explore in each. Along with the company and assistance of Scruffy the cat, there will be plenty of other characters to meet along the way, running the gamut from cute and cuddly to rough and tough (or as Johnansson teases it: "Want cute animals? There are bunnies! Want some muscles? There are bikers too!)

The only downside to discovering the game in such an early stage of production is that we'll have to wait so long for the finished product. With the developer working on the game herself, we're at least a few years' off from final launch. The good news is that she's working on a demo to whet our appetites while we wait, which should be released sometime this summer.



It's bad enough starting a new adventure game in a hospital with no memory. It's even worse when you're the lone survivor of a brutal attack on the institution, making you the prime suspect of a tragedy you can't remember. Delving your lost memories and uncovering the truth is at the heart of The Butterfly Sign, trilogy which recently released its second installment.

In this first-person psychological mystery set on the border of Romania and the Ukraine, players control Jack, a patient at Memority hospital under the care of a pharmacologist named Dr. Romanov. Found unconscious near the clinic but with no recollection of the attack that only he emerged from alive, Jack is willing to take drastic measures to regain his memories and prove his innocence through the use of an experimental drug that "immerses him in the depths of his mind and precisely restores all the events" that have occurred. Within these playable flashback memories, you must collect clues and piece together the evidence to determine who is responsible. But beware, as evidence can be interpreted multiple ways, and the drug can have unexpected side effects.

Created by indie developer Quantum Phoenix, The Butterfly Sign is a 3D "detective story" with realistic graphics rendered with the Unreal Engine 4. Although present-day Jack is confined to his bed the entire time, within his memories your are free to explore the hospital and its grounds, scouring multiple murder scenes in search of evidence that will help you "gradually reconstruct the events." Along the way there will be a variety of puzzles to solve (some of them timed), the degree of challenge depending on which of the four difficulty levels you choose. You will also have to make dialogue decisions and draw conclusions from your investigations, which will impact the outcome of the game.

While the debut installment is a fairly straightforward trip down (a very disturbing) memory lane, the second chapter, subtitled Human Error, introduces the effects of an unavoidable medication overdose. In this episode, you will traverse the same areas, but this time experience multiple levels of memory simultaneously. Some of these memories will cause errors that result in "looped space" from which you'll need to escape in order to proceed.

The first two chapters of The Butterfly Sign are available now on Steam (and currently on sale), with the final episode expected to be released in May. To learn more about the game, check out the ten-minute gameplay trailer with developer commentary, or drop by the official website for additional information.

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