New Gaming Preview Trailer: Lost Words

Publisher Modus Games and developer Sketchbook Games, recently unveiled at the New York Game Awards, Lost Words: Beyond the Page, “an inventive and touching tale of a young girl’s personal growth.” Also, a puzzle platformer, mixed with fluid, dreamy animation.

This new trailer above is narrated by the game’s female protagonist, Izzy, provides a glimpse of the fantasy world of Estoria and the moving emotional journey of a young writer using creativity and her journal to deal with life’s adventures. Izzy’s recollections and imagination inspire breathtaking scenes of a vibrant, evocative world, unfolding new moments within an emotional story brimming with joyous, childlike zeal and mounting poignancy as that innocence adapts to life’s realities.

Lost Words: Beyond the Page featured a narrative script from writer Rhianna Pratchett (daughter of fantasy writer Terry Pratchett). Her writing credits span through two decades, and includes such notable story-driven hits hits as Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Overlord series, Mirror’s Edge, and more.

Lost Words is set for a Spring 2020 launch on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. To read more about Lost Words: Beyond the Page, visit the official site, www.lostwordsgame.com.

E3 2019 Gaming Preview: Valfaris

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New publisher Big Sugar (formerly Digital Uppercut) brought a little extra heavy metal to the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo Show, with a new look at its stylish upcoming side-scroller, Valfaris.

The game looks freakin awesome. Here’s the latest trailer for it…

 

Set in a far corner of space, Valfaris is a heavy metal infused 2D action-platformer. Developed by Steel Mantis, a two-man dev team that previously worked together on Gothic gore fest and love-it-or-hate-it indie hit Slain: Back From Hell, Valfaris transports players to the eponymous space citadel where they must run-and-gun with extreme force to purge the evil that has corrupted it.

Valfaris is my take on some of the games I loved playing when growing up, such as Gryzor/Contra and Turrican,” explains Andrew Gilmour, the creative driving force behind Valfaris. “Relentless action, cool environments, insane bosses, crazy weapons… those aspects have a timeless quality – they kept me hooked then and are still every bit as appealing to me today. I want to capture that special formula of classic old-school fun with Valfaris.”

Story synopsis- After mysteriously vanishing from galactic charts, the fortress of Valfaris has suddenly reappeared in the orbit of a dying sun. Once a self-contained paradise, the grandiose citadel now plays host to an ever-growing darkness. Therion, a fearless and proud son of Valfaris, returns to his home to uncover the truth of its doomed fate and to challenge the arcane evil at its very heart.

Valfaris’s pixel art is hand-crafted by Andrew Gilmour with a soundtrack by extreme metaller and former Celtic Frost guitarist, Curt Victor Bryant.

Valfaris launches later this year on PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. For those who can’t wait, sign-up for an upcoming closed beta is available via the Valfaris offical site at valfarisgame.com, or download a demo from the Valfaris Steam page.

GRIS, an upcoming beautiful and surreal game revealed

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Nomada Studio and Devolver Digital have announced GRIS, a serene and evocative narrative experience, for Nintendo Switch and PC later this year.

Free of danger, frustration or death, players will explore a meticulous designed world brought to life with delicate art, detailed animation, and an elegant original score. Through the game light puzzles, platforming sequences, and optional skill-based challenges will reveal themselves as more of Gris’s world becomes accessible.

Trailer:

GRIS is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities.

Based in Barcelona, Nomada Studio is composed of experienced developers and artists outside of video games with disciplines in illustration, painting, and graphic design. Featuring art from noted artist Conrad Roset and the music of Berlinist, GRIS is their debut title as a team.

GRIS will be playable at Gamescom and PAX West, later this month. Follow @nomadastudiobcn and visit nomada.studio for more  information on the game.

HAROLD HALIBUT, a handmade adventure indie game planned for 2019

 

Cologne, Germany-based developer Slow Bros. is building a new world, piece by piece using hand-crafted real toy models, puppets, and other real world supplies; all incorporated into their new adventure game, Harold Halibut.

Harold Halibut is a narrative exploration game that combines underwater atmosphere and self-reflective humor with a unique art style.

Comprised entirely of real world supplies and made in Unity, Harold Halibut aims to bridge analogue and digital art. Slow Bros. sculpts, paints, and glues together the models and puppets that make up the world of Harold Halibut, while a team of digital artists renders these objects into the virtual space.

Harold Halibut tells the tale of a clumsy lab-assistant and janitor who was born on a submerged spaceship that crash-landed on an alien planet made entirely of water. Never knowing what life was like on Earth, Harold spends much of his time daydreaming about what’s beyond the subterranean vessel in which he is bound. After spotting an unidentified swimming object, Harold becomes obsessed with uncovering the mystery behind this aquatic planet.

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“Harold Halibut started out as a dinner table conversation about the adventure games we played as children,” said Slow Bros. designer, writer, and composer Onat Hekimoglu. “We soon started building dollhouse sized sets and puppets in our bedrooms. The result works like a game but it looks like a stop motion film. Welded metal, carefully sewn textiles against tiny wooden floorboards, and clay faces the size of walnuts pull the player into Harold’s world.”

“We are beyond excited to be partnering with Slow Bros. on Harold Halibut,” said Simon Byron, Publishing Director at Curve Digital. “The sheer amount of work and intricate detail that Harold Halibut brings blew us away, and we can’t wait to show you all more.”

Slow Bros developers with Curve Digital will target Harold Halibut a 2019 release for PC and consoles. For more info, visit www.haroldhalibut.com.

Battle Princess Madelyn Kickstarter ends successfully, with 354% funded

Independent gaming Canadian company Causal Bit Games just announced their Kickstarter funding target for its new game, Battle Princess Madelyn, has successfully closed at 354% of its prime goal.

For those yet familiar, here is the trailer:

Battle Princess Madelyn attracted 3,402 backers who pledged CA$212,665 (about $159.00 US), surpassing it’s original CA$60,000 goal.  Nearly all of its stretch goals were filled as a result, adding much extra content to the game. Further funding will continue through the company Paypal store, seeking to fill in the remaining stretch goals.

“The campaign for Battle Princess Madelyn was an incredible and humbling experience. We honestly didn’t anticipate such a strong response for our game and it’s absolutely overwhelming hearing how people can relate to Maddi’s story. With this level of funding we will deliver our vision and make the game the very best it can be,” said Christopher Obritsch, Creative Director at Causal Bit Games. “For those of you who wanted to support our game, but were unable to pledge on the Kickstarter, we’re happy to say that we now have a PayPal Store open that mirrors the campaign’s tiers!”

Battle Princess Madelyn seeks to release on Nintendo Switch, Wii U, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For more info on its Kickstarter campaign, further funding, and release info, check out www.battleprincessmadelyn.com.

In the meantime, here are some extra screencaps of the upcoming game (thanks to Casual Bit Games).

 

Over The Moon brings back sci-fi cerebral adventure in The FALL, PART 2: UNBOUND

“Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Humanity? Can it be Bound? What Binds You?”

Such are the questions from the Over The Moon game developers in their new title, The Fall Part 2: Unbound, a sequel to its 2014 action platformer adventure game. The Fall Part 2: Unbound is planned for release in 2017 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac and Linux, and Nintendo Switch.

The latest trailer from the Canada-based game developers:

 

In The Fall Part 2: Unbound, players take on the role of A.R.I.D, an abandoned and broken AI who struggles to survive a collapse in her operating parameters. ARID must re-establish her boundaries by attempting to build her own rules before a dark, mysterious, and invasive process snuffs her out for good.

More info, from a recent release…

“Over The Moon draws inspiration from contemporary issues,” says John Warner, The Fall’s director: “There’s a growing debate about the looming threat of artificial intelligence. Can we build an AI that serves us? One that we can control? Or at the very least, one that is psychologically healthy and isn’t a threat to us? For that matter, what is ‘health’? Can it be defined for the sake of building an AI, and do humans even have a good definition for that? How do you know that you’re healthy?”

“The key, of course, is to keep the game exciting and fun, allowing gameplay to carry much of the story-telling. ARID will invade other robots in a desperate attempt to get their help, and will be forced to work within their personal quirks and operating parameters, creating an opportunity for a truly unique set of challenges. Furthermore, as ARID begins understanding her hosts on a deeper level, she will be able to take perceptual mechanics from one robot into another. Players will solve puzzles by perceiving the environment from different perspectives and comparing the information they find in creative ways… served up with a helping of The Fall’s signature dark humour.”

“Having a robust way of perceiving the world is a pretty good starting point to talk about psychological health” says Warner, “And by making gameplay around these mechanics, we can explore a lot of fun ideas without being overly cerebral or choking the game with philosophical dialogue.”

“But that’s just the start, according to the team at Over The Moon. The Fall Part 2: Unbound aims to put players in perspectives that they’ve never experienced in a video game before. With a host of unusual characters, it explores themes of artificial intelligence, the value of personal boundaries and respecting others. Its gameplay and its story are specifically designed to make players reflect on these ideas, through the lens of a familiar Metroidvania meets Point and Click Adventure framework. The Fall Part 2: Unbound is made for players who have been waiting for the conceptual underpinning of games to catch up with their technological artistry.”

For more on The Fall Part 2: Unbound, visit www.overthemoongames.com.

New ‘Battle Princess Madelyn’ is now live on Kickstarter

Causal Bit Games has just launched a Kickstarter for its new action platformer game, Battle Princess Madelyn, with a goal of $45,089.

Battle Princess Madelyn, takes inspiration from the classic arcade and 16-bit pixel games of the late 80s early 90s, most notably Ghouls N’ Ghosts and Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap. Different, are the characters, settings with an original story and visuals bred from hand-drawn art. The game uses the Unity Engine, bringing out vibrant lighting effects and fluid animations. Also fresh is its soundtrack by John McCarthy (Nintendo Quest), and gaming synth musician Gryzor87.

The story itself follows “the journey of a young knight in training, Madelyn, and her ghostly pet dog, Fritzy.” Following through are ten levels, with up to five stages each (and hidden areas). Many special weapons can be found throughout, with other secrets for the player to discover.  More details in this following Kickstarter video…

Battle Princess Madelyn seeks to release on Nintendo Switch, Wii U, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A playable Pre-Alpha demo is now available to play on its Kickstarter page,  at www.battleprincessmadelyn.com.

Game Playing Review: Planet of the Eyes

Planet of the Eyes (Steam version, version 1.1)

    • Genre: Platformer, Puzzler
    • Release Date: Aug 24 2015, Price: $9.99
    • Development: Cococumber
    • Platform: PC (via Steam), Xbox One
    • Official Site: planetoftheeyes.com

Synopsis:

“You’ve crash-landed on the Planet of the Eyes in an escape pod. Discover what lies beneath through puzzle solving, exploration, and audiologs from another survivor. Turn down the lights, put on your headphones and grab your controller to experience the atmospheric journey of a lone robot in a dangerous world.”

Personal Thoughts:

(based on the current Steam version, after 1.1 patch, played 95 minutes of gameplay)

Planet of the Eyes feels like other things, more than its purpose as a game. That is a good thing.

This being part of a wonderful trend in modern gaming now, of these cheaply priced puzzle platformers. Great other examples include Braid, Limbo, Night Sky, Outland, Never Alone. Such games are where simple functions in a character do more than platform its way to a happy end. By doing more, there is less. No power ups, no crazy combos, no such increase in abilities, no points or pointless objectives. All you have in your protagonist, is your wits and mobility. There are sudden ways to die (often horrible and with hilarity) but the puzzles involved in figuring out the environment is where the real challenge is at.

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With Planet of the Eyes, the puzzles feel a bit easy for my gaming hands, as I have played through many puzzle platformers since Abe’s Odyssey on the PlayStation 1. Nearly every obstacle faced in Planet of the Eyes, I have seen before in other forms and knew how to handle. I beat this game with little death, almost continuous in about 90 minutes time. Yet, I regret nothing of my spent time as I have much love for this game.

I say this because, sometimes games ask too much of me outside of the visual experience. I am often weary of drawn out tutorials, unnecessary lengthy text, constant need to upgrade and customize. I sometimes crave simple, more so in my cheaper games of recent times. In Planet of the Eyes, I need only survive and move on to unravel some mystery. I am a lone walking robot of simple design, following the path of a mysterious (human?) survivor leaving clues to his possible fate. Combined with the linear gameplay, the story feels like a short science fiction novelette. Except here, the protagonist can die horribly on any page, and that would be the end.

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Along the way, you will see gorgeous and surreal visuals. The vibrant colors, digital gradients give life to the surrounding, where I feel somewhat privileged to explore and possibly die. Nearly every panel feels suitable for framing. And within and throughout, there are fantastic creatures of many shapes and sizes exhibiting deadly behavior when disturbed. Also, are remnants of a lost civilization, and surreal architecture. Much of the game is continuous walking between challenges, which are wonderful sequences as one could gaze and admire the situation.

The music is beautiful, with some original ambient electronic tunes. The soundtrack mixes well with stylish sound effects and the voice acting of the journal logs picked up. I highly recommend some good headphones for Planet of the Eyes, to fully immerse yourself in the gameplay and its awesome soundtrack.

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Overall, this is a fantastic game for being more of a great work of interactive art and story. It’s still a game worth playing, but lacking in challenge for hardcore platform gamers. Yet, it is fitting for casual players and a new generation of gamers. Also, it is low cost and complete with no in-game purchases. With all that, there is enough reason to enjoy Planet of the Eyes.

– Orion T