Not too very long ago, a well-loved indie game company called Double Fine decided to use Kickstarter as a funding platform for their next game. You know the one. The one that made over six times its original goal, grossing a grand total of $3.3 million dollars. Yeah, that one.
Kickstarter changed everything. Crowdfunding for games had never been attempted on this large a scale before, and once Double Fine did it, the floodgates opened. thousands of fantastic projects have been funded on Kickstarter, including many promising indie games. Indeed, Kickstarter seems to have led something of a revolution in terms of the way smaller companies fund their projects, and the storm shows no signs of slowing.
With so many things to fund on the internet, it can be hard to decide where to put your money. To that end, today we’re going to be taking a look at a few games truly deserving of every kick you can start their way, as well as a few already funded projects worth keeping an eye on. Without further ado, let’s hop in.
Armikrog has already made a bit of a splash in its time on Kickstarter. Doug Tenapel, creator of the Earthworm Jim and Neverhood series, is working with Mike Deets, Ed Scofield and the rest of Pencil Test Studios to create a truly unique stop-motion, clay-animated adventure game reminiscent of the visual style of The Neverhood. This trio were behind the striking visual style of both of Tenapel’s major creations, and strive to create something just as unique, charming, and fun as what they’re most well-known for.
Armikrog follows the adventures of space explorer Tommynaut and his blind alien dog friend Beak Beak. After crash-landing on a strange alien world, the two are taken prisoner in the bizzare fortress of Armikrog. The game is being developed as a point-and-click adventure game for PC and Mac, so players will be able to enjoy brilliant stop-motion visuals as they work out the puzzles and secrets of Fort Armikrog.
But pointing, clicking, and art design aren’t the only things that make Armikrog worth keeping on the radar. The game is set to include voice work by a whole host of greats, including Mike Nelson of Rifftrax and MST3K, Rob Paulson of Pinky and the Brain, Veronica Belmont, and many others. Pencil test is even bringing back Terry Taylor, composer of The Neverhood’s memorable soundtrack, to create a score for the game. With all of these people at the arsenal of three of the best creative minds in the point-and-click adventure realm, it’s hard not to get excited to see where this project goes.
There are a lot of games on the mobile platform. A LOT of games. So many, in fact, that a lot get lost in the shuffle. When your game is such an apparent labor of love as Afterland, you obviously don’t want that to happen. So what do you do? You kickstart the crap out of it.
Afterland is a free-to-play online card game. You take control of dead misfit characters living in a sort of purgatorial carnival troupe, competing and performing their way to the end goal of retrieving their lost souls. Each character has their own unique ability, all based on things that made them outcasts when alive or led to their deaths, but which are their most useful and defining qualities here in the Afterland. In each game you assemble a “family” of five characters, building different combinations to better suit each other and your own play style.
Afterland takes heavy inspiration from Frankenstien, Alice in Wonderland, and the Grimm Brothers stories in the world it creates. The backstory and visual design of each character is dark, unusual, and macabre, bringing new life to classic gothic themes and ideas. The creepy, unsettling art is brought to life beautifully. What they’re asking for is well within their reach with the kind of effort they’ve shown thus far, and I, for one, look forward to playing some creepy card games.
There’s something special about Nintendo 64 games. 3D was a new thing, and so the collect-a-thon game ran rampant throughout the system’s lifespan. A Hat In Time aims high, hoping to recapture the precedent set by games like Banjo Kazooie and Super Mario 64. The game follows Hat Kid, a girl equipped with an absurdly dapper top hat and umbrella, as she fights against the evil forces of Mustache Girl and her culinarily-skilled mafia forces.
A Hat In Time has already reached its main goal and a couple stretch goals, but one look at the kickstarter video shows just how worth it this beauty is. The game is a Banjo-esque 3D platformer with a style reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Sporting beautiful cell-shading and a ton of charm, Gears For Breakfast has already put a ton of work into this game, but the sheer size and scope of it require a lot more work to be done than smaller kickstarter projects might at this phase of development.
At this point the stretch goals they are working towards are for an entire seventh chapter to the game, as well as some music guest composed by Grant Kirkhope, the man behind the music of Banjo Kazooie. Even if they don’t reach these goals the kickstarter will have been a wild success, with every extraneous dollar going towards development, but come on, who doesn’t look at this and say they want as much of it as possible? Stretch goals include beta and even alpha access, for those itching to get in on it as early as possible, as well as a figurine of the main protagonist for those willing to pay $250 or more. While I can’t say I shot quite that much my way myself, I wouldn’t blame anyone who did. Not much else to say, except watch the video! It looks amazing! Don the hat and fight the evil forces of Mustache Girl!
Do you, by any chance, know the name Zachary Weinersmith? Are you sure? You’ve probably seen more of his stuff than you realize. Weinersmith is the creator of the well-known Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic, as well as the SMBCTheater youtube channel. You can stop reading, look up his stuff, and go “OOOHHHHH, that guy” now. I’ll wait.
Trial of the Clone 2 is, as one could probably gather from the rather self-explanatory number in its name, is the sequel to the first Trial of the Clone. But what was that, you ask? What platform was it released on? Why did I never hear of it? Well, that’s because Trial of the Clone was not, per se, a video game, but rather a “game book”. Think a choose-your-own adventure with the statistics and variety of something like Dungeons and Dragons. Something unique and more single-player focused for the isolationist tabletop gamer in need.
Trial of the Clone being a book and all, one of the most well-loved things about it were the occasional illustrations within it. One of the interesting perks of this kickstarter is the promise that as more and more money gets made, more and more full illustrations will be slated for addition into the book. Special bookmarks are also being offered that can be used as stat sheets for the game. The book will also be available in ebook format, if you want to feel like you’re playing a game in the future without REALLY feeling like you’re playing a game in the future.
Weinersmith has a beautiful and unique imagination and wit. Just ask his huge fanbase. If you enjoy tabletop gaming but don’t always want to put in the effort of organizing a game night with 5 of your obnoxious friends because you know that one guy who smells like old tacos is going to show up uninvited, this may be just the thing for you.
So, remember when I mentioned Double Fine? Well, the story of their first kickstarter ends with Broken Age, a game for which we’ve seen some pretty cool stuff thus far. But Double Fine is a studio of many ideas, and therefore of many projects being tackled at once. The newest of these projects is Massive Chalice.
Created by Brad Muir, the man behind Iron Brigade, Psychonauts, and Brutal Legend, Massive Chalice takes inspiration from games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Xcom. The game is a turn-based strategy RPG spanning multiple in-game generations, the idea being that your kingdom is continuously at war for a span of hundreds of years. Your soldiers grow old and die, and can also succumb to the grip of permadeath, but can have children before they go to pass on their abilities. In addition, characters who die in the field leave behind items holding bonuses and powers they had when alive, which can be passed to new characters. Even in defeat, your army will grow stronger. The game also takes inspiration from rougelikes, and each new playthrough will start you off with a random selection of warriors of various bloodlines. All in all, think Fire Emblem on the scope of Civilization.
One may think that with all the money the studio made from Broken Age, why do they need to launch another kickstarter? But don’t forget that the Broken Age team is only a third of Double Fine’s size. If that game was worthy of a great sum of money pushed forth by nerds everywhere, why not this one? Massive Chalice is still in its conceptual stage, and so despite having now made its initial goal, every penny it gets will amass more and more effort into making this game happen, like soldiers in an army. Sharpen your blades.
Let’s sail across the pond for a moment. The original game, Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy, was a hand-drawn point-and click adventure originally conceptualized as a birthday gift for the developer’s girlfriend, and thus it featured her alter ego, a witty redhead pirate named, as one with any scope of mental faculties may have surmised, Nelly Cootalot. The game was a fine vessel and sailed well with the PC gaming community, even winning a few awards. Now Nelly the pirate is back for a new voyage.
Things have taken a visual step up from the previous game, taking a step into a Monkey Island-esque cel-shaed 3D realm. In this new adventure, the evil Baron Widebeard sets off in search of treasure, armed with a fleet of hypnotized birds and a beard that looks like a giant sea anenome. I honestly can’t decide which is sillier. Nelly Cootalot must amass a crew to help her break the birds free of enslavement and stop Baron Widebeard from stealing the treasure of Nelly’s ghostly mentor.
Point-and-click adventure games are a special thing, you know? Regardless of actual gameplay, the environments, art, and writing in these kinds of games are almost invariably some of the most unique you can find in gaming. You can look to something recent such as the heart-throbbing Walking Dead game, or towards something older and more established like Monkey Island, or into the realm of the more obscure with the Samarost games and Machinarium. Adventure games are idea machines in motion, in ways a little bit unlike almost any other game, and for that alone, Nelly Cootalot’s newest voyage is more than deserving to stay afloat.
Now Jay, you may ask, “What about kickstarters that have already been finished? Surely there must be some games on your radar that are already fully funded?”
A fine point, my loyal subject! Let’s take a look at some projects that have already completed their kickstarters and are worth keeping an eye on as they launch from here. I can certainly think of a few.
Take 1 steampunk world with an economy and infrastructure based on naturally-produced magical elements. Add 1 cup Zelda, 2 tablespoons Megaman, and a dash of Secret of Mana. Stir until creamy, then bake at 400 degrees, and you have a recipe for Cryamore, the premiere project by NostalgiCo. And it cooks one beautiful dish, let me tell you.
Cryamore is an action RPG taking influence from the best of the NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64. It promises to bring fresh ideas to some of the classic styles of gameplay people know and love from the retro era, and paints it all with beautiful artwork and an inspired soundtrack. Something even more extraordinary about the game is that it reached every single one of its lofty stretch goals, meaning it will be seeing support on Xbox 360, PS3, and most importantly, Wii U. With Nintendo’s lingering focus on giving retro gamers their favorite old games, it’s not hard to envision them hoping to strike up a partnership with the studio in the future. And if Cryamore is even a portion of what it’s promised to be, it certainly sounds like a possibility.
Okay, stop. I see you there, reaching to leave the page, thinking “yeah whatever, no good if you’re not already a fan of that dumb Homestuck thing.” But listen for a minute. Let me tell you why you should be interested in this. Let me tell you about Homestuck.
For the uninitiated, Homestuck is a webcomic/virtual novel series on mspaintadventures.com, sporting frequent animated segments and occasional interactive point-and-click adventure game portions. The story is of four kids who play a game together, with literally earth-shaking consequences. When the first of them starts the game, it triggers the beginning of a process in which the universe is ended, and the four kids have no choice but to follow the guidelines it sets up to enter a sort of playing field, in which they are meant to create a new universe. But things get complicated, and events are triggered that doom not just the kids’ session, but retroactively that of the ones who created their own universe. (those are the trolls, the horned guys you see all over Tumblr) The story starts off small and simple, but has since reached a point of absurd size. The number of connections between characters and events in this multiverse-spanning story is mind-boggling, and kind of brilliant. At it’s core, Homestuck is extremely smart, extremely witty science fiction. It’s also enormous, currently registered as the eighth-longest piece of fiction written in the English language.
The Homestuck Adventure Game is planned as a new adventure within the existing universe – or omniverse, as is more fitting – of Homestuck. Andrew Hussie, the creator of Homestuck as well as the previous comics on mspaintadventures.com, took a great deal of inspiration from video games such as Spore and The Sims in the creation of Homestuck’s world, and has even emulated that inspiration by making many interactive segments in the series, including one reminiscent of the classic game Myst and several adventure game segments. In theory, this game would probably be a sort of point-and-click/action adventure game hybrid, which is sort of the combination the series was built on in the first place. Hussie has actually put the final acts of the comic on hold in order to work on finding a developer and starting work on the project. But whatever the game turns out to be, as long as Hussie’s brain is behind it, we’re guaranteed an ingenious cast and story. Nerds rejoice.
Watch the video. Just. Just. Just watch the video, okay? I’ll wait. It’s cool.
Okay did you watch that? DID YOU WATCH THAT? DID YOU SEE-
Okay, okay, I’ll calm down and explain. Radio the Universe combines two things I hold very close to my heart. Top-down Zelda gameplay and dark, gritty science fiction. The game’s creator even admits it on the page.
“I blended classic Zelda and dark science fiction and drank the ensuing mixture. It was Radio the Universe.”
And honestly, that just about sums it up. What we’re dealing with here is an extremely challenging top-down action adventure game, taking place in an atmospheric sci-fi world with an unusual narrative. It shows off a striking visual style, bringing life to the dead city in which it takes place. Never have I more wanted to explore a completely barren, dead land. And that’s mostly because, by all appearances, it isn’t truly dead at all. But what lives there now may be something much darker than death itself. The game’s developer, 6e6e6e, wishes to create something beautiful, evocative, and interestingly, something “off”. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like “off”. I like it a hell of a lot. When I think “off”, I think David Lynch and Satoshi Kon. I think of games like Bioshock. I think of the unusual, the deviant, and the maniacally perfect. I think of everything we can see in Radio The Universe.
And the end came thus.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.heypoorplayer.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/011.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Here we observe the wild Jay, in its natural habitat of upstate New York. The Jay takes part in scholarly pursuits as a homeschooled student, and enjoys writing game reviews as a hobby, as well as writing fictional tales and stories for PokemonPodcast.com. Why does the Jay do this? It could be for a primal sense of self-fulfillment, or a desperate attempt to attract a mate. The wild Jay enjoys video games of all kinds, as well as film, anime, and children’s card games. The Jays musical tastes vary wildly. When content, it listens to mid-2000s pop rock. When searching for a mate, it plays an array of alternative blues-rock. When distressed, it blares large quantities of the most audibly offensive dubstep it can find. The wild Jay’s favorite games include nutritious titles with which it feeds its young. These titles include Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Bioshock, The World Ends With You, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and any given Pokemon game.[/author_info] [/author]