While many news outlets are reporting on the decline of support for video game Kickstarter campaigns when compared to 2016 and earlier, most of these articles fail to call attention to all of the wonderful successes that were seen over the course of this past year in spite of those statistics. While the overall numbers may have been down this past year, we still saw the launch of some brilliant and incredibly successful projects. Among the most successful projects that were funded this year were Sunless Skies ($510K), Re:Legend ($467K), Banner Saga 3 ($416K), Space Odyssey ($358K) and Blasphemous ($333K). Those stats alone are enough cause for celebration, but there were many other victories in the video games category that also deserve some attention.
Over the course of this past year, I introduced readers of Geeks WorldWide to fifty aspiring indie game campaigns on Kickstarter. More than half of those projects, twenty-seven to be exact, were successfully funded with many of the remaining twenty-three games continuing development in spite of falling short of their goals. So, allow me to take you on a trip down memory lane as we summarize the biggest wins and saddest losses of last year along with some of the completed projects that will be arriving in 2018!
The Five Most Funded Projects
Space Odyssey: The Video Game – $357,866
When I select the campaigns that are featured in my monthly video game Kickstarter review series, I try to avoid high-profile projects when possible. An ambitious space-exploration game born from the mind of world-famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson would certainly fall into that category. Having said that, I decided to highlight this game anyway because, in spite of its pedigree, the project was not tracking very well towards being successfully funded. About 30 days into this 46-day campaign, they had only managed to amass around half of their $314K funding goal. Surprisingly, support came flooding in during the final week of the project.
My Time at Portia – $146,697
Like many people, I spent countless hours playing Stardew Valley last year. When I came across this campaign, I knew it had the makings of something great. Essentially taking all the best parts of it’s pixelated counterpart and bringing them into the third dimension, you suddenly had a game that felt like Animal Crossing meets Dark Cloud. Toss in the game’s Ghibli-inspired aesthetics and it’s no wonder that this project sits so high on this list. The playable demo alone offered hours of enjoyment, so I can only imagine how robust the final version will be when it releases later this month on Steam. Console ports for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch will be available this August.
Pine – $145,144
Open-world adventure games have become quite popular in recent years, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild topping most “Best of” lists for last year. This project is hoping to combine that same open-ended exploration with an unrivaled level of player choice. Aside from choosing where to go and what to do, your actions will also affect the evolution of the animal races you encounter. This means that you can essentially sculpt every facet of your adventure to suit your play-style and preference. Even if this game is only able to deliver half of what they are promising, you will still be left with a gaming experience that is sure to be unlike anything you have played before.
Beautiful Desolation – $138,457
While I was familiar with the isometric Sci-Fi/Horror game STASIS, I did not immediately recognize this campaign as being created by the same two-brother team, The Brotherhood. The reason for this was because I couldn’t take my eyes off of the jaw-dropping beauty of the landscapes featured on the project page. Setting this game in a post-apocalyptic version of Africa allowed for the typical retro-tech designs associated with this genre to be brilliantly juxtaposed by the vibrant and alluringly exotic vistas of the African landscape. I am looking forward to unraveling the mysteries of the plot while exploring this seldom-seen environment.
Unknown Realm – $126,343
If you’ve ever read my bio here on the site, you may know that my very first computer was the legendary Commodore 64. Some of my earliest gaming memories stem from this machine and its robust software library. While my machine and many of the games are no longer in my possession, I held onto the few cartridges and floppy discs that meant the most to me. Imagine my surprise when I see this project attempting to create a brand new, full-featured RPG for the system. While the campaign tapped into my nostalgia, it was the scope of the game’s design that kept me interested. Don’t worry if you don’t have a Commodore 64, the game will also be launching on modern computers.
The Five Most Heart-Breaking Failures
Du Lac & Fey: Dance of Death – 51% of Goal
How this game didn’t get funded is beyond me. The visuals and gameplay are on par with anything that Telltale Games has put out over the last few years. The story is intriguing and well-defined and the characters feature voice-overs by professional actors. The only thing this campaign was lacking was a playable demo, but plenty of projects have received funding without one, so I refuse to believe that is why this failed. Fortunately, the talented team over at Salix Games are pressing onward. They should still be able to finish work on the PC version, but they will need to forgo the console ports for the time being.
Sol Bound – 19% of Goal
I was sold on this project just from the campaign thumbnail alone. The character artwork for this game is so colorful and bursting with style. Combine that with the classic feel of 16-bit action/adventure games in the vein of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and you have a package that should have been funded overnight. Alas, what is even sadder is that the developers have gone completely silent since the campaign ended roughly six months ago. I can only hope they are quietly working on the game in their spare time because I would hate for this Kickstarter page to be our only glimpse at the creativity that this team is capable of.
Project Rap Rabbit – 18% of Goal
This is another campaign that should have had no problem gathering support. Considering how well known Parappa the Rapper and Elite Beat Agents are, a project lead by the two creators of those games should have been proof enough that a freestyle rap-battle game starring a samurai bunny would be a huge hit. Is it possible that the lack of in-game footage was enough to stop this project dead in its tracks? I could understand that from an unknown team, but not from industry veterans like these guys. Unfortunately, this is another concept that may never come to fruition. I sincerely hope that we haven’t heard the last of this one.
Ciel Fledge – 55% of Goal
While the raising simulation genre never really hit it big outside of Japan, there are still plenty of people who enjoy these types of games. This project infused this style of game with stunning visuals and an interesting story premise. On top of all of this, they offered a wonderful slice of the game through the alpha demo. How they were unable to reach a goal as small as theirs is so puzzling. Gladly, the team are still pressing forward having just uploaded a new demo and voicing plans to relaunch the project on Kickstarter around March of this year. You can bet I will be featuring them again at that time.
Daymare: 1998 – 22% of Goal
What started as a fan-made remake of Resident Evil 2 eventually blossomed into an original third-person Action/Horror game including veteran Capcom team members as part of the development staff. One look at the work that was shown on the campaign page clearly proved that this team was committed to creating something that fans of this genre would love. As with many of the other projects on this list, this makes it all the more bizarre how they could miss out on so much support. Fortunately, the team are moving full steam ahead and will hopefully still be able to release the game later this year. I will be sure to keep everyone informed when they do.
Five Most Anticipated Releases in 2018
There is nothing better than the glorious day that a Kickstarter campaign delivers on its promises. After months (or years) of project updates, screenshots, video clips and beta builds, finally being able to boot up the full version of a game is such an incredible feeling. Of all the games I have covered in the past, these are the five games that will be launching in 2018 that I am most excited to finally play:
This project was originally brought to Kickstarter in December of 2016. I was immediately smitten with how solid the entire presentation was. The character designs looked like something you’d see in an anime and the playable demo was not only fun to control, but also included CG cutscenes! In spite of how incredible the game looked and played, the project came up short of its funding goal. Fortunately, when the developers made their second attempt in February of 2017, it was a resounding success. Now, the wait to play the full version is almost over. Legrand Legacy will launch on Steam, Humble Store, GOG and GameJolt on January 24th!
The campaign for this game first went live on Kickstarter way back in June of 2015. Even though they weren’t offering a demo on the project page, the marketing team was nice enough to send me an early build to try out. I had only recently started writing for the site, so I was really excited to get this sneak peek. To my surprise, this odd-looking “walking simulator” just blew me away in the short time I had with it. The journey I took was a treat for both the eyes and the ears, so I can only imagine how incredible it has become since then. Shape of the World will be available this Spring on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Funny enough, the Kickstarter campaign for this game also began in June of 2015. I was intrigued by the idea of having a competitive card game combined with a character-focused narrative that could be sculpted by player choice. It seemed very ambitious, but the game’s demo showed that the developers already had a solid plan in place to make it happen. I also loved that they were offering a physical deck of cards as one of their rewards, so I had to get a set for myself. I’m looking forward to seeing if it will give me an edge in the game. Luckless Seven doesn’t have a release window beyond this year, so stay tuned to their Steam page until then.
This project launched on Kickstarter back in November of 2016. My favorite thing about this game is how easy it is to describe to other people. The simple phrase “multiplayer dating sim” gives you everything you need to know. Still need something to sweeten the deal? How about the game being set in a high school full of monsters where you and your friends need to work with or against each other to find a date for the prom? Everything about this concept, combined with the sophomoric humor of the writing, makes for a game that is guaranteed to have you and your friends laughing for hours. Monster Prom will be releasing later this year on Steam.
BlubBlub: Quest of the Blob
I had heard about the Girls Make Games organization before this Kickstarter campaign started in August of 2016, so I was very excited to showcase one of their projects. To make things even better, the game was super cute and oozing with potential to become a very challenging 2-D platformer. Considering the early demo was created in just a few weeks by four middle-school girls just made the whole concept even more amazing. Over the last two years, those four girls have teamed up with some professional programmers to turn their idea into a fully realized game. BlubBlub: Quest of the Blob will be available on Steam in the Spring.
I hope you have enjoyed this look back on all of the amazing projects from the past year. Hopefully, this will help to send a message that, while overall support for video game Kickstarter projects may be on the decline, there are still amazing projects that are only able to thrive through the generosity of supporters like you. You can be sure that this will continue to be the case as we move into this new year. Be sure to check back with us each month and I will do my best to ensure that there will always be projects that are worth your time and money.
Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! And, until next month, happy gaming!