Kickstarter and its generous community have brought the video gaming world some top-notch entertainment over the last few years. Games like Divinity: Original Sin 2, Undertale, and Shovel Knight might never have seen the light of day without the support of gamers like you and me. However, with the success of games like these, there are literally hundreds of people trying to make their game ideas a reality. While high profile campaigns like Yooka-Laylee, Friday the 13th: The Game, and System Shock need little or no introduction, there are some truly brilliant gems hiding among the sea of copyright-infringing remakes and people simply looking for handouts. With this monthly series of articles, I hope to shed some light on a few of the diamonds-in-the-rough that need support from people like you.
Here are five such potential games-to-be with campaigns ending in the month of December 2016:
Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King
Our story begins in the ruins of a land known as Hypnos. Long ago, the land and its denizens were created and ruled over by an all-powerful being called the King. He was a benevolent ruler who cared for and gave purpose to the world’s inhabitants. One day, the King inexplicably vanished without a trace. Lacking his guidance, the world quickly fell into disrepair. To make matters worse, powerful beings called Demiurges began appearing and they began to lay waste to the land and its people. Now, as the mysterious Wanderer, it is your task to fight back against these monsters and reclaim this world from the brink of annihilation.
Shattered is an action game that features 2.5D platforming segments along with 3D combat sequences. Each area will require you to solve a series of puzzles in order to unlock access to one of the twelve Demiurge bosses. Along the way, you will gather resources from the enemies you defeat in order to heal your wounds and craft useful items to aid you or enhance your abilities. Along the way, you will slowly uncover scrolls which contain the world’s history that will help you to piece together the events of the past and, possibly, the future. With hidden areas in each level, various items to craft and skills to learn and upgrade, this game boasts a surprising amount of depth.
The project just hit their funding goal earlier this week, but they have some wonderful stretch goals that increase the scope of the game and allow them to release it on PS4 and Xbox One. There are only a few days left, so don’t wait! You can get a digital copy of the game for as little as $22. Higher tiers will provide exclusive character skins, art and lore books and even a physical copy of the game. Very generous backers can get a statue of the Wanderer or even a one-of-a-kind, hand sculpted bust of a character from the game. The developers are aiming for a January 2018 release window with the game available on PC and Mac via Steam or DRM-Free.
It’s a tale as old as time…well, at least as old as 1993. A mining corporation is digging for valuable resources on the planet Jupiter near the Red Spot. Unfortunately, what they uncovered was something much more sinister. You assume the role of a lone marine who has crash landed on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. He quickly find that things are not right as he is attacked by possessed soldiers. Demonic creatures are spewing from the mine and are threatening to spread across the solar system. You must blast your way to Jupiter’s surface and send these Hellish monsters back wherever they came from.
Jupiter Hell is being developed by the creator of the popular fan game, DoomRL. At its core, the game is a traditional roguelike but with modern visuals. As such, the pace of the game is controlled by the players actions. You will need to traverse each location to collect gear and weapons while destroying your enemies before they can kill you. This game boasts perma-death, so tread carefully. While the story is secondary to the action, the main character will be voiced by Mass Effect‘s Mark Meer! And, for you roguelike purists, there will even be an option to play the game with old-school ASCII graphics.
There is only a bit more than a week left to support this campaign. They are only just past the 50% mark, so they really need your help. You can get a copy of the game, including Early Access, for as little as $20. Other rewards include a copy of the game’s Metal soundtrack, an art book, and even getting your name as a random choice for the player character. The team is hoping for a November 2017 launch on PC, Mac and Linux either through Steam or DRM-Free. Console versions may be possible at some later date.
The land of Legrand is currently caught in a seemingly endless war between two kingdoms. With the royal armies embroiled in battle, the common man is left unprotected and exposed to the seedy criminal element. If that weren’t enough, a prophecy claims that the world is at risk of being invaded by creatures from another realm. In this age of conflict and turmoil, you assume the role of Finn, a former slave with a strong sense of justice. His promise to aid a young woman named Eris will lead to many new friends and even more deadly foes. One thing is for sure, his skills on and off the battlefield will truly be put to the test.
Legrand Legacy is a Japanese-style RPG which features fully rendered 3D characters against beautifully hand-drawn backgrounds. The combat is turn-based, but features the ACT system (Action Circle Tempo) which will reward well-timed button presses with increased offensive or defensive stat boosts while attacking or defending. This helps to keep battles engaging and faster-paced than tradition turn-based combat tends to be. As you would expect, the game is full of side quests and touts a robust crafting/alchemy system. You’ll even be able to recruit NPCs to fight in your army or live in your stronghold to provide bonus or mini-games. There is a playable demo on the campaign page that you MUST play. Even at this early stage in development, there is a surprising amount of polish. They even have some gorgeous CGI cutscenes!
With just under two weeks left, they have already reached 40% of their goal. Still, they have a long way to go, so back the project and/or share the link right away. If you act fast, you might still be able to grab an Early Bird tier to get a digital copy of the game for just $15. Contribute a bit more and you can get exclusive weapons, beta or alpha access and even a physical copy of the game. A sizeable donation will even get you a 3D printed figure of the main character, Finn. The release window has been set for September of 2017 through Steam or DRM-Free for PC only.
Sharin no Kuni
Welcome to Wheel Country, a sovereign nation with a very strict and unusual process for dealing with criminals. Minor crimes will see the individual bound by a “Duty”, absolute rules which will lead to life in a forced labor camp if disobeyed. The people who oversee this system are known as the Special Elite. The story centers around a young man named Kenichi that is training to join the Special Elite. His final exam has tasked him with posing as a student at a small town school and rehabilitating three of his female classmates. One of them, Natsumi, is bound by a Duty forbidding her from falling in love. Not everything in this town may be what it seems and Kenichi’s meddle will surely be put to the test. Can he rise to the occasion?
Sharin no Kuni is one of the most well-known visual novels in Japan. It was originally released on PC back in 2005 before being ported to the PSP and Xbox 360 in 2010 and the PS3 in 2013. It even inspired a three-volume manga adaptation in 2011. In spite of its popularity (barring a basic fan translation), the game has never been made available in English…until now. The localization team is working closely with the original developers in order to ensure that their translation is as authentic and accurate to the creator’s intent as possible. They’re also using the campaign as a means to offer a variety of merchandise to new and old fans of the game. Pins, wall scrolls, tote bags, t-shirts…even pillow cases and bed sheets are all available for purchase through the campaign page.
There are nearly three weeks left in this campaign and, as of this writing, the project just hit their base funding goal. There is still plenty of reason to back the project as their stretch goals include producing a physical PS Vita port as well as translating the fan-made character epilogues. You can grab a digital copy of the game for $30 or a physical CD version for $40. Higher tiers will offer some of the swag mentioned earlier as well as digital or physical soundtracks and art books. Release is planned for October of 2017 either digitally through Steam or via DRM-Free physical CD for Windows PC only.
One of the most powerful bonds in the world is that between a dog and its master. Our story revolves around a young man named Dustin and his trusty border collie, Balthazar. Dustin received the dog as a birthday gift when he was a small boy. The two friends grew up together and quickly became inseparable. Then, one fateful day while the two were playing Frisbee in the park, Dustin was hit by an ice cream truck while chasing after Balthazar. He was rushed to the hospital, but he had fallen into a coma with no sign of when he might recover. Loyal Balthazar slept at the foot of his hospital bed. In his sleep, he dreams of protecting his master from the dark force that threatens to take him away. Is it truly just a dream, or could it be something more?
Balthazar’s Dream is a 2D puzzle-based platformer that takes place within the strange dreamscape of a dog’s mind. As Balthazar, you will need to traverse each stage in order to escort your master to the exit while avoiding deadly pitfalls and dangerous foes. Hazards come in the form of things that are bad for dogs, such as grapes and chocolate. Other items will affect Balthazar’s courage, such as vacuum cleaners and bath tubs, or his attention span, such as rubber balls or squirrels. You will need to effectively use your animalistic urges in order to evade or overcome obstacles in your path. There is a demo available on the campaign page, so be sure to check it out.
As of this writing, they are only a few hundred dollars from reaching their goal. This will give them just under three weeks to achieve some great stretch goals, each one will allow them to add a different breed of dog to assume the role of Balthazar. You can even chime in on social media to recommend your favorite breed. You can get a copy of the game for as little as $10, but higher tiers will reward you with soundtrack and art book downloads or even the ability to model Dustin and Balthazar after you and your dog! The dev team is projecting an April 2017 release window with the game being released on PC and Mac through Steam or DRM-Free.
Of the games I featured in November, Iron Tides, Lost Ember and Monster Prom were all successfully funded! Alas, the same cannot be said for ANTRAXX and Asylopol. The developers of both games are still pressing onward in their spare time. Be sure to check their project pages for ways that you can support them. If either team decides to relaunch their campaign, I will be sure to let you know.
On the subject of past projects, a shooter game I featured back in August of 2015 has finally been released! Satellite Rush is available on Steam right now! Be sure to check it out! Until next month, happy gaming!