Have you seen this Kickstarter? – Nov. 2016

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, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, 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 November, 2016:


ANTRAXX

In the distant future, the face of our planet has become tragically twisted.  With the invention of giant robots (or mechs), wars that would have taken years to win could now be resolved in a matter of days.  Superior nations quickly grew mad with power and were overcome by an insatiable thirst for territory and energy.  Generations of conflict left Earth’s resources dangerously near depletion.  Biological weapons were used as counter-offensives by less capable nations which poisoned the air causing mass animal extinction and forcing the remnants of humanity underground.  With all the world’s cities now vacant, mech-powered factions have been born whose goal is to take as much land as possible for themselves.  Now is your chance to make your mark.

At first glance, ANTRAXX calls up memories of the classic Super Nintendo game MechWarrior 3050 and for good reason.  Isometric mech combat is definitely the main feature of this game with plenty of customization options for your mech.  In addition to selecting the main body design, you will be able to swap various parts and paint schemes.  However, this game also includes some RTS and resource management features as well.  After wiping out an enemy force, you can claim that map as your own giving you the ability to build on the land and fortify your faction.  Pre-made factions can be joined from the start, but you can also choose to forge your own path and start an original faction as well.  Wage war and forge alliances in order to claim as much land, equipment and resources as possible.  For a taste of these features, check out the demo available on the campaign page.

There are only a few days left to back this project and the team could really use your help to reach their goal.  A copy of the game can be yours for as little as $17 with higher tiers offering backer-exclusive skins and mech parts, digital art book and soundtrack, and even a 3D-printed mech model kit!  The team is anticipating to offer Early Access in late November 2016.  Upon release, the game will be available via Steam or DRM-Free for PC, Mac or Linux as well as an in-browser version compatible with any Chrome-enabled device.


Iron Tides

Long before pirates were known for looting and plundering on the high seas, another group called this way of life their own; the Vikings!  In Iron Tides, you will assume the role of a Viking Chieftain hailing from the peaceful port town of Norhaven.  However, you’re not interested in peace and quiet, you’ve got a need for discovery…and treasure!  With a band of recruits at your command, it is time to board a longboat and cast off into the unknown in search of adventure.  But this is not a task for the fool-hearty.  Many dangers lurk out among the waves and one wrong move could bring the wrath of the gods themselves down upon you.

The gameplay centers around exploration and tactical combat both at sea and on land.  The bulk of the content you will encounter is procedurally generated.  Everything from the lay of the land to the attributes of your characters is unique and ever-changing.  In addition to traveling the ocean looking for treasure and battling enemy groups, you will also need to manage resources in order to keep your warriors healthy and without hunger.  You will have to choose whether dragging that statue back to the ship on an empty stomach will be worth the effort.  Your decisions and combat prowess are all that stands between your troops and perma-death, so be careful.  Itching for a glimpse of the game?  Download the demo on their website.

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Dead Cells (Review)

Only a precious few days remain to support this campaign.  They are very close to reaching their funding goal, but they can only do so with your help.  If you’re quick, you can grab one of the last few Early Bird tiers to get a copy of the game for just $9.  A larger donation will grant you rewards such as a digital lore book, soundtrack, early access and even a printable version of the boardgame-style prototype or Iron Tides.  The developers are estimating release around May 2017.  At launch, the game will be available via Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.  Other platforms to be decided at a later date.


Lost Ember

Long ago, a thriving civilization was mysteriously snuffed out.  The lost soul of one of these people floated aimlessly through time.  Centuries passed until it happened upon a lone wolf.  Immediately, these two creatures felt a connection to one another.  The soul had a story to tell and had finally found an open mind to share it with.  The wolf, having no ties to anything, decided that it would aid this kindred spirit by making the long journey, over mountains and across oceans, to the ancient city of Machu Kila.  It would take more than any mere wolf was capable of to traverse this world, but as a pair, it seemed anything could be possible.

In Lost Ember, you will control the wolf on its journey.  The gameplay puts minimal focus on combat or puzzle solving and instead focuses on the unraveling of its narrative as you explore the world around you.  You might be quick to call this sort of presentation a “walking simulator”.  However, this is more of a running, climbing, flying, swimming, digging simulator than anything else.  When reaching terrain impassible by a wolf, your spirit guide grants you the ability to possess the bodies of other animals you encounter such as birds, moles and fish.  It is only through the use of this possession ability that you will be able to reach your destination.

With about two weeks to spare, the game has already cleared more than double its funding goal.  As impressive as that is, the stretch goals they have revealed will increase the scope of the game by unlocking more animal types to control.  A copy of the game is available for just $22, but higher tiers offer bonus items such as backer-exclusive wolf skins, a digital or printed art book, or even a physical copy of the game.  Release is anticipated to occur in March of 2018.  At launch, the game will be available through Steam or DRM-Free on PC (Mac and Linux support pending) or digitally on PS4 or Xbox One.  VR-support for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is also planned.


Monster Prom

Ah, high school.  For some, a fun-filled time of good friends and great parties.  For others, a seemingly never-ending gauntlet of pain and ridicule.  Good or bad, it is definitely an unforgettable time in every person’s life.  And no event during those four fateful years is more memorable than the prom.  Whether you’re the coolest kid in class or the nerdiest member of chess club, social stigma mandates that, come Hell or high water, you must have a date to bring to the prom.  In this game, you have just three weeks to find that date.  Oh, and everyone at your school, yourself included, is a monster.  Hmm…maybe I should have opened with that?

Monster Prom is a “choose your own adventure” style dating sim.  However, what sets this game apart from the crowd is that it also supports local multiplayer for 2 to 4 people.  Make your way through the pitfalls of high school together or pit yourself against each other by fighting for the affections of the same person including a vampire hipster, a werewolf jock and a flirtateous poltergeist.  The events of each day will affect your stats and present chances to woo your prospective mate.  Mini-games will range from helping to boost the stats your date finds most appealing to deciding which table to sit at during lunch.  Choices you make will affect future events and could even unlock secret endings if you’re really lucky.

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Spirit Oath is coming to Early Access!

This campaign just started a few days ago, but they have already managed to raise nearly half of their funding goal.  With your help to keep the momentum going, they could possibly even reach some stretch goals such as extra endings, bonus game modes and more.  You can snag a copy of the game for as little as $11, but a larger contribution could get you a digital art book, beta access, or even custom artwork of a yourself or a character of your choice!  The developers are aiming for release around May of 2017.  At launch, the game will be available via Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.


Asylopole

Welcome to the Megalopolis, a giant domed city built to protect its inhabitants from the toxic atmosphere of the outside world.  At the center of the city stands the Asylopole, a massive spire that supports the dome and serves as an insane asylum.  Between the cold, oppressive stare of “The Order” and the constant threat of harm by the anarchistic Ratpunks gang, it’s clear why so many people eventually find themselves in the Asylopole.  You assume the role of Adam Murdock, a psychiatrist trying his best to help his patients.  His treatment involves the use of the Mentalis, a device that creates a virtual world from the inner-most thoughts of his patients.  It takes a strong will to live out someone else’s nightmares.  Are you up to the task?

Asylopole is a classic point-and-click style adventure game, but with an emphasis on mini-games and puzzle solving.  Each virtual world you enter will be represented in a different visual style ranging from 2D animation to life-like rotoscoping and even stop-motion claymation.  In addition to helping patients, you will also be free to roam the city streets interacting with people, texting your friends, surfing the web or even playing a video game.  Certain events with allow you to level up, giving you the ability to increase different stats.  With a proposed non-linear story combined with a large city to explore, it seems like you will have a lot of freedom on how you decided to play the game.

This campaign just recently began, but they have already made more than 10% of their goal.  With a constant stream of support, they should easily be able to reach their funding total.  If you act fast, you can still grab an Early Bird tier to get a copy of the game for just $13.  Other available rewards include digital soundtracks and art books, physical copies of the game, and even the ability to create an in-game character or quest!  The developer is planning for a release window near December of 2017.  At launch, the game will be available via Steam or DRM-Free for PC, Mac and Linux.


Addendum:

Of the games I featured in October, Code: HARDCORE and Code 7 were both successfully funded!  Alas, Tiny Metal, Backdrop: Behind the Curtain and Beard Blade were not as fortunate.  The developers of Tiny Metal were able to secure basic funding through a third party, so the game will still see release.  They may launch another campaign down the line to attempt to unlock some stretch goals.  Backdrop‘s developers are going to work on a playable demo and are planning to relaunch their campaign in late November.  Beard Blade still has a couple of days left, but their funding goal is far from reach.  If they decide to relaunch their campaign, I will be sure to let you know.

On the subject of past featured projects, a horror game I covered back in June of 2015 has finally been released!  Through the Woods is available on Steam and GOG.com right now!  Just in time for Halloween!  Be sure to check it out!  Until next month, happy gaming!

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