Kickstarter and its generous community have brought the video gaming world some top-notch entertainment over the last few years. Games like Shadowrun: Hong Kong, Wasteland 2, Shovel Knight, and Pillars of Eternity 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 now hundreds of people trying to make their game ideas a reality. While high profile campaigns like Divinity: Original Sin 2, Shenmue 3, and The Bard’s Tale IV need little or no introduction, there are some truly brilliant gems hiding adrift 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 September 2015:
What do you get when you take movie-quality, hand-drawn animation and combine it with a point-and-click adventure game? You get the absolutely stunning Tsioque (pronounced see-oak). The visuals, which hearken back to the masterful animated films of the 1980’s, and the simple gameplay controls make the game easy to approach, while the game’s intriguing story and brain-teasing puzzles will ensure that you keep on clicking once you’ve started. Don’t believe me? Give their playable demo a try and you’ll see for yourself.
You assume the role of young Princess Tsioque whose mother, the Good Queen, is called away to defend the kingdom from a dangerously powerful Phoenix. No sooner than she disappears over the horizon, the kingdom is usurped by a Vile Wizard who plans to plunge the world into darkness. With the castle invaded by nasty little imps, Princess Tsioque is quickly overwhelmed and thrown in the dungeon. Fortunately, this girl is royal only in appearance and her mischievous nature will become her greatest weapon in her attempt to overthrow the insidious Wizard.
This game is being made by OhNoo! Studio, creators of the Gothic horror point-and-click adventure game, Tormentum. While their pedigree combined with this game’s visuals have gotten the project a lot of attention, they still need the support of people like you if they are to meet their funding goal. There is one week left in the campaign as of this writing, so act now if you like what you see. Rewards include digital and physical copies of the game, its soundtrack and art book as well as plushies of some imp enemies and Princess Tsioque herself. Upon release, the game will be available through Steam and DRM-Free for Windows and Mac.
Back in the 1980’s, Dragon Magazine (the official magazine for everything Dungeons & Dragons) published a black-and-white comic strip in each issue from 1983 to 1989. The strip, titled SnarfQuest, was created and drawn by Larry Elmore, the man who (among other things) created the iconic “Red Box” artwork for the original Dungeons & Dragons Base Set. Snarf and his adventures were very well received and went on to inspire an RPG Source book, a card game, and pewter miniatures. Elmore revived the character in 2000 and again in 2011, both times in full-color. Last year, he even ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce a book collecting all of Snarf’s stories.
Now, a group of indie game developers, with the full backing of Larry Elmore, have decided that they are going to bring the world of SnarfQuest to life in an episodic point-and-click adventure game. With sharp visuals that could rival most TellTale Games titles and a corny sense of humor straight out of the Monkey Island series, this game is shaping up to be a worthy entry in the point-and-click genre. While the story will make a fan of the comic strip feel right at home, it will still be easily accessible for newcomers as well. Check out the game’s website for a playable demo so you can get a feel for the game yourself.
A little more than a week remains in the campaign and the project needs your support to reach its funding goal. The reward tiers are chock-full of SnarfQuest goodies like the comic book collection, the D20 role-playing source book, figurines and pewter miniatures. Plus, they’re even offering a physical copy of the game contained in a box designed to look like Elmore’s classic D&D “Red Box”. It’s a wonderful homage to Elmore’s legacy. If successfully funded, the game will be available via Steam and DRM-Free for Windows, Mac and Linux systems.
Here, we have a game that is a little bit rogue-like, a little bit flight simulator, and a lot of action shooter. However, the developers of Everspace are hoping to overcome the tropes of its predecessors. Rogue-likes are known for being heavy on variety but at the cost of being rather weak on story. This game will be injecting a compelling, evolving plot into the randomly generated levels and repeated play-throughs in an attempt to prove that a narrative structure can exist in this genre. Flight simulators offer great levels of immersion but can also be a bit on the boring side as they get bogged down by too many details. Heaps of action, a streamlined customization process and in-play upgrades, allowing you to boost your ships abilities in the middle of a mission, will definitely keep things from feeling flat.
The developers, Rockfish Games, have already made a name for themselves with the popular space combat series Galaxy on Fire on mobile devices, so they know what it takes to make a solid space combat game. Whether you prefer speed, firepower, stealth or defense, the game’s ship customization options will allow for you to design a ship that best matches your preferred play style. The game will also offer different levels of immersion to suit your mood with third-person, first-person and VR support being planned. Additionally, the team is also hoping to make the game compatible with a variety of flight sticks and gaming controllers.
The campaign is close to reaching it’s goal, with about two weeks left to go. Still, with stretch goals like console support and the above mentioned VR and flight stick support, additional funding will definitely help to enhance the final product. The developer is trying its best to tailor this game to every type of gamer, but that takes time and money to achieve. Reward tiers offer a variety of goodies like art books, soundtracks, posters and even lifetime season passes for any planned DLC or future sequels. Upon release, the game will be available on Steam and DRM-Free for Windows. Pending stretch goals, Mac and Linux support is planned, as well as Xbox One and PS4 versions.
Judgement of Rage
In the early 90’s, side-scrolling beat ’em ups were the order of the day. Final Fight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Golden Axe dominated the arcades while Double Dragon, Streets of Rage and River City Ransom invaded the home console market. Alas, the beat ’em up genre quickly fell out of fashion when the fighting game renaissance began in the late 90’s. This project is looking to prove that this seldom used genre still has plenty of fight left in it. And, with a team including artists and animators who worked on the likes of Hellsing, Bible Black, Naruto and Bleach, their combined talent is incredible. Just check out their amazing campaign video if you don’t believe me.
As for the game itself, you will have access to three different playable characters. Steven Morgan, a hard-boiled American lawyer whose wife and daughter are murdered; Viola Inoue, a Japanese Kendo master and sister to Steven’s deceased wife; and Rock Gallery, a Native American street fighter who witnessed Steven’s family’s murder while investigating his brother’s mysterious death. All three, united by Fate, are looking for justice and will gladly take down any punk that gets in the way of their revenge.
Even with three weeks left in the campaign, this project desperately needs your support to keep this classic genre alive. The game is in the very earliest stages of development, but the foundation that the developer has laid shows the potential for an amazing game. The rewards range from art book and soundtrack downloads to t-shirts, posters and original art work. At higher tiers, you can even have your own likeness used for an enemy or help to create a level. If successful, the game will be available DRM-Free for Windows and also on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
Anyone who grew up with the original line of Macintosh computers will definitely be familiar with the monochromatic visuals of 1-bit graphics. 1-bit graphics are displayed with only two colors, black or white. While certainly primitive by today’s standards, developers were able to do impressive things in spite of that limitation. The developers on this project are pushing this display technology to its limits to show that it’s not the number of bits your game has, it’s how you use them. Behold, the 1-bit splendor of Rogue Invader.
This is a hardcore rogue-like shooter, so be prepared to die…a lot. You will assume the role of a soldier tasked with single-handedly defeating an army of aliens and destroying their leader on the soil of one of their conquered planets. Needless to say, the odds will be stacked against you. Fortunately, you can take steps to make sure that your soldiers don’t die in vain by choosing to beam material and weaponry you find back to your mother-ship. It won’t help your active soldier, but it will definitely give the next candidate a better chance of survival. With enough planning and determination, you will liberate the galaxy of this alien threat.
Fortunately, this game is nearly finished. The campaign is aiming to enhance the overall experience with professional music and sound effects and, pending stretch goals, high-quality voice acting. There are three weeks left to make this happen, and they could definitely use your help. Rewards range from soundtrack downloads to having your name or likeness among the randomly generated soldiers you can deploy. Early bird tiers are still available as of this writing, too, so act fast to get the most bang for your buck. At launch, the game will be available on Steam and DRM-Free for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Of the games I featured last month, One Dreamer and The Last Time were successfully funded! Alas, August was not as kind to Pixel Ripped 1989, Devastated Dreams and Satellite Rush. The developers of Pixel Ripped 1989 received some grant money and a work-space in Silicon Valley which will help to further development for at least a few more months. The team behind Satellite Rush are slightly reducing their scope, but will push on towards the game’s release with the help of their Patreon patrons. The creator of Devastated Dreams will unfortunately need to put the project on hold due to the impending birth of his first child, so it may be a while before we hear any updates on that project. As always, I will be sure to let you all know if any of these games return to Kickstarter. In closing, on behalf of all of these projects and their development teams, I thank you for your time and your continued support. I will see you again in October!