KickPicks #3

It’s KickPicks time… again, so don’t forget your booties, ’cause it’s old out there… very old. In fact, it hasn’t gone unnoticed from many sage corners of the internet that Kickstarter seems to have become a hive of nostalgia and reanimated, long-lost franchises.  While it is a cause of consternation for some, the nostalgia factor is, undeniably, a big one, and with the right franchise in the right hands it can bring success – in fact, one of our biggest picks this month is a new game in a long-established, respected series.

Regardless of whether a game’s roots are newly planted or set firmly in the past, we have, once again, scoured Kickstarter in order to bring you our best selection of the current projects, hoping to spot more fascinating, kooky, or appealing gems that will grab your attention and hang onto your trouser legs as much as they did ours.

We first picked up on Asylum early last year in a small adventure group, in which a teaser trailer had been tentatively shown off by the developer.  We went on to feature it in our Great GL 2012 Adventure Roundup, and have been keeping a watchful eye on it ever since, which is just as well, as it seems to have exploded out of the starting blocks and into the wider gaming consciousness.  With the project’s fanbase rapidly expanding, and the game recently getting the Greenlight on Steam, developers Senscape Interactive are now looking for funding to complete and possibly expand their horror-saturated title.

So what is Asylum?
Asylum is a point and click horror adventure, set in the decaying ruins of the Hanwell Mental Institute.  Although the story is being kept tightly under wraps, the little we do know is that it focuses on an ex-patient, who returns to the sinister asylum to try and unravel why he is suffering from bizarre hallucinations. Is it connected to the dark presence that has been awakened in tunnels beneath the Asylum?  It’s as likely as walking away from this one with damp underwear and palpitations.

Funding target

In or out?
Leap in and back Asylum here.

Our View
As we mentioned previously, we’ve been watching this title with increasing interest for a long time now and have been delighted by its recent Greenlight success.  With memories of the indie-smash Amnesia still coursing through our jangling, tattered nerves, it will be fascinating to see whether Asylum can be the next surprise home-run in the horror genre. Given the grim sense of foreboding dripping from almost every texture in the trailers, screenshots, and disturbing patient sessions, not to mention the much-teased, but still mysterious, story, it certainly has a great deal of promise.  With only six days to go to hit their modest finding target, we’ve high hopes indeed.

Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey
We’ve mentioned the nostalgia factor, and Dreamfall fits nicely into that category, presenting a long-awaited sequel to a much-loved and highly acclaimed adventure series.  However, unlike fellow familiar faces that have asked a lot, relying on the goodwill and fluffy feelings of veteran gamers, and, ultimately failing, developers Red Thread Games have presented a very detailed pitch for funding and have already seen success.  With the creator of the original series on board and a strong vision for the next chapter in the story, it is no surprise that adventure fans have leapt at the chance to back this one.

So what is Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey?
Dreamfall Chapters is a 3D adventure, featuring a rich, elaborate story that spans two distinctly different, yet twinned, worlds, blending cyberpunk and magic in an intriguing way.  It follows Zoe Castillo, known as a Dreamer – and the only known one of her kind – able to dream herself into other worlds, existing in two places at once.  While there are a great deal more story details on the game’s Kickstarter funding page, they contain spoilers for the previous titles, and with those games now available through we won’t be elaborating any further.  That’s your choice, should you want to look!

Funding target

In or Out?
You can slip between worlds and back Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey here.

Our view
Red Thread Games have put together an impressive pitch, which tantalises with the promise of a long-awaited follow up to a loved series.  With the adventure genre (that we at GLHQ love) seeing something of a renaissance, a strong 3D point and click adventure with a rich pedigree and deep, complex story, looming on the horizon has us wriggling in anticipation.  Its foundations are well-established, with the original game, The Longest Journey, winning multiple awards and often cited as one of the 100 greatest PC games, and certainly adventure titles, of all time.  While the nostalgia factor may well be wearing thin overall, Dreamfall has proven that with the right pitch, the right story, and the right IP, you can appeal to the hearts, minds, and much-beleaguered wallets of gamers, whether veteran adventure fans or those merely searching for a game with a little more soul than usual.

Death Inc.
There are some games that simply won’t let you page past them on Kickstarter.  In fact, they practically leap off the screen and kick you in the eyeballs – Death Inc. is one such funding bully-boy.  Pitched by developers Ambient Studios as a god game/business sim/RTS and a “combination of every Bullfrog title that you liked, mixed with Katamari and Pikmin”, it has taken what would otherwise be reasonably dark subject matter and vomited a rainbow over it, adding a liberal dose of humour for good measure.

So what is Death Inc.?
As in all the best (or most Hollywood-ised) stories, the English are the bad guys.  More precisely, the King of England, in all his be-tighted glory, is being a bit of a bastard, plotting to take over the world.  The only person who feels that they can act and, perhaps, defeat him, is a freelance Reaper by the name of Grim T. Livingstone.  Your aim is to unleash a plague on 17th century England, utilising a variety of units (from plague rats to the rather bizarre, yet exciting, exploding livestock) and abilities to defeat the tyrant king and put a pretty big crimp in his day (if not his tights).

Funding target

In or out?
Ladder the king’s tights by backing Death Inc. here.

Our view
As Bullfrog fans and lovers of the macabre and kooky in general, many of us here at GLHQ are genuinely intrigued by this oddly colourful blend of genres.  The tycoon/sim elements combined with the RTS action look to be enjoyable, and if the game can deliver on its promises, with as much gameplay pizazz as the bright graphics and humour, it could well be a hit.  Many have challenged Dungeon Keeper for the crown and most have failed.  While this is pitching itself at a different level with a lighter angle and more cartoony vibe, it may well be enough to lure mourning Keeper fans into a more colourful world while they wait for the day their franchise returns.  However, with an ambitious funding target and only 12 days remaining, time is not on Ambient’s side.  Scythes crossed, folks.

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  1. Tania Tania says:

    I’ve been a backer of Asylum since the Kickstarter launched and am really hoping it hits it’s target, and then some! I’m so looking forward to playing this game :D

  2. SD says:

    Tania, me too! It just funded today! YAY! There is still a week left for stretch goals to port it to tablets, OUYA, Oculus Rift, and other goodies.

    I’m also excited that the team open-sourced their game engine, called Dagon, and put the sources up on Github! Supposedly, game design teams made up of musicians, animators, background & texture artists, and game scripters (Lua), can build games with it for all the platforms (Win/Lin/Mac currently).

    It can be hard for small creative teams to pay really good C/C++ and GL shader programmers to join a team (game assets are expensive enough), so I hope that this Dagon engine sort of “kickstarts” loads of gorgeous and immersive first-person adventures. Hoping, fingers crossed…

  3. Aviram says:

    Can’t wait for DF:Chapters. Been a fan forever, these games are my childhood.

    If you love an amazing story in games, PLAY THIS SERIES! I’m serious, you’re missing out on so much epicness if you don’t…
    I recently bought them both on and have now pledged 80+ dollars to the kickstarter.

    Who needs food?

  4. Valiah says:

    So excited that Dreamfall Chapters is actually getting funded!
    The Longest Journey and Dreamfall have some of the most well written and relateable characters I’ve ever encountered in a game. These are games that made me think, creeped me out, made me laugh, frustrated and even made me cry. The characters and the story have stuck with me ever since. I’m so happy that story is finally being continued.

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