KickPicks #4

Once again, we find ourselves skinny-dipping in the murky waters of Kickstarter, diving for shiny baubles and potential treasures among the sand and sharks.  Yes, we’ve risked being trapped by giant clams and stung by deadly coral, just to bring you the latest and, potentially, greatest that Kickstarter has to offer. In all seriousness, this latest glance was somewhat refreshing, with some genuinely intriguing titles in our net of goodies, and some that we didn’t have space for – for once, there are too many to mention – so we’ll get stuck in to examining them


Net Gain: Corporate Espionage
Net Gain is one of those Kickstarter titles that just catches the corner of your eye as you page past and you can’t help but to wander back and take a closer peek – in this case it was the old-skool graphics that plunged us into a deeper look.  Billed as a ‘corporate espionage strategy game, set in the near future’ by developers Level Zero Games, the interface and reams of in-depth looking menus, before the gameplay is even touched upon make this one a niche title, but an easily backable curiousity.

So what is Net Gain: Corporate Espionage?
Set in 2043, you play as a broker, working for a corporation to undermine and sabotage competitors, while helping your employers expand further and grow in power.  The new economy is driven by information and secrets can be used and manipulated to make or break rivals, which is where you come in.  Investigate opponents and assemble your team; use any means necessary to steal or destroy an opponent’s assets, decimating them, while steadily building your own fortunes, playing a dangerous game where anything goes: bribery, blackmail, corporate espionage, or even inciting war.

Funding target

In or Out?
Stick your pledge in a brown envelope and pass it under the door here.

Our view
The graphics were an instant pull, with the screenshots offering an immediate old-skool feel that we couldn’t pass up investigating.  Not for the faint-hearted, this game looks heavy – strategy management fans will undoubtedly find much to love and from what we’ve discovered it looks to be pretty intense, requiring a great deal of planning and management to achieve your goal of destroying the competition and rising to power.  With a very modest Kickstarter target already having been met, this is definitely one we’ll be keeping an eye on, even as we start clearing our game schedules for the next year in preparation.

Battle Worlds: Kronos
In the good old days, before the dark times, before the empire, games like Command & Conquer ruled the earth.  Turn-based strategy has always been a big draw for many of our writers, so when we heard the unlikely news that successful Bremen-based developer KING Art – who recently met with resounding success with their point and click adventure The Book of Unwritten Tales – were working on a TBS game, we had to check it out for ourselves.  The stories were correct and we delved deeper with increasing anticip…..ation.

So what is Battle Worlds: Kronos?
It’s a classic turn-based strategy game with which the developers aim to bring the high-calibre quality of some of the the genre’s past into the modern day.  Not much is currently known about the story or campaigns, but what we do know is that we can expect challenging gameplay, along with smart tactics, tough AI, and even a map editor.  The warring factions consist of the genre staples of a highly advanced, technology-driven army – in this case, the Yerla – and a guerrilla faction, who, traditionally rely on stealth, sabotage and guts – in this case, the Rebels.  KING Art are promising at least 20 hours of gameplay between the two factions’ singleplayer campaigns and several multiplayer choices, including Asynchronus Multiplayer, in which you can continue your game at any time, anywhere.

Funding Target

In or Out?
Deploy cash units to back the game here.

Our View
Being big turn-based strategy fans, here at GLHQ, this one immediately snatched our attention and ran with it – even before we copped a look at the sexy screens (refreshing to see a wide palette being used, we must say).  That the developer is so passionate about bringing back the best of the genre and giving it an up-to-the-minute polish is admirable and makes us feel pretty assured that they can pull it off.  With the genre staples of the technologically advanced faction vs the under-powered but innovative rebels, and the core tenets of strong AI, challenging gameplay and decent length campaigns being at the forefront, there is much to be hopeful about, and with their recent success in the (until recently) relatively abandoned adventure genre, if anyone has a chance of pulling off the genre comeback that they’re aiming for, then it’s them.  Not only that but KING Art are promising no DRM, no DLC, no Microtransactions… we don’t need to go any further, they had us at the DRM thing.

XING: The Land Beyond
Much of what we see on Kickstarter is of the adventure or RPG persuasion, so when we stumbled across what looked like a slick puzzle game, we decided to take a closer look and were very much surprised.  Far from being a beautifully themed ‘swap three’ game, as we had initially expected, XING: The Land Beyond is actually a first-person puzzle adventure that has clearly had a great deal of passion and time devoted to it.

So what is XING: The Land Beyond?
XING: The Land Beyond is described by developer White Lotus Interactive as a ‘contemplative journey through the afterlife’, flying in the face of the typical gamer fear: death.  Yes, rather than avoiding it, you are already dead, your body is gone, but that’s just the beginning.  The game sees you journeying across a series of mysterious islands, searching for answers, uncovering the story, and freeing trapped souls.  There is much more to the gameplay than solving the cryptic messages you’ll come across, however, as the player can manipulate the environment to help them, including creating snowstorms, summoning rain, or even changing the time of day.  In a move similar to an indie gem that we fell in love with a few years back, Tesla: The Weather Man, this means that innovative solutions to obstacles can be found, such as whipping up a blizzard to freeze a river, or summoning rain in order to float logs.

Funding target

In or Out
You can journey to the beyond and back the game here.

Our view
Certainly one for the ‘games as art’ faction, XING: The Land Beyond has the potential to be an indie gem in the style of games that it appears to draw inspiration from, such as Dear Esther and Myst.  The gameplay videos speak of a title that is immersive and beautiful, with a serenity that is somehow vastly appealing in an age of frenetic, blood-spilling action – helped in no small measure by the gentle soundtrack and absence of combat.  The puzzles look smooth and intuitive and, combined with the range of promised environments, such as deserts, forest, beaches, and ancient ruins, we honestly can’t wait to see more.

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