Games with desolate settings are often bleak experiences. Black The Fall and The Outpost 13, for instance, both take place on bleak planets that are hostile towards humanity. However, sometimes a little bit of alone time is good for learning about ourselves. For instance, Elegy for the Dead places in an abandoned world where the players are left to figure out what happened and write the story themselves. Regardless of how you feel about games with barren settings, you should find plenty of Kickstarter games worth spending your alone time on.
By: Sand Sailor Studio
Current Funds: £8,462
End: October 31, 2014
Sidescrollers, once feared to disappear thanks to the emergence of 3D polygons, continue to thrive. No longer limited to just running and jumping, the modern sidescroller has the pontetial to introduce increasingly complex mechanics into the genre. Black The Fall, for instance, offers varying styles of play, similar mechanics that are common in games like Fallout 3 or Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Black The Fall takes place in a post-communist industrial world, where colors are mostly varying shades of grey, and the only light these poor citizens see are the glaring red lasers of their oppressive mechanical overlords. This post apocalyptic world might look abandoned, but it’s still alive, maintained only by the sleep deprived, malnutrition-suffering workers. The main character, Black, is trapped in a forest flooded with oil, and he must blend in with the workers and sneak past his mechanical adversaries in order to find a considerably less bleak place to live in.
As a sidescroller, Black The Fall feels organic. Black can interact with all of the world’s inhabitants, and each one can either help or hurt his chances of survival; for instance, beggars may gather around Black, causing the machines to grow suspicious. In addition, Black can use his surroundings to his advantage; that is, if he doesn’t feel like engaging enemies directly in hand to hand combat. Traps are scattered about, and taking advantage of them can help stave off total robot domination for at least a little while.
Black The Fall is part of the Square Enix collective, and I can see why. While the graphics aren’t indistinguishable from games like Limbo, they’re polished and use a 2.75D camera angle in order to produce the cinematic experience that Square Enix is keen on. It is also full of choices that, at least on paper, sound similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Square Enix is only acting as a signal booster, meaning Sand Sailor Studio will have total creative control (although 25% of the funds are going to the publisher).
By: Dejobaan Games
Current Funds: $24,647
End: October 21, 2014
By a rare twist of fate, I found a game on Kickstarter that I’ve played before. At this year’s E3, I sat down to play Elegy for a Dead World, without any prior knowledge of the game, because I was in the mood for a beautiful 2D space adventure. I expected the isolation that one might feel when playing Metroid, and that’s certainly what I received when I played Elegy for a Dead World. What I didn’t expect, however, is that I would be the one who decided how this desolate world came to be.
In Elegy for a Dead World, players become the writers. Dejobaan Games created a hauntingly, partially-realized world and a character with whom the players can identify. They’ve also written the beginnings of many sentences, all of which are designed to be concluded by the players. Meticulously designed architecture and ambient music exist to serve as your muse.
Naturally, Elegy for a Dead World might turn off players who do not consider themselves to be writers; however, based on what I’ve played (bare in mind that I myself am not a creative writer), Dejobaan Games provides enough tools to help players stretch their creativity. In this semi-sidescroller, players explore three planets and examine key items, such as an enormous statue of three brothers carrying a planet on their shoulders. Each item is described with just enough context to allow players to fill in the blanks. It’s kind of like Ad-Libs except you write entire phrases instead of picking random nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
Elegy for a Dead World goes beyond Ad-Libs by allowing players to edit their notes into a cohesive story. Once you’re satisfied with your story, you can share it digitally or even via print (the latter is the more costly option). So no, Elegy for a Dead World isn’t a game in the traditional sense, but it will hopefully appeal to creatives who are willing to share their work.
By: Max Hall
Current Funds: $2,426
End: November 3, 2014
Horror games work well when players are trapped in a desolate area with an invisible enemy stalking their every move. Having said, there are no shortage of such games. A simple solution, then, is to tell killer’s side of the story, as in The Outpost 13.
An alien lifeform grows weary of living on the icy planet, Achelous IV. It sees its opportunity with the crew of the eponymous Outpost 13, who has the ship capable of taking the creature off the planet and to the nearest space station. Because the creature is a parasite with malicious intent, it takes over the body of the crew’s dog (or cat), Fen, in order to intimidate the crew into leave the planet.
As the parasite, players will use tactics that are uncharacteristic of man’s best friend. Since Fen is a smaller creatures, and is being controlled by a more intelligent life form, it can sneak into places insusceptible to humans. From here, the parasite is free to spy on the crew until it knows each member’s routine; then, it can pounce at the right time. As long as you bark, fetch, and pant as a normal dog would in between hunts, the crew may never suspect you, saving their flamethrowers for what they perceive to be the real threat.
Max Hall describes The Outpost 13 as a tribute to science fiction horror, a fact that seems obvious in itself; however, the more I read about this game the more I can’t help but think that this would be the perfect monster game. It reminds me of the recently released Alien: Isolation, except the roles are reversed. That’s impressive considering that Alien: Isolation was made with the latest in gaming technology while The Outpost 13 looks like it could pass for a SNES game.
Have you seen any interesting projects on Kickstarter that you think deserve mention? Are you a developer who is currently running a Kickstarter campaign? Let us know in the comments section, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.