Many of my friends and co-workers bash video games for their terrible writing, and although there might be some truth to their opinion, I also think that the medium is capable of telling stories in ways that aren’t possible for movies or books. Even if the writing in a video game is considered terrible by critics and fans alike, I still enjoy the freedom I have to explore each world by my own accord–regardless if it’s an open-world experience like Skyrim or an linear one like Silent Hill 2–and consider how each design aspect relates to the developers’ artistic vision. I suppose what I’m getting at is that even if games such as Kona, Moon Hunters and World Wide Wrestling RPG lack the writing quality that would help them gain the universal respect among the literature and film community, at least they have the ability to tell their stories in their style.
Project by: Kitfox Games
Current Funds: $83,138
End: September 26, 2014
What keeps me coming back to certain games is not necessarily an adequate multiplayer mode but the mythology surrounding the fictional world. I can complete Shadow of the Colossus in maybe eight hours and be done with it, but I keep coming back because the lonely, abandoned world makes me yearn for more information, which I will never truly be able to obtain, about the grand ruins that populate the landscape. I want to learn more about my favorite games’ mythologies, but it wasn’t until I discovered Moon Hunters on Kickstarter that I considered it possible to create my own.
On the surface, the story of Moon Hunters is not much different from other RPGs. The moon has gone missing, and you, along with a band of warriors, must track it down and demolish any evil beings who challenge you on your journey. The difference here, however, is that you need to keep in mind how your actions will determine your legacy. This will not only affect how your fellow tribe members see you but also how they’ll tell your stories for generations to come.
Moon Hunters might be the third Kickstarter game in a row that I’ve featured to push the boundaries of retro in terms of gameplay and aesthetics. Graphically, it looks like it would be at home on a SNES; however, it contains such details that would be impossible for the system; it’s kind of like how Shovel Knight deceptively looks like it would work on an NES. Moon Hunters is an action RPG that could be played solo or with 3 other friends (4 total) in local multiplayer; it’s top down as in The Legend of Zelda, but the action looks more akin to Gauntlet. Finally, you have to monitor how you act around your tribe to determine how they’ll remember you in the future; think twice before you act like a jerk!
Interestingly enough, Square Enix has shown interest for Moon Hunters, as the company has included the game as part of its S.E. collective. According to the game’s Kickstarter, Kitfox will not be making money from Square Enix; however, the company will help spread the word. Perhaps, given that the game fondly pays homage to 16-bit RPGs, the company saw some of their SNES classics in Moon Hunter and decided it would be better to let the team have full creative control.
World Wide Wrestling
Project by: Nathan D. Paoletta
Current Funds: $3,500
End: September 15, 2014
I haven’t watched wrestling since I was a preteen. While I foolishly felt disgusted when I realized it wasn’t real, I later decided that I respect wrestling for telling an ongoing story. The wrestlers themselves rarely break character, even when their very safety depends on it. It’s this dedication that makes me respect the sport, and it’s a wonder nobody has tried to create World Wide Wrestling RPG–tabletop, not a video game–before Nathan D. Paoletta and his team.
World Wide Wrestling RPG is a traditional pen-and-paper game, giving players complete freedom in portraying their dream wrestler’s career. After customizing your wrestlers, you and your friends can determine how each show will play out, leading to various possibilities of feuds and other drama that can last between 2 hours or a whole series.
The game itself operates similarly to Dungeons and Dragons. One of your friends will be the Creative (Game Master) while the others play their wrestler of choice (talent). While there are plenty of real wrestling moves to perform in-game, players will also have their opportunity to act out the outlandish drama that’s part of wrestling. Interestingly enough, players can become so self-absorbed that they can ignore the Creative’s extensive planning. Since it’s your character, you can choose to portray your wrestler however violently you wish, so long as you don’t actually pick up a chair and smash it against one of your friend’s skull.
All of the costs go towards polishing this table-top RPG. Since it’s already been funded, Nathan will have more money to hire wrestling fanatic writers, create accurate illustrations of wrestling moves, and polish the artwork. World Wide Wrestling RPG has already well exceeded its goal, meaning it’s about to become loud and chaotic for many weekends at the homes of wrestling and table-top RPG fans.
Project by: GUTS Department
Goal: $40,000 (CAD)
Current Funds: $27,834
End: September 6, 2014
Walking simulators have a mixed rep for being either being intriguing or pretentious. I have no problem with so-called walking simulators–I even gave Jazzpunk a 90 in my review–as long as I have plenty to do in the world. Kona intrigues me as a walking simulator because based on the footage of its trailer, it’s not just going to let you walk out with a prize.
Kona takes place in an isolated cabin in a Wintery Quebec during the 1970s. W. Hamilton hires Detective Carl because he suspects the Cree community, with whom he has been involved with several disputes, has vandalized his manor. Although Carl expects an easy case, he soon finds out that the town is deserted–even the man who hired him is missing–and he is being followed by a wendigo. Armed with only his wits and survival skills, Carl must discover the truth behind the mystery of the disappearances.
Much like a gritty survival story, Kona is stepping back to let players figure things out for themselves. This means that there won’t be any tutorials, and players will need to feel their way around the world until they discover the solutions to their problems. In order to raise the intensity of this survival situation, the game will toss blizzards, predators, and other similar woodland challenges, and depending on your problem solving skills, you could either survive to solve the mystery or become frozen like Jack at the end of The Shining. For the most part, though, you’ll take photographs of evidence; however, every now and then you’ll need to pick up a gun to scare away bigger animals while keeping yourself warm to prevent frostbite. Oh, and there’s a wendigo that will appear every now and then that has the ability to control the weather. Oh, great.
Even if Kona doesn’t turn out to be the most well-written mystery story, I think, with its open-ended approach to progression, it allows players to tell their own stories. Since the game doesn’t offer much in terms of information, players can gather as a community and share their own survival experiences, perhaps learning new strategies to stave off frostbite. It’s almost like a point-and-click adventure game except with Cormac McCarthy-styled grit.
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.