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Kickstarter Weekly: Noct, Poncho and Age of Grit

Variety isn't the spice of life without a little style.

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Variety is the spice of life, and I’m applying that cheesy motto to this week’s issue of the Kickstarter Weekly. Each week I’ve tried to devote each issue to a specific theme, be it genre, style, or anything else; however, too many of these articles are RPG heavy. And while yes, one game on this list is an RPG and another has RPG elements, I believe this issue will be a return-to-form survey of what Kickstarter has to offer, all with a sense of style.

Poncho is a 2D puzzle platformer designed to make you reminisce on your childhood, Noct is a survival horror game about viewing survivors battling the darkness via a satellite’s view, and Age of Grit is all about making enough money to survive in a Steam Punk, Wild West setting. While I’m willing to provide more variety in my Kickstarer Weekly articles, I’m also curious to known which genre you would like to see more of.

 

Noct

Noct

Project by: c3sk

Goal:$22,000 (CAD)

Current Funds: $17,282 (CAD)

End: September 24, 2014

There is an interesting quote featured on Noct’s Kickstarter page that comes from Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Graham Smith: “Style does matter.” While the idea that gameplay takes priority over graphics still holds true today, I also wouldn’t want to play Gears of War if it had the same cover-based shooting but everything in it was placeholder graphics or rectangles. That’s a slight exaggeration, but I think that a sense of style can help distinguish a game tremendously, giving it its own identity even if it doesn’t look like it will break any genre conventions.

When I look at Noct’s kickstarter trailer, I see a game in which I can easily become lost in just because of how c3sk presents it. The world has been overrun by a group of hostile shadowy creatures known as the nocturnal, and unfortunately, the survivors must make their stand in a land of suffocating darkness. Since this world is so dark, players see it from a satellite which is capable of displaying each life form, human or shadow, as white outlines; the result is like watching the conflict between predator and prey on Animal Planet or a car chase on the News.

Of course, this view from the satellite ties in well with the top-down shooter aspects of Noct. This desolate wasteland is yours to explore, and as with similar RPGs, you need to find weapons, food, water, and other survival supplies. Oh, and while you’re at it, watch out for that giant skeleton thing that’s coming straight for you. These monsters are huge, and, unfortunately, mechanics are in place to limit your abilities. For instance, your field of vision is limited. Fortunately, you can gather a band of survivors to help you out in online and local multiplayer, although from the satellite view, I’d imagine it looks like ants trying to take down a larger insect.

But to me, it all comes back to the presentation. I love the satellite view, as it outlines just enough of the wreckage and inhabitants, protagonists or antagonists, to let me know that something terrible has happened in this world. This limited vision looks far more bleak than any Fallout game; it even reminds me a little bit of Silent Hill. It makes this top down shooter look otherwise unique, and I can’t wait to see if Noct can somehow balance the scares with the RPG mechanics.

Poncho

Project by: Delve Interactive

Goal:£22,500

Current Funds: £2,945

End: October 1, 2014

As with zombies, the post apocalypse is in, and I’m not sure if that will ever change. As always, you’ll find your games that adapt a similar view to the post apocalypse: a desolate wasteland where everyone becomes deplorable sociopaths with the exception of maybe the sole righteous protagonist, depending on his or her ability to make decisions. However, when done properly, the post apocalypse can be an interesting, colorful setting to explore, and Poncho follows this mindset.

Poncho is a robot who wakes up and finds himself stranded in the aforementioned colorful, post apocalyptic world. Poncho’s goal is simple: he wants to find his maker; however, humans have long since vanished, and only tribes of robots without purposes remain on the planet. Ultimately, Poncho will find the remaining humans, but we still don’t know about their end-game fate.

Poncho is a 2D sidescroller with puzzles and exploration. Delve Interactive wants to elicit childhood memories of exploring outside, and that is exactly what you’ll do as you search for useful items in the game. All of the robots and creatures coexist in an ecology, and your actions will affect their behavior towards Poncho. The main draw is that Poncho can not only move from left to right, but also foreground to background. This is not the first time I’ve seen a game use this concept, but I will admit that it provides many possibilities for interesting puzzles to solve.

Like any other Kickstarter story, Delve Interactive quit their jobs at (freaking) Capcom in order to create their dream game. They’ve also released several games for the iPhone, showing that they have the experience necessary to release this game on time. If you’re looking for a game that will help you relive your nostalgic memories similarly to FEZ, then maybe consider throwing a few bucks towards Poncho’s way.

Age of Grit

Project by: iqSoup

Goal:$12,000

Current Funds: $11,074

End: September 9, 2014

I’m not sure if Steam Punk will ever go out of style. The artwork and design of ships, weapons and other items always seem more interesting than, say, the latest iPod, and it only becomes more intriguing when artists blend the style with the Wild West. Age of Grit looks like a perfect example of a Science Fiction/Steam Punk hybrid that might intrigue those who are fans of Firefly or Cowboy Bebop.

Age of Grit features the same sort of atmosphere that I enjoy most about those aforementioned series. While the ships and gadgets look fantastical to me, I also can’t help but notice that certain things look old and need either to be fixed or replaced. This attention to detail makes the Captain’s desperate attempts to keep his ship floating feel more believable, letting us know that this adventure is not as clean as what’s depicted in games such as Mass Effect and or shows like Star Trek. The struggles are not necessarily about saving the world but for simply earning enough money to keep going.

Age of Grit is an RPG that focuses on ship-to-ship combat, which may interest fans of Skies of Arcadia. The twist is that all of the gauges you see in Steam Punk actually serve a utilitarian purpose, and keeping your eye on them is crucial for keeping your ship flying. The combat itself is turn based, and rather than expelling SP or MP, you end up creating pressure for your ship–the idea is to strategically outmaneuver your opponent’s attacks in order to avoid overheating the ship. The rest of the system is standard RPG affair, but this system helps create a more believable turn-based experience.

With approximately $11,000 of its $12,000 funding goal accumulated, it looks like Age of Grit will successfully bring its Wild West vision of Steam Punk to life. Still, it will take some time for this project to come to life, and there are plenty of stretch goals to meet. At the very least, check out Age of Grit’s Kickstarter page for some art and music that will help you get in the mood to explore this world.

Other Projects

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 garrett@thekoalition.com.

About The Author
Garrett Glass Senior Editor
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