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Kickstarter Weekly: Americana Dawn, Crossing Souls, and Hollow Knight

The common consensus is that gameplay takes priority over everything else, including graphics; however, I often need something extra to pull me back into the game, and I usually find that quality in the setting. Silent Hill is a fun game, but I don’t think I’d continue to revisit it if the town wasn’t interesting. Likewise, I’m drawn to Kickstarter games that offer interesting settings, be they something different or just well thought-out; so, I’ve decided to focus this week’s Kickstarter Weekly on games with breath-taking settings.

Americana Dawn takes Suikoden and places it in colonial America. Crossing Souls somehow makes the 80s feel fresh again. Finally, Hollow Knight takes players underground for a whimsical setting with gorgeous 2D animation. Which game’s setting most appeals to you?

Americana Dawn

By: Bit Bonton

Goal: $70,000

Current Funds: $14,899

End: December 22, 2014

What I found to be the most refreshing about the original Suikoden is how it isn’t so much about saving the world but rather political intrigue and war. While I was still performing fantastical feats such as casting spells and battling mythical monsters, I felt like I was just a footnote within the world’s history books. Similarly, Americana Dawn claims that its story is not about a man changing the world as much as its about how the world changes the man.

Foster is the main protagonist who will undergo such changes, and he’ll do so in one of the most interesting settings for a JRPG yet: colonial America. Arriving to the states with unknown heritage, Foster is a water spirit who takes on the appearance of a man to blend in with the colonists. Practically a blank slate, Foster will embark on a journey that will last 100 years, seeing not only how America will change but how he will as well.

Americana Dawn looks like the perfect fusion between Chrono Trigger and Suikoden. Its sprites have similar proportions to Suikoden’s, but the animations and expressions for each one feature the same polish as Chrono Trigger’s. Combat, however, looks like pure Suikoden, complete with turn-based and large-scale battles. It’s not going to blow anyone away; however, if the description on the Kickstarter page is to be believed, then it should provide enough depth to keep you hooked.

I rarely discuss the more technical aspects of Kickstarter projects on this column, but I feel like Americana Dawn’s music engine is worth discussing. Bit Bonton and her team created a custom engine that increases in quality as Foster gains more experience in new land. Americana Dawn follows its theme down to its technical core–not just from a narrative standpoint–and that is why I’m excited to see if this game succeeds.

Crossing Souls

By: Fourattic

Goal: $45,000

Current Funds: $26,666

End: December 17, 2014

Crossing Souls isn’t the first game on Kickstarter to take its players back to the 80s, where pop synth music and arcades reigned supreme; Saturday Morning RPG immediately comes to mind, although I’m sure there are others. However, the 80s still serves as an interesting setting; it’s bright, colorful, and full of catchy music–there’s a reason this stuff is common in restaraunts.

If you’ve seen a movie made in the 80s, then you’ll pretty much recognize the plot and characters in Crossing Souls. Chris is the leader of a motley crew of 80s archetypes, including the nerd, the jock, the girl. The military invades, dinosaurs somehow become involved, and the ragtag group discovers the mysterious DUAT stone, which grants them powers used to solve many problems throughout their adventure. It may seem too familiar, but that’s the point.

If you’re thinking about clicking out of the Kickstarter page for Crossing Souls because you’re not in the mood for yet another 80s story, then I urge you to watch the video and scroll through; I promise you will see something totally tubular. The 80s design sensibility is present throughout Crossing Souls’ atmosphere; however, the pixelated art-style has raw graphical power that rivals the likes of Hyperlight Drifter and Titan Souls. The cutscenes emulate the crudely drawn style of 80s cartoon character and infuse it with a sense of style that makes it seem fresh. And the gameplay, while it’s influenced by the directionless exploration of the original Legend of Zelda, is both more dynamic and cinematic.

With its gameplay, the art style, and the music composition, Crossing Souls is designed to take its players back to the 80s. It’s not, however, nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia, and for that I highly respect Fourattic.

Hollow Knight

By: Fourattic

Goal: $35,000 (AUD)

Current Funds: $15,280 (AUD)

End: December 18, 2014

Hollow Knight, unlike Americana Dawn and Crossing Souls, doesn’t create a setting that’s based on an era. It’s also not going to stand out simply for using a whimsical setting. It will, however, stand out on Kickstarter, with its beautiful, traditional 2D animation as well as its beautiful artwork.

The Hallownest, an ancient kingdom that’s located deep underground, provides an alluring setting just waiting to be explored in this 2D platformer; that is until exploreres who enter the ruined kingdom fail to return to the surface. In addition, the ruins have begun emitting a malicious poison that turns all of the creatures into hostile monsters. As the eponymous Hollow Knight, you are tasked with finding the explorers, discovering the source behind the poison, and finding out the remaining secrets of the Hollownest.

Team Cherry’s goal is to blend Hollow Knight’s 2D smooth animation with traditional 2D platforming for a fluid experience. The team also strives to create a difficult platformer that harkens back to older times without somehow sacrificing the quality of the animation. Of course, the animation will help bring each creature and the setting to life, hopefully providing players with both a real sense of danger and awe.

I could go on about how Hollow Knight has interconnected pathways or any of its other core mechanics; however, I think this is a Kickstarter project that you should see for yourself. The trailer is short, so you should read the rest of a page to get a feel for Team Cherry’s charming world. Even if you decide not to back it, it’s worth checking out for a visual treat.

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