Boldly making its presence known last night during the Spike VGX Awards, No Man’s Sky is the latest project by indie studio Hello Games (Joe Danger), and the latest title to emerge in the apparent Space-Sim Revival of 2013. Alongside the gorgeous combat of Enemy Starfighter and the trade-and-fleet management of Limit Theory, No Man’s Sky looks to focus primarily on planetary discovery and exploration, offering the player endless solar systems of procedurally-generated planets that they can seamlessly land on and explore by foot.
I’m getting strong Noctis vibes from the concept and trailer, and I’m pleased to see yet another amazing-looking space sim coming from the indie community. It’s a good time to game.
Night in the Woods is an upcoming game from Alec Holowka (Aquaria, Towerfall) and animator Scott Benson. From the Kickstarter page:
Lovely audiovisuals and I’m intrigued by the story and characters. Really looking forward to this one!
Set on the border of the fictional communist country of Arstotzka, Papers, Please puts you in the shoes of an Arstotzkan immigration inspector, approving and denying entry to a long line of hapless travelers each day. This entails shuffling documents around with your mouse and highlighting discrepancies in them, such as mismatched passport information or photo identification. With each passing day, your time limit remains more or less set, but the number of possible discrepancies you need to be aware of increases, ramping up the challenge.
This is a lot more exciting than it sounds, since your entire family is counting on your paycheck and a good day on the job will barely allow you to cover the necessities of living. Even when you’re 99% sure that someone has the right papers, it’s always a tense moment as they walk out the door and you listen for the familiar click-clack of a costly citation paper being printed out. But what elevates Papers, Please above a game jam novelty (far above) is that there’s a lot more going on than what takes place in your cramped inspector’s booth – politics, violence, moral ambiguities, and even humor pass through along with the people, and as you keep playing you start to realize how much power you have in your little role. It’s not long before your decisions begin to extend beyond your family’s sustenance (although that remains paramount).
It’s a bizarre premise for a video game, but it works very well, thanks to some great design on the part of creator Lucas Pope. The myriad details and keen audiovisuals bring the small booth of the immigration inspector to life, and from behind the dull counter top I felt more like a spy than in most of the spy-themed action titles I’ve played. Glory to Arstotzka(?)!
Playing the beta for Santa Ragione’s upcoming indie title, MirrorMoon EP, I am immediately reminded of another game of space exploration, Noctis. Like that spiritual predecessor, MirrorMoon EP sees players drifting aimlessly from star system to star system in a shared, procedurally-generated “galaxy,” exploring planets littered with strange features and mysterious ruins. A bit of multiplayer flair is added by the ability for players to name any system that they are the first to explore – a designation that will be seen by any other players exploring that galaxy. Throw in a bit of the zen-like feel of Proteus and an interactive cockpit that draws inspiration from the infamous controller from Steel Battalion, and I quickly found myself entirely immersed in this gem of a game.
Scheduled for release on September 4th, MirrorMoon EP is currently in beta (available for a discounted pre-order price of $8.99USD), providing players with a tutorial level from the planned single-player “Side A” and thousand-system galaxies on the multiplayer “Side B.” Santa Ragione have ensured that the game will procedurally create new galaxies as needed so that there will always be new systems to explore, and they are also actively using player feedback from the beta to shape the gameplay and puzzles encountered throughout the game. So why not check it out and let them know what you think?
With a little less than a day to go, Lacuna Passage has met its Kickstarter funding goal of $40,000, but is seeking a little more for support of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Slated for a late 2014 release, the title promises realistic simulation of 25 square miles of Martian landscape in a believable hard science fiction setting.
Steam Greenlight: Lacuna Passage
This is a guest post by offal.
After years of releasing engaging short-form games, prolific digital artist Aliceffekt is nearing completion of his first independent commercial project, Hiversaires, for iOS. Committing himself to full time development at the beginning of February, Aliceffekt has worked solo on the game, handling design, code, art, and music.
After 7 years of development, Ville and Anne Mönkkönen have released Driftmoon, an adventure/role-playing game set in a charming and colorful fantasy world. The game comes with development tools that you can use to create and share mods. Also, a large demo is available to try out and includes the full editor.
You might remember Ville as the creator of the survival game Notrium from 2003.
The Longest Journey creator Ragnar Tørnquist is kickstarting Dreamfall Chapters, the third game in the popular adventure series and the conclusion to the story of Zoë Castillo. Six years after the release of Dreamfall, Tørnquist is bringing back that game’s core team to develop this third chapter independently through his new studio, Red Thread Games. The Kickstarter has already reached its goal of $850,000, but fans may want to earn the project’s rewards or support its stretch goals.
Since hitting its $900,000 stretch goal, Dreamfall Chapters will be released on Mac and Linux, as well as PC. The currently-slated release date is in November, 2014.
Even with the genre showing that it is still alive and kicking with the recent return of two industry names, Chris Roberts (Star Citizen) and David Braben (Elite: Dangerous), it is especially exciting to see new, indie blood enter the space-sim scene.
Limit Theory is the newest space sim to launch a Kickstarter and, though it launches amid a wave of similar games, it has really caught my eye. Having been in development for only three months so far, the footage and screenshots that sole developer Josh Parnell is showing off on Kickstarter are already gorgeous. I don’t know if Mr. Parnell knew when he began this project just how much of a sucker I am for both open exploration in procedural worlds and spaceflight, but I feel like this game is fueled by my fever dreams.
A sandbox RPG/RTS in a procedurally-generated universe filled with procedurally-generated planets and traversed by procedurally-generated ships all fighting and trading across infinity. Limit Theory promises a lot, but also has substance to show and definite passion to drive it into the future. Go check out the project’s webpage for more information, and be sure to drop any questions in the Kickstarter’s comments section, where Mr. Parnell seems quite active in responding to the community.
Resonance is a new adventure game from Wadjet Eye Games, known for their Blackwell series as well as The Shivah. The story takes place after the death of a brilliant physicist, whose work included potentially cataclysmic technology. You control four characters simultaneously as they work together to stop a disaster.
Although Resonance is a classic 2d adventure game, it does feature a “memory system” that sounds pretty unique. Acting almost like a second inventory, the system allows you to collect temporary and permanent memories to use in conversations and puzzle-solving.
TIGdb: Entry for Resonance