Usually when I think of Kickstarter I think of pioneering 3D printing systems, highly advanced gaming hardware, or large scale open-source software projects. However as I browsed the site recently looking for inspiration, it suddenly hit me that Kickstarter – and enterprise in general – is not all about being at the very forefront of what is currently technologically possible. Enlightened and emboldened by this thought, I brazenly proceeded to enter a category that I had never clicked on before, ‘games’.
After looking through several games, I found that the games that most interested me were not necessarily the ones with the biggest budget or the best graphics, but those with the most original gameplay and interface.
I found three games in particular that really caught my fancy; namely: The Fall by Over The Moon Emerald by Nick Yonge, and Luna’s Wandering Stars by Serenity Forge.
All three games made me feel excited about gaming again, let’s look at each more closely.
The Fall, a mix between an adventure game and an action platform, reminds me of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow for mobile – from a time before mobile phones were actually any good at gaming, but which regardless brought up a wave of nostalgia. In a world where mobile gaming is getting good enough to compete with consoles in terms of graphics, speed and controls, it took a simple, one man creation to truly show me the difference between the quality of today’s platform adventure and that of 2004 (was that 9 years ago already?!).
The player takes the role of ARID, a combat suit equipped with artificial intelligence who is being worn by an unconscious human pilot. The player needs to guide ARID to rescue its unconscious cargo through the game, thereby accessing more and more of the suit’s hidden functions.
Aside from having piqued my curiosity about the actual story, and whether the developer has managed to make the gameplay intuitive enough to be playable in the 21st century, the graphics look beautiful. You can see in the video how little was changed from the initial concept drawings to the completed game – an impressive feat.
In Emerald, the developer Nick Yonge has focused on an abstract aesthetic, where people are represented by differently coloured polygons and computer terminals by mere ovals. However, in this promotional video he shows that he has managed to create emotional cut scenes using those very same angular figures. Couple this with a strong focus on featuring genuine cryptography and I say count me in.
The story revolves around a protagonist with memory loss (as many games indeed do) who is floating weightlessly aboard a spaceship, which is in turn drifting slowly through empty, interstellar space. The player has to somehow break through the layers of decryption and jumpstart the ship, whilst at the same time uncovering the significance of the word ‘emerald’. Though purely from watching the Kickstarter promo video I already have an idea why ‘emerald’ would pose such importance to the character, I shan’t divulge it and risk ruining the game for everybody reading this, so consider this to be just one more code to be broken.
On a lighter tone to the above two games, Luna’s Wandering Stars (even the title sounds goodnatured) is a puzzle game employing – wait for it – completely accurate astrophysics for its gameplay. Although the trailers for the first two games fascinated me, this one mesmerised me. The wild movements of asteroids, spacecraft, laserbeams and other objects towards the end of the video made me both lose the illusion that I had any idea of what was going on, as well as realise that I really wanted this game very badly.
As before, this game has a backstory, in this case involving an exploratory probe called Luna that is found by aliens, and modified to execute a secret mission of their own devising. Unlike before however, I suspect that this backstory is not as centrally important to the game as the other two, but that this one could stand firmly and securely purely on the back of its own gameplay, which I suspect will be highly addictive.
Well, there you have it. Three innovative games coming out soon. And the best part of it is that – as of the time of writing – you can still play a part in making them a reality.