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Review: Subject 13

Jun 29 // Caitlin Cooke
Subject 13 (PC) Developer: Paul Cuisset , Microids Publisher: Gravity Europe SAS Release: May 28, 2015 Subject 13 begins dramatically with your character, Franklin Fargo (yes, that’s his actual name), attempting suicide via driving into a river. As he descends into the water, a mysterious event occurs which transports him into an abandoned research facility inhabited by a strange disembodied robotic voice. Franklin (otherwise known as Subject 13) is encouraged by this entity to use his intellect to solve puzzles and make it out of the compound -- and thus begins the challenge. The gameplay has a nice balance to it, starting off with fairly simple concepts as an introduction but not taking too long to get your mind ticking. Most of the challenges are spin-offs of popular games and brain teasers like Reversi, Minesweeper, sliding puzzles, etc. If you aren’t a fan of these kinds of puzzles -- especially sliders since they make up approximately half of the puzzles -- then this game may not be for you. There’s also a bit of traditional point-and-click detective work along with finding items as you search for ways to make it past obstacles. The game’s inventory allows you to inspect, rotate, and zoom in on any item -- which adds additional complexity to the puzzles, as many of them require you to modify, combine, or inspect items to find solutions. If you get stuck, a hint is available at any time, however I found them to be simple and would often give me information I had already figured out on my own. Contextualized pointers are extremely helpful and help you determine if an object is movable, or requires an item to move forward. When solving more complex puzzles, the game transitions to a clear first-person viewpoint which makes the puzzles easy to work with and simple to back out of with the scroll of a mouse wheel. Luckily, there were only a few moments when I felt puzzle logic or solutions were obtuse and I needed to search for help online. While Subject 13 isn’t extremely long, the pacing is just right in terms of the story. Small plot elements are sprinkled throughout in “testimonies”, recordings from researchers who had lived in the complex. The mysterious voice that guides you throughout the game also occasionally asks questions to which you can respond and in turn receive background info on Franklin. Strange occurrences become more and more frequent as you progress, revealing more of the interesting details of the story. Eerie background music is perfectly stationed throughout, amplifying the mysterious setting. The plot and story elements seemed to borrow heavily from other games (ie Portal and Mass Effect come to mind), however Subject 13 is interesting in its own right. The only real downside to the story was the quality of the dialogue and voice acting -- unfortunately the latter wasn’t very good, and some of the dialogue came off as cheesy. The writing could have also used some proofing, as there were times when the dialogue didn’t match up with the subtitles, or just didn’t quite flow well. However it was a valiant effort for an indie game with only two voice actors. Being a puzzle fanatic, I really enjoyed Subject 13, but I was disappointed with a few elements. For example, sometimes the action wheel where you could view or take an item wouldn’t connect, depending on which angle you were viewing the object from. More than a few times I found that I missed clues because of this. I also felt it was a bit of a let down to make the last puzzle of the game an extremely large, glorified Minesweeper. I was hoping that with the ingenuity of some of the previous puzzles that the game would go out with a bang. That being said, Subject 13 as a whole is thoughtfully challenging. I can see it working really well for casual and hardcore puzzle fans alike as it intermingles timeless puzzles with original concepts. Despite the storyline having some slightly cheesy and generic moments, it was intriguing enough to keep me interested and engaged. Although it doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessors in the genre, it’s definitely worth a play if you’re a fan of exploration puzzlers. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Subject 13 review photo
Logic always wins
Point-and-click puzzle adventures set in an abandoned world were always my favorite games to play growing up. There’s something exciting about uncovering the story of a desolate world via solving puzzles -- games like T...

Review: The Detail (Episodes 1 & 2)

Jun 10 // Stephen Turner
The Detail (PC) Developers: Rival Games Publisher: Rival Games Released: May 28, 2015 MSRP: $5.99 (Seperate Episodes), $9.99 (Episode Bundle) Though it’s mostly presented as a graphic novel, The Detail is a cop show at heart, owing a lot to the likes of NYPD Blue, The Wire, and Homicide: Life on the Streets. Players take control of several characters on both sides of the law – Det. Reggie Moore, a burned out cop, Katelyn Hayes, a rookie officer thrown into the deep end, and Joe Miller, an ex-informant-turned-family man – as they track down the suspect in a gangland murder. By the end of the second episode, things go from bad to worse, as Reggie struggles with the responsibility of a new Major Crimes Unit, and Joe resorts to desperate measures for his family’s safety. It might be a familiar premise, but it’s also one that makes for an intriguing set-up; where characters are presented with morally grey decisions on a regular basis and the stakes increase scene-by-scene. But, honestly, the writing never quite hits its televisual marks. Characters spout clichés like the last 15 years of contemporary crime novels never happened, maverick cops are constantly told to cool their jets, and the gang stereotypes are really on the nose. The Detail does have moments of subtlety though, enough to elevate solid characters over the eye-rolling narration. The main protagonists come across as sympathetic and realistically flawed – Reggie’s girlfriend being an escort and Joe’s bedtime stories to his daughter spring to mind – and for all the bluntness of Ep1: Where the Dead Lie, you perfectly understand the motivations and reflections that colour in their more questionable actions. Both episodes lean heavily on choice and consequence, but by the end of Ep2: From the Ashes, you never get a sense of the bigger ramifications. Most of the decisions are short-term affairs and callbacks usually end in a throwaway line of text. In several scenes, three choices really amount to two outcomes. This is particularly striking in Ep1: Where the Dead Lie, where a child molester walks free, no matter what you pick (completely ignoring his assault of two officers in the process). In Ep2: From the Ashes, aggressive tactics can cause a suspect to have an epileptic fit, but it’s never brought up again. Of course, the illusion of choice will always be there in narrative-led video games. Some hide it better than others, but here, only a handful of decisions clearly carry any weight. From conversations to investigations, player input feels fairly minimal, and that’s really down to the low-budget hallmarks of an iPad port. A crime scene is just a case of clicking on hotspots, which can also be permanently highlighted for ease, and they’re always capped off with a simple comparison puzzle, e.g. check the names on a map with a criminal record or match the calendar dates with a call log. When the story becomes more urgent, like getting into a fight, it’s more about picking the next panel in a comic book. Speaking of which, The Detail’s artwork is an acquired taste. Nothing on screen is ever consistent; jumping from stark black and white panels to comically expressive talking heads, with characters looking different in every other shot. Grammar is also spotty at times; not exactly egregious, but sometimes distracting. It’s not until Ep2: From the Ashes that the quality takes a massive leap for the biggest beats. But if there’s a real consistent high point throughout, it’s definitely the soundtrack. The low-key themes perfectly capture the downbeat mood, turning the right kind of screws when the situation gets out of hand, and getting into the head of certain characters when the dialogues fails to deliver. The Detail is a rough production. Past the clichés, inconsistent presentation, and slight investigative work, there’s the odd glimpse of potential in its characters and their dilemmas. Whereas Ep1: Where the Dead Lie leaves a bad first impression, Ep2: From the Ashes does its best to refine past mistakes, if not rectify them completely. Two episodes down in a five-episode season, and the nagging suspicion that The Detail won’t be anything more than average when it’s complete lingers in the mind. For now, it’s best to stick with the gimmicks. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Review photo
'Game's the same, just got more fierce'
As someone who loves the detective genre in both novels and film, I’m always disappointed by the way they translate to video games. A lot of it boils down to gimmick first, mystery second; where you’re usually a g...

Blade Runner up photo
Blade Runner up

Technobabylon is a techno babblin' cyberpunk adventure


Blade Runner up
May 21
// Steven Hansen
I still, still, still want to play the actual Blade Runner adventure game, but Technobabylon is a simpler option, what with the Steam page and all. The classic point and click has three playable characters. There's agents Ch...

Review: Broken Age: Act 2

Apr 27 // Caitlin Cooke
Broken Age (PC)Developers: Double Fine ProductionsPublisher: Double Fine ProductionsReleased: April 28, 2015 MSRP: PS4, PS Vita, PC, Mac, Linux, Ouya: $25 / iOS and Android: $15 Broken Age is very much designed and intended to be played as one game, not chopped up into two parts. If you've managed to hold out this long to play both acts together, rest assured that you've done yourself a favor. The second act gets straight to business, dumping the player into some heavy plot points right off the bat. The game’s challenging puzzle logic also comes through in full force with no time to ramp -- progressing in the game relies heavily on prior knowledge of the landscape and characters. I asked for more puzzle complexion in my review of Broken Age: Act 1, and boy did I get it. The puzzles are of the same kindred as the first act -- difficult to piece together at first, with a dash of trial and error mixed in. However, this time around the obstacles are far more difficult and obtuse, requiring deep creative thinking, but more often than not bordering on the “impossible to solve without help” realm. I found myself pondering puzzles for long periods of time until eventually giving up, clicking through every possible option as a last resort. Where the first part of Broken Age had more environmental exploration and shorter, more gratifying puzzles, the second act tends to lean on more long-term challenging puzzles. Puzzle solutions from the first portion of the second act were used throughout almost the entirety of the game -- much of my time was spent drawing out diagrams on post-its and endlessly referencing them. The ability to switch between stories is still present, which comes in handy when stuck on a puzzle or in need of a change of scenery. However, during certain parts of the game some puzzles require information from the other side of the story. This caught me off guard at first but was less annoying once it became obvious that this would be a theme throughout the latter half of the game. The bar from Broken Age: Act 1 is definitely met if not exceeded in Act 2 in terms of the visuals, nostalgia, and clever dialogue. However, the setting in the second act is practically the same as the first half of the game, with the exception of a few minor changes. Although I adore the characters in Broken Age and was happy to see them again throughout the second act, I had hoped to experience new scenery and perhaps new characters. The story in Act 2 goes in a strange direction, and feels rushed -- especially compared to the first act, which has an even progression and was much more cohesive. Conversations are had between characters that lay plot points out on the table very quickly, and in an uninventive way. It seems a tad thrown together, and I would have preferred to discover the plot through means of gameplay instead of having it explained via single lines of conversation. Unfortunately, by the end of the game I was also left with with a lot of unanswered questions. Since it had taken a year for this second installment to make it to us, I had expected a little more on that front. Broken Age: Act 1 was so perfect that perhaps my expectations were inflated when playing through the second half. However, despite the challenges Broken Age is still very much a beautiful game with a heartwarming story. The puzzles, as frustrating as they are, come from a place of creative invention that defines the point-and-click genre. I choose to treasure its high points-- the charming characters, ingenious dialogue, and silly childlike whimsy. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. This reviewer also backed the game's Kickstarter campaign.]
Broken Age 2 review photo
Mostly worth the wait
[Disclosure: I backed the Kickstarter. A review copy was used for this verdict.] Three years since the launch of the infamous Double Fine Adventure campaign and a year after Act 1’s much-anticipated release, Broken Ag...

Samorost 3 photo
Samorost 3

Samorost 3 looks like the surreal point-and-click adventure of my dreams


That world design is something else
Apr 15
// Jordan Devore
The last time I wrote about Samorost 3, I expressed surprise and delight that Amanita Design was making another one of these charming point-and-click adventure games. Today, a year and a half later, I could do the same -- I ...
Charnel House photo
Charnel House

The Charnel House Trilogy pulling in to the station April 16


It's a game about trains. Prepare for puns
Apr 14
// Joe Parlock
If I were a smarter man, I’d be railing to fit as many train puns in to this news as is possible, but I will conduct myself properly and keep us on track. Richard and Alice developers Owl Cave Games will be releasing it...
Zak McKracken photo
Zak McKracken

Zak McKracken fan film feels alien in all the right ways


'If you've recently been feeling stupid, trust me, you're not the only one'
Apr 05
// Jonathan Holmes
In my mind, Zak McKracken is the unsung hero of the classic LucasArt point-and-click line up. If the Monkey Island series is analogous to a crowd-pleaser like Back to the Future, then Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders ...
Life is Strange photo
Life is Strange

Life is Strange Episode 2 trailer shows the difference a day makes


Teen girl superpower adventure returns
Mar 20
// Laura Kate Dale
The wait is almost over for the release of Life is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time. With the second episode releasing March 24, the trailer suggests it will finally dig into some of the plot threads hinted at during the first...
Dropsy photo
Dropsy

Did a clown who farts in a Porta Potty win PAX East?


Dropsy like it's hot
Mar 15
// Jonathan Holmes
Last week on Sup Holmes, I ranted to David Fox about how his game Zak McKracken is the greatest point and click adventure about subversion of corporate power structures, empathy,  and opening your eyes to the world...
Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

David Fox on forming LucasArts with George, writing with Douglas Adams and more


Get to know the people who make great videogames
Mar 15
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] Last Sunday's Sup Holmes i...

Tim Schafer open to revisiting Psychonauts

Mar 13 // Laura Kate Dale
With that out of the way, we got Tim to chat a little about his career over the years. First up on the chopping block was a question we had been dying to ask Schafer for a while. Just how did he expect people to get through his obtuse adventure game logic back in the day? I have no idea; people were smarter back then. Playing the games I sometimes wonder that myself. I think, "This puzzle's really hard, how are people supposed to get that?" Part of the reason is that back in the day [...] the thinking was "people are not going to finish this game." Sometimes we thought that. That's why we did the easy mode in Monkey Island 2, but the answer is for most of these puzzle the hints are there if you keep talking to people, if you keep digging down. Most of them are hinted at if you keep exploring all the dialog.  So we made the first half of Broken Age and the first half is always easier than the second half of a game. We were like "this is too easy." We made Grim Fandango and that's too hard. Adventure game fans are hard to please. Next up on our list of questions was one that readers have been trying to get an answer to for a while. Which of Tim's series means the most to him, and which would he most like to revisit? That's a tough question because of course every game is important at the time. There's things people don't expect when they ask me this like Kinect Party -- did you ever play Kinect Party? It was our lowest-selling game of all time. It's a Kinect game where little kids play with their grandparents together and it was really rewarding to see families playing that, it was just so rewarding, you know? The world of Psychonauts is so interesting because you can just keep creating more brains every time you meet somebody and wonder what the world inside their brain looks like. It also feels like the kind of unfinished story of Eddie Briggs [Brutal Legend] would be a great excuse to work with Jack [Black] again. It's hard because of how Grim ended. It was a really rich and full world but I feel like that character had such a complete progression that I feel like he's done with. I don't know if I want to go back down that road with someone who isn't Manny. All the other ones, a lot of them at least like Psychonauts you can just imagine. For Brutal Legend it's kind of already designed because we had to throw away half that game to get it done two years late. It's a lot easier to imagine going forward with that or Psychonauts. A recent hot topic brought sharply into focus by Peter Molyneux's Godus was the effect crowdfunding campaigns can have on audience's faith in developers. From pitching your game to fans for financial investment before development has begun to the pitfalls along the way, with Schafer himself previously facing the firing line from disgruntled Kickstarter backers, we wanted to know if he plans to continue crowdfunding his future projects and what effect he thinks Kickstarter failures have on the reputations of developers. There were so many great things to Kickstarter when it first exploded and we had that rush of not just money but also goodwill too. That love and support from the community told us that people want to play adventure games still and that was really important to us. Because everything's announced at the start of creating your game and not the end like we normally do, it makes more sense to be transparent like we were. That made us vulnerable to a lot of criticism because people could see "oh, the schedule's changing" or "You're doing this thing the way I don't want you to do it." The experiment's not over yet and I'd still call it an experiment, but being that exposed and vulnerable was difficult. There were some good things and toward the end there have been some bad things. My hope was that by being really transparent and showing all the ups and downs of game development, that people who play games would start to understand more of what goes on when making a game. But still, after all this time, it still seems like people get super mad about things that are totally normal. Things like schedules slipping happen on almost every project but people just don't hear about it because we don't usually show people.  I think developers have to learn like publishers had to learn before the warning signs when a game is in trouble and what is just going through the normal ups and downs of development. The question I personally wanted an answer to the most: when is Broken Age: Act 2 coming? Well we're in beta now and we're going to come out this spring. There's not much time left in spring. When's the last day of spring? It's coming out this spring which is very soon. At this point we pushed him on how soon was very soon? We confirmed basically that it's more than three days away still. Well, not this week. I've been playing the Vita version on the plane over here. It's finished, we just want to catch all the bugs. Finally, with all our serious questions out the way, we ended the interview on a slightly lighter note. Yes, you guessed it, we asked him about his favorite butts in videogames. We mainly learned that Tim Schafer rarely thinks about butts when designing a character. Favorite butt in videogames? Are there a lot of butts in videogames? I guess everyone has a butt but you don't often get to see them. I guess in third-person games you're running behind them. I'm now trying to do the interesting task of trying to visualize butts from videogames, they don't usually get a starring role. I'm now seriously worrying I've not been paying enough attention to butts in the games that I've made. Have we ever shown any butts in my games? Yep, you've stumped me with butts. Manny's butt in Grim Fandango is boney; it's basically just a pelvis in a suit.  In Costume Quest actually there was a cat that had a very prominent butt featured, so I guess that butt.
Tim Schafer interview photo
Schafer talks Broken Age, crowdfunding, narrative, and butts
Last night Destructoid attended the videogame BAFTAs in order to do some hard-hitting journalism. Speaking to Tim Schafer, who was in attendance to hand Shadow of Mordor the BAFTA for Best Design, we spent ten minutes discuss...

Dropsy challenges perceptions of beauty, proves that love really can conquer all

Mar 13 // Rob Morrow
[embed]289013:57770:0[/embed] Dropsy features a defined story, though it will require a little effort on the player’s part to put the pieces together to form the whole. Like most good stories, it has a beginning, middle and an end. And as such, the game can be played as a straight point-and-click adventure all the way through; but I think those doing so would be missing out on a great deal of what it has to offer. If you take the time to venture off the preset narrative path, I think you’ll be pleased to discover that the alternate objectives that may seem unrelated to the main storyline are perhaps just as much a reason to play as the objectives that move the game’s plot forward. Dropsy doesn’t waste your time if you choose to do so, though. Unlike typical side quests in games, these have a unique and satisfying quality that are not only fun to complete but offer further insight into this intriguing character in a meaningful way. The ones featured in the PAX demo that I played were what Jay calls “hug puzzles.” As you explore Dropsy’s world you’ll encounter people from all walks of life, as well as animals from time to time. Each seem to be in some form of distress and it’s up to you to discover the nature of their problems and set about to make things right. If can you deduce what’s making them unhappy, you’ll be rewarded with a satisfying hug or fist bump from the NPC, and collect their picture to hang above your bed. This gallery functions as a sort of tally board for all of the good deeds you’ve done and the positive changes you’ve made in the world. It's quite addictive, and one of the most fulfilling side quests that I've seen in a game. The mechanics in Tholen's point-and-click are what you’ve become accustomed to in the genre – certain objects in environment are interactive, serving to either shed light on the broader backstory of the game, or move the narrative forward. Items that can be collected are stored in Dropsy’s pants. A drop-down menu at the top of the screen allows you to access these as needed. One of the first puzzles you’ll encounter is a large yellow bird that is blocking the exit from Dropsy’s tent. When you attempt to communicate with it, the bird screams at Dropsy, startling him, and a series of pictures appears above its head cluing you in to the nature of its distress. In this instance, the bird is hungry, and it just so happens that Dropsy has recently acquired the snack cakes the bird’s icons indicate. Bring down the menu, select the item required and offer it to the NPC. Now that the bird's no longer hungry it flies away and the path is clear. By displaying kindness and an unselfish, caring demeanor in the face of a fearful and prejudiced world, Dropsy overcomes the obstacles that are placed in his path, proving that if given the chance, perhaps love truly can conquer all. This seems to be the central theme in Jay's game and it's a beautiful one. I won't go further into detail on the particular puzzle elements or the many weird and wonderful characters you'll encounter in the strangely enchanting world of Dropsy at the risk of possibly spoiling the game for you. I'll just leave off saying that for those who are planning on picking up this exceptional title, you're in for something truly special.
Dropsy preview photo
Let's go on a hugventure
One of the highlights of my time at PAX East was sitting down and chatting with Dropsy’s creator, Jay Tholen. Jay’s a quiet, thoughtful man with what seems to be unlimited creative energy at his disposal. His some...

Tormentum Demo photo
Tormentum Demo

Tormentum looks like a sword-f***ingly weird time


Escapes the molten lakes of hell on March 4, Steam demo available now
Feb 25
// Rob Morrow
I've seen a lot of weird shit, but Poland-based OhNoo Studio's macabre point-and-click adventure Tormentum ranks up there with some of the most horrifyingly surreal stuff I've had the pleasure of being exposed to o...

Starr Mazer adds Transformers composer Vince DiCola, high profile crossovers

Feb 12 // Darren Nakamura
[embed]287554:57304:0[/embed]
Starr Mazer photo
Shovel Knight, Hyper Light Drifter, Children of Morta
Starr Mazer came out of the gate with an impressive roster of artists working on its soundtrack. Despite having a huge list of talent to pull from, developer Imagos Softworks has added another composer sure to pull on some n...

PROJECT SCISSORS photo
PROJECT SCISSORS

HOT JAPANESE SCISSORING


Welp
Feb 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Good lord, that looks horrifying. Nude Maker, um, made some monstrous prop scissors for its live-action NightCry trailer, which you can see The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu using on Clock Tower creator Hifumi Kono. Th...
NightCry photo
NightCry

Project Scissors coming to PC pending Kickstarter


Nude Maker asking for $300,000 to fund enhanced version of NightCry
Jan 26
// Kyle MacGregor
NightCry (Project Scissors, if you're nasty), has taken to Kickstarter with new ambitions. The point-and-click horror title was originally planned for just Vita and mobile devices, but Nude Maker has now set its sights o...
Starr Mazer Kickstarter photo
Starr Mazer Kickstarter

Point-and-click shoot 'em up Starr Mazer now on Kickstarter


Starrmazing
Jan 22
// Darren Nakamura
A couple days ago Steven told us that Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae would be contributing to Starr Mazer, and that she would not be alone in that endeavor. Indeed, the huge list of composers on the Starr Mazer Kickstarte...
Starr Mazer photo
Starr Mazer
Starr Mazer is a mix of point-and-click adventure game and side-scrolling space shooter, "featuring dynamic story module system for massive replayability, a deep voice-acted story, and beautiful pixe...

Project Scissors dev: 'Working with a renowned film director could easily become a nightmare'

Jan 14 // Jonathan Holmes
Dtoid: The Ju-on series is largely psychological horror, where Clock Tower is more physical. In short, Ju-on plays upon my fears of insanity, mortality, and crushing guilt/depression/shame, where Clock Tower mostly makes me afraid that a small man will stab me. How do you plan to combine these two brands of horror into one game? Kono-san: I intend to focus on the atmosphere along with the physical fear from the Clock Tower franchise. That is, focusing on the psychological fear in the process leading up to the murder. Also, being killed with scissors will have an additional significance. This kind of fear at a deeper level comes from Ju-on and the influence from Mr. Shimizu. Dtoid: Hideo Kojima and film director Guillermo del Toro are teaming up for the next Silent Hill. What do you think of their collaboration, and do you see this pairing of game and film directors becoming more and more common? Kono-san: Upon seeing the movie starring the ghost of Mr. del Toro (The Devil's Backbone), it felt like a Japanese film with a fateful confrontation between the characters. I've heard he has a deep understanding of subculture, including games, so I think it has great potential for a successful creative collaboration. Working with a renowned film director without a proper understanding of games who might force his off-the-point suggestions could easily become a nightmare. However, if it is possible to establish a partnership with mutual respect for the culture each party embraces, these kinds of collaborations may become more common. It goes without saying that my relationship with Mr. Shimizu is this kind of positive partnership. Dtoid: What's truly going to set Project Scissors apart from other games in the genre? Why will audiences want to play it? Kono-san: Since this game is a point & click "adventure game," it is possible to create a cinematic effect in the storytelling, more so compared to games that emphasize action. As such, similar to my previous work, there are many in-game events with a touch of dark humor being prepared. Moreover, I think there is no game that emphasizes "escaping" and "hiding" as much as this game does. The anxiety when playing hide-and-seek, or playing tag. I would like to deliver entertainment that evokes the sense of butterflies in your stomach, at its purest. [Part 1] [Part 2]
Project Scissors photo
The final part of our interview series with Nude Maker
[Art by Mariel "Kinuko" Cartwright] We're closing out our Project Scissors: NightCry pre-release interview series with director Hifume Kono by bringing the focus back on the historic pairing between developer K...

You play as a woman in Project Scissors because 'who wants to hear the screams of a grown man?'

Jan 13 // Jonathan Holmes
Dtoid: Some have interpreted the Clock Tower series to symbolize the fear a young woman may feel towards their budding sexuality, and from the potential physical and sexual threats they may find from others who lust after them. The over-sized scissor weapons are easy to interpret as a phallic symbols. Were any of these themes intended, or is it just a case of fan interpretation going overboard? Kono-san: In my mind, the fear and anxiety a girl may feel in her adolescence holds great meaning from an occultist point of view. It's said that most victims of poltergeists are girls in their adolescence, and in the film Carrie, the physical changes experienced by the teenage heroine are the turning points for the script. I did intend on the scissor to be a phallic symbol, and for the killing with the scissors as an alternative to sexual intercourse, from the original installment of Clock Tower. Unraveling the history of crime around the world, there are numerous cases of sexually impotent individuals committing suicide as an alternative to sexual intercourse. I try and avoid sexual imagery in games for the general public, but as humans are burdened with karma, I feel that treating such themes implicitly adds to the depth of the narrative. I did not expect gamers to understand my intentions, but it pleases me greatly to know that some players and fans of Clock Tower have interpreted my true intentions.  In Project Scissors, the scissors will be treated as a symbol for a new interpretation. I hope players will play the game to find out what the scissors represents for themselves.Dtoid: The Clock Tower games have traditionally starred women. Any concern that male players will struggle to identify with a female player character? Any interest in creating a game with a male protagonist and perhaps a female enemy to shake things up, or is the established formula here to stay? Kono-san: It may be hard to relate to, but who wants to hear the terrified screams of a grown man? Additionally, beauty is highlighted in a hideous world where blood is spilled and pieces of flesh are splattered in the scenery. I wanted to illustrate that kind of beauty. Although the main character [of Project Scissors] will be a female, she will not be your ordinary heroine. I am currently enjoying illustrating such a heroine as we develop this new title, and I hope gamers will also enjoy the new type of heroine featured in our game. Dtoid: What type of control scheme are you looking at to ensure the game feels familiar and yet accessible to players at the same time, while being appropriate for that of a horror title? Kono-san: My goal is to implement a control mechanism that allows for the most number of players to play my games. I believe that the point & click mechanism is the best fit for this, and I will intend to keep it as simple as possible. However, in order to emphasize the "escape" and "hide" systems, I have added one additional element to the control mechanic. We are currently balancing this through trial and error so that it will be effective in the game. [Part 1]
Project Scissors photo
Part two of our three-part interview with Nude Maker
The original Clock Tower was a cult hit when it was first released, and it's managed to stay fresh in the minds of horror game fans ever since. The Jennifer Connelly look-a-like lead; the shocking juxtaposition between quaint...

The Grudge director is working on Project Scissors 'for free'

Jan 12 // Jonathan Holmes
Dtoid: How did the collaboration between Kono-san and Shizumi-san come together? Kono-san: For me to create a brand new horror franchise, I felt the need for "fresh air" from outside the games industry. This new air should not be a comfortable breeze; it must be a dominant force, like a hurricane. This was when I came up with working with Mr. Shimizu, the director of one of my favorite films, Ju-on. I was very nervous as I approached him, since we did not have any budget to afford an internationally renowned film director like him. However, Mr. Shimizu really was intrigued about the project, and kindly agreed to work with us for free as our partner!!! At that time, I felt so lucky that I probably would have been able to win the jackpot 10 times in a row. Dtoid: The Clock Tower series has never flinched when it comes showing the player character suffer a gruesome death. Will NightCry maintain the same level of disempowerment and player suffering? Kono-san: We will most definitely express gruesome deaths and disempowerment in this installment as well. However, these are not simply elements that display bad taste. These situations help to illustrate that only under these disempowering situations will human bravery shine. Maybe these occasions are as rare as finding a diamond in the sandy shore. But that's what makes these occasions so special. I use these situations in the game because I hold a positive view towards the essence to being human. This time around, the deaths are terrifying, but the ultimate horror awaits beyond the deaths. This is much more terrifying than simply dying. Will characters fight off this horrible ending, or will they get swept up by their fear? I hope gamers will play the finished game to find out for themselves. [embed]286049:56853:0[/embed] Dtoid: What compelled you to develop this follow-up title for mobile devices rather than as a full-fledged console release? Kono-san: In creating the spiritual successor to Clock Tower, the important thing for me was to keep the point & click mechanism. (Of course, I had my share of sleepless nights before deciding this because the point & click is NOT the preferred choice of control mechanism for commercial games these days.) With that in my mind, it was obvious that touchscreens for smartphones and tablets would have a high affinity for this game, so this was a natural decision for me. Also, I don't like talking this way, [but] the budget for this project was also a major factor. I was only able to provide a very limited budget for this game.
NightCry photo
Part one of a three-part interview with Nude Maker
Earlier this month, our first look at Clock Tower spiritual successor Project Scissors: NightCry arrived in the form of a live-action trailer made by Ju-on and The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu. It was p...

A game like X-Files and True Detective? Just don't go Normcore

Dec 17 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]285025:56686:0[/embed] Dtoid: On Sup Holmes a little while back, Ron talked about how Blazing Saddles was one of the inspirations for Monkey Island 2. Any inspirations like that for Thimbleweed Park? Gary: Thimbleweed Park is a satire and parody of shows like Twin Peaks and David Lynch, X-Files and True Detective. Ron: Gary and I both like humor that is a little bizarre. Game humor works well when it’s drawn not only from the characters and the dialog, but also from the world. Seeing odd things that tell their own funny story. Seeing something in the background that makes you chuckle and adds to the world. Like the chainsaw hanging in the kitchen. It was just there and it helps tell the story of the world. Dtoid: If you could make a live-action TV show of Thimbleweed Park, who would you cast? (Hint: Joe Flaherty needs the work.) Ron: I never like to think about actors when I’m creating or writing characters. If I get someone in my head, then the character becomes them, or some other character they played. I’d rather characters were blank slates. Once the game is done, I can start to think about it, but never before. Some people have compared the two agents in Thimbleweed Park to Mulder and Scully on the X-Files. I don’t know that if we’d thought of that before because their personalities are so different. If we had, then they would run the risk of just becoming those two characters. [embed]285025:56687:0[/embed] Dtoid: Do you have an ideal audience for Thimbleweed Park? Kids? Republicans? Normcore Enthusiasts?Ron: What’s a ‘normcore’? Seriously, I have no idea what that is. It’s not some kind of fetish thing is it? Like being a Republican?Gary: We’re planning on having two difficulty levels: A harder more traditional old-school point & click graphic adventure mode for savvy adventure gamers, and an easier ‘casual’ gaming mode which will be more accessible. So I’d like to think we’ll have something for everyone ‒ Democrats, Republicans, and Kids alike. Dtoid:  For many of today's youth, the iPad/iPod/iPhone is the only game console worth owning. For a lot of your fans in their 20s and 30s, consoles are the place to be. Any thoughts on how to approach those markets with Thimbleweed Park? Console ports maybe? A mini version of Thimbleweed Park for Apple devices to help suck them into the PC/Mac/Linux game? Something else?Ron: I do most of my gaming on an iPad, so this is a question very dear to me. Due to the roots of Thimbleweed Park, we felt that it needed to come out on the PC first. We have a stretch goal for the iOS/Android ports that hopefully we’ll hit. Getting onto consoles is also something we’d like to do and will start exploring that when the game is a little farther along. We know how we’d adjust the UI for touch and controllers, and it will be something we pay close attention to during development. Nothing worse than a crappy port. Dtoid: There are a lot of easier jobs in the world than independent videogame developer? What keeps you two going? Gary: I love the process of telling stories with characters and have worked in comics, animation and video games. One of the nice things about a video game the scale of Thimbleweed Park is that it’s mainly going to be me and Ron, we’re the core creative team and we’re in charge of developing a story we want to tell.Ron: I don’t know how to do anything else but make games. I’m basically unemployable in the real world. [embed]285025:56685:0[/embed] [Part one] [Part two]
Thimbleweed Park photo
Never pay more than 20 bucks for a computer game
Oh no! It's the end of our three part interview with Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of Maniac Mansion and the masterminds behind Thimbleweed Park, a game that has currently raised over $500K on Kickstarter. We di...

Thimbleweed Park photo
Thimbleweed Park

Monkey Island creator on Kentucky Route Zero, designing worlds and not sucking


Im looking for 30 dead guys and one woman
Dec 15
// Jonathan Holmes
It's time for part two of our interview series with Gary Winnick and Ron Gilbert, two of the fathers of the Point & Click genre. as we count down to the end of their Thimbleweed Park Kickstarter. Talking to these leg...
Ron Gilbert adventure photo
Ron Gilbert adventure

Maniac Mansion spiritual successor Thimbleweed Park meets Kickstarter goal


The hamster is safe!
Nov 24
// Jordan Devore
It's happening: the creators of Maniac Mansion are making another 2D point-and-click adventure together. Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick launched a Kickstarter for Thimbleweed Park just last week and with more than $375,000 rais...
Shadowgate update photo
Shadowgate update

Shadowgate launches 'retro two-pack' update today


Enjoy the original on your fancy machine of the future
Nov 22
// Rob Morrow
Starting today, developer Zojoi and its publisher Reverb Triple XP will be updating the re-imagined point-and-click adventure title Shadowgate to include the 128K Mac and Apple IIGS versions of the game, free of charge....
Stasis photo
Stasis

Isometric horror game Stasis reminds us it still exists


One year later, and I'm still excited to play this
Nov 12
// Rob Morrow
A year after reaching its Kickstarter goal, I'd nearly forgotten all about Stasis. You remember that one, right? It's a lovely-looking isometric sci-fi/horror point-and-click that drew inspiration from films like Alien ...
Murder photo
Murder

Intriguing cyberpunk point-and-click title Murder teased


Do androids dream of pixel art?
Oct 27
// Rob Morrow
Peter Moorhead, the designer behind the striking but mostly negatively received pixel art point-and-click adventure game Stranded has released a teaser trailer for his next project, Murder. Moorhead describes the project as ...

Did Pirates of the Caribbean rip off Monkey Island?

Oct 26 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]283049:56111:0[/embed] Despite my fanboy freak out, we still had an amazing conversation. We talked about working with George Lucas, how frustrations with other games can inspire innovations in his own designs, the influence of Blazing Saddles on the ending of Monkey Island 2, his thoughts on modern adventure games like Lone Survivor, Kentucky Route Zero, and The Stanley Parable, the actual secret of Monkey Island,  how 90% of your ideas suck, why that's OK, his dream to return to Monkey Island, the game he's planning now, and so much more.  I also couldn't help but squeeze out some resentment I'd been holding in. Those Pirates of the Caribbean movies? They should have been Monkey Island movies. To me, that's what they were -- poor man's Monkey Island movies. Ron seemed to know exactly what I meant, though he was a little more composed and respectful than I was. He certainly looked calm. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen someone look so consistently relaxed. Maybe it's because his face is made entirely of squares. I bet that helps.  Thanks again to Ron for being on the show, and if you want to meet the creators of Adventures of Pip and maybe win a code for Devil's Dare, tune in for the live show here at 4pm EST. We'd love talk to you and give you things.
Sup Holmes photo
Get to know the people who make great videogames
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on Youtube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] Last week on Sup Holmes we...

Dropsy photo
Dropsy

Dropsy delayed until early 2015, hugs his way onto tablets


Look ma, no hands
Oct 23
// Rob Morrow
Ringmaster of the surreal Jay Tholen recently provided an update on Kickstarter with news on his creepy/charming point-and-click adventure game Dropsy. First, it's being ported to mobile platforms -- iPad and Android tablet...
Outpost 13 photo
Outpost 13

Bad dog! Outpost 13 basically lets you play as The Thing


Man's best fiend
Sep 18
// Darren Nakamura
This is why you name a dog Fluffy or Fido or Spot. When you go and give it a name like Fenrir, after a mythological wolf monster, it gets taken over by an alien being and wants nothing more than to devour your flesh and bone...

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