Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inherit the Earth 2 Kickstarter Launched

Update: The kickstarter has already been cancelled. Wyrmkeep plans to prepare a better game description, and offer up more art and information about what the game is about to appeal better to non-fans when they try the Inherit the Earth 2 kickstarter pledge again.

Another year, another classic adventure game developer returns on Kickstarter. This time it's Inherit the Earth 2, a project created by Wyrmkeep Entertainment, a company formed by nine former members of the original developer The Dreamers Guild.

The game design has already been completed (except for a couple of puzzles which will be co-created by backers at the $600 "Puzzle Master" level). The team hopes to bring back some of the voice actors from the previous game, but nothing is set in stone.

Like most of the other adventure game kickstarters, there are multiple tiers to choose from, such as signed physical copies of the game and soundtrack at $60 and up, a free digital copy of the art book at $75 and up, invitation to a backer dinner (and your name in the end credits) at $100 and up. There are many more tiers than that (up to a $5,000 tier which includes an invitation to the launch party (plus accommodations excluding travel), so choose a tier and pledge your support to the first adventure game kickstarter of the new year.

CBE Cancels Publishing Agreement with Lace Mamba

A press release has been issued by CBE software, creator of the adventure games J.U.L.I.A. for Windows and J.U.L.I.A. Untold for iOS.

The press release states that Lace Mamba's exclusive rights to publish the J.U.L.I.A. games has been revoked, because Lace Mamba never paid royalties to CBE for the sales of the games.

To recuperate some of the cost, CBE started a Steam Greenlight campaign for a remastered version of J.U.L.I.A. for Windows which will go about "changing things which were not all that well received by players and we will include a bonus soundtrack as a part of the Steam release. Even if you own the game already, please upvote J.U.L.I.A. there. Steam could help us survive the situation and recover from this unexpected blow. If we get greenlit, we will also issue a patch for existing J.U.L.I.A. owners which will add the remastered functionality."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Cave Review

The Cave is an adventure game that Ron Gilbert has had brewing in his brain as an idea since before Maniac Mansion.  In fact, The Cave shares it's main gaming mechanic with Maniac Mansion.  There are seven character groups (eight characters, but the twins count as one) to choose from, each with their own unique ability.

That's where the similarity ends though, as The Cave is a much more sophisticated game.  The game starts out with a set of three puzzles (which are the adventure game standard of three item fetch quests).  However, those are merely training puzzles to get you used to the basic game mechanics.  From there, The Cave becomes much more.

The Cave is a sentient being that acts as the narrator, all eight characters have come into the cave in order to get what they want most, and to explore the deep, dark parts of their souls to get them. The backstory for all of the characters are presented in still pictures called "Cave Drawings", which are similar to the vault memories in Psychonauts.  There are multiple endings for each character, as you decide how far you want to take their dark impulses.  So, unlike most adventure games, there is quite a bit of replay value here.

The game is definitely an adventure game at it's core, but as I stated previously, there are platform mechanics involved.  You directly control each character (and choose between them with toggle keys on your joystick or keyboard), jumping over deep pits and over treacherous spikes (as well as using special character abilities such as the time traveler's ability to travel forward through some objects and the adventurer's familiar whip which can be used to swing over dangerous terrain).  However, you can not die (Well, you can. However, you keep coming back, in essence getting an unlimited supply of lives).  Most of the game consists of solving puzzles.  You also have an inventory, however it's very limited as each character can only hold one item.  So, you'll often drop and swap items (or share them between characters) as you go. The nice thing is that once you reach a new area of The Cave, all of the chosen characters catch up with you automatically, reducing the amount of unnecessary backtracking considerably. The game also supports multiple players, meaning you can cooperate to solve puzzles with your friend or friends while each one of you play one of the three chosen characters.

The puzzles are all done in the classic adventure game style, and they aren't casual, so there is definitely some head-scratching involved. That said, none of the puzzles are as difficult as the classic adventure games Ron Gilbert was known for in the 1980's and early 90's, but a few of them left me puzzled for a while before I happened upon the solution.  All of the puzzles are actually really well thought out, and fun to solve (and in my opinion are at just the right difficulty: challenging enough without getting too frustrating).

The humor here is top notch, as is expected from a game written by Ron Gilbert.  It's very much a dark comedy, though it's all very well done. The Cave itself is the source of much of the humor, in its role as the omnipresent narrator.  The humor also comes from the side characters, who, as to be expected with a Double Fine game, are an eclectic bunch.  In classic Double Fine tradition (carried over from the team's time at LucasArts), they have also included some subtle references to Ron Gilbert's past adventure games.

In a first for a short downloadable game by Double Fine, each of the side characters that you meet in The Cave (and The Cave itself) are fully voiced (however the main characters remain silent, with the exception of grunts and groans).  Each of these side characters receive eccentric voice work to match their personalities (but none of the voices are so eccentric that they could be viewed as going too far towards being annoying).  The music is also well done.  It's suitably subtle (so there won't be any tunes you'll likely be humming afterward), but it fits the tone of the game well.

The Cave is a great way to start 2013.  It's an adventure in the tradition of the adventure classics, while bringing it's own spin on things, making it seem refreshingly original.  It's perfect blend of adventure game and platform game mechanics should satisfy both adventure game fans and fans of puzzle platform games.

Final Verdict:
4½ out of 5

The Cave is Out Now

The Cave, Ron Gilbert's adventure game with platforming elements that he's made with the team at Double Fine, is out now for consoles (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U). It has also released for Mac and Windows through Steam.

Update: January 24, 2012: Ron Gilbert has posted news that the Linux version of The Cave will be released next week.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Cave Available for Pre-Order

Ron Gilbert and Double Fine's upcoming adventure game The Cave is now available for preorder for $14.99 (in the US, other locations may differ) from Steam and from Green Man Gaming.

If you pre-order from Steam, you will receive some Team Fortress 2 items related to The Cave.

No release date has been officially announced, but according to MyXboxLive, The Cave is now up on the Xbox Live Marketplace with a release date set for the 23rd of January. The size of the download is 1010.70 MB according to a tweet by Greg Rice.

Update: The January 23rd release date has now been confirmed by Ron Gilbert on twitter for Steam and XBLA. It will release one day earlier, on January 22, for PSN and Wii U. It's also coming to Mac and Linux through Steam as well as Windows.