Kickstarter Roundup!

Hey, folks!

Feels like I haven’t talked to you in ages! Might have something to do with this localized time-stretching effect I’ve been noticing in the vicinity of any computer with an in-progress final paper on its hard drive. (According to my research, the time-dilation field actually works in reverse in rooms were final exams are taking place. Curious.) Of course, the slowing of time is quite handy, since it allows you to fit what should be eight hours or so of writing into about half the time, and it always works out so that the paper is done mere minutes before it’s due.

Anyway, now that we’re over the hump, I’ve got plenty of extra time that needs wasting. And what better way to waste time than to troll the internet looking for things to waste time on!

Usually this lands me either on TVTropes or one of a small number of message boards. More recently, though, it’s been Kickstarter that’s suckling away more and more of my waste-time. This dang website combines everything that’s wonderful in the Digital Age: videogames, the internet, and broken dreams. Uh… well, hopefully not the last one. But sometimes.

The mind-blowingly exciting Torment: Tides of Numénera Kickstarter may have ended not too long ago, but there are lots of smaller projects going on that have caught my attention. So I thought I’d point out some of the nifty-looking Kickstarter campaigns I’m watching — projects that will hopefully not end in those aforementioned broken dreams…

First up: Chasm! Call me a simpleton, but among all the high-concept, innovative game ideas bouncing around on here, I think it’s Chasm that I’m most pumped to get my hands on. I suppose part of it is just knowing exactly what I’m going to get out of a game like this. Diablo-esque loot-hunting meets platforming, with randomly-generated levels? Yeah, not much left to the imagination, but tell me it doesn’t sound like a boatload of fun. After messing around with the demo, I keep finding myself daydreaming about it. Usually a good sign.

As part of a platformer double feature, you’ve also got A.N.N.E., a cute-looking post-Cave Storyish game in that same Metroidvania style. I was a little worried about the developer trying to combine too many genres into one (after watching the pitch video where he says its a mishmash of Metroid, Contra, Gradius, Minecraft, and Dark Souls, among others), but just check out the gameplay trailer. The gameplay looks tight. It may combine the ship combat of something like R-Type with the platforming of Cave Story — two things I’d basically never have dreamt of gluing together — but thirty seconds of gameplay footage will make you realize it was a no-brainer. The art is beautiful, too.

You’ll see some similarly awesome pixel art in C-Wars, which is a game I’m not sure how I feel about. The video for the project is ridiculously charming and there’s clearly a ton of passion going in, but it looks a little too fast-paced and stressful for me. That, and I can’t say I’m sure what to expect. The terms “tower defense” and even “roguelike” come up a couple times despite it having very little in common with tower defense on the surface and seemingly nothing in common with roguelikes. But, man… these guys sell it so well and I don’t think I’ve ever played anything like it. I can’t make up my mind.

The new Jagged Alliance is another one that could really go either way. I was super-tempted to throw my weight behind this one, but a friend reminded me at the last minute that this team has no connections to the original games and that the last Jagged Alliance release was generally considered a complete disgrace. Still, we did just get that new X-COM game that everyone adored from a developer that had no ties to the original team — and I think one of the biggest problems with the last attempt at relaunching Jagged Alliance was de-emphasizing turn-based strategy. This one clearly ain’t making that mistake. Buuut… they’ve also got next to nothing to show yet. Like I said, it could go either way.

How about Stonehearth? Voxels? Eh. Settler-babysitting and city-building? YES. Honestly, though, it’s the stuff they say about moddability and the freedom for the players to craft their own story. These guys “get it,” I think. I’m not sure what it is, but they get something, and whatever it is, it makes me feel pretty confident they can deliver something wonderful. And this is the first game they’ve ever worked on! Holy cow!

Last but not least: Among the Sleep. This isn’t the kind of game that I’ll enjoy playing (and if it’s even half as scary as Amnesia, I’ll never make it through), but it’s the kind that will take me places I’ve never gone before, and that’s the kind of game we should champion as gamers. Among the Sleep is utterly unlike anything I’ve seen, and telling a story in this medium through the eyes of a character like this is something that’s never been tried. The wellspring of potential just from the premise is staggering. I can’t wait to see where Krillbite goes with it, and so far it looks like they’re on the right track. How will it end up playing? I’m not sure, but that’s part of the fun. It’s unfamiliar territory — and that’s the best kind of territory.

Anything catch your eye? Give them a look if you have the chance (and let me know if I’ve missed anything!). Among the Sleep especially needs every bit of help making it to the funding goal, but all of these projects deserve a few bucks if you’ve got it to spare. Let’s make some dreams come true.

And they said PC gaming was dead. Hogwash! Heck, the future looks brighter every day!

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