Indie Game Watch: July 2014

IGW is a look at a few great games from a few great indie developers who are actively seeking funding. Think we missed a great project? Are you working on a game you think deserves a spot on the list? Email Cat (cat [at] qwerty cafe [dot] com)!

Jenny LeClue, from Mografi

jennyleclue

Beautiful art, a rich story, and inclusivity – here’s more on Jenny LeClue straight from its Kickstarter description:

Help make Jenny’s story possible in a beautiful exploration based adventure game focused on story, character & mystery!

FEATURES

Beautiful Handmade Art Style – Sleek and gorgeous hand drawn style with vintage midcentury aesthetics.

A Living World – The goal is for everything to be interactive, to reward players who poke and prod at every last item and object with insight, secrets, and humor.

Choosiness On A Massive Scale – Players will make choices in their individual game, and some of those choices will be tallied to permanently influence subsequent chapters, essentially “writing” the story collaboratively. The choice players make about the cliffhanger ending of episode one determines the beginning of episode two.

Female Protagonist – Jenny is a brilliant young detective, sharp eyed, intuitive and a ruthless pursuer of the truth. In short, she’s no ones trophy.

Dialogue With A Twist – Jenny is able to move the camera around during dialogue scenes and observe the subject for visible clues that might reveal their guilt or innocence that would otherwise go undetected.

Story Within A Story – Jenny LeClue weaves a rich metanarrative. The “author” of Jenny’s adventures, Arthur K Finklestein, acts as narrator and guide, but his presence also allows you to change the way Jenny’s story is written. Players choices will also affect Finklestein’s own story.

Not Just For Kids – Complex relationships will be explored with themes of family, loss, and identity influenced by horror, sci-fi, and mystery genres.

A Diverse Cast Of Characters & Locations – Explore Arthurton’s expansive world including the abandoned mines, the forgotten graveyard, the misty mountains, the old observatory, the police station, the shops and eateries on Main Street, and Gumboldt University’s Library. You will meet many intriguing and suspicious characters, in a town whose population is representative of the US Census demographics.”

Here’s the promo video:

Back Jenny LeClue here by or before August 21, 2014.

AquaSphere, from Stefan Feld

aquasphere

This one is a group game!

Can your research team acquire the most knowledge in this undersea brain-burner by Stefan Feld for 2-4 (25 min per player)…

The game board in AquaSphere has two main areas: A research station comprised of six sectors in which your scientist conducts experiments and a headquarters where your engineer supervises preparation of the bots. During each of the four game rounds, you take several turns, and on each turn you either:

  • Use your engineer in the headquarters to program a bot; each round you can choose from three of the seven actions.
  • Have your scientist bring a bot to a sector to perform an action.

Through actions such as improving your lab, sending out submarines, collecting crystals, and examining invasive octopods, you expand the abilities of your team or gather knowledge points, which are necessary to win. Additional challenges result from the limited size of your lab, which is your personal stock; you can increase the size of your lab, which makes life easier, but this costs valuable time.

AquaSphere is a challenging game of strategy and tactics with different paths to victory that requires planning in advance as well as skillful use of short-term opportunities.”

Here’s the promo video:

Back AquaSphere here by or before July 31, 2014.

The Hole Story!, from Girls Make Games

holestory

Who can resist a unicorn? Check out this description from their Kickstarter page: “A girl aided by her trusty shovel embarks on a quest to find a missing princess. GMG 2014 Grand Prize Winner!…

When an unsuspecting young girl finds herself transported to a mystical world, she must rely on her trusty shovel and quick wits to find her way home.

After digging up a strange portal in her backyard, budding young archaeologist Wendy falls through time into a strange new land. She quickly discovers that her best chance of returning home is to rescue Alonna, a princess who has gone missing from the kingdom. Her goal in mind, Wendy sets about resolving the problem the best way she knows how – by digging of course! “

Here’s the promo video:

Back The Hole Story! here by or before August 12, 2014.

Review: Pandemic

Review: Pandemic

Pandemic, designed by Matt Leacock and published by Z-Man Games in 2008, is a must-have addition to any gamer’s table top entertaining arsenal.

From Wikipedia:

Pandemic is based on the premise that four diseases have broken out in the world, each threatening to wipe out a region. The game accommodates 2 to 4 players, each playing one of five possible specialists: (dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher or operations expert). The game is unlike most board games as the gameplay is cooperative, rather than competitive. Through the combined effort of all the players, the goal is to discover all four cures before any of several game-losing conditions are reached.

Though it may not accommodate a large crowd, it’s still immensely fun to watch from the sidelines (as demonstrated by Wil Wheaton, Morgan Webb, Ed Brubaker, and Robert Gifford below).

The Qwerty Café consortium gathered ‘round a few Fridays ago for a play through (and some good eats). Here’s what we thought of it:

Adam –  It is a good game, but maybe too stressful for something to have in regular rotation. But if it was any easier, then it wouldn’t be as enjoyable when you do play it. It is also a bit hard to tell how good or bad you are doing, which makes it again difficult to tell whether you will do better next time you play or just lose even worse. We played with 5 players which is outside the rules and I’m not sure what effect that might have had on the balance. I’d like to try it again with the correct 2-4 players and see how it goes.

Brandie – “Let’s play Pandemic,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. I did not enjoy this game very much.  Call me grumpy cat if you’d like, but it just seemed like there was no way around getting all the diseases and dying. I have no problem volunteering next time to just watch. Maybe sometime in the future, after they have played a number of times i’ll join again. But the stress and intensity is too much for not being at work.

Brie – I really enjoyed this game. It was challenging, and kept you invested the whole time. There was never a point where I felt like we just had to get through turns and were waiting for something interesting to happen. The cooperative nature was fantastic; the coordination and planning was a new experience. I’m really forward to giving it another go – I wonder how many times it’ll take for us to win?

Cat – OMG THIS GAME. It’s amazing. And stressful. But amazing! I highly recommend. It’s just … fascinating. It can go from “oh yeah, I got this to,” “WTF WE’RE DEAD?!?” so quickly.  It’s a great game, very exciting, and so much fun in a group. You spend a lot of time weighing options and discussing strategy. Full disclosure: I have yet to win it. I’ve played close to ten times at this point and have never not died. But I still love it and think you should play it too! If you’re feeling especially brave, give the expansion pack a try. Though the original is hard to beat, the expansion, Pandemic: On the Brink, is nearly impossible. And I mean that in the best possible way!