The lights are on
Our regularly revised feature keeps you up to date on the Kickstarter games worth watching, and helps you track projects both before and after they’re funded.
Welcome to the Kickstarter Compendium, a gathering of games and game-related projects that we’ve come across that deserve your attention. The crowd-funding model for video games has resulted in some fascinating new game ideas, and new projects are going up on a weekly basis that deserve your attention.
The only problem is keeping track of it all – what’s worth watching, and what are these different projects about? As an ongoing feature, our Kickstarter Compendium is your guide to games seeking funding through Kickstarter. After funding projects are complete, this feature will also track what games (and game-related projects) got funded and which ones didn’t – and, where possible, offer links to the projects as they are developed.
[Editor's Note: This feature was co-written by Manon Hume, Blake Hester, Aj Moser, Haley MacLean, Joe Buchholz, Luke Walaszek, Joseph Knoop, Marcus Stewart, Parker Lemke, Hershall Cook, Christian Belland, Alissa McAloon, Jon Gregory, Elise Favis, Matthew Stolpe, Jason Dafnis, Wayne Stainrook, Cameron Koch, Isaac Federspiel, Katie Seville, Liz Lanier, Kayla Herrera, Ali Rapp, Mike Mahardy, and Matt Miller.]
Projects Seeking Funding
Anew: The Distant LightDeveloper: ResonatorFunding Goal: $30,000Funds Due By: March 20, 2017
Imagine a baby put into cryogenic sleep on a spaceship waking up 20 years later to a strange landscape outside the ship window and an empty sleep pod nearby. With experience stemming from BioShock 2, Saints Row IV, Spec Ops: The Line, and other well-known titles, Steve Copeland and Jeff Spoonhower have banded together to found Resonator, and this is the beginning they imagined for Anew: The Distant Light. With striking 2D backgrounds and 3D character models, this single-player action game contains no dialogue and delivers story through playable segments scattered throughout the open alien world. In classic Metroid style, weapons, tools, and power-ups can be found in the moon’s sprawling caves and floating debris that grant new abilities in combat and allow access to areas that may hold the answers you seek. Anew: The Distant Light is planned to release on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Behind the RoseDeveloper: Peyton BurnhamFunding Goal: $10,000Funds Due By: March 26, 2017
The influence of classic RPGs is clear in Behind the Rose’s colorful pixel art and quirky characters, but the game makes its own voice heard through unique combat components. Mixed into the turn-based battles are mini-games that test players’ reflexes and rhythm. Enemy attacks can be blocked by reading their movements and pressing the right direction with good timing, while certain spells increase in power if players accurately follow a rhythmic button pattern.
Harkening back to the original Legend of Zelda, one-man team Peyton Burnham plans to let players progress through the game’s world however they wish. How much they interact with other characters, the order they tackle the dungeons, and other choices will determine how the story of the protagonist’s quest to save the Heavenly Queen ends. Developed for PC, a playable prototype has been released for the Kickstarter campaign.
The Fall of LazarusDeveloper: No Wands StudiosFunding Goal: $9,700Funds Due By: March 23, 2017
Wandering hallways while rifling through torn-up papers may not sound like much of an adventure, unless the hallways are on an abandoned spacecraft and the papers are vital codes to keep life support running. Aided by an unusual AI and a tool known as Mnem/0z1n3, the unnamed amnesiac protagonist must investigate the USSC Lazarus and solve the mysteries of its abandonment by piecing together clues scattered throughout the cargo ship. Through hacking into terminals, completing puzzles, and finding items, maybe players will discover what happened to the crew and why the ship’s systems are failing… Maybe.
A prologue to the game’s events was released as part of the Kickstarter campaign, and No Wand recently added new backer tiers allowing contributors to create stories or videos for the in-game app and OS system.
Forged of BloodDeveloper: Critical ForgeFunding Goal: $105,651Funds Due By: May 5, 2017
This tactical RPG sets itself apart from other fantasy titles through one very ambitious project: to create a “true” spellcrafting system. Beginning with a choice of three types of magic, followed by two directions for the spell, five effects, eighteen modifiers for each effect, and eighteen global modifiers for the spell as a whole, Critical Forge’s projected system would allow players to craft truly unique spells.
The enormous magic system is complemented by in-depth weapon modification, grid-based combat, and a morally gray storyline. Numbers and charts play a key role in Forged of Blood, whether it be battle, discourse, or simply upgrading your home base. Whatever challenges players face as brother to the heir of an unnamed kingdom, they are sure to always have ample options at their disposal in this PC title.
Love Mythos: Sanctuary IslandDeveloper: Squid Sins SquadFunding Goal: $8,000Funds Due By: April 5, 2017
Folklore meets dating sim in this visual novel for PC starring mythological figures. As a selkie, a creature that is human on land and a seal in water, players join a cast of characters ranging from Greece’s famous Minotaur to the Philippines’ anggitay. After an unfortunate run-in with humans, the selkie has become trapped on Sanctuary Island, home to a rehabilitation center for myths who’ve had bad experiences with humanity.
During their stay on the island, players interact with the other troubled residents, wooing their choice of famous fey. Throughout the characters’ story arcs, players must decide whether they will help their fellow creatures overcome their resentment of humans or instead encourage them to seek revenge. Players’ choices in conversation and results in puzzle segments will determine the fate of not just their romance, but of all of Sanctuary Island’s inhabitants as well. Developer Squid Sins Squad further aims to create an inclusive game that provides friendship paths for those uninterested in romance and the option for gender neutral pronouns for the selkie protagonist.
Narita BoyDeveloper: Studio KobaFunding Goal: $126,371Funds Due By: March 26, 2017
Bursting with retro sci-fi personality, Narita Boy oozes ‘80s flair. From surfing through the air on a floppy disc to the evil antagonists forming their own band, this 2D sidescroller creates a weird, charming world for players to explore. Starring Narita Boy, a famous video game character come to life in the Digital Kingdom, players must stand against dark beings known as The Stallions who are trying to conquer the kingdom. Wielding the legendary Techno Sword, the eponymous hero must platform, battle, and ride his way through the futuristic landscape on his quest to protect not just the digital world, but the real world as well. Studio Koba plans to release Narita Boy for PC, with stretch goals for ports on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One as well.
Passenger: Convert the UniverseDeveloper: Jesse MikiFunding Goal: $7,000Funds Due By: April 1, 2017
God sim games come in many forms, but Passenger: Convert the Universe takes an unusual approach to divinity. The goal in this case isn’t to demonstrate deific might, but to convince societies you discover to worship you as a god. Underneath the cheeky premise of this PC game lies a deep system for exploration and evolution. Every planet has a unique culture that will react differently to players’ influence. Factors such as birth rate, education, and government corruption, as well as which of the 10 societal phases the planet is in, will change over time and affect players’ standing on that world. If the inhabitants choose to worship you, their souls are used as fuel for your ship, allowing for further exploration and conversion. If they don’t, well, you can always blast them with a laser.
PineDeveloper: TwirlboundFunding Goal: $106,540Funds Due By: April 10, 2017
If humans hadn’t made it to the top of the food chain, who would have? Pine, a 3D adventure game, envisions a world where animals, unchallenged by humans, dominated the evolutionary race and developed tools, languages, and cultures all their own.
As Hue, a young human, players must search the island of Albamare for a new home where the remaining members of the human species can live in peace and safety. Developer Twirlbound aims to deliver a completely unique experience to each player of Pine through dynamic AI and choice progression. In addition to the effects of being befriended, sabotaged, or ignored by players, animal tribes will migrate, form alliances, or go to war with each other independent of players’ actions. This means that events in an area across the map can still impact players’ experiences, making each playthrough different. Twirlbound plans to release Pine for PC, with hopes to bring it to consoles in the future.
PitterPotDeveloper: Tree Fall StudiosFunding Goal: $8,000Funds Due By: April 4, 2017
Charming and nostalgic, Tree Fall Studios’ PitterPot channels 3D platformers of old with its plant-themed world full of bright characters and wacky environments. As the hero of the garden realm, PitterPot must set off on a journey to stop an invading evil force that is corrupting plants and making them wilt. Levels range from a barren desert to the inside of a house, each with ledge-hopping, tower-climbing, and boulder-dodging to test players’ platforming prowess. Different varieties of seeds, such as bomb seeds or beanstalk seeds, allow PitterPot to access new areas he couldn’t reach before. The developer has previously released Maze, The Gem Collector, and The Perplexing Orb for Wii U and plans to make PitterPot available on the platform as well, along with PC, PS4, and potentially Nintendo Switch.
ShadowscrapersDeveloper: Sky PulseFunding Goal: $600Funds Due By: March 25, 2017
Hopping from rooftop to rooftop may be a staple of video game parkour, but how many people can simply walk across on shadows? Shadowscrapers takes that idea and creates a relaxing puzzle-platformer for Android. Players aid a spacefaring pilot traverse the skyscrapers of an unknown civilization using the planet’s unusually thick shadows. By moving objects scattered around the environment to block or redirect light, players can build bridges, move obstacles, and more to clear the explorer’s path. Indie studio Sky Pulse announced at GDC that a playable beta of the mobile game can be found on the Google Play Store. For those without an Android, the campaign’s first stretch goal is to bring the game to iOS as well.
Valthirian Arc: Red CovenantDeveloper: Agate StudioFunding Goal: $21,130Funds Due By: March 30, 2017
Players are cast as the principal of an academy that raises heroes in this PC title combining management sim, RPG, and real-time strategy. The game’s school sections focus on upgrading the academy’s facilities, hiring mentors to teach the students, and overseeing the training of the young heroes-to-be. Under your tutelage, students can learn new skills, advance to one of three special classes, and wield equipment forged in the school’s armory. Once the lessons for the day are done, gameplay switches to real-time combat segments where players lead students on heroic quests for the various warring queendoms of Valthiria.
Agate Studio has launched a playable demo as part of their Kickstarter campaign. Two of the developer’s previous games are set in the same universe and provide a glimpse of the vibrant world of Valthiria.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.