OpinionVideo Games

Kickstarting 2015: Ten Publicly-Funded Games To Look Forward To

Nicholas DeBlasio ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Between Evolve, Batman: Arkham Knight, Legend of Zelda, and even murmurs of Kingdom Hearts III, 2015 has a lot of big name, big hype releases blazing on the horizon. But all that hype can outshine some great upcoming names in the Indie department. Here are ten exciting titles that you might not have seen coming from the archives of Kickstarter.

Adventures of Pip – January 2015

Genre: Platformer

Platforms: Windows, Mac, WiiU, available via Steam

LA’s TicToc Games introduces Pip, a character who exists as a single pixel, rather low-class in the face of the other 32-bit characters of the world. Despite his stature, Pip is the only one with the courage to oppose the forces of the evil Skeleton Queen. His courage is rewarded by the ability to absorb the pixels of his enemies, allowing the player to evolve in-game. These shape-changing mechanics allow the player to evolve and revert between his small and maneuverable single-pixel form, his agile 8-bit form, and his strong 16-bit bruiser form. This system combined with a style both retro and modern gives Adventures of Pip a fresh aesthetic. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Darkest Dungeon – February 2015

Genre: RPG

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, available via Steam

Vancouver’s Red Hook Games makes a sharp turn from the playful world of Pip with Darkest Dungeon, a role-playing game as stylistically dark as its title suggests. The skeletons and zombies of this grim 2-D dungeon crawler aren’t your biggest problems, as each character you employ for your party comes with personality attributes that affect their mental health, making every character as unique as they are unstable. As such, the strategies you need to develop go beyond the turn-based combat, requiring you to account for them in town and when making camp. Don’t expect a generic cast of characters either, as Darkest Dungeon features several totally unique classes, including the Plague Doctor, the Grave Robber, and even the Leper. The roguelike random-generated dungeon map is made all the more dangerous by permadeath, and thus every decision counts. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Highlands – February 2015

Genre: Strategy

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, available via Steam

Unlike the gothic atmosphere of Darkest Dungeon, Montreal’s Burrito Studio brings the brighter and more vibrant Highlands. This strategy game combines combat, resource-gathering, and diplomatic roleplaying to simulate the efforts of a royal family trying to regain a lost throne. The design emphasizes the importance of each individual character, making it a point that you are not controlling pawns to do your dirty work, but that you are actually commanding and negotiating with personalities. Altogether, it’s like Risk combined with Civilization, decorated by Disney. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

That Which Sleeps – March 2015

Genre: Strategy

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, available via Steam

Coming from Boston’s own King Dinosaur Games, That Which Sleeps follows Highlands as another bird’s-eye map strategy game with RPG elements, but with an additional twist: while in other games you might be trying to defeat an ancient evil, this game has you become the ancient evil. Sacrificing visual splendor for intricate gameplay, That Which Sleeps allows you to choose an ancient Cthulhu-esque entity to play as in your effort to conquer and/or destroy the world. Not limited to military conquest with armies of abominations, you can send your agents to spread plague and famine, perform abhorrent rituals, and sow dissent within a medieval human society. As your influence grows, so too does your own individual power to wreak havoc in this rendition of Civilization as told by Lovecraft. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Fortune’s Tavern – March 2015

Genre: RPG, Simulation

Platforms: Windows, available via Steam

From one of the smallest development teams on this list, stationed in Swansea, UK, comes Michael Flynn’s Fortune’s Tavern. As with That Which Sleeps, this tavern simulator features a simplistic retro art style paired with complex gameplay, giving the player a lot of decisions to make regarding household infestations, local conflicts, and global warfare in an effort to make your tavern a successful business. Aside from upgrading your tavern and competing with rival establishments, a random quest generator allows for indefinite play time, in addition to an approximately 25-hour storyline regarding the mysterious and possibly grim background of your own tavern. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Aviary Attorney – June 2015

Genre: Adventure, Courtroom

Platforms: Windows, Mac, possible Linux version coming later, available via Steam

Have you ever wanted to play Phoenix Wright but with more Phoenix and less Wright? If so, Sketchy Logic of West Midlands, UK, has come to your aid with Aviary Attorney, a courtroom drama text adventure game… but with birds. Taking the surrealist animal drawings of 19th century artist J.J. Grandville and putting them to quirky and peculiar characters, Sketchy Logic creates a decision-based adventure of intrigue and revolution in 1848 Paris. Players take on the role of Jayjay Falcon, attorney extraordinaire, as he tackles four high-profile cases (with more to come), taking him all around Paris and crossing paths of many colorful personalities. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Hollow Knight – June 2015

Genre: Platformer

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, WiiU

Adelaide, Australia’s Team Cherry takes the classic 2-D platformer to a grand and gorgeous level with the dark and mysterious world of Hollow Knight. As the Hollow Knight, a skeletal, LIMBO-esque beetle, you delve into the ancient underground city of Hallownest in an effort to combat an encroaching sickness originating from the kingdom’s depths. Despite the platformer format, the world of Hallownest and the villages above is large and ripe for exploration. Uncover ancient mysteries and obtain new powers to fight thieves, bandits, and dark creatures of the underground against a beautiful and haunting backdrop of midnight blues and ghostly whites. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Yes, Your Grace – August 2015

Genre: Adventure, Strategy

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, available via Steam

Huddersfield, UK’s Brave At Night Studio takes the civilization strategy game to a more up-close and personal level. After the death of the old king, you take the throne yourself and manage your kingdom in times of darkness and war. Instead of spending the game looking at a game map, however, all your decisions are made from your personal perch in the throne room, and the choices you make extend to the individuals in your court rather than some icons and topography. Moreover, you’re only bound by what honor you yourself have, and can resort to less scrupulous ruling tactics, such as assassinations or even dark magical rituals. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

CodeSpells – September 2015

Genre: RPG, Sandbox

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, available via Steam

San Diego studio ThoughtSTEM’s grand and ambitious project comes to fruition this year with the revolutionary magic system of CodeSpells. This game goes far beyond the realm of the simple RPG and into that of the educational, as it teaches you how to code software and then use your newfound coding skills to make your own spells in a magical sandbox world. The software was originally introduced as a research project at the University of California, San Diego to get children started on learning how to code, and the results met with exciting success. Thus far, the Creative Mode in which spells are made is the only fully functional part, but the far more complex addition of life and organisms into the game is underway, the inclusion of which will bring the game full circle from a sandbox arcane playground to a full-on exploration and adventure game. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Pocket Rumble – December 2015

Genre: Fighting

Platforms: Windows, available via Steam

“Strategy over execution” is the goal of Cardboard Robot Games of Pittsburgh in creating Pocket Rumble, a classic 2-D fighting game with gameplay that’s simplified in a way that actually adds depth. Deviating from the complicated combos and special move controls of most arcade fighters, Pocket Rumble operates on a control system more similar to that of Smash Bros.: attacks and specials are determined by one or two directional inputs and one attack button, allowing for variety without complexity. The game will initially be released for PC alone, but the unmet stretch goals on the Kickstarter page show plans for PS Vita and 3DS versions, goals which could become a reality someday if the initial release does well enough. With a release date in December, there’s plenty of time for updates on extras and future plans, including a Neo Geo Pocket Color port, as well as a remix album featuring artists like Smooth McGroove, a capella vocalist of Youtube fame, and the composers of the Stephen Universe cartoon soundtrack. You can find the Kickstarter page here.

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