Good day Warp Zoned readers young and old, and welcome to another re-launch of our Kickstart This! feature, where we direct your bedazzled eyes to our top picks currently duking it out on the crowdfunding platform for cash, credit, and respect.
“But didn’t you relaunch a short while ago?” I hear you cry. And yes, yes we did, but the weekly format felt forced and oversaturated by games picked simply because they had launched. Even though there are over 600 gaming projects currently live at the moment, we try and pick ones that we as gamers want to play. But we’re also journalists, so we want to highlight projects that have gone the extra mile. But there is no secret recipe that defines the term “extra” here. It could be a development team’s unbridled passion, a unique gaming experience, or something that just tickles our taste buds. Whatever it is, it gets us really excited, and, we won’t lie, there are simply not enough projects that do this to justify a weekly post.
So instead we’re switching to two posts a month, a happy medium between the old and new formats.
Anyway, with that tawdry explanation out of the way, lets dive into the games that gave us goose bumps when we watched their pitch videos. We start off with alien horror The Nullpoint, followed by gang sim Cold Blooded. Then we have Limbo-esque platformer Grey Night, and lastly, our favourite pick, the awe-inspiring platformer Failsafe.
Project: The Nullpoint
Genre: RTS Survival Horror
Platforms: PC (Windows/Mac)
Funding Target: $135,000
What Is It?
The Nullpoint’s premise ticks all the boxes of sci-fi horror fans… in the year 2109, an abandoned alien structure is discovered floating lifeless at the edge of our solar system, just past Saturn. Several expeditions were sent by governments keen to explore and acquire the alien technology. All were lost. Now you lead a small team through the Nullpoint, trying to survive while repairing a ship in hopes of leaving this alien nightmare.
Players will be able to dock at various sections of the Nullpoint and lead a team of up to five survivors. Their primary focus will be gathering resources, looting camps, and choosing whether to run from whatever lurks in the shadows, or try and fight it. Featuring perma-death and procedurally-generated levels, this promises to be an intense, creepy RTS experience.
Why Fund It?
If the concept is not enough to get you excited, the game has already met the requirements for Steam Greenlight. It is heavily influenced by previous games such as Faster Than Light, The Binding of Isaac, and Dark Souls, the common theme being games that make you evaluate your choices. The Nullpoint will force players to make sacrifices, both of resources and people. The game has been partially funded by Schell Games, best known for its games based on Disney properties like Pirates of the Caribbean Online and Pixie Mania.
- Digital copy of the game – $20
- Digital copy of the game, plus two smaller games (Enemy Mind and Innercube) – $29
- NASA-style mission patch, another free game (Orion Trail), and name in credits – $49 (early bird of $40 limited to 185 people)
- Previous rewards plus a t-shirt and signed concept art poster – $99
- Previous rewards plus a 3D-printed model of the Sentinel from the game – $249
Project: Cold Blooded
Genre: Drug Gang Tycoon Sim
Platforms: PC (Win/Mac)
Funding Target: €3,000
What Is It?
Readers of Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt’s book Freakonomics will recall a chapter titled “Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?” where economist Sudhir Venkatesh gained unrivaled access to a gang’s financial records. Game designer Daniel Henri seems to have taken that chapter and turned it into a game akin to Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon rather than the GTA series, with a healthy dose of David Simon’s The Wire thrown in. Players start as a low-level operator in a city dominated by five drug gangs, and begin carving out a piece of the action, with the ultimate aim of taking over the entire city.
Why Help Fund It?
Video games tend to glamorise gang culture and drug dealers, so it is refreshing to see that world approached from a new angle. The focus is pushed away from the violence, which here is used solely as a tool to acquire more street corners and buildings. The sim focuses more on the data and information, what drugs are selling well and in which locations, and which corners are vulnerable for takeover. Henri has crafted a difficult, gritty game, where if you lose or die, you must start building your empire all over again.
- Digital copy of the game – €10
- Digital copy of the game, plus beta access – €20
- Digital copy of the game, plus beta access, as well as a physical copy of the game for PC and art book – €100
Project: Grey Night
Genre: Dark Platformer
Platforms: PC (Windows)
Funding Target: $15,000
What Is It?
Ever since Limbo debuted, there has been a flurry of platformers utilising a limited colour palette. While some felt like a cheap imitation of what had come before, other games felt like they had taken the idea and made it their own, crafting a colourless world into something artistic and enjoyable. Grey Night is in the latter category. The grey palette mirrors the horrific and surreal world the main character awakens in after a car crash. He explores this strange new world, desperately searching for his missing daughter while fighting the abnormal humans and monsters that populate the grey.
Why Help Fund It?
The limited colour scheme is only part of what makes the game haunting. There’s also the poignancy of the character design, which is full of faceless people inhabiting skewed bodies, as if you are looking through a mirror at a funfair. The concept itself is quite dark and eerie, edging the game more towards Silent Hill territory or the artful, steampunk Monochromia.
- Digital copy of the game – $10
- Digital copy of the game, plus beta access and in-game credit – $20
- Three digital copies of the game, each with beta access and in-game credit – $40
- Four digital copies of the game, each with beta access and in-game credit, plus a physical edition of the game with instruction booklet and poster – $100 (limited to 200 people)
- Five digital copies of the game, each with beta access and in-game credit, plus a physical edition of the game with instruction booklet and poster, and create an enemy or boss for the game – $200 (limited to 10 people)
Genre: First Person Parkour
Platforms: PC (Windows/Mac/Linux), PS4, Xbox One
Funding Target: $80,000
What Is It?
Failsafe is a first-person parkour platformer in the same vein as Mirror’s Edge, but with art direction inspired by the works of Hayao Miyazaki. Its story mixes fantasy mysticism with science-fiction, and carries echoes of Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Much like the affection we all had for Korra herself, players will find themselves falling in love with Isra and her delightfully pink hair. Raised to be the leader of her small village, Isra desires to break from her fate and follow her Uncle on an adventure beyond the boundaries of her village to the place beyond: The Forgotten. To accompany her on her adventures, she has a trusty robot friend, XJ, who may rival BB-8 as the cutest droid of the year.
Why Help Fund It?
First of all, development company Game Over has a wealth of talent pushing this game through, guided by Creative Director Seiji Tanaka, who has risen through the industry, previously working as an animator on Journey. Noe Leyva’s artwork is astounding, making the characters bright, beautiful, and engaging, while the environments they inhabit are expertly realised by Makoto Fujiwara.
Also, Game Over has hired some great actors to do some of the voice work, including Anthony Burch from Borderlands 2 and Dante Basco. Who is Dante Basco? Ruffio from Steven Spielberg’s Hook. Ruffio! Ruffio! RUF-I-O!
- Digital copy of the game – $12
- Digital copy of the game, plus beta access – $25
- Digital copy of the game, beta access, digital art book, soundtrack, and t-shirt – $60 (limited to 200 people)
- Previous rewards, plus write a letter to be found by other players in the game – $90 (limited to 100 people)
- Previous rewards, plus printed bundle, which includes an art book, physical game, instruction booklet, and four Failsafe keys – $220
Until Next Time…
We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a new hand-picked selection of games that make us want to throw our money at them. Remember, even if you don’t have money to offer these projects, they live or die on word of mouth. If you are broke but still want to support them, sharing a Tweet or posting about it on Facebook can help make a difference.