Kickstart This! Need to Know, Essence: The Resurrection, A Place for the Unwilling

I’ve survived Chinese New Year and a solitary Valentine’s Day (because my other half is currently in China), so I decided to spread the love further than one day by highlighting some of the fantastic games currently vying for funds on Kickstarter. And for the price of a romantic gourmet burger, you could help finance a cool game that you actually get to play. Thankfully, not all the projects I picked are lovey-dovey.

We start things off with the mass-surveillance thriller Need to Know from Monomyth Games. Next, there is the surreal first-person exploration adventure Essence: The Resurrection by ONEVISION. Finally, we have an interesting isometric sandbox sim called A Place for the Unwilling by MadeInSpain Games.

Project: Need to Know
Genre: Surveillance Thriller Sim
Platforms: PC (Win, Mac, Linux)
Funding Target: $29,000 AUD (approx. $20,590)

What Is It?
The best way to pitch Need to Know is that it’s like Papers, Please but covering a larger scope. But the comparison only goes so far, as they both exist in a genre that is still forming. You work as an analyst for the Department of Liberty, a fictionalised version of the NSA. Here you snoop on the world’s population, reading emails, checking browser history, and accessing private messages to root out those who may be a terror threat. The more you succeed, the higher up the ranks you rise, which brings more challenging subjects and more data like medical records, flight manifests, and credit card receipts. It is not just about apprehending suspected felons or terrorists, but questioning your own morality and the power you have over other lives.

Why Fund It?
Well, Monomyth managed to get a quote about the game from Edward Snowden, who said it was, “Art imitating life.” The art style itself is almost cartoonish, which is a deceptively simple tool that allows players to enjoy the game without making it seem too realistic. If the artwork was more realistic, or if the game’s designers had elected to use real photographs and footage, it would take on a very creepy edge, which is thankfully avoided. need To Know manages to keep players entertained while also dealing with a very serious topic, which is one of the many fine balancing acts the game manages. It’s about the rights and needs of one person versus the safety of the country, the right to privacy pitted against the security of others, and the role of the job eroding the soul of the individual.

Best Rewards?

  • Digital copy of the game – $16 AUD
  • Digital copy of the game, plus beta access, and an invitation to take part in polls about the direction of the game – $25 AUD
  • Previous rewards, plus digital copy of the soundtrack, your name in the credits, and a PDF dossier about the intelligence community – $32 CAD
  • Previous rewards, plus backer-exclusive in-game assets, and extra Celebrity Scandal storyline mission – $49 AUD
  • Previous rewards, plus help create a suspect to be used in the game, and special thanks credit – $69 AUD
  • Previous rewards, plus USB ID card, pre-loaded with digital rewards, and thank you card signed by the development team – $99 AUD

Project: Essence: The Resurrection
Genre: First-Person Adventure
Platforms: PC (Win, Mac, Linux), PS4, Xbox One
Funding Target: €15,000

What Is It?
Although set in a fantasy world filled with magic, where players can explore ancient cities and giant ruins, Essence looks more like the recently released Firewatch and The Witness than a fantasy RPG like Skyrim. It’s essentially Skyrim without a sword, but with a fantastic sense of self. Players wake in this new land without any memories of who they are, and explore five surreal worlds to piece together the puzzle of what happened here, and their part in it.

Why Help Fund It?
Essence is unlike anything I have seen in gaming. The worlds you explore have this magical, unearthly glow and look about them, with each world bathed in a different hue or tone that helps you navigate where you have been. Although the game will be initially in English, ONEVISION has promised a localisation in their native German as well.

Best Rewards?

  • Digital copy of the game, plus your name on a monument in the game, a personal thank you email, and a set of digital wallpapers – €20
  • Previous rewards, plus a copy of the digital soundtrack – €25
  • Previous rewards, plus a set of postcards along with a special edition of the game which has a backer-exclusive world to explore – €50
  • Previous rewards, plus a hand-written thank you letter, alpha and beta access, a digital making-of book, t-shirt design to be printed, and eternalize yourself in the game by becoming a companion spirit – €100

Project: A Place for the Unwilling
Genre: Isometric Sandbox Sim
Platforms: PC (Win, Mac, Linux), PS4, Xbox One
Funding Target: €20,000

What Is It?
Our second entry from Europe drops players into a beautiful, hand-drawn, Victorian world, with factories pumping out smoke from chimneys that cover the city in an eerie fog. Players take control of one of the city’s inhabitants, a trader, where the main goal is to follow a daily routine and finish their tasks on time. As players keep up with the daily grind and experience life in the city, they will slowly learn that not everything is what it seems. Will you be able to work out who or what the Unwilling are?

Why Help Fund It?
There is something incredibly inventive about asking gamers to take part in the mundanity of life in the hope of uncovering some unestablished secret lurking within the pixels. The developers have so far managed to not give away very much, even on the Kickstarter page, but it is a very intriguing world they want us to explore. The hand-drawn style has a very European feel, and comes courtesy of 2D Artist Ruben Calles, while the story has been (love)crafted by award-winning author Angel Luis Sucasas. The team is led by Luis Diaz, who has won five awards for his past games, and has published 30 free-to-play games in the last three years. This team is a hard-working machine, and needs your help to push this project to the finish line.

Best Rewards?

  • Digital copy of the game (PC/Mac) – €15
  • Digital copy of the game (console) – €20
  • Digital copy of the game, plus digital soundtrack – €30
  • Previous rewards, plus a digital art book, and your name in the credits – €45
  • Previous rewards, a set of postcards, and a t-shirt – €85
  • Previous rewards, plus a physical copy of the game, and a chance to write story lore that will be found within the game itself – €149

Until Next Time…
In what is becoming a timely fashion on Kickstart This!, an honourable mention must go to Fox and Badger Studios’s The Nascent: An Anecdote of Aetherholme. This is the game’s second stab at a Kickstarter campaign; we covered the first in July last year. It’s like a side-scrolling tabletop RPG but in a video game, wrapped in gorgeous cel-shaded graphics that give it a Borderlands vibe. Worth a look.

What I loved about all the games featured this time is their uniqueness. In a world where video games are often more of the same, it is great to be able to find somewhere that is positively thriving with original ideas and content, or where developers take old genres and tropes and reinvigorate them in such a way as to create something entirely new. Please help them out with some support, whether it be in cash or simply by sharing it across the galaxy.

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In addition to being Warp Zoned's UK Correspondent, Andrew Rainnie is a screenwriter and filmmaker. You can email him at andrew AT warpzoned DOT com or you can, if you're inclined, visit his personal website.

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