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Kickstarter Highlights

It’s already been well over a year since Double Fine Adventure first appeared on Kickstarter and arguably paved the way for all the successful video game crowd funding campaigns that followed. The game’s initial Kickstarter success proved that crowd funding can be a viable way to help fund more niche titles that a major publisher wouldn’t touch. Whole genres that were once thought “dead” or “unviable” have been resurrected through crowd funding. You need only look at Star Citizen and the $26 million it has earned to see how big of an audience there is for “dead” genres.

Yet, for all these success stories, many more Kickstarters fail. Many people have been talking about “Kickstarter fatigue” almost as long as video game Kickstarters have been a thing, yet recent successes like Hyper Light Drifter and Mighty No. 9 seem to prove otherwise. Perhaps the problem isn’t Kickstarter fatigue, but a lack of coverage. Crowd funding campaigns like Project Eternity, Wasteland 2, and Torment: Tides of Numenera had major industry names attached to them, so getting the coverage they needed wasn’t an issue. This is an edge that many indie developers looking into crowd funding don’t really have.

My goal with this article is to highlight some promising games I found on Kickstarter that could use a bit of a boost to reach their funding goal, much like a crowd funding version of my Greenlight articles. Considering the sheer number of games that turn to Kickstarter and Indiegogo these days, it will likely become a somewhat regular series


Paradise Lost: First Contact by Ashtree Works

Paradise Lost has a funding goal of $70,000 and, at the time of writing, is sitting at 83% of its goal with 20 days left. It also has stretch goals going all the way up to a Wii U port at $250,000. In this 2D stealth/action game you play as an alien plant that has been captured by an organization called GER and transported to a bio-engineering lab for study. It features some Metroidvania elements in the form of acquiring new abilities as you progress that allow you to access previously unreachable areas, and some RPG elements in the form of evolution paths. It seems to be primarily a stealth game along the lines of Mark of the Ninja, but there appears to be some combat-focused abilities like spore bombs and armor plating. The minimal tier for a copy of the game is $12, and also includes a PDF with some artwork.


STASIS by Christopher Bischoff

STASIS is currently hovering at around 53% of its $100,000 goal with 26 days left. At its core, STASIS is a traditional point-and-click adventure game played from a 2D isometric perspective. The game promises a mature sci-fi horror storyline with an aesthetic and atmosphere heavily inspired by Alien. The game puts you in the role of John Maracheck, a man who has just awaken from stasis on a repurposed mining vessel called the Groomlake, a seemingly abandoned ship that is secretly used to hide horrifying and illegal experiments conducted by the massive medical conglomerate the Cayne Corporation. At the $20 tier you’ll receive a DRM-free copy of STASIS, a wallpaper, your name in the credits, and access to the backers only area of the forums.


Confederate Express by Maksym Pashanin

This game is already at 308% of the $10,000 goal, but I’m including it so they can hit some more of the stretch goals before the campaign ends in a week. Confederate Express is an isometric tactical shooter where you play as a member of a sort of high risk delivery service in a future filled with zombies and rogue androids. Your goal is to deliver packages and earn money to build up a crew and purchase more advanced weapons and upgrades to tackle increasingly difficult deliveries and even bosses. As with many indie games lately, Confederate Express also features permadeath. The fairly impressive lighting effects deserve a special mention in this 2D pixel art title. A mere $10 is enough to get a Steam key of the game once it’s finished.


The Mandate by Perihelion Interactive

I mentioned The Mandate in my last Release Valve, but this extremely ambitious title is still at only half of its $500,000 goal with 20 days left. The Mandate looks to be a really odd space opera that blends mechanics and elements from several different genres. You have a very story-driven RPG with character interaction, relationship-building, political negations, trading, and galaxy-changing choices to be made, yet there is also ship-based RTS combat as you slowly build up a fleet and XCOM-style battles during boarding operations. Part of me worries that the sheer amount of different mechanics in the game could easily cause the game to fall apart somewhere during development, but the more optimistic side hopes that the developer’s ambitions are fully realized as an excellent and complex space RPG. The $20 tier for this game is very generous, including a DRM-free copy of the game, the soundtrack, digital artbook, wallpapers, backer exclusive ship decals, and avatar profile pictures to use on your favorite social media websites.


The Girl and the Robot by Salim Larochelle

This charming adventure game is at 83% of its $15,000 goal with 17 days left. The Girl and the Robot looks to be a more combat-focused version of Ico, made by an international indie team that includes beautiful artwork reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s work. As the title suggests, it is the story of a girl and a robot who must work together to find a way out of a mysterious castle ruled by an evil queen. Gameplay is divided into puzzles that require the unique abilities of each character to solve, and combat as the knight-like robot. The combat looks slow and deliberately clunky, not unlike Dark Souls, and even promises to have very hard difficulty settings. At $9 you receive a Humble Store key for a DRM-free copy of the game, access to the current alpha build, and a digital artbook.


Dwarven Delve by TinkerHouse Games

This game is currently at 35% of its actually rather modest goal of $30,000 with 18 days left to go. Based on the videos I’ve seen, Dwarven Delve looks rather far along in development and is targeting an early 2014 release. As for what it is, Dwarven Delve is a unique blend of puzzle gameplay and dungeon crawling where you control a band of six dwarves through maze-like caverns full of monsters. The most unique aspect of the game is the ability to rotate corridors to change the layout of the dungeon, avoiding really strong foes or leading pursuing monsters into traps. As the developers describe it, the goal is ultimately to reconfigure the dungeons in a way that maximizes rewards while minimizing risks. For $10 you get a copy of the game, your name engraved on the “founder’s stone” on the official website, and an art pack containing wallpapers, avatars, and icons.

That’s it for now. Even if you don’t plan on actually pledging money to these games, still remember to at least check out their Greenlight pages. Most of them have one, with a link to it somewhere on the Kickstarter page.