Going to a pub in the afternoon has a feeling of naughtiness and nonchalance about it, especially if you stay after the lunchtime office workers have returned to their desks and you find yourself in the witching hour between 3 pm and 6 pm – the slot where time stands still and the true drinkers are Kings and Queens.
Luckily for me I was not in The Loading Bar in Shepherds Bush, London for the great 2-for-1 offers on Fosters, but a spectacular preview event by the developers at Modus, as they delivered up four indie games that will be on your highlight reel in the next year or so.
Join me then as I take a look at Bear With Me, Ary and the Secret of Seasons, Trine 4 and Lost Words…
Bear With Me
The very charming Andrej Kovacevic – the game director for Bear With Me – ran through things as I got an insight into this intriguing point and click adventurer.
Bear with Me has already had a life on Steam, releasing itself in episodic content, and the piece he was happy to show off at the Modus showcase was that of the latest episode in the series.
The good news for us Xbox One owners is that the whole series, with all the content included, is coming this summer – and I for one can’t wait. See, I love a good old fashioned point and click puzzle adventure like the next person, but this game comes complete with a very cool world to immerse yourself in.
Bear With Me is set in a story-driven 2D noir world where the artwork is lovingly hand-drawn and animated. You play through the collection as Amber who is looking for her brother Flint with the help of a very special Private Detective. Mr. Ted. E. Bear. This brilliant character and star of the game is a sardonic, alcoholic and very droll teddy bear who has a passion for one-liners and the bottom of a bottle. The system I saw in action is intuitive and even though it uses the old point and click system, it seems to bring something completely fresh and new to the genre. I can’t wait to spend some time in the world of Bear With Me in order to play through the whole story from start to finish.
It’s coming this summer as a Complete Collection on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS and Android.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons
Whilst I couldn’t get hands-on, the next game I was treated to a playthrough of was a Zelda-like action adventure; the award-winning Ary and the Secret of Seasons.
Now don’t be fooled by my lazy comparison because this game looks like it has got a trick up its sleeve, allowing it to stand out from the crowd.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons follows the main character, Ary, on her adventures across a brilliant and beautifully colourful world, becoming a master at controlling the elements around her. She has the ability to leap between ecosystems to bend the world and seasons to her needs. For example, I saw an autumnal section of the game set on a lake which Ary was crossing, but to get across, and to the hard to reach areas, she would have to turn the environment into winter to freeze the water, get across the ice, and complete the objective.
What’s staggering though is the amount of detail found in the changing environments, and how the game seems to handle it all without a stutter. The action, puzzle elements, and world look like they will combine to create a wonderful space to spend some time in when Ary and the Secret of Seasons releases on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC in late 2019/early 2020.
From the outset, Trine 4 is the one game that was most familiar of the four I encountered, mainly due to the fact I had delved into the series back on the PS3.
This time around the developers behind it – the best double act around, no less – showed a lengthy playthrough of a couple of the sections, and even though the team has gone back to basics on what made the original Trine games work, it will be adored by the fans.
Trine 4 comes with an interesting story, with cutscenes that develop the characters of the warrior, wizard, and thief for the first time; all done with a rich voiceover and narrative. But the game does what it does best in the dynamic puzzle solving area, using all three of the characters’ talents.
I was witness to a couple of the puzzles found in Trine 4, impressed by its fluid gameplay and intrigued by the range of different ways that will be available to those trying to play and solve things. With it offering both local and online play, Trine 4 is crying out to be played across some great sessions with friends and family members, and when you throw in the fact that it looks absolutely stunning with its breathless 2.5D worlds, it’s certainly one to keep an eye on when it releases on Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC this coming autumn.
So last, but by no means least, is Lost Words – a really engaging narrative-driven, atmospheric puzzler that is set inside the pages of a young girl’s diary.
The developer – Dan Gabriel Geberovich – showed me through through a few different levels. It’s fair to say that I was hooked from the very beginning.
This 2D platformer plays out proceedings with words as the driving force, both for the mechanics and narrative of the game. It is here where players interact with the words themselves to solve challenging puzzles and transcend unique platforming segments to progress through an evolving landscape. The game comes with a beautiful watercolor world that is incredible to look at and take in, with the story written by renowned writer Rhianna Pratchett, who juggles the real world of the girl from the diary dealing with grief at an early age to the fantasy world of Estoria where words have all the power.
I spoke to Rhianna about her experience of working on the game.
“A lot of the themes are about loss and grief and the intersection between grief and memory came through my involvement in the game, taking the mechanics that Mark ( Founder/Creative Director) built and finding ways to express that journey through environmental storytelling. I had been through grief a lot and I wanted to express that journey where there are moments of dark and there are moments of light and contemplation. The interesting thing was looking at it happening to someone younger, where you’re a happy kid and you’re looked after by your parents and then you’re forced to grow up as the world unfurls around you. I thought that age was an interesting age to write for and I tend to write for young female protagonists, who are often in fairly adult situations. I saw the potential of the mechanics of the game to express that journey”
I asked Rhianna about the process of working on a game such as this and collaborating with the developer…
“Because in this game the narrative is forming the puzzles and the text is forming the mechanics, there had to be quite a strong collaboration from the start. I often throw into the pot ideas around words and how they can be used. The big challenge for writing for games is balancing the needs of narrative and the needs of gameplay. When narrative and gameplay are so tightly woven, there are a whole different set of challenges as you’re making the narrative flow accordingly, but you also have to make the words work with the game mechanics. They have to maybe have a platform element to them, or a puzzle element. So we have to work in two different ways, which is the hardest challenge. The closer you work as a writer with the design, the easiest the process is. You have to do it together.”
Lost Words is coming to Xbox One, PS4 and PC later in 2019 and looks like a very exciting prospect – especially for those gamers who love to play around with a bit of text and narrative.
Huge thanks go out to Modus for running their Showcase event and inviting us to attend. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as to the progress of each of the games found at the event, detailing release dates, development work and more as and when it becomes available.
For now though, let us know which of these games you are most excited to see. The comments section is down below.