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Ray’s 2015 E3 Report Part Two – Bring on the Adventure Games!

Ray’s 2015 E3 Report Part Two - Bring on the Adventure Games!

Ray’s 2015 E3 Report Part Two – Bring on the Adventure Games!

Ray looks at Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, What Remains of Edith Finch, The Assembly, Adr1ft, Whispering Willows, Back to Bed, a Telltale update, and Goliath.


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While I did not see any completely traditional, point-and-click, old-school graphic adventures at the show other than the remake of King’s Quest, I saw several adventure games I cannot wait to get my hands on. If you enjoyed Gone Home, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter or some of the other recent oddball adventures, there’s lots of stuff upcoming for you to enjoy.

You’ll notice that most of the games are being developed for the PS4. This wasn’t me filtering, I assure you. It’s just the way it seemed to work out!

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

You’ve got to check this one out online. Made by The Chinese Room, the studio that made Dear Esther (here’s our own Bob Washburne’s review of that title), it wins my award for The Most Beautiful Title For a Game at E3 2015.

rapture title 640

In a format a bit reminiscent of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (here’s Jeffry Houser’s review), the game simply drops you in the middle of a beautiful environment and expects you to start exploring. This time around, you’re in a charming British town that’s been utterly depopulated for reasons unknown. Your job is to wander around and try to learn some of the stories of the departed. You have one thing to help you: memories of the townspeople leave flickering lights with which you can interact. When you do, you’ll experience bits and pieces of their stories.

Rapture town

I spoke with Dan Pinchbeck, Creative Director of The Chinese Room. He told me their approach to this post-apocalyptic story was to zoom in very close and focus on six characters. If you look at a tragedy involving millions, it becomes abstract; but if you focus on a particular person the story becomes human. That’s the experience of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

The game will be released for PS4 on August 11 of this year.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Giant Sparrow, the independent studio behind The Unfinished Swan, is finishing up this macabre exploration adventure about a cursed family. You play Edith, the last surviving member of the family, and the game begins with you simply exploring the old family house. From the outside the sprawling homestead looks a bit…strange.

Edith Finch Title

While the game feels a bit like Gone Home at first, things get weird really fast. The narrator casually mentions in the voiceover, “Molly was the first to die, so I thought I’d start in her room.” Okay, then.

finch diary

Next you’re playing Molly, a little girl who wakes up ravenous with hunger for some unexplained reason. After looking around for food in her room, she spies a bird outside her window… and promptly turns into a cat. You know, so she can pursue the bird.

Keep in mind that you’re only seeing the environments. The perspective is first-person, so you don’t see Edith, or the little girl, or the cat. You’re experiencing their points of view.

finch house

I only got to play a few minutes of the game, but it was enough to really intrigue me. I’m beginning to like these “exploration adventures.” They really take advantage of modern graphics and technical game abilities that result in exploration adventures being displayed in new and interesting ways.

The game will be released on the PS4 in 2016.

By the way: Another great title, don’t you think, just as titles go?

Telltale Update

Telltale Games was not showing anything at this year’s E3 (which displeased us, but what are you going to do?). As they were there looking for new employees, howver, I poked my head in and had a brief chat with Job Stauffer, their Director of PR. I asked him what was coming up for one of my favorite adventure game studios.

He mentioned the newly-announced three-episode Walking Dead adventure focusing on the character of Michonne from the television series. (Yes, please.) That’s coming later this year.

And of course they’ve confirmed Season Three of The Walking Dead. Considering I thought the first two seasons were absolutely brilliant, I’m totally on board for season three. Stouffer would not confirm or deny that the new episodes were a continuation of Clementine’s story. He asked me if I though it should be: I said I sort of thought Clementine’s story was done. We’ll find out if I’m right or wrong next year.

Finally, I asked him if Telltale planned on doing a follow-up to their beautiful Neon Noir gem The Wolf Among Us. All Stouffer could tell me was that they “would love to do more” with that property, but that he could tell me nothing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Another tidbit of good news: He confirmed they would soon be working with the Dave Fennoy, the wonderful actor who voiced the character of Lee in The Walking Dead.

VR, Baby

Two of the adventure games I got to see were virtual reality games!

Now, I should say here that I am not yet a true believer in the Oculus Rift, the Sony Project Morpheus or any of the other new VR devices currently in development. When I’ve tried them at E3, I’ve had problems with them. Either I couldn’t see through them (bad focus or calibration to my face shape), or they were extremely uncomfortable, or experiencing the games made me unpleasantly dizzy.

But I did my best to go into my exposure to these two new upcoming games with as open a mind as possible. I promise!

The Assembly

The first virtual reality adventure I got to see is The Assembly from nDreams. This tension-filled game takes place in a world endangered by plague. Deep beneath the Nevada desert, a rogue group of scientists and technicians are searching for a way to deal with the biological dangers facing the planet. And they don’t really care who they hurt in the process.

assembly title

I once again had problems with the Oculus Rift headset. It was very uncomfortable, and it felt like it was mashing my glasses into my face. Without my glasses I couldn’t see well enough. However, they also had a Project Morpheus goggle set for me to try, and it was much more comfortable.

assembly goggles

There are two protagonists in the game; one is a virologist and the other is a behavioral scientist, both of whom are recruited to work for The Assembly.

In the world of The Assembly, when you are “recruited” into the service of this shadowy group of scientists, it’s really more of a kidnapping. The first scene I got to see showed one of the two protagonists being taken into the complex. She’s literally strapped to a gurney, and she’s supposed to be unconscious. But she begins to wake up and witnesses some things she’s not supposed to…

assembly jog

The next scene was even stranger. You’re in a large dining room with a group of mannequins sitting around the table as if they were having dinner. One of them is “murdered,” and it’s your task to solve the mystery.

I mentioned to the developers that I was getting a bit dizzy and that I didn’t picture my play sessions in any VR game lasting that long. They said my reaction wasn’t unusual and that for that reason, the objectives and chapters in The Assembly are designed to be about fifteen minutes each.

Observation will be key in solving the puzzles in the game, and the developers say the VR format will facilitate that. You can crawl under desks and look in nooks and crannies that might be difficult to get to in a traditional game.

The game will (at least at this point) only be released in this VR format, and it’s not clear when that will be. The idea is that it will be a launch title when the VR devices finally launch.

I thought what I was seeing was interesting, but the graphics looked a bit jagged and muddy. I assume the visuals will get tightened up as the game gets closer to launch.


Nope, not a misprint, that’s actually how the name of the game is spelled.

From 505 Studios, this is basically a VR adventure version of the recent film Gravity. You’re on a space station, it gets blown up, and you’re the sole survivor. What do you do?

adr1ft 1

I have to tell you, this sounds like a really good idea for a VR game to me. I hate 3D movies, but I thought Gravity earned its 3D. And I think Adr1ft might be a really compelling VR game.

It didn’t hurt that this was the very first time I really had success wearing the Oculus Rift. Finally I had a set that was comfortable, and that I could see through properly. And weirdly enough, even though I was drifting around weightless in a broken space station, I didn’t experience any dizziness. At all. Big step forward!

The gameplay demo was quite short. It was mostly getting a feel for the controls, and the movement. But it was fascinating and interesting.

In addition to its TBA VR release date, Adr1ft will also be released on the PS4 this September, and I look forward to playing it.

Check out this cool trailer for the game.

And Two More Independent Adventure Games

Loot Interactive is publishing two very promising looking small adventure games that really caught my attention.

Whispering Willows

The first one is Whispering Willows, a side-scrolling puzzle exploration chiller set in a dark, catacomb-ridden estate. In it you play Elena, who has to discover the mansion’s secrets. Elena has a special ability to use astral projection. Temporarily leaving her physical body, she can reach places her physical self cannot, and this is the key to her solving many of the game’s puzzles.

willows astral

Unlike many horror games these days, there’s no combat. It’s all about the story, the puzzles, the environments, and the atmosphere.

creepy willows

The art is gorgeous and I found the world of the game instantly compelling. I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.

It’ll be released on June 30 for the PSP and the PS4. The PC version came out on 7/9/2014.

Back To Bed

And then there’s Back to Bed, a puzzler based on the art of René Magritte and M.C. Escher. It’s a cute puzzle game in which you play a dog who has to help his sleepwalking human find his way back to bed. Gameplay-wise, it’s a bit as if Pit Droids and The Bridge had a baby. Art-wise, it’s reminiscent (in a good way) of the beautiful Monument Valley

back to bed title

Each puzzle has your human stumbling around in his sleep. The gimmick is, when he encounters a barrier of any kind, he only does one thing: He turns right. It’s your job, as his faithful dog, to find ways to disrupt this behavior and get him back on the path to his bed. Okay, he’s not really a dog, he’s sort of a surrealistic subconscious guardian… but he feels kind of like a dog.

back to bed fish

I tried a couple of early levels. In the first one I literally used a facsimile of Magritte’s famous green apple as a way to disrupt my human back onto course. I really like this kind of puzzle and I look forward to seeing the full game.

Back to Bed is actually available now for lots of platforms: Mac, PlayStation Network (PS3), PC, iPhone, iPad, Android, Wii U, PlayStation Network (Vita), PlayStation 4, Linux, and Ouya!

…And One Non-Adventure – Goliath RPG

I got to see an early build of an interesting-looking game called Goliath from Whalebox Studios (from Siberia, I kid you not).

This game is described as (are you ready?) “an open-world action survival RPG.” With robots.

Though I think it’s pretty early in the game’s development cycle, it’s an ambitious game in which you play a human survivor dumped on a strange planet that’s put together from a jumble of other worlds and civilizations. Each discreet area has its own hazards and resources. The way you interact with the world is by designing and building robot suits that you wear. Different kinds of suits work in different kinds of situations and places.

Similar to the Diablo games, the environments in the game are procedurally generated, meaning they are different for each new game. The game will also include factions of different groups of characters that share the world. The game will also feature multiplayer mode in both co-op and versus play.

This early trailer will give you an idea of how the game looks and feels.

Ray Ivey

Ray Ivey

A gaming freakazoid, Ray enjoys games on all platforms. Also loves board games, mind games, and all puzzles. Co-wrote the Entertainment Tonight trivia game and designed puzzles for two Law & Order PC games. Also a movie freak, bookworm, and travel bug. Thinks games of all kinds are a highly underappreciated force for social good, not to mention mental and psychological health.   Ray's favorite adventures include the "Broken Sword" and "Journeyman Project" franchises, "The Dark Eye," "The Feeble Files," "Sanitarium," "Limbo," "Machinarium," "Riven," "The Neverhood," and "Azrael's Tear." His favorite non-adventures include the "Thief," "Uncharted," and "Ratchet & Clank" franchises, all of the Bioware RPGs, Skyrim, and Final Fantasy XII.   Ray writes about the movies for the Bryan/College Station Daily Eagle, which is the old-fashioned thing called a "newspaper." He's been on eight game shows. He's taught in seven countries and has visited twenty-one. His favorite classic movie star is Barbara Stanwyck and his favorite novel is "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving.

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