In what’s likely a result of the colder weather forcing indie game makers to stay inside and do nothing but programme, there’s been quite the spate of new horror-themed games on Kickstarter lately.
Tongue-in-cheek visual novels and cosmic horror are definitely on the agenda this month. Check out the top games featured on Kickstarter in November.
XOXO Blood Droplets
Picture your standard high school dating sim – where you, a lovelorn teenager, have your pick of all the cute boys in your after school club – and you’ve basically got XOXO Blood Droplets down. But here’s the twist: they’re all psychopathic murderers. XOXO Blood Droplets is a visual novel of horror, comedy, violence and love. Its cute, anime-inspired visual style belies a story of horror and blood. A lot of it.
You are JB, or Jellybean, a sharp-witted, determined and slightly back-stabby attendee of a prestigious boarding school. JB finds herself forced to attend an after-school club for students deemed “unfriendable”.
A high school girl surrounded by cute, albeit murderous, boys, JB’s goal is clear: to get to know the boys and hopefully find the love of her life. However, she needs to be careful about who she sets her sights on, as each club member has their own level of bloodthirstiness and their own gory preferences for dispatching classmates.
Anything can happen in this twisting narrative, and the game boasts a ridiculous amount of potential endings (150!). The devs GB Patch hope to release in October next year on Windows, Mac, Linux, Steam and eventually Android.
Sluggish Morss: Pattern Circus
Sluggish Morss: Pattern Circus looks absolutely insane, and we mean that in a good way. A claymation 2D adventure game, Pattern Circus is a dark science fiction set in an incomprehensible future.
With a fractured, interweaving and non-linear story, the game has a unique approach to narrative. Your time playing will be split between the interlinked stories of eight different characters: a child, an artist, a hunter, a fighter, a racer, a dreamer, a scientist and a detective. All these characters have their lives affected by the looming phenomenon has been predicted – a temporal interference that spreads anxiety and confusion amongst the populace.
As you explore this surreal world of comedy and melancholy, you’ll come across a bunch of side quests and context-specific mini-games, from psychedelic vapour racing games to side-scrolling deep sea levels.
Developer Jack King-Spooner and his small team say they want the visuals to have a fleshy, grotesque but goofy feel. They also stress how important the game’s original soundtrack is to them: an eclectic mix of genres, from prog rock to electronica, samples of which you can listen to on their Kickstarter page and Youtube channel.
With only a few days left on their campaign, Sluggish Morss: Pattern Circus has already surpassed its goal of £7,000 and aims to release in January 2020.
Softly, With Teeth: A Vampire Otome Visual Novel
Another visual novel here with Softly, With Teeth. This coming-of-age otome/yuri visual novel is set in an urban fantasy world that mixes up vampires with a few Faustian elements and nestles it in the modern day.
Diana is a 20-year-old makeup guru and freshly turned vampire. Cheerful and naive, Diana has to navigate parties with fellow undead, competitive demonic roommates and potential romances. After the life-altering excitement of becoming a vampire wears off, even immortality starts to become dull, and she and the other vampires, be they 20 years old or 2000 years, grapple with their pasts, presents and futures in relation to vampirism. She has the option of four pursue-able love interests (plus two additional “bonus” love interests) with different branching story pathways and eight potential endings.
As Diana, you’ll get to play tabletop games with a literal medieval knight, have deep heat-to-hearts with your roommate, record a gimmicky video with your beau of choice and ultimately find your place in the world.
On the Kickstarter page, the creators explain their wish to fill the Softly, With Teeth full of vampiric lore and hope that vampire fans in particular will get a kick out of the game.
Aethyr is an open world 2D action adventure game inspired by the golden age of RPGs. Developer Labyrinth has been working on the game as a passion project for 5 years already with the goal of making a game that captures the same sense of creativity, immersiveness and exploration that his old childhood favourites did.
Set in a post-apocalyptic magical world where humanity is on the edge of extinction, a new hero delves into crumbling temples built in the worship of ancient, arcane gods. This hero’s one goal is to seek out and uncover the mysteries of the past.
The game features fast-paced, position-based combat in a sprawling, fully explorable world full of temples, dungeons and secrets. It also emphasises detailed character customisation with an intricate skill system and wide range of weapons and magic.
The ability-based combat is designed to give you the freedom to choose your own personal play style and Aethyr gives you 21 skill branches and over 100 different abilities to pick from. Decision-making and fast-paced reactions are key in the game’s combat system, which has no real-time RNG, meaning players are rewarded for foregoing luck altogether.
There are a number of weapons at your disposal, including long and short swords, bludgeons, axes and bows, all with different specialised properties. As you explore the world, you’ll find gather the resources to hone and modify your weapons.
God’s Gift is a quirky little 2D puzzle platformer where you play as an Lovecraftian god worshipped by a cult. Based on games like Lemmings, Pikmin and Black & White, while it’s still in its early stages, you get a good sense of the gruesome, weird and strangely cute vibe the creators at Seventeen Uncles are going for.
Gameplay-wise, there’s a big emphasis on exploration and experimentation, as you guide your mindless cultists though over 30 levels of puzzles and environmental and enemy-based obstacles. Not only do you lead them through the ancient world of the Old Gods, you can mutate your cultists into a bunch of bizarre forms, giving them new eldritch (and very useful) abilities.
Your fellow deities long ago transcended to exist only on a psychic plane, but the realm of the Old Gods is now under threat from a mysterious enemy. Your job as the champion of your realm is to shepherd and feed the flesh and souls of your worshipping flock to your incorporeal friends to reform their physical bodies.
The 30+ levels are spread across four realms. Each level has its own special blend of mutations and each realm has its own special goal. You’ll encounter a weird and wide variety of strange enemies as well as four powerful bosses, including an epic final encounter.
Lore Finder: A Cosmic Horror Metroidvania
Lore Finder is a metroidvania where you discover forbidden lore that warps reality and your own body. In this game, the more you learn, the worse it gets.
In this modern queer reimagining of the Lovecraftian genre, you play as paranormal investigator K.C. Morgan as you explore a New England mansion in search of your missing father. You find the mansion infested with corrupted alien beings and have to rely on your wits, your handy .38 revolver and the scrolls of forbidden knowledge you discover along the way. However, the more you uncover, the more twisted you – and your world – become.
The game’s world is a changing one, as finding new scrolls may reveal a hidden entrance, or newly accumulated powers allow you to access a freshly transformed part of a room. The non-linear level design encourages you to explore in any way you want and creators Eniko emphasise that they want players to soak up the dark, oppressive atmosphere. As you fight disturbing and warped entities throughout the mansion, you’ll also begin to become corrupted yourself, letting you fight these creatures with your own dark powers.
Despite having the best part of a month to go until the campaign’s end, Lore Finder has already flown past its goal. With the game releasing on Steam in late 2019, the team have added stretch goals like a Mac and Linux release, additional bosses and noir-style voice acting.