Crowdfunding is the ultimate gaming honey trap. I should know; I’ve experienced it first-hand. They promise you that game you’ve always wanted: Metal Gear Fantasy Suiko-Turismo Gaiden, with seemingly unlimited creative control, alongside mouth-watering exclusive merchandise. Unfortunately, the reality is often the exact opposite.
Due to the large number of questionable, if not outright dodgy, projects floating around Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites these days, we here at Power Up Gaming feel inclined to separate the wheat from the chaff for you. Which games are worth your investment, which games don’t deserve your patronage, and which games are worth your ridicule? We hope to take a somewhat regular look at what’s rolling around and report in an entirely unprofessional manner back to you, starting today!
Featured Project: Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is described as “classic JRPG combat meets action packed dungeons and stylish storytelling” which is so generic it’s practically invisible. Do take a closer look though, as this is a game being developed by Airship Syndicate, a studio run by ex-Vigil (those guys who made Darksiders) founders Joe Madureira and Ryan Stefanelli. The game has garnered significant interest, as you can imagine, and has already blown past its Kickstarter goal and been Greenlit on Steam.
The artwork, particularly for the characters, impressed us with the variety and the way that it has to attempted to step away from stereotyping. The gameplay itself does indeed look classic, and that should excite anybody with an interest in the genre. Turn-based combat looks fast with a few additional features, such as the inclusion of a reserve pool of Mana, to keep it fresh. Dungeons look fun, though perhaps understandably a touch threadbare at present. And of course, death is everywhere and very, very punishing.
The project’s reward tiers (or in this case “tears” would be more accurate), however, are somewhat disappointing. The cheaper “Early Bird” options are all long-since taken, leaving the baseline for the game with little extra at a surprising, for Kickstarter, $30. I’m not a fan of “Early Bird” reward tiers in general and this really cements the reasons why. It tends to turn away the many, who, through no fault of their own, did not get the opportunity to back the project on time.
Ultimately though, you’ve probably seen a thousand games promise the things that Battle Chasers: Nightwar does – only this one has a much higher chance of success. The price is a little steep, the rewards aren’t particularly inspiring, but the game itself looks fantastic and the talent behind it is real and proven. If you’re so inclined towards the classic RPG genre, this project is worth your investment.
Recommended Tier: $30
I can’t help but feel like I should be shouting BATTLETECH any time I talk about this game – fortunately, that doesn’t happen often. It’s fully funded so that’s not an issue, and there’s a PayPal option for those who prefer that avenue of daylight robbery. In actuality, this looks like a solid game. It’s a turn-based giant fighting robot game from Jordan Weisman, who basically created the genre with MechWarrior and the original BattleTech series (of which this is a successor, of sorts). While too much of the campaign video is taken up lauding these achievements, it’s worth watching for the plot and stunning artwork. Sadly, virtually no gameplay is on show throughout the Kickstarter, but the rewards available are reasonable in price and offers. This is a safe bet.
Recommended Tier: $25
Tears of Avia
I want to like this project, I really do – but I can’t. The gameplay is janky and slow-looking. The characters look generic and boring. The top-heavy skill customisation system sounds more a chore than a pleasure, and the rewards promised are an insult. 35 pounds sterling for three exclusive wallpapers! Be still my beating heart. For all the promise and the seriousness that the creators are trying to convey, I am not convinced this will be a game worth spending money on, even if it does make it out in 2017. The pledge goal is much higher than it should be as well.
Recommended Tier: 0
Muv Luv: A Pretty Sweet Visual Novel Series
Well there it is. Out of all the plethora of moeblob visual novel games all too present on Kickstarter, we have one that actually stands out as a critically acclaimed series in its own right. I scanned the project several times and didn’t see anywhere about how this series is actually a hyped-up, animated, hentai porn simulator, but then Kickstarter has rules against such things. Muv Luv (or in particular one of its sequels, Alternative), actually has a very surprising and thought-provoking story coupled with engaging characters and “pretty sweet” music. It’s an old series certainly, but it’s still one of the best of its genre. If this is your thing then I would say it would be worth your while to jump on board. Take note, however, that the lower tier of $25 only gets you Muv Luv, Extra and Unlimited. It takes an extra $10 to unlock Alternative.
Recommended Tier: $35
For the King: $40,000 CAD Goal, Funded, Ends October 16
I like what I see here; it’s got a charming art style, slightly less jank than the average turn-based combat, an online play option and a feel of adventure. Roguelikes with turn-based combat are everywhere on Kickstarter, but this one seems quite worthwhile. Plus, it’s already funded and they’ve already made a dent on their stretch goals. Go for it.
First Wonder: $500,000 Goal, Not Funded, Ends October 25
I can’t for the life of me work out where that $500,000 will go. Not graphics, voice acting, gameplay or a professional Kickstarter video, at least. I appreciate that almost everything about this game will be tongue-in-cheek ala MDK and Giants: Citizens Kabuto, but I just wasn’t into this project at all. Seems I’m not the only one either, as progress is slow and I’d be surprised to see it funded. The funding tiers are hilariously bad too. For a mere $10,000 you can be one of only two people to get a $2,000 gaming rig with First Wonder decals! Yay! Pass.
Witch Boy Magical Piece: $57,000 Goal, Not Funded, Ends October 18
No. Just no. If you’re interested in Visual Novels and in seeing them get localized, your money and consideration should turn to Muv Luv. Witch Boy Magical Piece is a BL (boys love), magic girl, gender-bender visual novel with a plot insulting to a toddler’s intelligence, animation that looks like it was borrowed from an early ’80s anime, and music that sounds like it was borrowed from an elevator. Stay away.