Over the last year or so – in my opinion since Double Fine‘s huge success with their Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter – crowd-funding has become the saving grace of many projects that would not have seen the light of day otherwise. Some titles, like Mr. Schafer‘s efforts, Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenara, are the works of high-profile developers trying to fund projects that would likely not have seen the light of day otherwise. However, there are also many smaller titles attempting to use crowd-funding to muscle their way into the spotlight.
The upcoming Schein is one such title. Quite reminiscent of Limbo, Schein takes place in a dreary swamp, where players take the role of a disillusioned father, mourning the loss of his son. A mysterious ghost, Irrlicht (who also serves as the primary gameplay mechanic) represents the last shred of hope this man is clinging to. Here’s the description of the game, straight from the developers themselves:
Set in the middle of a glum and murky swamp, Schein takes you on the perilous journey of a desperate father, who is grieving for his lost son. Wandering aimlessly through the swamp, he keeps reaching dead ends and hope is slowly fading. Just as the darkness threatens to swallow him completely, a glimmer of hope appears in the form of a ghost light named “Irrlicht”. As the Irrlicht’s glow touches their surroundings, the world slowly begins to change, transforming it into an altogether different place. Through this beautiful metamorphosis, the man can now follow paths that had not been visible before.
Step into the young man’s soggy shoes, entrust your life to the witty little Irrlicht and discover the dangerous secrets of the swamp. Learn to solve puzzles and trigger mechanisms, to overcome obstacles and continue your perilous journey through the darkness. Shed the Irrlicht’s light on your surroundings to uncover new realities and find hidden paths, which lead you deeper and deeper into the swamp. But beware, numerous ancient spirits guard the spluttering muds and make your chance of survival dreadfully slim!”
Schein started out as a student project, after finishing the prototype, the developers decided they wanted to try and get their game a proper release. To that end, they are starting an Indiegogo campaign on the 5th of May to help it along. In order to garner interest, they’ve released an early developer demo, which is just long enough to demonstrate the kind of puzzles you might face while traversing the swamp with Irrlicht. If you’re interested in giving it a shot, you can grab the demo here.
There’s definitely some interesting ideas at play, here. While crossing the swamp, you’ll reach areas you can’t cross without using Irrlicht’s light, but his light will also illuminate obstacles, necessitating you to switch the glow on and off, sometimes mid-jump. I was also fond of how Irrlicht’s glow changes the graphic of the player character: he looks deathly depressed in the grey light of the swamp, but while enclosed in Irrlicht’s glow, there is hope on his face again. The art style is quite simplistic (the player-character has a big head, which seems par for the course for characters in indie games these days), but there’s still a lure to it. I would definitely recommend you check it out. You can visit the game’s website for more info, or mark your calendars for May 5th, when the Indiegogo campaign starts up.