Modus Games Upcoming Titles Are Heartwarming and Heartbreaking

first_img Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by Modus Games. While there, I checked out four of the publisher’s upcoming indie titles. Though Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince was admittedly the main reason I went to the event, the other three titles I saw are just as worthy of attention. Each of the games below take classic gameplay mechanics and switches them up in new and unexpected ways. Even if you’re not a fan of “indie games,” these are titles you’ll want to keep on your radar.Lost Words: Beyond the PageThe first demo I saw was for a platformer called Lost Words: Beyond the Page. Platforming titles are a dime a dozen now, but Lost Words differentiates itself through its setting. Half of it takes place within the pages of a diary while the other half is set in a fantasy world. This sounds strange, but it’s actually quite brilliant given the game’s story and central themes.Lost Words features a young girl named Izzy who is writing a fantasy novel. The game shows her writing process by having players control Izzy within the confines of a diary. Her own words act as platforms for her to walk on. In order to get to the next page, players need to move words around so Izzy can climb them. Some words have asterisks, which help expand on the story. It’s a clever mechanic I’ve never seen done before.The other half of Lost Words takes place in Estoria. In contrast to the simple visuals of diary pages, Estoria is a lush, vibrant world teaming with life. This section is more traditional than the diary, though it still has a unique twist. In order to overcome obstacles, Izzy has to use words from her word book. For example, in order to raise a platform, she uses the word “rise.” As the game progresses, Izzy will have more words at her disposal.Lost Words’ central theme is about dealing with grief. Izzy’s grandmother is her biggest inspiration. After her grandmother suffers a stroke, Izzy copes with the pain by pouring herself unto the page (somewhat literally). Events in Estoria symbolize those of the real-world. While Lost Words looks “cute” on the outside, it’s actually very deep and will no doubt resonate with many users who’ve had to struggle with a similar loss.Ary and the Secret of SeasonsAry and the Secret of Seasons is a 3D platformer that reminds me PS2 era games in the genre. What sets it apart is how protagonist Ary uses her slingshot to shoot pellets that create seasonal weather effects. For example, she can create a bubble of “winter” to freeze a lake so she can walk over it. She can also create summer in a location in order to make it rain. Players use this mechanic to fight enemies, solve puzzles, reach new areas, and discover secrets. It’s simplistic in its integration but yields a great deal of gameplay possibilities.In the demo, we saw Ary walking around her home village, which is experiencing unusual weather. It’s supposed to be winter but the village is currently suffering through a heatwave. Ary uses her powers to freeze a lake which lets her reach a hidden ledge where she finds treasure. She also creates a bubble of water in mid-air which she can swim in to reach higher terrain. I like how simple it is to create weather anywhere you want. I also appreciate how it forces players to get creative; which we saw first-hand during the second phase of the demo.The next section took place inside of a dungeon. Ary used her powers in order to lift giant boulders to get her to higher ground. She also had to face a multitude of enemies. Combat is very similar to The Legend of Zelda in that players have to lock on to foes and dodge attacks. Some enemies are vulnerable to specific weather. A hyena wearing a winter coat won’t do well in summer weather, for example. Combat is fast and fluid, but won’t tax your hand muscles. My favorite part of the dungeon was seeing how Ary’s weather powers help her solve puzzles.Ary and the Secret of Seasons makes me realize how much I love these types of games. Despite its simple premise, it has a great deal of potential complexity. I really like the art style and can easily see it adapted to fit a TV series or feature film. It looks like a Pixar movie come to life. Ary and the Secret of Seasons should be a nice game to play when you just want to unwind.Bear With MeThree out of the four titles I saw were firmly rooted in the platformer/action adventure genre. Because of that, Bear With Me stood out since it’s an old-school LucasArts-esque point-and-click adventure game. Though I am not the biggest fan of this genre, it’s clear Bear With Me is a rather unique experience.As I learned, Bear With Me originally released on Steam as an episodic title. The first three chapters are currently available on Steam but will soon come to consoles as Bear With Me: The Complete Collection. What I saw at the event was the fourth installment. This entry is actually a prequel to the previous games and is perfect for newcomers.Bear With Me takes place in a black and white film noir world. Like all good stories in the genre, Bear With Me is about solving a mystery. Players must search each level for clues and talk to many witnesses. The kicker here is one of the protagonists is a talking teddy bear who’s a raging alcoholic. The dialogue is witty and is apparently the reason this franchise has a cult following. I personally found the delivery somewhat stilted, but that’s just a minor gripe.Those looking for a pure point-and-click adventure game will find a lot to love in Bear With Me. It satisfies that specific itch that Telltale Games offerings oftentimes fail to scratch. Though I respect what this title is doing, I’m not sure if it’s for me. I don’t have much patience to click on items in the hopes of finding clues. But, hey, maybe I’ll end up playing Bear With Me and actually enjoy it.Ary and the Secret of Seasons and Bear With Me will release on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One sometime in 2019. 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