Looking like a game fresh off the PC shelves of Wal-mart (you know the ones I’m talking about), Devil’s Cove is a curious addition to the growing library of game pitches on Kickstarter. Made by an independent company who had the luxury of making dozens of games before, the game’s demo has a unique mix of professional 3D illustrations and bad transitions. While watching the demo, I had difficulty telling whether I was actually interested in the game or not—compared to most indie games, it looks quite good, but compared to high-profile games asking for the same contribution amount, there was nothing that made it stand out. Seeing as these Kickstarter Focuses have been mainly positive, prepare yourself for a little diversion from the norm.
The mysterious plot and cliché setting of Devil’s Cove gives the game a heavy resemblance to many other low-budget PC games—in particular, a much more successful series that began with The Secret of Monkey Island. While it does certainly stir up a lot of intrigue, the portrayal of the characters in its commercial doesn’t exactly leave room for speculation. You are forced to automatically suspect any authority figure—especially the Plague Doctor—and a few of the plot’s twists are already revealed. The setting is particularly terrible—you play on the cursed Skull Island. Zoom in on the words ‘Skull Island’ for a moment, and then try to remember that we’re not in the 90s era of PC gaming and storytelling. Given that the trailer is clearly not aimed towards kids, I think the developers could have named it something other than Skull Island. They can even keep the skull decorations littered throughout the city for some reason, if the name is reasonable enough.
Graphics-wise, the game is surprisingly stunning. It’s difficult to tell whether some renders are painted or 3D sometimes. If the bit at the end is any indication, the objects are rendered in 3D and then carefully textured from one angle. This gives them a wonderful paint-like effect—something on-par with professional graphics. However, there is a blaring downside to this. The animations are absolutely horrid. Consisting entirely of tweens or fade-in transitions, anything good about the graphics is instantly destroyed when you see them in motion. It may have been better not to have any transition at all, and just feature multiple images skipping together, than some of the animations that were shown in the trailer.
Regardless of its faults, the trailer does bring up plenty of good points. Anarchy Enterprises, the game’s developer, has been around for a long time, and might barely qualify as an independent developer, but it is trying to do things without a sponsor this time around. It’s not that they need the funding, it’s that they want the funding with no strings attached—this would allow them to release a beta version of the game and constantly tweak it according to the whims of its players, all while retaining the funding necessary for the game’s upkeep. It’s an interesting take, and oddly enough, I would love for this game to succeed—if not to publish its game, to at least show other developers reliant on publishers that they can attempt crowd-funding themselves.
If nostalgic point-and-click mystery adventures are your thing, you can go ahead and donate here.