As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of adventure games. While visiting AdventureGamers.com earlier (a site for which I also write), I was reminded of the game rain, due out this year exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
In rain, you play as a boy trying to catch up to a girl who is being chased my monsters. During your pursuit, you stumble into the monsters’ path, and have to avoid them as well.
Also, you are invisible. As is the girl. As are the monsters. You only see others as you are seen: in the steadily falling rain. Going under cover allows you invisibility and gets the monsters off your tail. For now.
Upon watching the trailer below, I immediately thought of Little Fears, specifically the World in Between from Among the Missing. The fiction in rain could easily be something that happens when a child slips through the cracks of our world.
I’m going to be keeping an eye on this game, and urge Little Fears to do so as well. No release date for rain beyond this year but I have a feeling this will be worth it no matter the wait.
It’s an exciting time for PC games with a lot of developers, especially the indies, trying new genres and new ideas within old genres. One such game that Little Fears fans might want to put on their radar is Huntsman – The Orphanage, a horror game from an outfit called ShadowShifters. Played through a first-person perspective, you must elude the ominously-named Huntsman as you try to escape the titular facility with only your smartphone and your wits to guide you. Judging from the trailer, it seems the smartphone will be incredibly important in not just your survival but others’ as well.
I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that children are involved in the story as well as what seems to be a heavy supernatural element. I got a strong Slenderman: The Eight Pages vibe from what I’ve seen and read but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
The first I heard of the video game Rule of Rose was back in 2005 when I saw a strange little trailer announcing its impending release in Japan. This two-minute snippet gave no clue to the gameplay or, really, anything about the story. But the tone and music and glimpses of the story’s potential riled horror fans like me into a frenzy. Unfortunately, the game’s fate outside Japan was up in the air until Atlus announced that it would bring Rule of Rose to the States.
Of course I picked it up on day one.
Set in the 1930s, you play as nineteen-year old Jennifer, a girl whose parents were recently killed in an airship accident. We meet her on a bus traveling through the English countryside. After arriving at her destination, she glimpses a young boy who leads her down a trail. At the end of this trail, Jennifer finds an orphanage. Not one overseen by gentle caretakers though but ruled by three sinister adolescent girls who call themselves the Red Crayon Aristocrats. It’s their leader, Diana, who tests Jennifer’s worth through a series of tasks that take her around the orphanage and put her in the path of animal-headed imps, a bound mermaid, and a dog named Brown who not only becomes her companion in the story but an ally in the game. We also meet Amanda, a disturbed girl shunned by the Aristocrats who is only happy Jennifer is there because that gives Diana and the rest someone else to hate. And then there are other kids, including the boy who led Jennifer to the orphanage in the first place, but let’s leave them for you to discover.
The chapters, which run from March to December, are introduced by crayon drawings that set each stage. The cinematics that play throughout are creepy and chilling and pitch perfect. As you endure Diana’s trials, you learn the true story behind the orphanage and its inhabitants, including the connection Jennifer has to the place—something the girl herself doesn’t realize.
I try to only shine light on inspiration you can find either in stores, on a streaming service, or in digital distribution. Unfortunately, Rule of Rose is long out of print. Sellers on Amazon Marketplace currently list it at over $100. You may be able to find a copy of ebay, in the used section of your local GameStop (or regional equivalent), or in a secondary market retailer. As these sorts of games are usually hoarded, you’ll likely have to pay a pretty penny. Or, if you’d rather skip the gameplay and only enjoy the story, playthroughs exist on YouTube and such.
Rule of Rose is not a great game but its atmosphere combined with the twisted world of the Aristocrats is perfect nightmare fuel for Little Fears. And if you doubt me, check out that trailer I mentioned earlier:
As you may have noticed, the summer season of Campfire Tales stalled with just one entry out the door. As summer ends soon (at least in this hemisphere), I’ve decided to shelve the rest of this season. With a full-time job and a lot of stuff due out for Streets of Bedlam still, I need to trim down my commitments and focus on where I want to steer my creative future. Part of that is pulling back from Little Fears as a line of game products.
But not from Little Fears.
I’ve long wanted to do more with Little Fears. I love the world, the fiction, and I think it has great potential. Back in 2001, it kickstarted my career. In 2009, it gave me direction and purpose as I entered a new turn in my path as a writer. Now, in 2012, I want to take it to the next level. I have a lot of ideas, and I will be announcing them soon, but know that I want more from Little Fears. It’s time to take the closet door off its hinges.
You all have been amazing with your support of the game line. I hope this next phase of Little Fears excites you as well.
As for the game line, this new focus leaves two announced LFNE products in limbo. I still want to do Book 3 and The Seven Kings but both will require a sizable time and money investment that I can’t commit to right now. But they are most certainly not forgotten.
That’s where things are at. It’s time for me to direct my attention toward doing the stuff I’ve wanted to do with Little Fears for years now. Thank you all for your understanding and support.
Of all the controversy stemming from the original Little Fears, the book’s references to and condemnation of child abuse was the subject most often addressed. While I did my best to approach the topic with tact and sensitivity, I was coming to it as an outsider. I had never suffered abuse, had a stable upbringing in a loving home, and was raised by parents who watched over me and protected me. Less so Vanderlei Caballero, the creative director of the PlayStation Network release Papo & Yo.
Papo & Yo is a bright shining example of bringing the subject of abuse to the fore by masking it in an approachable wrapper, that of an action-adventure video game.
You play as Quico, a little boy we meet as he’s hiding behind a vent from a lumbering hulk initially seen only in shadow. You soon escape from the beast into a land that plays by the rules of imagination. Throughout the game, you will pull staircases out of brick walls via shining chalk outlines and rearrange neighborhoods by moving around cardboard boxes capable of shifting houses. You’ll meet new characters, gain a treasured toy that lets you do even more in the world, and run into the beast we met early on: Monster. We learn that Monster is normally very kind and gentle but it is addicted to these frogs that turn it into a raging beast. Soon you are set upon finding a cure for Monster’s addiction, freeing it and yourself from its affliction.
The developer states plainly that Papo & Yo is an allegory for his own trials enduring his father’s addiction to drugs and alcohol, even dedicating the work to his siblings who endured as well. With that knowledge, the game’s simple premise takes on a much darker tone but also draws you in even further as you root for Quico to succeed and empathize with this struggle to cure Monster of its addiction.
Yes, it’s heady stuff. But the game’s wonderful art style and engaging world make it easy to get into and enjoy on a game level while processing what all this means on an intellectual and emotional level.
While Little Fears shifted from real-world horror with the release of Little Fears Nightmare Edition, child abuse in all its forms has not gone away and conversations about it—to find better ways to prevent it, address it, and help others recover from its effect—need to happen. As long as we are able to help those affected heal their wounds, we stand a better chance, as a people, of surviving it.
Games such as Papo & Yo are designed as a personal catharsis, but others who endured similar can also find release and those of us who never faced abuse are allowed a better glimpse into its effects. Games like this challenge us all, well beyond our ability to solve puzzles, and serve as further proof that turning pain into positivity is a large step in breaking the cycles that bring us all down.
The game came out yesterday on PlayStation Network for $14.99. You can purchase it directly from you PlayStation 3, through Sony’s online store, or buy a download code from select retailers. (PlayStation+ members save 20%.)
You can find plenty of footage and developer diaries on YouTube as well as my favorite video game website, Giant Bomb. Click below for the wonderful trailer that shows even more of the game’s sense of wonder and imagination.
Little Fears fan Jack_Of_Tears posted this to the Yahoo!Group but I had to share it as well.
World-renowned concept and illustration studio Massive Black is currently running a Kickstarter to launch an online co-op game called Zombie Playground. This stuff is pure Little Fears. We have child protagonists, improvised weapons made from school supplies and stuff laying around, and some really cool-looking graphics all set inside a school overrun by the walking dead.
As the reps say in the video below, Zombie Playground is not for children. There’s lot of gore and violence in the game. But as an adult gamer, I love the concept and the style of the game seems top-notch.
Massive Black has already met their goal so the Kickstarter’s success is guaranteed but there’s still time to join in, make a pledge, secure your copy of the game, and maybe snag a few cool exclusive. If the concept sounds interesting to you, check out the video below. You can read the full pitch, and make your pledge, at the official KS page.
While the protagonist is too young to be a Little Fears character, Krillbite Studios’ Among the Sleep is a deeply intriguing concept. Currently in development for Mac and PC, this first-person game casts you in the role of a two-year old child who, after being put to bed one night, discovers some mysterious things afoot in his house. Sadly, I don’t know much more than that but I’ll be watching this one closely. You can check out Krillbite’s dev blog, the official Among the Sleep website, as well as watch their reveal trailer below.
Season Two of Campfire Tales wrapped up last week with the release of #6: Old Man Winter. That brings the total number of products in the Nightmare Edition line to eight. I’m pretty proud of that. LFNE went a year after its release without additional material until the first Campfire Tales episode launched in October 2010. While I wasn’t able to pump out the 12 episodes I’d initially planned, I was able to readjust for the stutter in my workflow and publish half of them in about a year’s time along with the first full-sized supplement as well.
Last March, I revealed some information about a multi-part supplement called The Seven Kings. I’ve also dropped some hints about Book 3 here and there. I’d still love to do both next year but won’t commit to a time frame just yet. I’ll keep you all posted.
One thing I do want to announce now is that I’ll be releasing a summer season of Campfire Tales. The three episodes will be set in the hottest months which gives me a good excuse to finally release one of my personal favorite episodes, “Camp Howling Wolf.” I look forward to the change in season and I hope you like it as well.
Other plans for Little Fears exist, some more feasible than others, but I’ll hold tight on those yet. One promise at a time.
I want to thank you all for your support, your kind words, and helping to spread the word. I hope you had a wonderful year and an even better one awaits you in 2012.
Though it doesn’t deal exclusively with kids fighting monsters, the trailer for Funcom’s upcoming modern-day horror game THE SECRET WORLD features an adversary reminiscent of a certain bird-like fellow. I’m not much into the MMORPG scene but I’m certainly intrigued by this. I may just check it out when it goes live. If you’re interested in more information, visit their website to take the admissions test.