A Kick for Kickstarters: Prey for the Gods

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Thanks to the number of crowdfunding games people are still waiting for, and those whose post-funding development periods went off the rails (see Project Phoenix and Unsung Story for the biggest current examples), it’s been more difficult to get games funded on services like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo than before — especially for unproven entities. Take the campaign for the remake of System Shock I posted about last week, for instance. The original game was popular enough that I’m sure the project would have been funded within days of launching if things were healthy; but the aforementioned issues are partly to blame for why it took around a week to reach its initial goal. Though it’s not impossible, it will take some work on the part of the campaign coordinators to reach the $1.7 million stretch goal the developers and most fans really want to hit.

If bigger projects are having issues, it’s tough to imagine what’s occurring with the smaller ones. Case in point: Prey for the Gods.

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If you’ve played Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus, there’s no way it won’t come to mind upon seeing the screenshots, videos, and animated GIFs on the crowdfunding page. Outside its locations being draped in wintry conditions, as opposed to its inspiration’s deserts and dunes, it looks eerily identical. This gets even more blatant upon reading the details, though it admittedly has some differences to distinguish it. The game is about a hero who arrives in a distant, decaying land that’s experiencing a perpetual winter, and has to discover the reason why it’s in this state. While trying to survive, he’ll (or she’ll?) have to deal with — you guessed it — toppling a number of gods that scour the land. Many, if not all, of them can be dealt with through climbing upon them to find vulnerable points on their bodies. It sounds a little too close for comfort.

Good thing its differences appear large enough to avoid anything as serious as a lawsuit. Survival is a big theme of the game, part of which will involve preventing the protagonist from getting too cold. The game will also have a day and night cycle, and though all the effects this will have on surviving haven’t been revealed, it tends to get colder at night. In addition to the colossal enemies that can be toppled, there will also be more grounded encounters which utilize the game’s close and long-range combat mechanics, including strategic dodging. In addition to SotC, the developers have also compared the project to DayZ, Deus Ex, and Bloodborne (a subtle way for them to avoid the cliché of calling their game Souls-like), whose inspirations they’re promising will be reflected in the final game.

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This project sounds awfully ambitious, and beyond most indie efforts — including crowdfunded ones. Though it’s clear they’ve already done quite a bit of work on the main character’s animations, overall move set, and surrounding environments over the last year-and-a-half, it sounds like they’ll need more than $300,000 to make the game they really want to. At the initial goal’s total, they’ll have the opportunity to create a game with five large bosses who have a variety of attack patterns, and more maneuvers for the protagonist; but as always, they can add more features if some stretch goals are reached.

By reaching some lower stretch goals, the developers can add additional animations, weapons, expanded environments, and an orchestral score, all of which will come with the shipped game. Beyond that are goals for PS4 and XB1 versions, more bosses, battle arenas, and a survivor mode, all of which are features that will come after the initial PC release. It’s good that they’re not being overly ambitious enough to promise too much content at launch, though this won’t prevent unforeseen delays.

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Considering the developers don’t have much of a pedigree, I’m hoping delays are the only issue this project could potentially run into. While it would be bad enough if the developers were keeping the budget so low that they might have to go on an all-ramen diet, I’d hate to see them overestimate the scope here. That No Matter Studios isn’t a known entity is a slight cause for concern, and the development team leaders having a combined 30+ years of experience doesn’t say anything significant. I’d like to expect the best from this project despite my skepticism, but always be careful of who you’re pledging money to.

I’m far from the only one who’s hesitant to recommend this without reservations, so I’m hoping they do something to dilute that skepticism during the remaining weeks left in the campaign. That only $15 needs to be pledged to obtain a digital copy will help, but with further confidence, some people will want to increase the amount they invest. At its current funding pace, it will likely reach its initial goal and a few stretch goals. But unless its word of mouth is incredibly good, don’t expect it to venture too far over, say, $400,000. I wish the developers the best, but it will be tough for them to erase people’s doubts for this campaign, and the ominous shadow cast over crowdfunding. If everything goes according to plan, they’re hoping to release Prey for the Gods in December 2017.

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