At the end of last month, we wrote about Atomhawk Design and Lantern Interactive’s joint project for the gorgeous-looking The Realm. The Kickstarter campaign for this lovely adventure is set to finish on 22 May 2013 and the developers need your help to see it succeed.
We became official backers for The Realm here at 1001-Up.com after seeing the stunning 2D and 3D artwork on Kickstarter. As can be seen from the size of our adventure category we’re big fans of the genre, and hearing that the game was influenced by some of our favourite titles just makes us want to get our hands on it even more. In a recent interview with Joystiq, Lantern Interactive’s technical director Tom Szirtes talked about the team’s inspiration: “Things like Monkey Island, Beneath a Steel Sky. You know, we’re really quite nostalgic about those kind of games. Also more contemporary games, definitely, we’ve taken inspiration from. Like Machinarium, the Drawn series, Tiny Bang Story, [these are] all games that have influences.”
Just to recap, The Realm is set in a distant future in a world reclaimed by nature and steeped in myth and follows a headstrong young girl named Sarina. She believes there is a flower with magical healing properties and, leaving the safety of her village to go on a quest to discover it, meets a legendary stone golem called Toru. At first he is confused by Sarina and she is scared of him, but their relationship develops and together the unlikely pair travel across the forest of Nimrick – until a shadowy force is reawakened by their presence: the mysterious Lampheads, man-eating plants with a deadly stare.
Joystiq clearly picked up on the reference to Majin and the Foresaken Kingdom in our original article although, when questioned about it, Szirtes said: “We can honestly say that we weren’t familiar with that game.” But he does mention that the team hopes to draw on the atmosphere seen in another one of our favourites: “The atmosphere is something that we really like from Ico, this kind of quiet, haunting, lonely environment – and that you’ve got these two characters who are battling their way through this environment, and how their relationship grows. So those are our main influences.”
Players control both Sarina and Toru, and must make use of their unique abilities in order to progress. The heroine is smart and nimble but is vulnerable to many natural hazards and creatures found in the world; and the lovable giant is slow and easily distracted, but has a whole lot of power and can learn new skills from Sarina. Although there are enemies in the game it won’t involve any direct combat, but will be more about avoiding them and completing lateral-thinking puzzles – just what we love from an adventure.
Szirtes has confirmed that each level with the title is going to be hand-painted and unique. The locations in The Realm reflect the real-life landscapes and architecture of north east of England and it’s lovely to see what looks like the Tyne Bridge in the background of one of the shots for the promotional video. Alongside the beautiful visuals, composer Richard Jacques – creator of soundtracks for games like Mass Effect, Little Big Adventure 2 and many others – is working on the audio and the trailer music is available as a free download from SoundCloud.
Sounds fantastic, right? But here’s the bad news: despite appearing in the Kicktraq Top Ten and being a Kickstarter Staff Pick, The Realm is behind schedule and has only received £72,317 of its £195,000 target from 3,006 backers at the time of writing. The game looks absolutely stunning and the storyline obviously possesses a lot of soul – so why is this?
Unfortunately, Kickstarter users based in the US often don’t back UK projects; and the site only allows credit card payments for UK campaigns and many Americans don’t have them or those compatible with European payment systems. The developers have addressed this in several updates to backers, saying: “We have been hit hard by the lack of non-credit card payments options, although this is something we don’t have control over.”
However, the team is remaining positive and have been pulling out all the stops over the past week. Regular updates are being sent to backers, keeping them up-to-date with progress; a number of videos featuring interviews and gameplay details have been made available on the YouTube channel; and new ‘Witch Doctor’ and ‘Digital Deluxe Journey Man’ tiers have been added at £15 and £45 respectively. It’s clear to see how much they believe in The Realm and they’re a great group of people with a passion for gaming.
If the £195,000 target isn’t achieved, the team will come back later this year with a US campaign and more to show so all is not lost. But it would be heart-breaking to not see The Realm succeed first time around: you don’t come across beautiful-looking adventures with plenty of soul like this every day. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you head over to the Kickstarter project before 22 May 2013 to give the team your support and check out the Steam Greenlight page to give the game a thumbs-up.