Perhaps the best part of the recent Kickstarter craze is how many niche game concepts it’s brought to fruition. Historically, most publishers aren’t receptive to ideas that lack mass appeal, which has caused a lot of potentially interesting games to never see the light of day. Below, for example, is the kind of thing you’d likely have trouble releasing through traditional means. It’s a card game with a heavy emphasis on narrative and player agency, and it lacks things like sick gunplay and mad explosions. As such, what better place to seek support than Kickstarter?
Below is in development by Failbetter Games, the studio behind Fallen London and Cabinet Noir. Much like the developer’s past titles, it will be playable on a browser and presented mostly through text. If you’d like a taste of how that will work, a prototype of the game can be downloaded here. It should be noted, however, that very little in the prototype is finalized, and in fact Failbetter will be commissioning custom art if the Kickstarter campaign is a success.
The game will tell the story of The Landless Lady, The Barefoot Friar, and The Masterless Apprentice—all of which feel compelled to enter dungeons below the earth for varying reasons. Much of the game will take place within these dungeons, and the gameplay revolves heavily around card decks. When you play a card in your possession, you’ll be shown an event and a list of possible choices to make. These choices dictate what cards will end up in your deck as you play. Additionally, there will also be a separate deck -titled “Above”—that pertains to your memories of life above ground.
Seeing as how these are dungeons we’re talking about, players will run into a whole lot of danger. It’s possible – inevitable, even – that your character will meet an untimely death. When this happens, you have the option of either making a pact with the White-Handed Lady who resides by Death’s door (done via in-game purchase) to stay alive, or starting a new character.
I know, I know. In-game purchases aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But they won’t be required in Below, and in fact most of the game will be free to play. But you’ll have the option to purchase more content if you like—either in-game or through the Kickstarter campaign—to keep the ball rolling.
Failbetter promises to deliver a compelling story with Below, and that’s something they’ve managed to pull off in previous titles like Fallen London. If you’ve been on the prowl for a game with unconventional mechanics and a good yarn to boot, this one seems like a pretty safe bet.
Project Name: Below
Funds Needed: £15,000 ($23,872.50)
Funding Acquired (as of this writing): £3,741 ($5,953.80)
Days Left: 23
Kickstarter Picks is a series on Gamezebo that profiles Kickstarter projects in the world of video games. We’re doing this in the hopes of calling attention to interesting projects in need of funding, so please, if a game looks like something you’d want to play, don’t hesitate to lend it your support!