We live in an era of booming PC Games. While I might gripe at times with issues or flaws in the end, these gripes are only there because the whole area is doing great. Developers with some wit, talent and ability are able to create great games and release them easier than ever through digital platforms without the intervention of the sometimes constraining publishers. Niche genres in particular have experienced a resurgence on PC in part because of that, the growing number of gamers, and the fact that the people who love those games are able to help fund the development of those games.
The crowdfunding revolution in games hasn’t been without its issues, but I think people miss the great games it’s brought us—not just directly but indirectly through renewed interest in the genres. This is digressing a bit here, but I think it’s important to remember that while there have been some failures, there have also been the great successes of Kickstarter such as Shovel Knight, Faster Than Light, and Divinity: Original Sin. Showing the support for them has helped inspire developers and brought new life in genres such as classic RPGs and Adventure games.
Walkerman is another game on Kickstarter that seeks some help to realize a vision that appeals to a particular niche. Created by Scalemail Games, it seeks to walk the line between visual novels and adventure games by utilizing elements of both. When explaining it, developer of the solo man studio John Conway compared it to Phoenix Wright in our interview, describing Walkerman as:
“It’s a adventure game/visual novel. Most of the game is in visual novel format, but it also has a isometric puzzle solving section similar to titles like Pheonix Wright where you’re collecting items and then using those items during these non-linear puzzle segments at the end of every chapter.”
While in Phoenix Wright those chapters are based around cases, in Walkerman they are based around the monster fights that make up the career of a Walkerman. Unlike in The Witcher where Geralt is a badass action hero destroyer of monsters, Jorgen, the protagonist and one of the eponymous Walkerman, is a normal man who must exploit the rules that monsters follow. Each monster has their own, and thus Walkerman spend a lot of their time dealing with attempting to research those rules and finding a way to exploit them.
However, Walkerman is more than just an adventure game about killing monsters. It is also a tale of a youth arriving in the big city for the first time and learning to survive. The world of Walkerman, unlike the modern day, is a feudal one that makes it difficult for an outsider to arrive in, and a lot of trade takes place in other methods such as barter. Jorgen has spent his life outside of this, and his chosen profession is that of an outsider, both of which make his life even more difficult when attempting to adjust to the city of Midguard. Jorgen doesn’t have enough money, he doesn’t have a support network, and so he has to make decisions on how he will make do day to day between monster contracts.
According to John there are two main routes in the game based on those choices, with each having a significantly different plot and narrative in the later acts of the five act game. There are also a few smaller ones which alter more narrative compared to one of those routes and change what the other interactive ‘mini-game’ is during some of those chapters. These choices are about deciding what lines Jorgen will cross, who will he trust, and what will he do to survive—not any sort of world changing ones as this is more of a low fantasy. The choices will also impact who becomes the female lead in that playthrough, though they are mostly unknown to us for now with only the prologue to play. A catchy video, with a change of pace showtunes song was shown off with one of the female leads recently.
In many ways Walkerman appears that it wants to attempt to marry in particular more of a slice of life visual novel to an adventure game. Slice of Life stories tend to be more anime and visual novel so putting those with an adventure in a low fantasy style plot makes it different than other games that attempt to branch the two.
According to John, the game is already written, what is needed at this point is money to fund the art assets to complete Walkerman. After that, it becomes plug in, revise slightly to match the final product and release the act. As it is already written, he has opted to go with an episodic release format – the acts are already designed to function strongly on their own with rising action, conflict and conclusion – so it makes a lot of sense.
Walkerman is asking for $9000 to do that and your votes on Greenlight with the first act preparing to launch by November if it is funded. If you want to learn more, well this is an interview so listen in below as we talk for about 55 minutes on things directly or indirectly related to Walkerman.