This Week in Kickstarter - Hilariously Pretentious

Published: September 21, 2015 11:00 AM /



Welcome to This Week in Kickstarter, where we sort through the many projects on Kickstarter and show you some of the best, worst, and most interesting of the Video Game and Technology ideas.


Surreal exploration of enormous worlds, shaping and recoloring the further you progress.

Essence is a surreal exploration game, where the worlds you travel through change and evolve as you progress. Within each world are challenging riddles, all of which contain different stages and elements to solve as the world changes around you.  

While in these changing worlds, players will need to unravel a mystery, a meaning behind the surreal images they see. Players must face their emotions as they appear in human form. Some emotions are friendly, others are destructive. Together your emotions form a unique gameplay mechanic that brings a "new experience" to the game.

Ok, this sounds at best cautiously over ambitious, and at worst hilariously pretentious. The whole game seems so focused on this grand ambitious narrative about the meaning of life, the essence of existence, and the emotional cosmic connections to the universe I'm having a hard time even digesting if this game is about anything. Literally the selling point of the game is that you have to figure out what it's about. There's nothing wrong with approaching any of these topics, but you don't go about it upfront by saying "this spiritual and grand and cosmic." You need characters and context so the audience has some kind of anchor to keep this crazy shit in perspective. Otherwise all you've basically done is made an interactive 1920x1080 cosmic wallpaper. There's nothing mechanically unsound about this game. In fact if you removed all the gradeur B.S. the Kickstarter tries to sell this with, I'd be totally down for a crazy "what the hell is happening?" puzzle game. Maybe with more information my perspective of this game will change.


Ear-Free Bluetooth Headphones.

BATBAND is a pair of headphones with a unique take on private listening. Instead of earbuds, you'll hear your own private soundscape. BATBAND is the result human centered design meeting high fidelity acoustics. The device works via bone conductions, using sound waves that are picked up by your "inner ear" leaving your "outer ear" free for hearing the environment around you. The Kickstarter promises you'll "hear twice as much, without compromising on comfort, quality or style."

Just put this headband around the back of your head, pair it with Bluetooth, and listen to your favorite tunes or podcasts with the devices touch sensor controls.

Ok first thoughts, why does everyone in this video act like space aliens pretending to be humans? Second, in the FAQ it asks "Can other people hear my music?" with the answer being:

Absolutely not, the only person who can hear is the person wearing the BATBAND. The music or communication is transmitted directly into your bones and not your ears.

While it's definitely a muffled quiet sound, watching the prototype demonstration shows "absolutely not" is frankly untrue. You can very easily hear music coming out of the BATBAND. Now maybe this is just because it was a prototype, who knows. Honestly, it sounds more like basic noise than anything, as long as it isn't loud enough to be distracting, it wouldn't bother me. I'm more concerned with how well this stays on your head, and how comfortable it is. Female readers might not relate to this, but you know that feeling when you wear long socks for hours and your leg hair starts to get really annoyed? Yeah that's how I'm imaging my head hair will feel using these. And how well can they stay on your noggin? Can I go running in these things? If I can hear with my "outer" ears just fine, I imagine I could wear these things while driving and be safe, which is pretty cool.

Pixel Noir (PS4, PS Vita, PC, Mac)

Your hallucinations may hold the key to redeeming yourself.

Pixel Noir is a JRPG detective game set in a film noir style city. Players can expect to solve a variety of mysteries as the city's cheapest Private Eye. Players will control the character through turn-based combat. By teaming up with other heroes on your team, characters can unleash devastating combos (ala Chrono Trigger). 

Players can explore the city while using their investigation mode to reveal clues. By leveling up investigation mode over time, players can unlock new secrets and storylines. Players who think outside the box will be rewarded with choice. There's more than one way to stop a boss, try different strategies to take down the criminal thugs controlling the city.

Pixel Noir seems to masterfully blend the JRPG mechanics of turn based, menu combat with the romanticized grim of film noir. The result is a visually and mechanically stunning.  It's tag line "Who can you trust when you can't trust yourself?" just makes me think of this, but the game itself looks like a memorable experiment in combining genres, if only because I never thought I'd see "pistol whip" in a JRPG combat menu.

THE O: Wearable + App to Never Lose or Forget Anything.

Your personal assistant that immediately reminds you when you leave behind your most important belongings!

THE O is a device to keep you from forgetting important belongings. When you attach THE O to whatever belonging you don't want to forget, the companion app will remind you to bring the item should you stray too far. 

THE O is sewable onto fabrics, and holds 18 months worth of battery life. It's also waterproof! You can set reminders for a variety of items and tell the app to only remind you on certain days as well. Should you miss an alarm, the device will note the GPS and time you missed it, so you can go back to the right place later.

While THE O is just one in a number of "friendly reminder" devices on Kickstarter, its presentation and usefulness work well. The mission of the team "to create an app that you never needed to open," is a welcome one and how it should be done. Being able to sew it into clothing is a neat idea as well.  



Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

An African-Fantasy Action-RPG based on a frenetic and creative combat system.

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a Fantasy Action-RPG seeking to innovate the fantasy genre. The 2D gameplay takes part inspiration from the "Tales of" series, with a real time combat system, and with a story and environment drawing from African culture, myth, and lore.

The game follows Enzo, the last heir to the ruling family, and his wife Enrine, a magic casting support character. Together the young King and Queen travel the world to gather Aurion, a powerful collective energy channeled form past ancestors, to save his people.

What a breath of fresh air! African Fantasy is a genre I don't think I've ever even seen in a game before! The game looks very entertaining with an engaging art style. The combat looks thrilling with a satisfying pay off to the attacks. Some parts I'm left wondering if they are representative of gameplay or are in-engine cutscenes (such as the impressive attack at 0:24). The music is catchy and unique (What A Situation sounds like an African rendition of a Banjo-Kazooie song.), and the brief glimpse of levels we saw look to bring some fun and varied level design. I hope to see more of Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan in the future, and keep my fingers crossed if the game is successful it could usher in more unique environments for gaming.

Hoverboard: The Next Evolution in Personal Electric Mobility

A one-wheeled, gyro-stabilized board that feels like you're hovering.

The Hoverboard, by the appropriately named Hoverboard Technologies, uses a ground contacting sonar to "float" the rider over every contour. In truth the device won't let you create the sickest Marty McFly cosplay the world has yet to see, as it doesn't really hover off the ground, instead it simulates the feeling with  gyroscopic stabilization. The device is described as "a Tesla, compressed down to scooter-size." The components are designed to give the most power compared to any Personal Electric Vehicle (PEV). 

The Hoverboard brings some interesting features, including Bluetooth speakers, theft prevention, a 16 minute charge time, and a companion app. The device uses intuituve controls and works as the user would expect. Lean forward to move forward, lean back to brake or reverse.

While I was disappointed seeing a Kickstarter named Hoverboard that was really more of a Hover-feeling board, the device looks far more reliable and fast moving than the Hoverboards currently out there. Most notably that I don't need some magnetic surface to make it work. For scooting around campus or a quick trip down the road to the convenience store, the Hoverboard seems like a solid buy and will doubtlessly be a conversation starter.

Disclaimer: The author (Bryan Heraghty) does not back any Kickstarter projects he writes about, nor are any of these inclusions sponsoring TechRaptor. These projects are included solely because the author thinks they are interesting.

What are your thoughts on some of the Kickstarters we saw this week? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below! If you have a game or technology Kickstarter you think deserves attention, you can either comment below, email TechRaptor, or tweet @techraptr or @greyhoodedbryan your suggestion!

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Avid shooter and platformer fan. Coffee is the only power up I need. In the spare time I have I will listen to more podcasts than has scientifically been… More about Bryan