Episodic Cold Horizon hits Kickstarter

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Disclosure: Ray Wilmott, Cold Horizon’s Chief Storyteller is a friend and occasional colleague, but that’s not why I’m excited about the game!

I first spoke about Cold Horizon a while ago, when they shared their announcement trailer, which knocked my socks off. While the trailer was vague on details, it laid out the great story, great art, and provided a glimpse into what could be. With a visual style that straddles somewhere between concept art and comics, along with an emotive story involving a polar bear and a mystical baby, I really hoped that Cold Horizon would keep some of the magic the trailer exuded.

Cold Horizon is set on a post-apocalyptic Earth and tells the story of an unlikely partnership between a polar bear named Eira and a young boy with unimaginable abilities. The boy has the power to affect the world around him in unique ways and is both a symbol for hope and a lure for danger. Through a series of tragic circumstances, Eira becomes the boy’s protector as they embark on a journey of survival and a quest for humanity’s redemption.

What Cold Horizon is about:

  • An incredible story about an unlikely friendship in a post-apocalyptic world.
  • Epic boss battles
  • Navigating landscapes as Eira by running, jumping, climbing and swimming to manoeuvre obstacles.
  • Using the boy’s unique abilities, which change upon the turn of each season, to solve puzzles.
  • Surviving the elements by scavenging resources.
  • Fending off against dynamic weather conditions as the seasons change.

After a bit of a rethink and some refinement, Big Cake Games are back to officially launch a Kickstarter campaign to help get the game made. Like a lot of developers these days, they’re turning to fans to help support the production of the game, but their asking for a fairly modest £26,000 to help them along the way. Big Cake Games plan to make the full game episodic, split into five chapters, with hopes that the crowdfunding campaign will support the first and propel the developers through the next three off the back of it. The first episode will be ‘Winter’, with the story moving through the four seasons and back again as the pair journey through the landscape.

The initial release will be focused on PC platforms, but the team hopes to ultimately get versions out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, OS X and Wii U with the help of  Kickstarter stretch goals. There’s also hope that the extra cash will bring a chance to add some voice acting to the game, and they already potentially have a couple of known voice actors lined up.

You should also really check out Big Cake Games’ music for the game on SoundCloud. You’ll have heard some of it in the original launch trailer, but I’m sure they’ll be posting more on their page as new music is written. I get the feeling it’ll be one to listen to as an album.

My take

I’ve been talking to Ray ever since the last trailer trying to get an idea of what’s happening with the game. My first request was “please keep the art style” quickly followed by “hurry up and make the game”. Now, bear in mind that game concepts can change radically as they mature, but I get the feeling that it became pretty apparent fairly early on that they were on to a winner with what they came up with. It harkens back to a time of hand-drawn animation, something that gives a certain feeling of innocence, which fits with the story perfectly. Other games have used hand drawn art for their visuals: the striking Steam game Beeswing used water colours for a similar effect. It leaves visual blanks that you can fill in with your imagination.

The question now is: should the campaign successfully reach its goal and fund the first episode, will that be enough momentum to propel through the rest of the story? I always find it a risk for developers to go episodic, since each new chapter brings with it increased friction with buyers, making it potentially more likely to lose players. I guess it’s all down to how the story unfolds, and how clever the lead in from one section to the other is.

Your take

Have you ever backed a game via crowdfunding? How do you feel about Cold Horizon?

Visit the Cold Horizon Kickstarter campaign page to show your support and keep an eye on their Steam Greenlight page. The first Cold Horizon episode should get to us as early as the first half of 2016 for PC, all being well!

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About Dan Morse

From the Atari 2600 right through to bleeding fast PCs, Dan's played on them all. One thing that's never changed is an unwavering passion for video games. Twitter: @happydan | Steam: happydan | GOG: happydan