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App News from GDC: Inkle's Latest, Handelabra's Future, Terra Mystica News, Hands on with Hand of Fate 2, and a Trip to Oniri Islands

Brad Cummings
United States
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App News from GDC

I had the opportunity to attend GDC for my day job and was able to chat with a few digital board game makers after hours. Here are some of the highlights.

Hands on with Inkle’s Heaven’s Vault
As Dave reported yesterday, Inkle is hard at work on their next game, Heaven’s Vault. This one is not a port of a classic adventure game novel, but is an original branching narrative game akin to 80 Days.

I got to go hands on and I can say that this is a bold new step for the team. The game is an interesting matchup of comicbook art and 3D environments. You move an interstellar archeologist and her robot around 3D rendered planets learning about long since pass civilizations. Your characters are all represented in 2D art and switch from pose to pose as you walk. As you explore the planet (which will be free movement at launch but was node based in the demo) you’ll make narrative choices which will be recorded and influence future events.

In my demo I was in search of an ancient temple. I could explore certain portions of the planet but had to mindful of a stamina meter that would train as I did strenuous activity on this planet with low atmosphere. I finally found the temple and that was where my journey ended.

I am really stoked for this new take on the Inkle formula. It will be coming later this year.

Handelabra Teases the Future
I had the chance to chat with the guys at Handelabra. They gave me an update on their progress with Season 2 of Sentinels of the Multiverse. They also mentioned that they will be working on Challenge Mode in the future. If you, unlike myself, found the original content to easy, you will be thrilled by these new difficult scenarios.

But wait, that’s not all! They also let me take an early look at their next game. I can’t say what it is but be sure to visit them at PAX East or tune in on Friday to find out!

A Surprise Terra Mystica Appears
While at GDC I had the chance to have dinner with my old friend Tysen Streib (AI developer on For the Win). Turns out he is now an AI developer for Digidiced! It meant I got to check out a playable Alpha of the game. All the functionality was there and we could play full game.

Tysen let me know that the game will be releasing in the next month or so. This will include the base game and easy AI. Following will be an update that includes the Fire and Ice expansion as well as an Advanced AI that features deep learning techniques. It sounds like a great rollout!

Hands on with Hand of Fate 2
Hand of Fate was a surprise hit with its unique blend of action combat and deck building dungeon crawling. Defiant was at the show with the sequel, Hand of Fate 2.

I got to play bit of the game and while holding on to many elements of the originally, there seem to be a lot of improvements. First off, the dungeon system has been modified to offer specific quests to be completed. There also a bunch of new mini-games and dice games. The combat has also been improved with more fluidity and control. There also appeared to be the ability to choose your player character’s gender.

I really enjoyed my brief time with the game. Here is a trailer for a quick taste:

Hands on with Oniri Islands: Children of the River
At the end of my time at GDC, I go to check out Oniri Islands. This game uses figurines that interact with a tablet. The twist is that the game is co-op, requiring two players.

Players navigate through a series of puzzles and must work together to avoid obstacles. The follows two children that have been sucked into the world of spirits and must use their wits and totems spirits they meet to make their way out. The figures are quite cute and feature interchangeable totem masks.

I had to chance to play through the first level of the game and, while aimed at children, it was pretty fun. There is a kickstarted going up on the 16th of March, but you can learn more on their website. For now, here are some screenshots:

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