Most people nowadays are under the impression that the games industry has turned into a black void for new ideas.
Many are the people I've heard say that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, World of Warcraft, and the Halo series of games have turned developers into helpless mimics, trying to get the magic sales numbers to strike once again with their bland remake of (insert FPS / MMORPG here).
It is very difficult for people with fresh ideas on what a NEW game should actually be like to get their foot in the games industry door. This may be because they aren't taken seriously, their ideas are considered too strange for a mainstream audience, or that their games won't make the big bank that studios crave desperately for.
Because of this, the Indie (short for independent) side of the games industry has come into the light as of late. This was helped by the release of the "Giant Humble Indie Bundle", a package of Indie games that was valued at $80, but could be had for the price the consumer named, with 1 cent being the minimum cost.
Many people effectively "stole" the package for minimum price, but the effect of releasing so many games for so little cost was that many more persons were exposed to what this portion of the industry had to offer. Some were even inspired to pick up game development themselves, and show their personal story-telling abilities via the video-game medium.
This is where Cleril Calamity Studios comes into the picture.
Not long ago I was contacted through the Escapist messaging system by a member named "Cleril", who told me that I seemed like a person who would be interested in trying out a few games he had developed. Paranoid as I was, I took a quick look over the offer, and decided to go for it.
The games he released for download were Haven, Haven 2, Peekaboo, Split, and The Fall(en).
Looking over the base story for each one of these games, I was at first skeptical.
Haven - A bard (named Cleril)enters a village to do the bidding of the mayor and help clean up the town.
Haven 2 - Cleril is deemed insane and is thrown into an asylum (further story-line is pending with developer updates)
Peekaboo - A newspaper reporter enters a mansion who's final owner had died, intent on doing a ghost story.
Split - 2 people, one with a split personality and one who is crazy enter the abandoned remains of Haven (further story pending)
The Fall(en) - a short one sided conversation (approx. play time - 5 minutes)
None of these looked like substantial games at first glance. If I had discovered them any other way, I would have written them off as not worth my time. But I was wrong.
Let's start with Haven and Haven 2.
The game starts out with a question - "Do you think?". This is the main theme throughout Calamity Studio's works. All of the games that have been put out rely heavily on the players ideas on subject matter. Cleril's personality throughout the game is highly based on emotional, yet clear thought. This is particularly brought out in one scene where Cleril finds another aspiring bard who is reciting poetry about trees. Cleril finds it to be lacking in thought, and tells him "Every one knows how the trees sing in the wind. Make them feel the silent screams of a blade of grass that is beneath their foot".
When you enter the town, you find several different personality types throughout the small town. Interaction with the people you find is generally limited to a Good and Bad option, but both of these get fantastically different results, and do in fact have an effect on the game.
These games have a distinct ability to make you actually care about the people on the screen. One of the first encounters you have that shows this is with the specter of the graveyard keeper.
After walking about in the mausoleum he dug for his wife and daughter, he tells you of their fates. He had told his family that they would find gold in the mine he had started to dig, and after abusing them and pushing them to the brink mining for gold, an accident took their lives. He grovels over this to you, until finally he falls to weeping and stabbing himself repeatedly.
As for Haven 2, it continues on this same theme. Cleril has been thrown into an insane asylum because of his beautiful works of prose. He then promptly collapses onto the bed. The rest of the demo consists of him running about in his happy place, a meadow, visiting different manifestations of his emotions. This part of the game is very surreal, and does it in an extremely well thought out manner. After all is said and done, He is surrounded by manifestations of himself, who tell him he must cut out his Heart (the emotion in his work) or his Mind (the brilliance). After you choose, an line appears across the meadow, and there is a cutting sound, followed by the line turning into a tear, surrounded by blood.
These are the two games I can describe the best. The only way these games can truly be experienced is to play them yourself and draw your own conclusions from what is set before you.
They may have been made in an RPG development program, but make no mistake, these are games that can speak to you on a much higher level. I can't wait to see more from this developer, and openly encourage you to try these games.
They don't dissapoint.