[dropcap size=small]J[/dropcap]ust a few years ago Kickstarter was bustling with huge names in the video game development scene. We’re starting to see that trend return, but in 2013 it was all about adventure games. Case in point, the Armikrog crowdfunding campaign by Pencil Test Studios, Inc. was an absolute hit. Headed by Doug TenNapel, who previously worked on the classic clay-styled The Neverhood, as well as a few other titles in that universe, it was basically a surefire success. By the Kickstarter’s conclusion in 2013 it raised a whopping $974,578 – and allowed folks to continue pledging post-campaign.

Since then, Armikrog has been mostly hidden away from everyone but backers. More recently Pencil Test Studios, Inc. have trotted the game out to events such as E3, GDC, and PAX to give those audiences their first look. Taking a look via the beta build on Steam (which some backers have already enjoyed) I saw that there’s a great base of a game here, but so far most everything else isn’t implemented yet. At least, if the beta is representative of the current state of affairs then that’s the case.

armikrog1

The game begins with a gorgeous intro cutscene giving players the basic setup for Armikrog. Two creatures, one lanky explorer named Tommynaut and dog named Beak-Beak, were cruising their spaceship around the galaxy. Of course, something goes wrong and they crash land onto an alien planet. All of this is animated with beautiful stop-motion characters and awesome backdrops. Gamers have seen a fair bit of stop-motion and clay animation in games before, but this is in an entirely different class. It looks incredible and got me completely hyped for the impending journey.

There’s definitely a kernel of playability in Armikrog right now, but I did feel rather underwhelmed on my run through. Backgrounds are mostly complete and look wonderfully inventive, but some voice acting is missing, as is music. The “hollow” experience made sure I never forgot that this is a beta build. Silted, weird animations also were a bit saddening because it’s obvious the complete release will look much better – but until launch we can only imagine it! Glitches are incredibly common right now and I encountered multiple while simply trying to make it through the first few puzzles. There were a lot of little issues which varied from silly to game-breaking, but as long as folks are reporting these to the team most should be ironed out before release.

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In general puzzle logic is totally sound, at least. This beta build basically sticks you in an alien abode and rooms slowly unlock the more puzzles are solved. You’re quickly introduced to the two playable characters mechanic (yes, you can also control Beak-Beak!) and find a lack of traditional inventory system. Both characters consume/merge with useable items and simply pull them out when in front of the right area. The inherent weirdness of this made me laugh on multiple occasions. At least one puzzle annoyed me though, wherein you need to grab a lever but it is very, very difficult to actually differentiate from the backdrop.

Betas are all about glitches so this is totally expected. The best thing backers can do is report these issues, while the rest of the gaming populace can patiently wait around. Armikrog, at last announcement, is still pegged for 2015 and the Steam page itself says “Coming Soon.” Does this mean the game is actually much further along than the build they’re showing to press, gamers, and backers? Or does it mean that the project is heading to Early Access proper? Unfortunately I don’t know the answers to these questions but chances are we’ll all know soon. Armikrog definitely has the chops to become a fantastic new adventure game but it has a lot of production (and bug squashing) left to go!

Marcus Estrada
Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come.
Marcus Estrada

@BackerMarcus

Writer for @Cliqist - This is my new ''PROFESSIONAL'' account. Yay, crowdfunded video games!
Glad to see the BL visual novel Sentimental Trickster was funded. How about those #Kickstarter stretch goals? https://t.co/AEU8LaeD6M - 6 years ago
Marcus Estrada