Knock-Knock. ‘Who’s There?’ Ice-Pick Lodge. ‘Uh-Oh.’

By Alec Meer on July 27th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

Can I sue them for using images of my family without permission?

Ice-Pick Lodge tend to pop up when you least expect them, with the game you least expect them to make. They’ve been sensibly resistant to attempting another Pathologic, instead darting off to create new specimens of the weird, the wonderful and the intimidatingly odd. The enormous success they so richly deserve has eluded them, which means a move to Kickstarter is probably sensible. True to form, the project they’re proposing, a game called Knock-Knock, is bat-shit weird – but at the same time, I think it’s the most mainstream-friendly they’ve yet been. Not in a bad way, though.

Knock-Knock is the Evil Dead meets hide & seek, as a malevolent-faced hermit tries to evade monstrous ‘Guests’ to his cabin in the woods. It immediately puts me somewhat in mind of Slender, but with rather more DIRECT ACTION and an art style that evokes 80s children’s cartoons from that alternate evil dimension on the other side of the mirror we’re never supposed to mention.

Bless ‘em, they even have a creepy backstory for the game’s genesis. They received crazed notes from a mysterious ‘gentleman and scholar’ begging IPL to create a game from it: “The surface examination did not reveal anything straightforwardly terrifying, yet we could not escape the feeling that something truly sinister was lurking underneath.” So, of course, they went for it.

The goal on each level is to survive ‘a night’, which entails about 10 minutes of hiding, constructing barricades and finding/using randomly-placed items to keep yourself safe from harm as all manner of things that go bump in the night terrorise your home from both outside and in. Here’s a taste:

Their Kickstarter reward tiers are similarly playful/obtuse. The reward for $47 is a mystery, $100 gets you a special tree in the forest which will be deemed your ‘surrogate’, while $1000 lets you add your best scary stories into the in-game journal.

They’re after $30k to do this, going on the video have a fair chunk of something to work with, and are currently $1400 in with 46 days left. More details/mad wibbling may be found here. More artwork, meanwhile, is here.

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54 Comments »

  1. Mr. Mister says:

    The assface is ridicously disturbing.

  2. Inigo says:

    You may not haph notiphhed, but Helen and I bophh haphhh bottockphhh where our faphrrrphephrhrs phhhrould be.

  3. yhancik says:

    Ice-Pick Lodge <3 !

    Also, that reminds me (a bit) of Clock Tower, which is a rather good thing.

    • Kaira- says:

      Yeah, anything which reminds me of Clock Tower instantly hops in to my list of “games to be very aware of”. Not enough games remind me of Clock Tower, which is a shame, since Clock Tower was bloody brilliant.

  4. Eophasmus says:

    I never played Pathologic, but I remember avidly reading about it on RPS and elsewhere a few years ago. If Knock-Knock has a similar atmosphere to that, with some fort-building, shelter-seeking, DayZ-esque survival thrown in, it could be fantastic.

  5. Fincher says:

    The monster design on the right is pants-on-head retarded.

  6. Eclipse says:

    I adore Ice-Pick Lodge, besides The Void and Pathologic, their latest game, Cargo! A Quest for Gravity was one of the most bizarre and fun things I’ve ever played

    • MadMatty says:

      Second that! this is the sort of output WestEuropeans and Americans just cant do these days.

    • mike2R says:

      It seems to be Russians generally. There seem to be some sort of unwritten rules about what you can and can’t do in a computer game that all western developers have signed up to, but Russians look on them in the same way they look on a rule that says you shouldn’t drink the anti-freeze from your tank just because you’ve run out of vodka. More a sort of guideline.

      I love Russian computer games.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Cargo! was some of the oddest fun I’ve had in a good while.

  7. InternetBatman says:

    Ice Pick Lodge shouldn’t need a Kickstarter. I thought their games were moderately successful. I guess their last game didn’t get too many sales, but I really enjoyed it. Anyways, Kickstarter is a bad idea if you already have most of the money because it takes at least five percent but more likely a lot more than that from the money you earn.

    • lordcooper says:

      wut?

    • The Random One says:

      I don’t know what you mean… Kickstarter takes nothing out of what you “earn”, it takes a cut from investment money. If you can’t find traditional investors it’s better than sitting on your thumbs and weeping softly.

      • lasikbear says:

        I think what he meant was that all of the money through Kickstarter is essentially a preorder, so that money is from people who won’t be purchasing the product after it is launched. Kickstarter then takes 5% of this money.

        On the one hand 5% is a tiny cut compared to a normal distributor, but they also lose money from offering the preorders at a discount, as well as any backer bonuses that need to produced like t-shirts.

        Having taken an entire econ class my freshman year of college, I feel qualified to say that depending on how you run your kickstarter, the actual percentage of the money backers give that ends in your company’s pocket can vary.

        • Josh W says:

          One of the other quirks about kickstarter is that when you preorder, they tell you how many other people need to pre-order before the game can be made, and give you the option of giving them more cash to make sure it happens, and generally, the ability to pay even more to upgrade the game you’ll be getting.

          This encourages people to stick in cash when they’d otherwise pay the normal preorder amount and then go somewhere else.

          This part is something that game developers can do, and it’s basically the engine that powers dwarf fortress.

          I suspect this model of game design is also very compatible with agile principles; make a small game for a small audience, then expand it and improve it as the audience grows, and let people who’ve already pre-ordered know how you’re hoping to expand your ambition if you get more cash.

          The other big deal of kickstarter is that it’s like preordering a game, but you get the money back if it never comes out. This also encourages more spending, because the risk is basically removed.

          This is a lot harder to do. You can reverse engineer it from amazon’s payment system to create your own baby kickstarter, but at that point, you’re getting a bit dodgy, and you might as well use kickstarter itself for exposure.

  8. Generic Individual says:

    I’ve not liked any of Ice-Pick Lodges games so far, but I’m always, *always* willing to give them a go.

    It’s not exactly the highest praise in the world, but they are at least very interesting. They always get my time. And money.

  9. Zanchito says:

    Insta-buy, I don’t even care what it is. Ice Pick Lodge are my top favourite developer, just besides Team Ace. I’m sure even their stools are crazy, artistic and appealing.

  10. asshibbitty says:

    I ain’t feelin it.

    Anyway, looks like something that’d work splendidly on a touchscreen. Surprised there’s no iOS version in the “if we get too much money” section. 

  11. The Random One says:

    This actually looks like their story is real and this is a horror novel plot to trap backers in a dimension of pain.

    Which is great praise. I’d never say that about, say, Dead “Gears” Space.

  12. Lambchops says:

    Y’know what Ice Pick Lodge should Kickstart? Paying a translator to do an improved translation of Pathologic. That’s definitely something I’d be willing to throw money at.

    I’ll most likely throw money at this as well (as it looks bloody great), but as someone above pointed out this will no doubt get made without Kickstarter whereas a Pathologic translation is something that almost certainly wouldn’t get done without it.

    • theleif says:

      Yes please.
      That said, I pledged 47$ for the game. I mean, who doesn’t want to gamble 47$ on something you have no idea what it is?

    • ZIGS says:

      Chalk me up as another who would pay for a reworked Pathologic translation

    • crumbsucker says:

      Ont their website there’s two Paypal links, one for Knock-knock (for those who want to donate outside the Kickstarter system), and a generic “Ice-Pick” one, for people who just want to throw money at their general direction, for whatever project they’re going to do next. I presume this includes a possible “technologically modern remake of Pathologic” as they mentioned on there (I guess that would also include a proper translation).

  13. Rawrian says:

    Oh look, another insane asylum patient monster! Come to thing of it, game industry’s perception of psychiatry is incredibly dated.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      being that it’s a ghost, there’s no reason to believe it’s a modern mad person ghost

    • lokimotive says:

      I don’t think that’s supposed to be an actual representation of current psychological treatment practices any more than Mr. Assface is supposed to be a representation of current physiological practices. It’s just an invocation of constraint, despair, and horror. Granted, it’s a cliched invocation, but it’s still just an invocation.

      • Rawrian says:

        Come to think of it, said cliche might represent the fear of institutional psychiatry, and it’s pretty valid in that regard. Still, the creature itself as a videogame monster is sort of meh. This is only concept art though, will have to see it in-game.

  14. Utsunomiya says:

    They’ve actually expressed their intent to re-release Pathologic if this project goes through.
    As well as kicking off their new ideas.

    Source: http://strings.ice-pick.com/index.php (googletranslateable)

  15. Hoaxfish says:

    I was expected a sort of 2D Amnesia, but from the looks of it it’s much more of a mad run-around (walk-around) and grab items… like a vertical pacman where the fruits save your sanity.

  16. cjlr says:

    The mentions of all their previous games are links to none other than RPS.
    IT’S A CONSPIRACY.

    Yeah, I gave them some money.

  17. Muzman says:

    These guys are legends already. Although I sort of wished some helpful ex-people from Rare or someone jumped on to give Cargo a bit of a spit-shine to the ‘feel’ and maybe soften the poetic obtuseness some (give the pilot more personality). Could have been a bit of a crossover hit, I thought.

  18. MichaelPalin says:

    Today I have just put $30 on Ouya and $30 on penny-arcade going CC and ads free and now you tell me one of my favorite game studios is asking for money? C’mon! I’m not made of dollar signs! And the worst part is that being a Kickstarter they need to spoil it first, :/ You don’t want to have an Ice-Pick Lodge game spoiled.

    Now let’s see if they have a DRM-free option and to throw more dollar signs at my screen.

  19. njolnin says:

    This site first brought IPL’s game’s to my attention. They’re all wonderful, weird games. Pathologic and The Void of the most challenging games I’ve completed-not exactly difficult because of their mechanics, but because of the energy they required the player to give. They made me reconsider why I play video games. I want to see these guys continue to innovate, so I pitched in $47.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      Well said. I feel the same way. Just a couple of weeks ago I was dreaming of becoming rich just so I could throw millions of dollars at them. Too bad I’m poor. :(

  20. Brise Bonbons says:

    I think this will be the first kickstarter I actually open the bank account for. Can’t really think of a better use for the service than allowing IPL to make the sorts of games they have proven themselves capable of.

  21. JoeyJungle says:

    “PLEDGE $47 OR MORE
    Regrettably, we were forbidden to disclose any information with regard to this package.”

    I want this pledge more than anything else. Molyneux should make a game about this.

  22. Halbarad says:

    Well I’ve made a £32/$50 pledge. Pathologic is a game I played a long time ago and it freaked me the shit out. I then replayed it after reading the RPS articles and it freaked me the shit out all over again.
    It was one of the ugliest looking but atmospheric and brilliant playing games I’ve ever had the joy of playing.

    Void was incredibly atmospheric again but it was notoriously difficult. I had many frustrated moments with it but it was always worth it.

    Cargo is the only game by them I haven’t spent a great deal of time with. I’ve only played it for around half an hour but just always had something else to play. I really should play it, Ice-Pick have never let me down yet.

    • lokimotive says:

      Pathologic was so difficult for me, even with a walk through. Fighting was nearly impossible, and as the game went on you had to fight quite a bit. At the same time, because of the hunger mechanic, it’s the only game that I feel really gets creeping despair across. I remember breaking into someone’s house to steal a small cracker because I was getting so hungry. I had to stop for a moment and think, my god what am I doing?!

      The Void is tough as hell. I got pretty far into the map, but eventually had to deal with a brother and that did NOT go well.

      I had the same experience as you with Cargo, except I kind of stop playing because my character got stock at a specific height in the landscape and could neither dive under the ocean, nor climb very high on an island. I just kind of ran a few feet above sea level. The review here mentioned that you could practically hear it sputtering and spitting out sparks when you started it up. Ice Pick Lodge needs some stability in their games.

  23. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Oh wow.
    I’ve already purchased every Ice-Pick Lodge game including three editions of The Void, simply as a way to support this unique crew in some way. These new kickstarter and tip jar pretty much ensure that I’m going to lose some part of my income to the studio on regular basis from now on.
    And I didn’t even *like* Cargo and The Void that much!
    Help…

  24. Josh W says:

    This looks pretty nice, like an old school run-away arcade game mixed with that zomby mode from cod.

    If they can make it so that getting clues on what the poltergiest is doing is really subtle, then that could add a nice extra level of depth, where the really advanced players keep running from room to room looking for changes, and get a panicky skill based game even if no monsters appear. Then you could make success or failure successively more random the worse things get, ie the more stuff gets in, meaning that skill based players will try to avoid this randomness at all cost.

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