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Failbetter Fund Five "Small Narrative Games"

Edit: Three games are coming to PC, not two as originally reported.

The elegantly named Fundbetter is a new initiative from the wordy types at Failbetter, home of Sunless Sea and Fallen London. Launched in February, Fundbetter will provide the financial necessaries “for small narrative games and interactive fiction”, and the first five have been announced today. Three are destined for PC so we’ll concentrate on those. First up is The Edgelands, out this Autumn. It’s “an atmospheric adventure game set in the present day, based on real and imagined folklore”. Then there’s “narrative strategy game” Astronaut: The Best, heading to PC, Mac and Linux with a Kickstarter for funding (to be matched by Fundbetter) later this year, and Big Mike Lunchtime’s Business Training ‘95 – “Jumanji, but with businessmen”.

Edgelands looks like the pick of the crop to me, mostly because I enjo`y the phrase “uncanny rustic twilight landscape” quite a lot:

You explore an uncanny rustic twilight landscape where familiar rural landmarks overlap with otherworldly occurrences, creating a dream-like pyschogeographical blurring of the ordinary and the supernatural.

An evocative electronic soundscape responds and adapts to the players actions as they interact with the environment and its inhabitants, and the choices the player makes on their journey shape the manner in which the narrative unfolds.

Astronaut: The Best is ploughing the comedy furrow, with a procedurally-generated character-based take on the space race:

Most people think of the space race as a fancy way to kill dogs using explosives. In Flaustria, it is conducted with class. A model astronaut must show sparkling wit, a winning smile, and perhaps a working knowledge of what the spaceship buttons do. In Astronaut: The Best, your duty is to train a procedurally-generated team of deviant screwups into brilliant space heroes, or give the impression of having done so. Anything less, and you will be killed and left in a ditch.

The final PC release is Big Mike Lunchtime’s Business Training ‘95, of which we know the following:

In Big Mike Lunchtime’s Business Training ‘95, what appears to be a piece of poor-quality corporate training software drags you into a lavishly illustrated nightmare world, where grotesque businessmen constantly savage each other for Deals.

Splendid. It’s the work of author and illustrator Nate Crowley.

The other two are worth a look as well, even if they fall outside our remit. In fact, when I said Edgelands was the pick of the crop, that’s only because Voyageur is heading to iOS and Android rather than PC or Mac. Described as a literary RPG, it looks a lot like a different spin on the magnificent Out There and hopefully it’ll make the move to PC at some point, just as that game did.

Rounding out the five is a phyiscal game. Hearts Blazing, the final game, is “a casual card-driven storygame for 3 to 5 players who have a love of melodramatic sci-fi series”. I love melodramatic sci-fi series and card games, so that has my interest as well.

Full details are here, with links to the individual sites at that page and in the paragraphs above.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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