The past year has been rough for a lot of smaller studios, and the latest casualty may be Forgotten Key, developers of the rather lovely exploration adventure Aer: Memories Of Old. Despite the game being well received, the obviously talented studio say here that they've struggled to find investors and keep the lights on. Unless something changes soon, the team will disband. Kindly, they've released prototype demos of two games they were hoping to make. Vind is a spiritual successor to Aer (though not a sequel), and Down The Well is an exploration adventure inspired by Scandinavian folklore. Trailers for both are below.
Looking at the trailers, I can't help but feel a little angry that such obviously lovely things aren't enough to attract investors or sell enough to keep a small team afloat. While based around a new culture of sky-island dwellers, Vind looks to have everything that made Aer so relaxing to play. The freedom to switch between human and bird forms, the freedom to fly and explore where you will, and gentle exploration and puzzles instead of combat and tension. I'm looking forward to taking it for a spin myself after work tonight.
Down The Well feels like a radical departure - almost a mirror image of Aer and Vind. Set underground in claustrophobic tunnels wrathed in mist, ashes and flame. While Aer was about the freedom to go anywhere, Down The Well is defined by where you can't. Things glimpsed off in the distance are goals to be worked towards, with everything between you and your destination there to be collected, or an obstacle to be clambered over and swung past. I'm hoping that things change, and Forgotten Key have a chance to further build on this interesting new foundation.
There is still a glimmer of hope for Forgotten Key. As Robin Helte's blog post says, there's still time for an investor to swoop in and throw a sack of money at these prototype games. Failing that, it also contains a list of contact details for everyone at the studio that would be left looking for work. Forgotten Key seem to be handling the situation well, and even if the worst comes to pass, I hope their talented pool of artists, musicians and coders finds work soon.
You can find Aer: Memories Of Old here on Steam or GOG for £13.49/€14.99/$14.99 or half price over on Humble. The free prototypes can be found on Itch for Vind and Down The Well. Forgotten Key promise that Aer will be left available on storefronts for the foreseeable future.