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Columnae: Announcements and First Impressions

My Most Anticipated Game of this Year

Image retrieved from YouTube via Google Images

An indie game company based in Belgrade, Serbia—called Moonburnt Studios—announced this past summer that they're working on Columnae: A Past Under Construction, a story-heavy point and click adventure that is nonlinear and set in a steampunk world post-apocalypse.

There will be quests, puzzles and riddles with alternative solutions that make up the point-and-click component of Columnae; though there will also be choices you make that affect which opportunities come to you as the story progresses, and which ones become unavailable as a result of your choices—resembling the structure of visual novels in that regard. 

How you respond to dilemmas will influence the relationships your character has with others, the solutions you devise throughout your adventure, and the overall subplots you engage in. There are eight endings that depict how the world is impacted by your decisions, but the ways in which you can activate these endings are plentiful. Each route you play is self-contained, which means that none of the routes bleed into each other in any way.

Another interesting aspect of Columnae is the idea that all of the chapters are played out of order; what you do in a route changes the backstory, personality, and motivations of your character, as well as the actions they'll take in the future. Because of this, you'll also witness different versions of the NPCs you meet at varying times in every route.

As for the game's setup, we have two classes of people divided from each other, with the rich living in Deus and the poor living in Columnae. Deus dwellers sustain themselves by using a Machina that extracts resources for them from Columnae. The poverty-stricken commoners, meanwhile, are unable to enter Deus, and don't appear to be getting along with the cliffhangers (literally—people hanging around near cliffs); if that wasn't enough, they're afflicted by rampant corruption, power struggles and ill-meaning political agendas. 

What will become of this society? What will (or rather, can) happen when players interact with the system? We'll just have to sit tight for a bit before we can find out, although interested players can get a glimpse of what to expect in the finished product.

Columnae is estimated to be released in February 2018 worldwide, and will be playable on Windows, Mac and Linux. So far, there's a free demo available for all these platforms in both English and German. 

First Impressions from the Demo

I did not expect Moonburnt Studio's Columnae to be as hilarious as it is, considering the premise. No fourth wall exists, as this game completely smashes it down before it even starts. It manages to be both self-aware and a poker of fun at the player.

As promised, you get a variety of dialogue choices whenever you interact with another character, and choosing a certain combination of responses unlocks silly, though crucial story and puzzle-related information that will help you learn about and understand the world you are in better as well as revealing clever hints on how to solve problems. It's creative and clearly well-thought-out.

This game is more interactive than your usual point-and-click adventure, in the sense that you actually have to grab items you acquire from your inventory and drag them to context-sensitive objects and people. There's even funny dialogue you get if you use the wrong items. I found myself wanting to try out every single item everywhere, and selecting every possible combination of dialogue just to read the reaction of both the protagonist and the NPCs.

It was all really amusing and engaging, and I'm excited for the full version of this game to be released. It's visually appealing, full of character, and contains a whole lot of lore just waiting to be unravelled. I'm definitely buying it, and I don't see why you should skip out on it.

Check out the developers' Kickstarter if you'd like to read more about the project, as they provide semi-monthly updates, and give them some backing if you can.

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