Armikrog – The Neverhood’s “Spiritual Successor”

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To any of you who still fondly reminisce about the days of 1990s “point and clickadventure puzzle games, the exciting nature of this news should require no explanation. For the rest of you, it can be summed up in one word: CLAYMATION!

NeverhoodCast your minds back to 1996, when an obscure, newly-formed games company (comprised mainly of guys who had worked for Shiny Entertainment on Earthworm Jim) managed to acquire the support of Dreamworks Studios for a stop-motion animation PC CD-ROM adventure game. Their game, The Neverhood, featured a unique, quirky design, and received hugely favourable reviews, winning awards for both its soundtrack and artistic achievement, as well as being noted for its humour. To this day it retains a large cult following. Yet, like many other critically acclaimed adventure games of this era such as Grim Fandango, The Neverhood unfortunately failed to achieve commercial success, due to the decline in popularity for this kind of gaming in the mid 90s.

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Two years later, a follow-up game, Skullmonkeys, was released. This second game was also praised for its style, music and humour, yet failed to do as well as its predecessor, due mainly to the difference in format. Unlike The Neverhood, Skullmonkeys was created as a PlayStation platform game, in a bid to increase commercial viability. Sadly, soon after the release of a fairly unsuccessful PlayStation fighting game, Boombots, in 1999, The Neverhood Inc. team disbanded.

Things stayed quiet for a while, until in 2007, rumours emerged about the development of a Neverhood feature film, but this project never really took off and as yet remains on hold. Earlier this year, however, Doug TenNapel, founder of The Neverhood Inc., announced that development had started on a new point and click project in the style of the original Neverhood game. While not a direct sequel to The Neverhood, the trailer and images released so far suggest that this game will be far truer to the original vision of the Neverhood universe than any other follow-up has so far been, and has already been dubbed its spiritual successor by some.

steamworkshop_collection_1370747309_collection_brandingCalled Armikrog, this new game is set to be released by Pencil Test Studios and already on board are members of the original team, including artists and animators Ed Scholfield and Mike Dietz, and composer/musician Terry Scott Taylor. Armikrog will tell the story of a space explorer named Tommynaut and his talking “dog” Beak Beak, who crash land on an alien planet and find themselves trapped inside a mystical fortress – the eponymous Armikrog. As in The Neverhood, players will be required to guide a central character around a claymation environment, solving a series of puzzles along the way in order to progress to new stages of the game.image-271552-full

Due to the costly nature of the animation style, and the difficulties in obtaining commercial funding for a game of this kind, Pencil Test have recently set up a Kickstarter funding page to help get things off the ground. So far, they’ve achieved 55% of their target, and there are just 16 days left to make a pledge. It would be something of a travesty if all the hard work and fantastic creativity that has already gone into developing this project were laid to waste, as fans of The Neverhood in particular will appreciate. And if being part of a completely unique and exciting new project isn’t incentive enough, Pencil Test are also offering a range of freebies to anyone who pledges more than $5.

Further information about Armikrog can be found on its Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter pages. You can also see videos and images showing details of the construction process here, or follow the project’s progress via Facebook and Twitter.

Best of luck to the Armikrog team!

Sources: Steam Greenlight | Kickstarter | The Neverhood Wiki | The Neverhood Website

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