Tabletop games are one of the hottest products on Kickstarter. Every month tens of successful project get funded, release and often end up as fan favourites. Some serious, big publishers are switching to releasing everything they make on the platform. Meanwhile, the video game industry’s romance with Kickstarter was far less stellar.
At first, people were thrilled by the idea of crowdfunding video games. Lots of promising projects were announced. Many had popular industry veterans or were spiritual sequels to games, that no one expected to come back. And then hopes and dreams were crushed by games like Mighty no. 9. A spiritual successor to cult Mega Man series ended up as something close to a shovelware. There are also many video games, that collected hundreds of dollars, and never came out or released as an unfinished prototype.
But despite heavy failures, there are some shiny diamonds here and there. Today we’ll have a look at these and rank them by our personal tastes.
The campaign had many powerful names behind it, including creators of games like Baldur’s Gate, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale and Fallout 1&2. People who grew up with these titles kept longing for their return, while the industry gravitated towards 3D games with less and less depth.
Pillars of Eternity promised a lot and delivered. The game has dozens of moral choices, deep combat system and a feels a lot like the classics. Graphics feel a tad outdated, but most people who wanted it to get released didn’t care about that in the first place. The game tells a story of a cursed Watcher, a person who can read the souls of others.
Second isometric RPG on the list, but a pretty different one. Divinity is a long running series that had some ups and downs. “Original Sin” was a 2013 experiment to bring the series to Kickstarter. The experiment was a success and campaign managed to get to a million US dollars.
The game has an amazing co-op feature, allowing you to take a friend and wander through a world named Rivellon together. Story concerns 2 characters, so if you play alone, you control them all. Both of them take the role of Source Hunters, who investigate and deal with evil magic and its users.
The sequel, which appeared on Kickstarter in 2015, collected twice as much as the original as was rated even higher by critics. Story takes place many ages after the first game.
If games could be drugs, FTL would easily stand among most addicting ones. The premise is simple. You’re flying a spaceship through a planetary system that’s being invaded by rebel forces. Your goal is to run away to safety, while upgrading your crew and powering up your ship.
Beating the game is almost impossible at first. A single attack by aliens can ruin your spacecraft, but aliens are not the main villain here. That role goes to the randomness of the game. Everything you visit, meet and do is generated from a huge pool of random events and you never know what you’ll get. A single game is usually short and ends tragically, but that motivates you to try again and again until you succeed and have a perfect run.
The campaign got to 200 000 USD, which was a huge surprise to the creators. Original goal of 10 000 was collected in a day. Since then, the video game got ported to mobile devices and become an indie classic.
One of the biggest hits of 2015, even though the original campaign ended only at 50 000 dollars. The game was inspired by a japanese RPG called Earthbound, and shares its unique, cartoony atmosphere. Story revolves around a character exploring the Underworld – a place where monsters got banished after a war with humans.
The game plays on many genre cliches and turns them into something completely different. For example: combating enemies, a staple of most video game RPGs, is possible but can be omitted. You’re able to negotiate with opponents and befriend them. It’s possible to complete the entire game without fighting anyone and get rewarded with a different ending. Other neat features include characters reacting to players restarting or saving the game.
A love letter to classic 80s and 90s platformers. Incredibly difficult video game with tons of creative mechanics. Main campaign tells the story of Shovel Knight who’s fighting his way through many strange enemies to save Shield Knight – the love of his life. Even though the game is just a platformer, each character and boss is charming and lovable.The game oozes liters of humor, with climatic music that sounds like it’s taken straight from 3 decades ago.
Shovel Knight also keeps on giving. After launch, buyers are still getting new campaigns, often as long as the original one. These allow players to learn stories of other knights like the Plague Knight or Specter Knight. New campaigns have different action mechanics and gameplay ideas. Third expansion, the King Knight, is going to be released this year and will once again be free.