Astronaut: the Best is awash with weird and innovative ideas. It’s exactly the kind of game Kickstarter was meant to support. But I think right now that’s what’s killing it on Kickstarter. It doesn’t play like anything else out there; when the comparison you reach for is ‘King of Dragon Pass, maybe?’ you know you’ve got something weird. The art style is like-but-not-quite-like 60s cartoons – I’ve seen people call it ugly but no-one has called it boring. The world-building is bizarre – but bizarre in a clever, funny, original way that made me sit up very straight when I first saw it.
There’s more. The $77 reward says ‘don’t select this tier; it is full of snakes’. You advance your astronaut’s potential by putting them on game shows. The trailer is narrated by an urbane mandala lion. But the whole thing is polished – they’ve really committed. It’s not just a silly gag, or rather, it’s a mountain of silly gags lovingly crafted into a spear of alarming satire and phantasmagoric psychedelia, with an actual demo and some surprisingly sane game design.
As I write, ATB has 10 hours to go and needs another nine thousand dollars. They’re only asking for 26K, and they had a strong start, but I think people are just glancing at the page and going ‘huh’? The tragic thing is that my old studio, Failbetter, has offered to match-fund them if they raise the money from Kickstarter – so backers are effectively getting double production value from each pledge, but the whole thing will fall through if the KS doesn’t make it. And they’ve been working on it for two years.
(Disclaimer: I have 0% financial interest in Failbetter these days, and 0% financial interest in ATB)
Here is the link to their Kickstarter.
Here is the RPS post, where Adam Smith as usual Gets It. The video on that page explains the game much better than their main KS video.
And here’s their demo.
I’ve just upped my pledge to $200, despite bloody Brexit making that an aggravatingly large number of Queen Pounds, because I reckon we need more games like this. You can help too by pledging or spreading the word.