While many, maybe even most, of the games I play are gritty and grimdark (what can I say, I grew up on Warhammer. I like me some grimdark), variety is important.
That’s part of the reason I’ve been drawn to the Indie Game community; One day, you can play a Lovecraftian dungeon crawler, where my heroes are all but guaranteed to meet their end, and the next, I can play an bright adventure game about a Bard traveling the land and using joyous tunes to solve puzzles.
ZED is a game entirely different from the normal fair, and that’s wonderful. Full of dreamscapes, bright colors and impossible architecture, the game promise a peaceful, yet challenging experience. ZED is the kind of game that will, all at once, invite you to relax in an impossible word, while also working your brain with puzzles to figure out what it all means.
[ZED] invites exploration and involves solving strange puzzles as the player helps an aging and dying dreamer leave behind a lasting legacy for his granddaughter.
The dreamer is confused by your presence. He can help or hinder your progress by putting challenging obstacles in your path – he needs your help but at times doesn’t understand why you are there.
As you learn his story, the truth about his past and his final masterpiece is revealed in the dreams you explore; A personal creation of one man’s disintegrating mind. Help the dreamer fulfill his final task and unleash ZED to the world.
ZED is going to be compared to Myst A LOT. On one hand, that’s fair: Chuck Carter, the lead developer of ZED and the head of Eagre Games, was one of the original creative artist behind Myst (not to mention a heap other games, and a whole host of television shows). The artistic similarities aren’t over prevalent, but they’re definitely there. However, ZED is tonally quite different compared to Myst, and even at this early stage feels much more immersive and alive. So, Myst-Like? Sure, but ZED is definitely it’s own creation.
And, I mean, Myst-like is a pretty great descriptor if you ask me.
I had the opportunity not only to try ZED at Eagre Games’ Kickstarter Launch Party, but also to talk at length with Chuck Carter.
ZED was definitely in an Early Alpha state when I played it, but the visuals were breathtaking. Rocky coastlines were watched over by monolithic red towers floating over the ocean. A labyrinth of bronze puzzle pieces promised mind bending challenges using the very walls that surrounded you. A city looked to be a so much more than a city full of stars. ZED truly does deliver a bright and colorful dreamscape, which was an utter joy to explore.
— IndieHangover.com (@IndieHangover) June 4, 2016
My only complaint when trying the demo was that things felt less than alive, but I was reassured not only that far more animations would be present (see the Kickstarter video above), but that eventually fantastic creatures, big and small, would populated the landscapes which you passed through.
Chuck Carter clearly has incredible passion for this project. His personal connection to the game is at the root of ZED, with many of the dreamscapes and images being drawn from his own dreams.
One of things that impressed me the most with both ZED, Eagre Games and Chuck is the commitment to creating a non-violent adventure game. Eagre Games’s modus operandi is “developing non-violent, beautifully immersive, story-driven games”. It was actually a little sad to realize how rare a thing this is. Violence is, and has been through all of human history, one of the easiest to employ narrative hooks, and this applies just as much, if not more so, to games. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for violent narratives, or even that I dislike them. It’s just nice to see some variety in the market. Committing to not using this narrative crutch of violence really spoke to me, and I commend the entire Eagre Games team for making this choice to offer something that seems rare these days.
At the time of publication, ZED has raised $22,314 of its $48,000 goal, with 23 Days remaining in its crowdfunding period.
If you’d like to support ZED, head on over to the Kickstarter page and look at the available backer teirs. You can also download an art preview to get a idea of what the game is going to look like when played.
Stay tuned to IndieHangover, as we’ll be conducting an interview with Chuck Carter himself, asking him about ZED, his history in the industry, indie game dev in Maine, and some of his favorites. If you’ve got a question you’d like asked, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments!