INDIGO 2014: Black Feather Forest – Canadian Disappearances as Inspiration

This article is part of a series focusing on the most notable games seen at this year’s INDIGO gaming exhibition held September 25-26 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

In a corner of INDIGO, Tim Hengeveld stands with his game, Black Feather Forest. Like a lot of games here, it’s a passion project, but this is the only one-man creation that grabbed my attention. Tim tells me about a real life mystery that remains unsolved until this day:

In rural Canada, people disappear over and over again, and nobody knows where they go or who is responsible. Presumed assailants were put behind bars, but the disappearances continue. This story sparked my imagination and got me into creating this game.

Black Feather Forest is still in a prototype stage, but from what I could see and play, it has the potential to become an immersive adventure. Tim told me about some sources of inspiration for Black Feather Forest, most notably, Kentucky: Route Zero and Telltale’s adventure games. The latter’s influence immediately shows in the way conversations are timed and how characters remember certain dialogue options. Route Zero‘s influence is more subtle, and plays on an atmospheric scale.

When features of the game opened up, a Canadian road trip vibe started to take form. You take the role of a documentary maker, with the ambition of solving the mystery revolving around the disappearances. To accomplish this, you are free to travel back an forth through town, searching for hints on the disappearances. Next to these hints, Black Feather Forest has items to collect and use in the investigation . When I asked him what drives the player to investigate, Tim Hengeveld convinced me that he’s fitted the game with an intriguing plot around the disappearances, with inspiration of real life events.

If I were to give the prototype a verdict, it wouldn’t be a very good one. Options are limited, the audio consists of placeholders, and there is just not much do do at the moment. The pre-alpha that I’ve played shows the idea, and that’s a good one, but Black Feather Forest is a big project, one that needs more than a single developer. As it is, it’s a strong proof of concept, and no more than that. If the final game will receive the attention and work that it needs, Black Feather Forest can become an atmospheric adventure, driven by an interesting narrative.

Download the free pre-alpha here.

Tom Franse

A long time ago, Tom was pulled in the world of digital warfare & pixelated adventures. Tom became a journalist and the pixels increased in numbers. Today he writes about them from his humble shack in the Netherlands.

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