First Look: The Ward

Gathering of Developers unveils the space-based adventure game from Fragile Bits.

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At yesterday's Gathering of Developers event, the company announced that it had picked up the rights to publish Fragile Bits' The Ward, and we were able to get a brief look at the game. The Ward is an adventure game where you, along with a group of fellow astronauts, are sent to the moon to investigate some strange seismic activity. While exploring the surface of the moon and conducting some tests, you and your crew are attacked by aliens, and in an instant, you wake up on their ship, not knowing what happened - but it appears the alien ship suffered some serious damage.

When you wake up in the alien ship, you get a chance to explore the immediate area by moving your mouse over various objects. If an object can be manipulated in any fashion, the mouse will change color, indicating that you can activate the object, examine it, or take it and place it in your inventory. Exploring the surrounding area is a key aspect of The Ward's gameplay because you'll need to gather various items or activate different objects in order to solve puzzles. For example, after you venture outside the area where you wake up, you'll notice that a dead alien is lying at your feet. If you examine the alien closer, you find that there is something in the pocket of his suit, but you can't get it out, so you must search the room and find a device that can cut open the suit pocket. If you search carefully enough, you can find a sharp object to cut the pocket open, and you can then take the security card, which lets you open different doors on the ship. Some puzzles are a little more complex, such as the force-field puzzle, where you must press a series of buttons to open up a hole in a force field that surrounds another valuable item. As you begin to solve puzzles, the story of what happened to your crew and the involvement of the aliens begins to unfold.

The Ward has a fixed camera position for each of the rooms within the ship. However, at certain points in the game, a window will display a close-up image of the item you are looking at so you can explore it in greater detail. In addition to a rather long cutscene at the beginning of the game, a series of cinematics plays during the course of the game to help advance the storyline. If some of the puzzles prove to be too difficult, you can choose between three difficulty settings that will let you completely bypass the puzzles or at least receive clues on how to solve them.

The Gathering's value division, On Deck Interactive (ODI), will release The Ward next January.

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