Some Kickstarters launch earlier than others. The occasional one starts up a few months from launch but for the most part it’s a matter of years between campaign and release. Still, the usual method is to have a bit of gameplay to show off, with bonus points if it’s far enough along for a demo, and as a rule there’s something to see rather than read about and imagine. Girl Genius: Adventures in Castle Heterodyne went the opposite way, however, with a campaign that relied on the developer’s previous work on the well-received Teslagrad coupling up with the incredibly popular comic Girl Genius.
Phil and Kaja Foglio have been killing it for years with the series, but so far other than a four-book novelization and a mobile game lost back in 2014 there hasn’t been much non-comics Girl Genius. On the plus side, there’s a ton of the comic so that’s not so bad. Still, it would be nice to see Agatha Heterodyne and crew pop up elsewhere, and Rain Games is working towards making that happen with Girl Genius: Adventures in Castle Heterodyne. The game is planned to be a Metroidvania, but unlike the 2D Teslagrad (which as of today’s sequel announcement is going to be a series) Girl Genius features a 3D castle to explore. Castle Heterodyne is Agathat’s ancestral home, with the disclaimer that her ancestors were all mad scientists and fairly awful people. Agatha has the mad scientist part down but isn’t a sociopath viewing the teeming throngs of humanity as little more than both the subjects of and fodder for her next experiments, and she’ll need that intellect to bring Castle Heterodyne out of its ruined state. It’s a perfect setting for a steampunk Metroidvania, exploring the castle and opening up new pathways both by repairing the structure and its machinery plus inventing new devices along the way.
So far what’s been shown off is not a lot, which really hasn’t helped the campaign gain traction, with today’s short video demonstrating the first small chunk of gameplay. It’s a tiny little thing, just an environmental obstacle and two robots being decisively eliminated, but for the current stage of development that’s not too bad. At the campaign start Rain was “well underway in setting up the game engine”, and that’s not the kind of thing that makes for an interesting visual display. Now there’s at least a little something, and while it may not exactly be a sizzle reel it’s at least proof of concept. Girl Genius deserves a great game, and with a little help in the last few days of the Kickstarter campaign maybe it can finally see one.