Latest Publications

New release: StarCrawlers

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Word reaches me that the sci-fi, first-person dungeon delver known as StarCrawlers (previously covered here) has now been released. Developed by San Diego indie studio Juggernaut Games, StarCrawlers is a “blobber” in the Wizardry vein, with a custom party of characters and turn-based combat encounters.

The premise:

You’re a Crawler, and that means you work for those that can pay. Asset recovery, commercial espionage, and mayhem for hire are just a few of your crew’s specialized services. If something shady needs doing, chances are a Crawler will be involved. Succeed and you’ll be rewarded with better pay then any corp drone can dream of. Plus, you’ll earn the respect of the eclectic assortment of merchants, opportunists and adventurers who make their home in the fringes of space.

As I recall, combat is skill-based and actions cost specific amounts of time units. I spent a little time with it at PAX a few years back, and I remember the system working well. But why rely on my hazy recollections when you can watch the release trailer?

Meanwhile, here’s the list of features:

  • Wage strategic battles against futuristic enemies with an innovative time unit turn-based combat system.
  • Procedurally-generated dungeons and events create endless replayability.
  • Choose your allies and your foes wisely. Your choices will change how the story unfolds.
  • Eight player classes each with unique abilities, both in combat and when exploring.
  • Randomly generated weapons, armor and gear with upgradeable enhancements.
  • Easy to Hardcore difficulty modes and optional permadeath.

You can nab StarCrawlers on Steam and on GOG for $19.99 (currently with a 25% launch week discount). Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Kenshi announced

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Word reaches me of Kenshi, a squad-based, open world sandbox RPG set in something like a sci-fi version of ancient Japan. UK development team Lo-Fi Games have reportedly been developing Kenshi for 8 years and counting; with the game now finally in beta, it seems they’re ready to start building awareness.

There is no narrative premise to speak of in Kenshi, as the game is evidently quite committed to non-linearity, but I was provided with this description by the PR fellow who emailed me:

Set in an original ‘sword punk’ style world with post-apocalyptic-meets-samurai vibes. There is no linear story, but the player will struggle for survival and make their own story in a ramshackle world, all while uncovering lost ruins and mysteries of a fallen, high tech civilisation.

[Kenshi] gives players the freedom to be good or bad, build a town, start a faction, fight bloodthirsty cannibals & bandits, craft items or simply survive in the challenging, vast open world.

Really, I think the main thing you need is this trailer, which gets across the gist pretty admirably:

Planned features include:

  • Customize your squad
  • Build your own base
  • Rescue and carry your wounded mates to safety
  • Aid or oppose various factions
  • Realistic injuries such as severed limbs that need robotic replacements
  • A challenging struggle for survival. No level scaling or ‘hero’ characters with artificially stronger stats
  • Endless gameplay possibilities and occupations
  • Dynamic, ever changing, simulated world. Support or hinder whoever you wish, or keep to
    yourself, the world won’t stop moving
  • Intricate gameplay factors such as environment, weather and exhaustion

Kenshi is already available in beta form for $19.99 via Steam Early Access; the full release is planned for summer 2017. Windows only.

IndieRPGs.com Checks Out Cosmic Star Heroine

Hello friends! I’ve once again managed to eke out a few hours of uninterrupted time at home to take a look at an indie RPG sent to me by the developer; this time around, it’s the sci-fi jRPG Cosmic Star Heroine by Zeboyd Games.

With FRAPS a-frappin’ and mouth a-yappin’, I experienced the first 50 minutes or so of the game in such a way as to let you easily follow along:

So–what’d I think?

(more…)

Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood announced

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Andrew Schneider writes in to announce Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood, a text-based RPG for iOS running on Disbound (a mobile implementation of the Twine engine).

The premise should be familiar to most:

You are Robin of Locksley. Hounded from your home by the Sheriff of Nottingham, take control of your fate in this extravagant illustrated role-playing game. Rob from the rich, rally the people, build a settlement, and battle the Sheriff of Nottingham for control of Sherwood Forest.

Unusually for a text-based RPG, Nocked actually has a gameplay teaser video. Behold:

The feature list:

-10+ hours of gameplay incorporating 400,000+ words of text; no two playthroughs are the same!

-9 romanceable characters, including both same- and opposite-sex relationships. Play as male or female Robin.

-3 customizable bases, each with a unique look and play style. Build your base and see it reflected in the art and story.

-127 pieces of hand-drawn digital watercolor art.

Nocked! is planned for release in July 2017 for iPhone and iPad at a $5.99 price point.

New release: Krai Mira: Extended Cut

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Asia Przybyłowicz writes in to announce that the post-apocalyptic, isometric wRPG Krai Mira: Extended Cut has released on Steam. Krai Mira originally released in July 2016, and this Extended Cut version evidently just came out last month. (What can I say: it’s new to me!)

Developers Tall Tech Studio write that Krai Mira takes direct inspiration from the original Fallout, and the game’s premise seems to bear that conclusion out:

Scorched by the sun and hopelessly irradiated, the Earth is soaked in toxic waste and blood of its former masters. Those who remain are fighting to survive the endless and senseless struggle with the environment, and, inevitably, with themselves.

Here’s the trailer–as you can see, this game sports interface elements and a combat system that both look quite a lot like what we saw in the original Fallout:

You can snag Krai Mira: Extended Cut on Steam for $12.99; Windows only. There is a free demo available here as well.

The Rise of Mooncrest announced

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You might remember KnightMayor, the Austin-based indie developer behind the now-deceased title Mooncrest. Since giving up the ghost on that particular project, KnightMayor have thrown their efforts into a new strategy RPG taking place in the same universe by the name of The Rise of Mooncrest.

Here’s the premise:

The land of Nocturne, peaceful for generations, has been invaded by a powerful and exotic force. Seemingly overnight, almost all of Nocturne is occupied leaving only one stronghold – Mooncrest. Can Mooncrest’s overwhelmed forces rally together to defeat a mysterious army with mythological powers?

Developer Rick Burton describes the game as a “story driven, Tactical RPG with core gameplay features inspired by the Sega Genesis classic – Warsong (Langrisser).” Reviewing early footage of the game, I couldn’t help but notice that it bears a passing resemblance to Yggdra Union as well:

Burton confirmed that each individual squad of units is under the command of a unique “commander” character that can develop between fights. As a commander’s squads defeat enemies, the commander will gain experience points, level up, and and eventually branch out into more powerful classes, of which the finished game will contain 22. (If a commander is defeated, on the other hand, all squads under their command will immediately withdraw from the current fight.)

The Rise of Mooncrest is being developed for Windows, with a planned release window of mid-to-late 2018. A Kickstarter campaign planned for May 23. In the meantime, there’s an alpha demo available here.

New release: Alvora Tactics

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Sean Hayden of Rad Codex writes in to announce that his strategy RPG Alvora Tactics (previously covered here) has now been released!

The premise remains:

Great Serpent Alvora has been tormenting Limroft for centuries, swooping down and devouring wilderness and cities. Now its corpse has been discovered hanging off a remote cliffside – and it’s up to you to explore and discover the valuable ancient ruins within!

Rad Codex, as you may recall, is the developer of Voidspire Tactics, another strategy RPG that I checked out (and quite enjoyed) back in November 2015. Alvora Tactics appears to retain the same engine and overall design approach as Voidspire did,with free-roaming exploration and turn-based tactical battles with a small party. The developer writes:

Combat is turn-based, where each character and move and act once per turn. Each class grants them access to 7 abilities, and each character can equip 2 classes, as well as 3 passive abilities.

Exploration is top-down overworld movement, similar to Zelda or Ultima VII. You can interact with the environment and solve puzzles using the same class abilities that you use in combat.

The trailer should give you the basic idea vis-a-vis how it looks and plays:

The changes to the formula include a larger party size (6, up from 4 in Voidspire) and new terrain mechanics, each addressing one of the few weaknesses I observed in the preceding title.

Here’s the full feature list:

  • Deep, challenging combat that is streamlined and easy to understand
  • Explore a mix of procedural and handcrafted areas
  • Destructible terrain and elemental interactions – set a jungle ablaze with fire magic, or summon water then electrify it!
  • Combine 10 races, 23 classes, 150+ upgrade-able abilities, and 50+ passives to create your ideal party
  • Unique fantasy setting; no elves, orcs, or dwarves
  • Built using the same engine, mechanics, and setting as the highly-rated Voidspire Tactics

Alvora Tactics is $9.99, with a 10% discount during its launch week; you can buy it direct from the developer, or on itch.io. (Alvora Tactics is not yet on Steam, but can be upvoted here if you’d like to help it become available in that venue.) Windows only.

World Slayer announced

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Daria writes in to inform me that there’s a new 3D jRPG in development by the name of World Slayer. In development by a (primarily Russian) 5-person studio simply calling themselves World Slayer Team, World Slayer takes the unusual tack of making your protagonist the one who’s out to destroy the world:

Occasionally some worlds, for an unknown reasons, become affected by the Corruption, which gradually deforms them and their inhabitants. When the Corruption reaches the critical level, the whole world turns into a Corrupted Monster, that devours other Worlds. Since it’s mostly unknown where the Corruption comes from and how to get rid of it, the world heavily affected by it must be destroyed by the World Slayer (you).

But the moment the Slayer arrives into the world, he is immediately attacked by a mysterious sorceress, who drains all of the Slayer’s power, but also loses all of her own memory. Everything that happens afterwards is up to you, the player. You can finish the story as a typical savior, as a manipulative villain, as a madman or a mad woman, as an elaborate strategist, a romantic hero or maybe just do nothing and have fun (and who cares about the world that’s collapsing?)

As the premise suggests, the developers are taking pains to make the game nonlinear, drawing inspiration from a myriad of wRPGs in the process (they specifically cite Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age).

Here’s a teaser trailer:

The developers list the following features planned for the finished game:

  • Completely nonlinear single player campaign
  • The relationships between the protagonist and main companions could vary from a friendship or a common romance… to a global catastrophe
  • Faction Rivalry mode (strategic good old Sengoku-like addon) becomes available, allowing the player to conquer cities and lands like a strategist, improve the army and build defences
  • Crafting weapons, devices, and magic stones
  • Battle system that looks deceptively simple, offers a large variety of tactics to trick a stronger enemy
  • Story – the narrative isn’t built on trivial claims about saving the world and cutout “chosen one” templates, instead it’s based on characters’ interactions and non-standard storytelling decisions, which the player has to deal with. The story is presented somewhat frivolously, with humor and a bit of parody.

There is currently a demo available for World Slayer (Windows, Mac, and Android). The full game is being developed for Windows, Android, iOS and Switch, with a planned simultaneous release date of winter 2017 (and a potential PS Vita port to follow).

Bevontule announced

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Andy Fenton of two-person, Ohio-based indie studio Multithreaded Games writes in to announce Bevontule, a 3D jRPG they’ve been developing since May 2015.

Here’s the premise:

As the troubled continent of Onich spirals further into decay, an ancient foe reappears amidst the chaos, offering salvation.  Join a diverse cast of characters and the outcast among them, looking perhaps to stave off the looming calamity… or unwittingly hasten its arrival.

In Bevontule, you’ll traverse a massive and varied continent, inhabited by war-ravaged nations, revel factions, impregnable beasts and far-more insidious and unknowable forces.  You’ll explore expansive plains, aid survivors in ruined towns, delve deeply into caverns, and navigate forbidden ruins—all in the service of discovering the existential threat presently posed to Onich and perhaps humanity itself.

Exploration in Bevontule looks to be in modern jRPG style, with enemy mobs visible on the map. Combat, meanwhile, looks to be spatial and turn-based, eschewing grid-based movement in favor of a more freeform radial variety a la Age of Fear or Phantom Brave:

Meanwhile, the developers’ list of planned features for the final release is pretty enormous–I’ve actually edited it a bit for length:

  • Mature and highly-detailed plot spanning thousands of years, inspired by games like Xenogears and Shadow Hearts.
  • Beautiful 3D environments to discover, explore and conquer, including a massive, JRPG-style overworld.
  • Free-roaming enemies with a wide variety of movement patterns, behaviors and habitats; avoid or engage at your own discretion!
  • Unrelenting and highly-intelligent enemy AI that can be scaled to various difficulty levels.
  • A large cast of interesting characters with defined roles, yet deeply customizable skillsets, with multiple builds for each combatant.
  • Enemies learn and level up as you do, accessing new skills, tactics and other ‘enhancements.’
  • Unlock, learn and equip from hundreds of combat skills, attribute bonuses, and world-based buffs.
  • Scavenge, create and upgrade items with our original skill-based crafting system.

Bevontule is being developed for Windows, and is currently planned for a 2018 release.

Sacred Fire announced

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Martin Kolesar of four-person indie team Poetic Studio writes in to announce Sacred Fire, which he describes as a psychological RPG about revenge and loyalty.

The premise:

Sacred Fire is a narrative RPG in which your humanity and emotions impact your fight for survival and inner freedom. Inspired by ancient Caledonia, the story follows a group of resistance fighters and their rise to power.

Choosing motives, ideas and feelings is as important as choosing your actions. Develop your personality and compete for influence to change the story and avert a tragic ending.

From what I can tell, your interaction with the game occurs exclusively through selecting menu options, but the way the developers plan to present everything is pretty slick–check out the gameplay teaser showing a bit of this, or this more scattered (but comprehensive) alpha trailer:

Planned features include:

  • Cinematic turn-based combat
  • Psychology affecting your performance
  • Choice making with probability checks
  • Competing story characters
  • Multiple endings
  • Narrated by Doug Cockle, the voice of the Witcher

Sacred Fire is planned for release in spring 2018 for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. The developers intend to later port the game to PS4 and Xbox One as well.