Latest Publications

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.

New Release: Cosmic Star Heroine

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Bill Stiernberg of Zeboyd Games writes in to announce the release of Cosmic Star Heroine, a sci-fi jRPG about a galactic secret agent.

The premise:

Alyssa L’Salle is one of the top secret agents at the Agency of Peace & Intelligence on the Planet Araenu. But when she uncovers a horrible conspiracy, she has to go rogue in order to save the day! Can Alyssa save the galaxy when everyone (and everything) is out to stop her?

Stiernberg writes: “The game focuses on fast-paced, streamlined turn-based combat, battles on maps that can sometimes be avoided with careful maneuvering, and a huge host of characters and abilities to choose from.”

Cosmic Star Heroine’s overall presentation is clearly influenced by Chrono Trigger, as you can see in the trailer:

And lest you still doubt the Chrono Trigger influence, the game’s list of features should put those doubts to rest. Among them:

  • Brisk pacing that respects your time! Save anywhere!
  • No separate battle screen! Battles take place directly in the areas that you explore!
  • 2D visual style straight from the height of gaming’s 16-bit era!
  • Animated cutscenes reminiscent of the Sega CD and Turbo Duo era!
  • Soundtrack by HyperDuck SoundWorks (Dust: An Elysian Tail, Precipice of Darkness 4)!
  • Innovative turn-based combat system that focuses on flow and strategy!
  • Multi-character combo techniques!
  • Your own spaceship! Recruit new agents to help your home base grow!

Cosmic Star Heroine is now available for Windows on Steam and The Humble Store at a $14.99 price point, and for Playstation 4 at the same price on the Playstation Store. (Stiernberg writes that they intend to port the game to Playstation Vita, Mac and Linux as soon as they can, with an Xbox One version to come later down the line.)

7-Day Roguelike Challenge 2017 entries posted

The annual 7-Day Roguelike Challenge has once again come to a successful conclusion–word reaches me that the entries have been scored and posted at Temple of the Roguelike. Why not give some of them a try?

Caves of Qud announced, public alpha released

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Brian Bucklew of Freehold Games (the 3-person studio that you may remember as the developer of Sproggiwood) writes in to tell me about Caves of Qud, a strange retrofuturist science fiction/fantasy roguelike.

Impressively, Freehold Games have apparently been developing CoQ since 2007. (I mean, 10 years is actually not that enormous a period of time to spend developing a complex roguelike; but still!) Caves of Qud has been out in Early Access since mid-2015, making this announcement pretty late (but hey: better late than never, right?)

Anyway, let’s get to the premise:

Caves of Qud is a science fantasy RPG and roguelike epic steeped in retrofuturism, deep simulation, and swathes of sentient plants. Come inhabit an exotic world and chisel through a layer cake of thousand-year-old civilizations. Play the role of a mutant from the salt-spangled jungles of Qud, or play as a true-kin descendant from one of the few remaining eco-domes: the toxic arboreta of Ekuemekiyye, the ice-sheathed arcology of Ibul, or the crustal mortars of Yawningmoon. Decide: is it a dying earth, or is it on the verge of rebirth?

The developers write that “Caves of Qud is a deeply simulated, biologically diverse, richly cultured world.” They state that they “wanted to weave a rich, exotic, and well-researched culture around deeply simulated physical and political systems. The result is an open-world roguelike where the gameplay is unpredictable, the plants are sentient, and the development is ongoing.”

If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around this, well, maybe this trailer will help:

Features reportedly include:

  • Assemble your character from over 70 mutations and defects, and 24 castes and kits — outfit yourself with wings, two heads, quills, four arms, flaming hands, or the power to clone yourself; it’s all the character diversity you could want.
  • Explore procedurally-generated regions with some familiar locations — each world is nearly 1 million maps large.
  • Dig through everything — don’t like the wall blocking your way? Dig through it with a pickaxe, or eat through it with your corrosive gas mutation, or melt it to lava. Yes, every wall has a melting point.
  • Hack the limbs off monsters — every monster and NPC is as fully simulated as the player. That means they have levels, skills, equipment, faction allegiances, and body parts. So if you have a mutation that lets you, say, psionically dominate a spider, you can traipse through the world as a spider, laying webs and eating things.
  • Pursue allegiances with over 60 factions — apes, crabs, robots, and highly entropic beings, just to name a few.
  • Learn the lore — there’s a story in every nook, from legendary items with fabled pasts to in-game history books written by plant historians. A novel’s worth of handwritten lore is weaved together with a procedurally-generated history that’s unique each game.
  • Die — Caves of Qud is brutally difficult and deaths are permanent. Don’t worry, though — you can always roll a new character.

A full release of Caves of Qud is planned for sometime in 2018–but there’s no need to wait, as you can grab the alpha and start playing immediately for $9.99 via Steam Early Access. Windows, Mac, and Linux.

War of Velana announced

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Word reaches me that there’s a new sRPG in development by 6-person indie studio Loreweaver. The name: War of Velana. Developer Justin Mitchell tells me that War of Velana is inspired by Shining Force (which earns the game brownie points right out of the gate, as far as I’m concerned!)

Here’s the premise:

The Black Triad waged war on Alta 200 years ago and were defeated. Now, a new dark army stirs and threatens to bring chaos to the country again. A ranger and his friends get wind of what’s happening and chase after a Kovellian mage to try and prevent another war.

Mitchell states that the interface and overall structure of the game are similar to Shining Force, but that War of Velana will depart from that series in a few significant ways. First, combat cut scenes are side-view (a la the GBA Fire Emblem games) rather than taking the “behind the attacker” perspective that the Shining Force series was known for.

Mitchell also tells me that the team took some inspiration from Final Fantasy Tactics: new skills can be learned by all classes, not just spellcasters, and you will have three turns to revive downed characters in a fight before they die. (On most difficulty settings, death is not permanent: you can revive dead characters by praying to the Goddess in true Shining Force style.)

As for the game’s aesthetic approach, this video trailer should give you an idea of what you can expect:

Planned features include:

  • Multiple classes and build types. Some classes can be promoted and some are specialty classes (like Alchemist).
  • Each character gets a unique set of abilities and stat growth ranges regardless of class. For example, your two Soldiers will play pretty differently.
  • 6 Chapters, each exploring a different part of the country of Alta. Each region has a unique environment and design feel.
  • Many layers of secrets, lore findings, secret characters, and rare enemies to find and hunt.
  • Intuitive system design and quality of life features (like seeing every unit’s HP/SP bars with the pull of a trigger).

War of Velana is being developed for Windows and Mac, with a tentative release planned for spring 2018. In the meantime, it’s on Kickstarter, and there’s an alpha demo currently available right here.

New Release: Shadows of Adam

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I’m a little late with this one, but better late than never: word reaches me that Shadows of Adam, a jRPG created  by the five-person indie team Something Classic, has now been released! (And by “now,” I of course mean “at the end of February.”)

The premise:

A specter haunts the small, remote village of Adam. It is the ghost of its dour hero, Orazio, who set out 10 years ago without explanation and never returned, leaving his son and adopted daughter to wrestle with the dark secret he left behind. A secret that must now be revealed if the children hope to save their departed father, though its revelation could unhinge the world.

Shadows of Adam features really nice original art in 16-bit SNES style, as well as what appears to be a custom engine (i.e. I don’t think this one is made in RPG Maker).

Here’s the trailer:

The developers promise 10-12 hours of gameplay, four playable heroes, no random encounters (all wandering enemies appear onscreen), and a “deep, character-driven story with lots of humor.”

You can find Shadows of Adam on Steam for $14.99 (Windows, Mac, and Linux)–or on Green Man Gaming at the same price (Windows only).

New release: Battle Brothers

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Word reaches me that Battle Brothers (previously covered here) has finally been released! Developed by Hamburg-based indies Overhype Studios, Battle Brothers is a strategy RPG set in a gritty quasi-medieval setting with a procedurally generated overworld, battles, and quests.

The premise:

Battle Brothers is a turn based strategy RPG mix which has you leading a mercenary company in a gritty, low-power, medieval fantasy world. You decide where to go, whom to hire or to fight, what contracts to take and how to train and equip your men in a procedurally generated open world campaign. Do you have what it takes to lead them through bloody battles and to victory?

The game is split between a world map, where you can wander and take contracts to earn money or hire new mercenaries for your group–and a turn-based combat layer, where individual battles play out. The game’s release trailer gives you the gist:

I last checked out Battle Brothers nearly two years ago; it was a fairly impressive game even then. Now, after two years of incubation and regular updates on early access, I can only assume that it’s grown more so. (In particular, I hope that the developers have addressed some of the more annoying aspects of the game’s zone-of-control mechanics.)

The developers cite among the game’s features:

  • Permadeath. All characters that die in combat will stay dead – unless they return as the undead.
  • All characters come with their own background stories and traits. Want a stuttering ratcatcher, a greedy witch hunter or a drunkard disowned noble?
  • Character development without a restrictive class-system. Each character gains experience through combat, can level up and acquire powerful perks.
  • Equipment that matters. Different weapons grant unique skills – split shields with axes, stun enemies with maces, form a spearwall with spears or crush armor with a warhammer.
  • Diverse enemy roster. All enemies have unique equipment, skills and AI behavior.
  • A dynamic event system with atmospheric encounters and tough decisions outside of combat.
  • Three late game crises – a war between noble houses, a greenskin invasion and an undead scourge – add a looming threat along with new contracts, enemies and events.

Battle Brothers is available on Steam for $29.99. Windows only.

Legrand Legacy announced

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Aditya Gunawan of Indonesian indie developer Semisoft writes in to announce Legrand Legacy, a 3D jRPG they’re currently developing after successfully raising about $56,000 on Kickstarter last month.

The premise:

Mugna Feud, the great war between the Kingdoms of Fandor and Altea, puts Legrand in a chaotic state. You play as Finn, a young slave who wakes up without any memory of his past, yet soon discovers that he possesses mysterious powers beyond his control. Embark on an epic adventure in this sprawling fantasy universe and fight alongside the Fatebounds to bring peace back to Legrand and prevent the Second Coming! But beware, something deeper and darker awaits…​

So, uh…when the developers reference the Second Coming, I’m just going to go ahead and assume they don’t mean that you’re fighting to prevent Jesus’s return.

Exploration appears to occur on a screen-by-screen basis, with 2D backdrops and a fixed-camera view. Combat, meanwhile, appears to consist of turn-based fare with real-time minigames that impact the effectiveness of your characters’ attacks.

You can see this all in action in the gameplay teaser below (though there’s also a cinematic trailer here if pre-rendered stuff is more your speed):

Per the developers, the finished game is planned to feature:

  • A fully immersive experience with stunning FMV and 3D cinematic cutscenes, epic original soundtrack, and a rich story line
  • 3D models and original assets come together with gorgeously stylized hand-drawn 2D backgrounds
  • Action packed turn-based combat and tactical warfare scenarios that will test not only your skill but also your wits and keep you on your toes
  • Recruit NPCs to rebuild your Castle, play mini games, and go on rewarding side quests
  • Configure items and grimoire that characters can wield in combat, set combat formation, or review journal to track quests
  • Collect loot from slain enemies and craft items or sell them for money

Legrand Legacy is tentatively planned for a Steam release in September 2017; Windows only. While you wait, there’s a free pre-release demo available to try from the game’s Steam page.

Alvora Tactics announced

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Sean Hayden of Rad Codex–creator of Voidspire Tactics–writes in to tell me about a new tactical RPG he’s been plugging away on, called Alvora Tactics.

The premise:

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!

Hayden is reusing the Voidspire Tactics engine and sticking to what it does well: namely, exploring a bizarre setting interspersed with small-scale tactical combat. This teaser trailer ought to give you the gist:

There are a few planned changes from Voidspire–particularly promising is a 50% increase in maximum party size, from 4 up to 6. Hayden writes that this game will be more combat-focused than Voidspire was, and shorter: he pegs it at 10-12 hours in length.

Some of the other planned features:

  • Explore a mix of procedural and handcrafted areas full of varied & challenging encounters
  • 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

Alvora Tactics must be all but complete now, as Hayden lists the game’s release window as April 2017. As with Voidspire Tactics, Alvora Tactics will be Windows-only.

All Walls Must Fall announced

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Jan David Hassel writes in to announce All Walls Must Fall, a “tech-noir” isometric tactics game with RPG elements and clear XCOM inspiration now being developed by Berlin indie studio inbetweengames.

All Walls Must Fall is set in future, alternate-reality Cold War Germany, and features an appropriately paranoid cyberpunk premise to go along with the setting:

Berlin, November 2089 – For 150 years of Cold War both sides have used temporal technology to counter each other’s every move. But this deadly love is finally coming to an end as a rogue nuclear strike has both sides sending agents back in time to find out who did it and how to prevent it before everything turns to ash forever. Over the course of a journey that jumps and loops through a single night in the city, players will unravel the conspiracy keeping East and West locked in struggle and oppression. As lines between factions become blurred, choices become difficult. Which side to play? Who to side with? When both time and free will are an illusion – who can you really trust? Will your actions tear down the wall, bring stability, or perpetuate a cycle of war and terror? In the end all walls must fall.

AWMF employs a real-time-with-pause combat system where unit actions are timed to the beat of the game’s music. AWMF will also include stealth and persuasion mechanics, meaning you’re not locked into combat as the sole means to achieve mission objectives.

You can get a sense of how this game will play from the teaser trailer:

Now, about those missions–the developers state that each campaign will be procedurally generated when you start a new game:

A single campaign consists of a number of missions, taking place in the same night in Berlin. Missions are not scripted, but give you a clear goal. It’s up to you to decide on how to best achieve it within the sandbox of a Berlin nightclub. A single campaign will take a few hours to play through, but each one will contain different missions and may have different outcomes.

Hassel tells me that the game’s assortment of RPG elements is rather limited at the moment, in that “the RPG progression mechanics we have in the game are buying of new weapons and time manipulation abilities. You pay for these with a time resource that you collect for fulfilling missions and doing thing[s] within them.” He states that they intend to add more RPG progression mechanics in later, but it’s not clear right now what those might be.

All Walls Must Fall is now on Kickstarter, where it’s well on its way to being funded. The game is being developed for Windows and Mac, with a closed alpha coming in May and a planned Early Access release this fall.