Latest Publications

New release: Crashlands

Crashlands
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Word reaches me that the action RPG Crashlands (previously covered here) has now been released! Developed by Butterscotch Shenanigans (creators of Quadropus Rampage), Crashlands is an aRPG with crafting, base-building, creature-taming, and big procedurally generated biomes to explore.

The premise:

Play as Flux Dabes, a galactic delivery truck driver whose latest shipment gets interrupted by a megalomaniacal alien named “Hewgodooko” who tears her ship to pieces looking for useful tech. Crashlanded on Woanope, you must fight, tame, craft, quest, bossfight, and adventure your way to domination of all the things so that you and JuiceBox, your trusty sidekick/supervisor/robotic cargo palette, can send a message to the Bureau of Shipping and get those packages delivered!

Here’s the launch trailer:

The game’s features include:

  • Crafting. Make tools and stations to break down the resources of the planet, discover new recipes in the process, and then BUILD ALL THE THINGS as you explore the world. Craftables get ever more elaborate and ridiculous, and include HARVEST BOMBS and LASER LEASHES!
  • Taming. Not only can you harvest crafting components from creatures, you can also find creature eggs. Take that egg back to your base, give it some time to incubate, and hatch your very own baby death machine.
  • Exploration. Crashlands consists of three infinitely(ish)-large, procedurally-generated biomes: the Savannah, Bawg, and Tundra. Each has its own cast of creatures, resources, and sentient beings for you to dominate.
  • Base building. Base-building in Crashlands doesn’t suck. It’s more like finger painting. Just pop open Build Mode, enjoy the soothing muzak, and INSTANTLY build your living quarters!
  • Mod support. We’re building a BscotchID-powered modding tool that lets you create your own stories, use mutators to change the core mechanics of the game, and generally take what we’ve made and do horrible, wonderful things to it.

Crashlands is available in both Windows and Mac flavors for $14.99 direct from the developer and on Steam. It’s also available for mobile, in iOS and Android flavors, for $4.99.

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

It’s been a little while since we last peered into the realms of crowdfunding. After going to sleep for the month of December, it’s time to revisit Kickstarter and Indiegogo and see what exciting new indie RPG projects have appeared, questing for our hard-earned money!

But first: of those projects that we looked in on back in late November, let’s see which ones made it. It seems that Blacksea Odyssey, The Dark Unknown: A Quest for Art, Indivisible, and Trabel hit their funding goals; while Aderyn’s Cradle, Cycle Of Tyrfing, Dark Flame, The Great Whale Road, Realms of Magic, Seafarers of Oceanus, and Stories Of Eternia did not.

Now, then–on to the new projects!

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New release: Echoes of Aetheria

Echoes of Aetheria
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Word reaches me that Dancing Dragon Games (behind the Deadly Sin series and Skyborn) has come out with a new jRPG called Echoes of Aetheria. (While the game apparently launched in November 2015, it only just came to Steam this past week.)

Billed as a spiritual successor to Skyborn, the narrative premise is as follows:

Two nations finally achieve peace, marked by a momentous royal wedding. But just as they seal it with a kiss, a group of soldiers sabotage the wedding and kidnap the bride! Follow the story of Lucian, Ingrid, and Soha, as they uncover the secrets of the conspiracy and expose the true villains!

Here’s the trailer:

I’ve been impressed by this studio’s design instincts for a while now, and the combat system in this latest outing looks promising to me. (It’s hard to go wrong with a grid and an isometric, Breath-of-Fire aesthetic.)

As an RPG Maker game, Echoes of Aetheria is Windows-only. You can snag it on Steam or direct from the developer for $14.99. There’s also a free demo available should you wish to try before you buy.

New release: Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon
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Red Hook Studios writes in to announce the release of Darkest Dungeon, a side-scrolling, party-based dungeon-delver with a striking graphical style, personality trait mechanics, and a sanity meter for each of your party members.

The premise:

Darkest Dungeon is a challenging gothic RPG about the stresses of dungeon crawling. You will lead a band of heroes on a perilous side-scrolling descent, dealing with a prodigious number of threats to their bodily health, and worse, a relentless assault on their mental fortitude! Five hundred feet below the earth you will not only fight unimaginable foes, but famine, disease, and the stress of the ever-encroaching dark. Darkest Dungeon focuses on the humanity and psychological vulnerability of the heroes and asks: What emotional toll does a life of adventure take?

Darkest Dungeon is not a game where every hero wins the day with shiny armor and a smile. It is a game about hard trade-offs, nearly certain demise, and heroic acts.

The trailer:

Rather than rattle off a rote list of features, I’m going to quote a paragraph explaining the most significant feature of this game:

Characters’ stress levels respond dynamically to virtually every occurrence in the dungeon, both positive and negative. Coming across a rotting corpse may unnerve your Highwayman, or may fuel your Crusader’s determination. If the pressures of their circumstances become too overwhelming, their resolve is broken, and they will become afflicted with a myriad of psychological conditions ranging from paranoia, panic, greed, or even sadism. Afflicted party members will act out in a variety of ways that impact the play experience during combat, exploration, camping, and even in town.  And like weary soldiers who have seen too much, your heroes will develop permanent quirks and emotional baggage based on their experiences.

Darkest Dungeon has been out on Steam Early Access since last February, where it has garnered critical acclaim (and some pretty significant sales figures, if the volume of positive user reviews is any indication). The final release has been outfitted with a proper endgame, a New Game+ mode, secret treasure rooms, unique equippable trinkets for defeating champion bosses, and an overall rebalancing of skills and trinkets.

Darkest Dungeon is out on Steam for Windows and Mac; you can nab it there for $24.99 (with 20% off this week). Darkest Dungeon is planned to come to Linux, Playstation 4, and Playstation Vita at some point as well.

Street Posse Showdown announced

Street Posse Showdown
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Vincent Leong (a.k.a. FuriousGamer87) writes in to announce Street Posse Showdown, a strategy RPG he’s developing that takes place in a contemporary, crime-ridden urban setting.

The premise:

As it is with every city, crime is unavoidable in Oaksville, but the situation has gotten worse over the recent years. It was bad enough that most of the wealthy residents have left, fleeing for greener and safer pastures. Without the income or taxes from those people, the city cannot afford to maintain the size of the existing police force. Therefore, with great pain, they downsize the cops to less than a quarter of their previous number.

Without most of the cops, the crimes have increased and the situation on the streets has gotten more chaotic as various groups struggle for dominance. At present, whatever your past and reason is, you have decided to fight back with a group of people dissatisfied with the current situation. How will you fight? Whom will you let into your posse? And what future will you decide to pursue?

I confess, I’m a little leery about that law-and-order plot premise, but still: tactics! The trailer shows off the game’s systems a bit:

Among the game’s listed features:

 

  • Mission-Based Gameplay.
  • Large Amount of Forces.
  • Distinctive Elemental Attributes.
  • No Permadeath But Enjoy Your Injuries.
  • Replaceable Techniques.
  • Randomize Recruits.
  • Single Player Story-Based Campaign.
  • Changeable Clothing.

 

Leong states that he’s completed all the core features for the game, and that content and assets are all that remains to be finished.

If you like what you see, feel free to go vote for the game over on Steam Greenlight.

Street Posse Showdown is planned for Windows release in late 2016. In the meantime, there’s a free alpha demo available for you to try out; Windows only.

Exiled Kingdoms enters beta

Exiled Kingdoms
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Phew! This month has been crazily busy–time to start making up for lost time and catching everyone up on the latest indie RPG news! Where to start…

First, David Ballestrino writes in to announce that his open world, isometric action RPG Exiled Kingdoms (previously covered back in August) is in beta, and has been released in that form on Google Play for Android.

The premise:

A century ago, the Andorian Empire was destroyed by a magical cataclysm that brought The Horrors into our world; humanity was nearly annihilated. Many thousands managed to escape sailing away to the Imperial Colony of Varannar: a savage island, dangerous and unexplored. Mistrust and blame made impossible to elect a new Emperor, and the four Exiled Kingdoms were proclaimed.

Nowadays, the ragtag kingdoms still struggle to survive in a harsh land, often waging war on each other. Empire and the Horrors are, for many, just old legends and fairytales. You are a novice adventurer, rarely paying attention to such old stories; you’re more concerned with your latest misadventures and lack of gold.

But for once, luck seems to be on your side. You received a letter from New Garand, stating that you are the sole beneficiary of a big inheritance. You don’t remember any relatives in the capital of the Kingdom of Varsilia, but certainly that won’t stop you from an opportunity like this! The road to New Garand will reveal many surprises, and will teach you that fairytales and legends can become, in fact, very real.

Here’s an updated trailer for the game, which pretty well gets across the gist of the game:

Ballestrino lists the game’s features as follows:

• Real-time combat against all kinds of different monsters and beasts, from vicious goblins to raging minotaurs and wyverns.
• Explore all kind of environments freely: forests and caves, cities, ancient tombs and remote valleys.
• Customize your character choosing between 4 classes, 40 skills and hundreds of different items.
• Dozens of quests to solve, many with unique rewards.
• Talk to hundreds of non-player characters, solve mysteries, make friends and enemies.
• Roam the world freely, the game is completely non-linear and you can pretty much go anywhere you want. Become a tomb robber, or a bounty hunter, it’s up to you!
• Work on your reputation to become a hero of one or more of the kingdoms or guilds. Eventually you can become a knight, a high mage, a hero… or a villiain.

The game is free to download in a sort of demo form, with about a dozen areas freely accessible consisting of 5 large outdoor maps, several dungeons, and 6 completable quests (as well as a level cap of 4).

Beyond that, it’s $2.95 to unlock the rest of the beta, which currently has over 60 areas, 33 quests+infinite procedural quests, and approximately 25-30 hours of gameplay. Ballestrino states that he is going to continue adding content weekly until the game hits version 1.0, at which point he hopes to have more than twice as much content in the game.

The Exiled Kingdoms beta for Android is available right here. The game is planned for released on iOS in late January 2016, and for PC in March 2016.

New release: The King’s Heroes

The Kings Heroes
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Word reaches me that the ever-prolific Aldorlea Games has released a new jRPG called The King’s Heroes.

The premise:

Princess Darlene has vanished. The King is completely broke.
His only chance is to ask his closest friends for help.
And one of them is a natural choice, having been there when it happened.
But the shock of it has wiped out most of the memory, and your only clue remains a torn parchment.

Choose among a knight, a witch, a minister even, and several others, and try to find out what happened to the King’s daughter.
But choose well, because much more than actual professionals, these people are first and foremost the King’s best friends. Will they end up heroes, or zeros?
You have a say in the matter!

Per the developer, the game features:

  • 30-40 Hours of epic and rich gameplay
  • Visible encounters
  • Mouse control
  • No less than 6 modes of difficulty including unique ‘Attack Mode’
  • Choose your party among 8 different classes of characters, some of them with up to 4 different sub-classes
  • Rename your characters – give your name or a friend’s!
  • Colyseum for you to test your skills and earn great rewards
  • Tons of Relics and Artifacts to discover
  • Great-looking enemies, beautiful environments and charming music
  • 150-page strategy guide available

 

The King’s Heroes is $19.99 direct from the developer; Windows only. You can download a free demo of the game right here.

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Hey guys! Back to Back has returned for one last round-up in the year 2015, before we enter the end-of-year Valley of Death from which virtually no Kickstarters return!

Of those games we checked in on last time, the successful games were Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan; Battle Chasers: Nightwar; Divinity: Original Sin 2; For the King; and A House of Many Doors. Crossfate suffered a worse fate, as did MegaMagic: Wizards of the Neon Age; Omnis – The Erias Line; Psypher; Severed Winds; and Tears of Avia.

So! What’s new in the Land of Crowdfundia?

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New release: Celestial Tear: Demon’s Revenge

Celestial Tear
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Tyrell and Whitney White of White Guardian Studios have reached out to let me know that the first portion of jRPG Celestial Tear: Demon’s Revenge (previously covered here as Demon’s Revenge, and in numerous Back to Back updates going all the way back to 2012) has been released!

According to the developers, this game has transformed dramatically from when I played an early demo of it 3 years ago–and evidently among those transformations is a new episodic structure. There will be three parts released in total; here is the plot premise of episode 1:

The story takes place on the planet Hasphal after humans colonized it and began hunting down its natives, Jehts, as they saw them as being disfigured and dangerous. You follow Sen as she heads into this ancient conflict built on prejudice, discovering the history behind it, its ties to religion, and even mysterious parts of herself.

I remember liking the game’s original combat sprites back in 2012, and based on the screenshots and release trailer, it looks like those have survived to the final release:

Per the devs, here are Celestial Tear’s features:

– A unique turn-based combo based combat system inspired by 16-bit fighting games.

– Exciting motion comic cut scenes.

– A beautiful world brought to life with 2D pixel art and animations.

– A rich story with voice acted dialogue.

– A powerful, original soundtrack.

Celestial Tear is Windows-only; you can nab it for $5.99 on Steam or via The Humble Store. In the meantime, the devs have provided me with a copy of the game, so I’ll do my best to check it out in short order!

Arcadian Atlas announced

Arcadian Atlas
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Becca Bair, one-half of the brother-sister team that makes up Austin indie studio Twin Otter, writes in to announce Arcadian Atlas. The devs describe Arcadian Atlas as a strategy RPG intended as “a modern go at the Tactics Ogre & Final Fantasy Tactics game style.”

Even without that description, take one look at this game’s pixelly isometric screenshots and it’s pretty darn clear that they’re angling for that sort of approach.

Meanwhile, the narrative premise here is decidedly romance-y!

In the world of Arcadian Atlas, nothing is more brutal than love. And when a kingdom is at stake, love will rip itself to shreds. Now two people are finding themselves engulfed in a civil war they never wanted, and when sides must be chosen, will they find themselves still standing together – or will love leave anything standing at all?

I’m actually intrigued by the focus on a romantic relationship, as this is an angle we seldom get in (non-dating-sim) RPGs!

Meanwhile, on the crunchier end of things, here is the list of features they plan to have in the final game:

  • Hand-painted character art & a pixel perfect world designed by artist Becca Bair (Vidar, Dreamblazers). A labor of love!
  • Detailed battle system provides limitless strategy & challenges.
  • Epic storyline and 3-dimensional characters fleshed out by writer Taylor Bair (Business of Indie, Planet Destiny) will leave you intrigued & attached.
  • Grid-based tactics play style hits all the right nostalgia chords
  • Retro-style sound effects & modern, chilled out jazz tunes by Moritz P.G. Katz (Fort Meow, German Wahnsinn) bridge the gap between yesterday & today.
  • Innovative job classes with zero filler skills will keep you chasing that AP.
  • Marries tried & tested classic tactical RPG gameplay with new customizations & exciting mechanics that help innovate the genre.

Arcadian Atlas is being developed for Windows, Mac, and iOS, with an estimated late 2017 release date.