Latest Publications

Forward to the Sky announced

Forward to the Sky
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Wei Chen writes in to announce Forward to the Sky, a 3D Zelda-alike in development by Taiwanese indie devs Magichnology.

The premise:

Reveal the story of the sky tower. Forward to the Sky is a third person action adventure game in the sky tower ruin. You are going to collect all the crystal pieces to connect the story and everything will be revealed once Princess reaches the top level.

If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because we covered this game as part of a Back to Back back in May. The game focuses on puzzles, combat, and platforming; 3D Zelda, essentially but with more of a platforming focus, and set in a giant tower. There’s a trailer which shows off the gameplay pretty well:

Forward to the Sky is planned for release for Windows, Mac and Linux in early 2015 at an estimated $9.99 price point. In the meantime, it’s on Steam Greenlight, where it awaits your upvote.

New release: Sproggiwood

Sproggiwood
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Megan Fox writes in to announce the release of Sproggiwood, a graphical roguelike from three-person Indiana indie studio Freehold Games.

The premise:

Bring civilization to Sproggiwood, a story-driven, turn-based roguelike set in a humorous world inspired by Finnish mythology. One moment, you’re a simple farmer tending your grove — the next, you’re lured through a mysterious portal by a talking sheep. Now you’re the prisoner of Sproggi, a mischievous forest spirit who tasks you with taming the monsters of its realm. But things go awry when you discover a new civilization — will you befriend these curious newcomers, or will you crush them and claim Sproggiwood for your own?

There isn’t a new trailer, but in the event that you missed it last time, here it is again:

The game’s feature list:

  • A wondrous and humorous setting inspired by Finnish mythology
  • Brain-churning tactical combat vs. an assortment of creative monsters and traps
  • Six unique, customizable classes: simple farmer, brave warrior, merry archer, cunning thief, brainy wizard, and creepy vampire
  • Procedural dungeons filled to the brim with scrolls, potions, swords, and staves
  • Town decoration mode with buildings, trees, roads, and villagers

Sproggiwood is available for $14.99 on Steam or The Humble Store. Windows, Mac and Linux (with Android and iOS ports reportedly in the works).

New release: Princess and Knight

Princess and Knight
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This is a good time for mobile strategy RPGs, folks. Word reaches me that we have yet another out, this one called Princess and Knight.

The brainchild of Korean indie developer TeamSoftIcecream, Princess and Knight is an iOS sRPG that (as far as i can tell) seems to put you on the side of the royal heir during a bloody civil war. At least, that’s what I was able to glean from the rather vague narrative description and trailer:

Screaming and blood…

There is endless sadness in the execution ground…

She was always there…

With same happy face as little kids on the playground to play…

So the people usually called her in their behind as…

Said in ‘Princess of Blood’

Record from now is based on her story

And one men’ memories that she wanted to be happiness…

This is story of Farrell Kingdom’s last princess.

Please journey with her…

The aforementioned trailer:

The game’s page is regrettably light on details about its mechanics, but the devs have been good enough to record a video showing how it actually plays:

Princess and Knight is iOS-only, available in English and Korean flavors,with an updated (presumably improved) English translation dropping next week. PnK is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPad 2, or later devices. You can nab it here for $2.99.

New release: Pixel Fantasy

Pixel Fantasy
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Word reaches me that there’s a new mobile RPG in town with a Match 3-style combat system and the Oryx fantasy sprite set. Created by Columbian developer Carlos Andrés (a.k.a. BlogsCol), this game goes by the name of Pixel Fantasy.

The premise:

Pixel Fantasy, is a puzzle RPG in which you have to prove that you’re the most powerful warrior.

That’s it. Not exactly ground-breaking narrative stuff there. Then again, the proof is in the pudding–and by “pudding,” I of course mean “combat system that is clearly inspired by Puzzle Quest.”

As in that classic title, you create a character from a limited choice of classes (here, it’s Warrior, Archer and Mage), then level him or her up, obtaining new skills and investing in different stats as you battle your way through a succession of enemies. You swap gems during combat, trying to match three or more. Depending on the gems matched, you’ll gain resources or bonuses to your abilities:

Sword: Increases the attack and magic attack.
Shield: Upload defense and magical defense.
Treasury: Increases your money.
Meat: Increases energy.
Green Potion: Increases magic points.
Skull: Increases the power of the enemy.

The game features 50 enemy types and 30 different skills for you to acquire.

Pixel Fantasy is a free game; Android only. You can nab it here.

New release: Ambition of the Slimes

Ambition of the Slimes
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Word has it that there’s an odd new mobile strategy RPG in town. From developer Masaya Takahashi (a.k.a. Altairworks) comes a game known only as Ambition of the Slimes.

The premise:

The world was about to be ruined.

A brutal family called the “human” appeared and almost obtained the world.
They burnt the forest and polluted water and the sky.
They were very tyrannical.
It is almost the day when the world is ruined.

And they pointed the blade to us who did not have hostility.
We who did not have great power only merely waited for extinction.

But We understood that we could take over their body when we were in the body of the human from trifling chance once.

Slimes counterattack began.

In short, you play on the side of the slimes–the humans are your enemies. There are different kinds of slimes, but all of them are able to take over human bodies, ensuring that you get to field a full array of different human classes in battle.

Ambition of the Slimes is available for free for iOS and for Android; there are no in-app purchases at the moment, though the developer states that there will be in the future. Likewise, although the game is almost entirely in Japanese at the moment, a note on the game’s store page promises English notation in the next version.

Back to Back: Indie RPGs to fund

I’ve managed to go a whole two weeks since our last Back to Back, and that means I have actual news on projects that have ended! Since our last overview, Band Saga, Ironcast, Star Traders 2, and Warlocks all hit their funding goals. Celestial Tear and Hipster Town Tactics ended without hitting their funding goals; The Secret Testament was canceled.

For every project that ended, we seem to have a new one springing up to take its place. Here is the current slate of indie RPGs seeking crowdfunding:

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New release: Legend of Grimrock 2

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Word reaches me that Finnish indie developer Almost Human, Ltd. has released the sequel to their critically acclaimed real-time, first-person, party-based dungeon crawler Legend of Grimrock. The title? Legend of Grimrock 2! (Duh.)

The premise:

A group of four prisoners have shipwrecked on the secluded Isle of Nex. The island is filled with ancient crumbled ruins, mysterious shrines and a vast underground network of dungeons and mines. If the prisoners wish to make it out alive, they have to overcome the challenges devised by the ominous mastermind of the island.

LoG2, like its predecessor, is a game very much in the spirit of the original Dungeon Master. I’ve seen a bit of griping around the internet about the fact that, much like in the original Grimrock, LoG2’s characters are class-based and progress using a skill tree; not necessarily terrible things in my estimation, but it’s certainly a less free-wheeling progression system than we saw in Dungeon Master.

If early reviews are to be believed, this game features lots of outdoor areas, more open-ended exploration, and loads more content than the original Grimrock. You can get a taste in the game’s most recent trailer:

The feature list:

  • More than 20 hours of pure blooded dungeon crawling gameplay with grid-based movement and thousands of squares filled with hidden switches, pressure plates, secret doors, riddles, deadly traps and more.
  • Cast spells with runes, craft potions and bombs, fight murderous monsters with a large variety of melee-, ranged and thrown weapons, as well as firearms.
  • Create a party of four characters and customize them with 7 character classes, 5 races, and numerous skills and traits. Collect experience to hone their skills and discover improved equipment and magical artefacts.
  • 42 different kind of monsters including 30 new foes unique to Isle of Nex.
  • Play custom adventures created by others or make your own with Dungeon Editor.
  • More depth, variety and open ended exploration than in Legend of Grimrock 1. Enhanced AI, spell casting, puzzle mechanics and skill systems.

Legend of Grimrock 2 is available for Windows only. It costs $23.99 on Steam, GOG.com, and the Humble Store (albeit with a 10% launch discount for the next week or so).

How to not fail at Kickstarter in 8 more steps

Since I posted How to not fail at Kickstarter in 12 easy steps last April, a lot more people have come to me seeking advice–and as a direct result, my list has grown. The time has come for another article, one with even more tips and tricks for funding your game.

Kickstarter Stats
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Lest you think this follow-up article is unnecessary, a quick glance at Kickstarter’s stats page will correct you. As of today, there are nearly two failed game Kickstarters for every one that succeeds. The “games” category includes board games, which historically have higher rates of successful funding than video games do–if we were to look at video games alone, the ratio of failures-to-successes would likely be even worse! Suffice it to say, we still have a lot of room for improvement in terms of how we run our video game Kickstarter campaigns.

If you haven’t read the first article yet, now is the time! Don’t worry, I’ll wait. …all caught up? Good! Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you: How to not fail at Kickstarter in 8 more steps.

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Sora A Tale of a Hero announced

Sora A Tale of a Hero
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Mike Vaughan of Nissyoku Games writes in to announce Sora A Tale of a Hero, a 3D jRPG modeled after Final Fantasy 7.

The premise:

The back drop story revolves around a young teenage girl named Sora who idolizes her hero Serg (name not final), who is now the village chief of Violethaven which Sora was born an raised. Serg has told many stoires to Sora about his adventures from his travels when hes was younger. Sora would sit and listen intently to each story with amazement wishing one day to have an adventure of her own. But unbeknown to her did she know that her adventure was about to begin….

There’s a teaser video showing a first look at Violethaven, which appears to be the game’s starting town:

Sora is planned for release in 2015 for Windows, with mobile ports and possible console ports to follow.

New release: Pier Solar HD

Pier Solar
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Hey guys! Remember Pier Solar HD? Developer WaterMelon Co. has finally released it, and has written to me with the details! (Actually, they released it on September 30th; I’m a little late in posting this. My bad.)

The new incarnation of Pier Solar is a 2D jRPG featuring a strange mix of chunky pixel art and smooth HD graphics. I say “new incarnation” because this game was first developed long, long ago, and given an initial release on the Sega Genesis–we’re talking way back in 2004, here. Wanting to rerelease the thing with some updated niceties, the developers took Pier Solar to Kickstarter and were promptly buried in all the money from the internet’s jRPG-hungry denizens throwing dollar bills through their screens.

So, what’s the game about? The narrative premise goes a bit like this: Hoston is a young botanist whose father has become mysteriously ill. On a quest to save him, Hoston meets new friends, learns that they have to save the world, and discovers the true meaning of Christmas. (Minus the last part.)

This is given some very minimal elaboration in the game’s release trailer:

I admit, something about the inconsistency of the game’s visual aesthetic makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I might feel differently once I get around to playing it. (Speaking of which: I’ll be playing Pier Solar and offering my impressions just as soon as I get the game to run properly on my computer.)

In the meantime, Pier Solar is available for $14.99 on Windows, Mac, Linux, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, and OUYA. The developers tell me that it will be available on the Playstation Vita in the near future, and it’s planned for eventual release on Xbox One, Wii U, and Dreamcast as well.