Latest Publications

New release: Auro

I’ve just learned that Auro–the not-technically-a-roguelike tactics title that was the subject of this interview–has finally been released! (Specifically, it appeared on Google Play in mid-September; the iOS release remains pending.)

Auro is a hex-based quasi-roguelike from DinoFarm Games, the creators of 100 Rogues.

The premise:

Set in an original fantasy universe, guide the brash, spoiled Prince Auro through procedurally generated dungeons, with only a handful of tactical spells and your wits to protect you.

Auro puts you in control of a single character with a selection of 9 distinct spells. The game features turn-based play, grid-based procedural dungeon generation, permadeath, and character advancement. Regardless, designer Keith Burgun is very adamant that this game is not a roguelike. Thus, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that the game’s trailer refers to it only as a “monster-bumping adventure”:

Auro reportedly features deterministic mechanics, relying heavily on emergent complexity to keep things interesting. (Clearly, Burgun and I have some measure of overlap in our game design philosophies.)

Auro is mobile-only; you can snag it for $2.99 on Android (and iOS, presumably, whenever this nonsense gets resolved).

New release: Mecha Ace

Mecha Ace
Today in Choice of Games titles that I neglected to post about, we have Mecha Ace. Written by Paul Wang, Mecha Ace is a 230,000-word choose-your-own-adventure / RPG hybrid set in the midst of an interstellar war between Earth and its colonies.

The premise:

Step into the cockpit of a giant robot in an interstellar civil war! Customize your mecha to duel against enemy pilots with “monosaber” plasma swords. Find glory, disgrace, and even love.

Who will you be, pilot? Hero, villain, or renegade? Will you lead a unit of elite pilots to victory? Defeat your enemies with skill, cunning, determination, or heavy firepower? Fight for glory, for power, or for an enduring peace?

The game tracks your piloting skill, perception, willpower and presence; your total kills; your reputation; and your balance between warrior and diplomat on one hand, and between deliberation and passion on the other.

There is a short demo playable for free on the game’s page. You can pick up the full version of Mecha Ace for $3.99 for iOS and for Android; it is also available for Windows Mac and Linux via the Chrome Store.

Back to Back: Indie RPGs to fund

“Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!” Al Pacino delivered that famous line in The Godfather Part 3, concerning his abortive attempts to quit the mafia and live a normal life. I invoke that line now to describe my desire to not post Back to Back installments every single week–and yet, I feel like I have to because the Kickstarter campaigns just keep coming. I can’t so much as scratch my nose without an email about a new campaign showing up in my Inbox. I guess this is where all the missing campaigns were hiding out during those sleepy summer months!

Since last time, Age of Grit, Moon Hunters, and Phoenix Dawn each ended successfully funded–none ended while failing to hit their goals. That’s pretty darn good, but there are a bunch of additional projects that are going to end very soon, as well as a bunch of brand-new projects in need of support. Let’s take a look at the current field!


INT announced

Richard writes in to announce INT, a party-based RPG set in a sci-fi future version of our own solar system. They refer to it as a roguelike, but I think that’s stretching the definition pretty darn thin–based on their description, I’d describe it more like “Mass Effect with a load of procedural content.”

The premise:

INT focuses on the character’s journey from refugee to captain of their own starship during an Interstellar Civil War. During the journey the character explores, battles, and interacts with many unique and differing companions which in turn unlock differing game paths for the player to explore. Throughout the game you can side and complete missions through criminal cartels, and the two major combatants, the UCE and ACP.

The developers have posted more about the factions, as well as a very long and detailed history of the conflict between the UCE and ACP. Beyond that, however, the storyline remains somewhat abstract–and indeed, that’s presumably because it is going to be procedurally generated.

The companions you acquire will unlock story quests for you, and each will be interactive in their own right. The developers state: “Each companion will have actual dialogue, a backstory, and interact with the player and other companions on the crew.   You will be able to interact with them on your starship and also during your adventure by starting a conversation with them.”

Here is a teaser trailer–no gameplay footage to speak of in this one, but the game is still so early in development that that’s probably for the best:

The list of planned features includes:

*Sandbox leveling system and combat
*Randomized Companions and levels
*Party gameplay mechanics
*Character driven multi-strand storyline
*Faction alignment system and bonuses
*Immersive living worlds which you can explore using the DSR (Data Storage and Retriever) tapping in the planetary news networks to find potential quests.

Combat in the game’s initial release will be party-based, not ship-to-ship; you will control a party of up to four characters, with the proceedings occurring in a real-time-with-pause environment. The initial release will see the action taking place planetside, with acquisition of a starship to come later.

INT is planned for release on Windows, Mac and Linux. Given that the game is very early in development, it should not be entirely surprising that there is not yet a final release date planned. However, the developers have stated that they are aiming to release a public demo in early 2015. You can follow the INT team’s progress on their official developer’s log.

New release: Steam Marines

Steam Marines
Word reaches me that Steam Marines, the sci-fi outer space squad-based tactics roguelike from developer Worthless Bums, has been released after more than two years in development.

True to their name, Worthless Bums haven’t provided us with a narrative summary, so I’m just going to write the game an ad hoc one from memory right here:

We’ve lost contact with the good ship Whateveritscalled in deep space! Choose a squad of four marines in steam-driven power armor; explore the ship, recover whatever can be salvaged, and make your way to the command deck. You may encounter Evil, Lethal Robots en route. Destroy them–and for the love of god, try not to die.

That pretty well sums it up, really. The game is turn-based, and runs on an action point system. Enemies in the game are ridiculously deadly, and you’ll need to rely on every tactical trick you can muster to destroy them without taking casualties.

There’s a release trailer for the game right here that shows how this looks in action:

Assuming that nothing fundamental has changed since my Checks Out post from last November, the game is balls-hard and tactically satisfying. Anyone looking for a good tactics game with procedurally generated environments could do a lot worse.

Steam Marines is available for $14.99 for Windows, Mac and Linux on IndieGameStand, the Humble Store, Desura, and (appropriately enough) Steam.

New release: Neighbourhood Necromancer

Neighbourhood Necromancer
One Choice of Games release that I forgot to post about a few months ago is Neighbourhood Necromancer, a choose-your-own-adventure / RPG hybrid with a sort of reverse “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” plot, written by Gavin Inglis.

The premise:

Command the undead to take revenge on the suburbs! Oh, everyone at school laughed at you, but no one will laugh when your minions seize control of critical local infrastructure. Perhaps you’ll start by taking over a convenience store.

Will you rule suburbia openly or skulk in the shadows? Will your necromancing impress the cool kids at school? Will you use your dark powers to destroy your home town, or save it from the secret industrial/military operatives who have come to destroy you? The choice is yours.

Your stats include Control, Energy, Luck, Corruption, and Humanity, each of which can be influenced by your choices in the game.

There is a short demo available; the full game is available for $2.99 for iOS and Android; you can also nab it for Windows, Mac and Linux via the Chrome Store.

New release: Yeti’s Parole Officer

Yeti' class=
Folks, I have a confession to make: I’ve been slacking a little. Choice of Games has been releasing RPG / choose-your-own-adventure hybrids for months, and yet I’ve been continuously neglecting to post about them. Well, that streak of fail ends today with Yeti’s Parole Officer, written by KT Bryski!

The premise:

The Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabra, and Mothman are aliens, sentenced to prison on Earth by the Pan-Galactic Prisons Bureau. As the Yeti’s parole officer, you must defend the galaxy from these convicts, unravel their criminal conspiracy, and bring them to justice!

As an officer of pan-galactic law, you’ll travel around the world to wipe all memory of alien activity on Earth, battling extaterrestrial smugglers and rival PGPB agents alike to save the world from nefarious cryptids.

Will you play as male or female? Gay or straight? Will you throw the book at the alien scofflaws messing with your planet, or will you betray your allies for personal gain? The choice is yours!

So basically, it’s a reinterpretation of the plot of Men in Black in game form. You’ll have stats at your disposal such as cash, clearance level, resolve, persuasion, combat skill, stealth, and observation, with the game also tracking your reputation on justice-versus-mercy and rule-bender-versus-by-the-book continua.

As with all Choice of titles, there’s a short demo available; the full game is $1.99 for iOS and Android; it is also available for Windows, Mac, and Linux via the Chrome Store.

New release: Lethal RPG: War

Lethal RPG War
I did a double-take when the words “Lethal RPG” appeared on my computer monitor. “Wait a second,” I said. “Lethal RPG? Isn’t that a friggin’ enormous series of somewhat rudimentary Flash RPGs from approximately a zillion years ago?” Five seconds of Googling later, and behold: this is indeed a jRPG in that very same lineage, albeit looking much more polished and sophisticated than the titles I played so many years hence.

Lethal RPG: War is a mobile jRPG developed by Ben Webb, a.k.a. EyeSpyda Games. The premise:

Journey on an epic quest with Lethal and his elite party of warriors through a huge fantasy land. Play as Lethal and his companions in exciting turn based battles against a variety of fantasy creatures.

So, uh, a little light on narrative details there. (I can only assume that a war is somehow involved somewhere.) Luckily, the game’s feature list is decidedly more informative:

  • 8 playable characters, all with unique abilities, armor and weapons.
  • Turn-based combat featuring a diverse and engaging battle system.
  • A huge world with 13 areas to explore, all with unique enemies and quests.
  • Craft powerful armor and weapons from materials gathered from intense boss monster encounters throughout the kingdom.
  • Over 50 story quests to complete.
  • An arena that lets you put your abilities to the test, where you face off against more difficult versions of past encounters.
  • Loads of pets to find that have special abilities to help you face your enemies in battle.
  • New Game Plus mode that lets your bring all your characters and items into a new game, creating an all new experience.

You can snag the game for $2.99 for Android or iOS.

A Simple Roleplay Adventure announced

A Simple Roleplay Adventure
I have received word of a new jRPG in development. In what has to be the most literal naming of a game since “You Have to Cut The Rope,” it is being called “A Simple Roleplay Adventure.”

The premise:

ASRA, a simple roleplay adventure, is a 2D RPG game with basic graphic. You will explore a vaste world in the shoes of a quirky hero, with the help of many bizarre characters and facing hundreds of really badass enemies. Beyond the adventure, Peter will be forced to change his heart to something deeper, discovering that money, fame and cute chicks aren’t life’s most relevant things.

ASRA uses character sprites from Oryx’s ubiquitous lo-fi fantasy sprite set, and features simple turn-based combat in the Dragon Quest vein.

There is a free demo playable in-browser via the Unity plug-in; check it out here. No word yet on a date for the full release, or which platforms it will be out on.

Steam curation!

Some of you may have heard yesterday that Valve has unveiled a new automated suggestions system to assist with game discoverability on Steam, telling people about popular games similar to titles they’ve spent a lot of time playing.

At the same time, Steam has also received a new curation function, allowing people with Steam groups to compile lists of recommended games with short blurbs explaining what makes them worth trying. As the internet’s primary evangelist for little-known indie RPGs, I don’t think I’d be doing my job if I didn’t take advantage of this moment to recommend indie RPGs that I’ve played. To that end, here is the List of Recommended Indie RPGs!

Now, a few caveats are in order here:

  1. This list is not final; I will be adding games to it as time goes on.
  2. Some of my favorite indie RPGs are not on Steam; and unfortunately, this necessarily means that they are not available for Steam curation.
  3. I am only adding RPGs which I have played enough of–and in a complete enough state–to recommend with a reasonable level of confidence. Needless to say, games which I have not played are not going to be on this list; if you have a game you’d like me to play, please email it to me.

That’s all for now. If you have a Steam account, make sure to follow the list for my up-to-date recommendations!