Latest Publications Checks Out Dungeonmans — 50th episode!

Merry Christmas, Christmas-celebrating indie RPG fans! (And for those of us who do not celebrate Christmas: Happy Gratuitous Day Off From Work Day!)

Adventurepro Games was good enough to send me a build of their (now finished and released) graphical roguelike Dungeonmans. I had a look at a pre-alpha version of this game last year, but I had strangely little to say about it in my write-up at the time. I expect this post should make up for that. On to the video!

So, what did I think?

(more…) Checks Out Letter Quest

Bacon Bandit Games was good enough to provide me a copy of Letter Quest, and as is my wont, I played through part of it and recorded as I went! You view the results below:

So, what did I think?


Zombasite announced

Greetings, loyal readers! I’m back after being rather badly sick for a week, and boy do I have indie RPG goodies for you all! First up, Soldak Entertainment–creator of such classic procedural world action RPGs as Depths of Peril, Din’s Curse, and Drox Operative–has written in to announce a new title, Zombasite, a kind of zombie apocalypse-by-way-of-dark-magic fantasy title.

The premise:

The dark elves have always played god by creating and enhancing underworld slave creatures. As they watched a horde of zombies destroy the huge demon city Kraval, the dark elves were tantalized by the devastating power of uncontrolled zombies, and desired to control and increase it. When they wove their dominating magic into a few captive zombies something went horribly wrong!

They hadn’t known the powerful necromancer, Ciglio, had created these zombies. To control his huge armies of undead, Ciglio permanently bound his zombies and their infected victims to him. This binding was so powerful, their loyalty surpassed his untimely death. In the dark elves’ pride and lust, their magic twisted into Ciglio’s binding, fusing into a new, uncontrollable creation, the Zombasite.

Zombasite is a nasty, voracious, all-consuming Zombie Parasite. It doesn’t just reanimate the dead into mindless zombies. It is intelligent, insatiable, and unstoppable—infecting and killing the living, spreading faster and in more ways, helping the dead utilize many of their original skills, and mutating the dead with new powers. Dark elf zombies are terrifying!

So what does this have to do with you? You are the leader of a clan trying to survive the apocalypse. This is easier said than done. When a follower dies, they can’t be saved by any means. The Zombasite is highly contagious and zombies are quickly ravaging the world’s surface. Food is a critical resource that must be obtained. Vendors are rare and have limited supplies. Some of the stronger monsters have survived and are as dangerous as ever. Clans of humans and monsters are fighting over what few supplies are left.  Even within your own clan it isn’t safe. Humans living on the edge are even more unstable than usual. So yeah, survival isn’t easy.

There’s a list of planned features here:


  • Survive the zombie apocalypse in a fantasy world
  • Experience uniquely created worlds for every game, with different areas, monsters, items, and quests
  • Explore a dynamic, evolving, living world
  • Lead a clan of followers who have their own personalities and skills
  • Navigate relationships with rival clans using diplomacy, trade, war, and raids
  • Adventure with your friends with co-op multiplayer
  • Your choices truly impact the game!


For the most part, it seems like Steven Peeler is sticking to the genre he knows so well, but there are changes–most notably, the addition of leading a clan of followers, as well as dealing with other clans of survivors. Peeler writes that you’ll be able to war with other clans, form alliances, and compete for limited resources.

Zombasite is tentatively planned for release in second quarter 2015.

Old release: Hoplite

Word reaches me of a hex-based mobile strategy roguelike called Hoplite.

Created and released by Magma Fortress (a.k.a. Douglas Cowley) in December 2013, with graphics by ShroomArts, Hoplite is described as

a turn-based strategy game focusing on tactical movement around small maps.
The game features roguelike gameplay elements such as procedural generation and permadeath while avoiding the traditional roguelike “bump-to-attack” combat in favour of movement based attacks.

I can’t seem to find a narrative premise anywhere, but there is a trailer:

More than anything, this game looks to me like a less-polished version of Auro: The Golden Prince. Cowley writes that he created the first version of the game in a mere 7 days for the 7-Day Roguelike Challenge, but he’s been regularly updating and supporting it since then, with the most recent update having arrived in September of this year.

Hoplite is available for iOS and Android for $1.99.

Back to Back: Indie RPGs to fund

Welcome back to Back to Back, gentle readers! It’s been much too long, and–uh oh. I just realized: do you know what time it is? If you said “December, the month where Kickstarter campaigns go to die,” then I’m afraid you are correct.

Before we take a look at the current picture, though, let’s see what happened to all the games in our last edition. Animal Gods, Celestial Tear, Flamberge, Graywalkers: Purgatory, Rogue Wizards, Soul Knights, and Voxel Quest were each funded; Battlestation, Border: Remembrance, Dark Drive, Everstar, Exile Saga, Fragmented Fate, Golden Hour, Gorge, Graal Seeker, and Laser Fury were not. That means that well less than half of the games hit their goals, which doesn’t bode well for the current crop.

Speaking of which, let’s look at the games now seeking funding…


New release: Dungeonmans

Developer Adventurepro Games (the new company of existing dev Jim Shepard) has now released their graphical roguelike Dungeonmans. First announced in the summer of 2013 following a successful Kickstarter run, Dungeonmans features a deliberately silly world with persistent progress between characters.

The premise:

In an untamed wilderness, where civilization lives in the shadow of fearsome beasts and lawless villainy, the only light against the darkness are the courageous Dungeonmens! With cunning minds, mighty thews and iron wills, these great heroes and heroines are dedicated toward exploring the unknown, taming the wild, and crushing the fiercest of beasts.

Adventure begins at the Dungeonmans Academy, an ever-growing bastion of learning that expands and evolves based on the efforts of its graduates. As heroes return from their journeys burdened by giant piles of precious loot and ancient wisdom, the Academy grows and future graduates are able to take advantage of this knowledge, starting with a leg up on their quest to avenge the bold graduates who fell in previous battles.

The vast overworld teems with adventure! There are indeed dungeons deep and plentiful, but also dripping swamps, deathless crypts, huddled warrens, forest camps of bandits and highwaymen, ancient towers ruled by powerful despots, and even more terrible dangers waiting in the darkest shadows. A Dungeonmans rises to the challenge with a healthy mix of Skills and Masteries, fighting up close, at range, with steel and spell alike. Unfettered by “class restrictions”, a Dungeonmans chooses the right tools for the battles ahead.

The dev has posted a launch trailer which helpfully shows us what the game looks like without the need for pesky “words”:

(My only regret about this trailer is that it doesn’t feature a choir full of manly altos belting out “Dungeon-maaaaaans!” in time to music, a la the theme to Rawhide.)

The game’s final feature list reads as follows:

  • True roguelike adventure: turn-based, tough but fair, countless combat options.
  • More than 75 unique player abilities.
  • 12 different styles of Dungeons and Battlefields with more on the way.
  • Six class archetypes to mix and match.
  • 50+ enemies, including the fearsome Triger!
  • The Dungeonmans Academy, your home base that grows with each play.
  • A world-class soundtrack brimming with music straight from the era of RPG classics.

I went ahead and checked out an early version of Dungeonmans last year; you can view my video preview from that experience here. Suffice it to say, I quite enjoyed it. I’ll be doing my best to give the new, finished version a first impressions piece of its own very soon, along with expanded thoughts on the game and how it stacks up against the current crop of indie graphical roguelikes.

In the meantime, you can nab Dungeonmans for yourself on Steam or via The Humble Store for $15; Windows only. Checks Out Dead State

Seattle-based indies Doublebear Productions were good enough to give me a copy of Dead State to check out. As is my wont, I set out to determine my first impressions of the game, recording the screen as I went. These are the results:

So, what did I think?


New release: Fight the Dragon

Fight the Dragon
Word reaches me that there’s a new 3D isometric action RPG in town by the name of Fight the Dragon. Developed by Australian indie devs 3 Sprockets, Fight the Dragon has no single overarching narrative premise to speak of–or at least, none the developers care to provide. Rather, the game relies heavily on community-created content.

The developers write:

Fight The Dragon ships with a highly flexible in-game Adventure Construction Kit (ACK) that allows players to design, play and share their adventures with other players on all platforms around the world.

The ACK (as is the gameplay) is designed to be as intuitive to use via a gamepad as it is via mouse and keyboard. Creators are able to sculpt and paint environments, place props, enemies, NPCs, Traps, checkpoints and other key game elements including hooking up basic logic systems for switches/gates and traps.

The Fight The Dragon community have already published over 1900 fantastic adventures, which means we have hundreds of hours of gameplay already created.

Here is a gameplay trailer:

The ease of making adventure modules and the enormous amount of community-created content on offer seem to be the main selling points of Fight the Dragon, but there is also multiplayer support to round out the package–to wit:

  • Local Drop-In Split-Screen Co-Op
  • Up to 4 player online Co-Op (cross platform)
  • LAN Server for local 4 player Co-Op
  • Full gamepad & Steam Big Picture support

Fight the Dragon is now available on the Humble Store and on Steam for $14.99 (currently with an additional release discount on the latter platform). Windows, Mac and Linux. Checks Out Coin Crypt

I finally got a free moment to make a new video last night, and Coin Crypt was next on the list!

For those who missed this one, Coin Crypt released just about a month ago, and represents Greg Lobanov’s take on mashing up the roguelike-like format with deck-building mechanics. He sent me a build to check out, and I did so. You can see what the start of the game looks like below:

So, what did I think?


New release: Dead State

Dead State
Christina Ramey writes in to announce the release of Dead State, a turn-based, 3D isometric survival wRPG set in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.

The narrative premise:

Dead State is…set at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse – a deadly illness is rampaging through the world, turning those infected into the walking dead. As society is beginning to fall apart, the player must organize a scant handful of allies, working on fortifying a shelter, scouting for food and supplies, making uncertain alliances with others, and attempting to hold together a group as humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. And although the zombies lurk as an ever present threat, the biggest obstacle to the player may just be other humans with the same goal: survival at any cost.

The baby of Seattle-based Doublebear Productions, Dead State has been in gestation for a long damn time now; since at least August 5, 2009. The reason for this long development cycle becomes apparent when you take a gander at the game’s list of features, which include:

  • Open-ended gameplay: Large explorable world and non-linear storyline allow players to explore the landscape of Dead State freely, and encounter new challenges each time they play
  • Engaging story and characters: Story and characters written by veteran game developer Brian Mitsoda (Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines) – features realistic and compelling dialogue and expertly-woven story elements
  • Compelling player choice: Players not judged by a linear morality scale, but asked to make difficult and challenging decisions to keep themselves and their fellow survivors alive
  • Complex and reactive character AI: Allies react realistically in combat situations, human enemies employ variable tactics against other character, zombies follow frightening mobbing behavior
  • Innovative mechanics: Noise mechanic affects how zombies track prey by sound, resource management within player shelter allows for streamlined upgrades and organization of ally tasks

A picture is worth a thousand words, of course, and so this release trailer is presumably worth at least a few orders of magnitude more than that:

There’s also a gameplay video from June available to show off how the game plays in more detail.

I confess, I tired of the whole zombie apocalypse thing long, long ago–but this game’s focus on turn-based strategy and human drama generates more than enough interest to overcome my zombie fatigue. You can expect me to check this one out soon.

Dead State is Windows-only; you can nab it from GOG or Steam for $29.99.