Latest Publications

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.

Eternal Eclipse announced

Eternal Eclipse
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Word reaches me that there’s a new action RPG / survival game hybrid in development by the name of Eternal Eclipse, by developers also calling themselves “Eternal Eclipse.”

The premise:

Thrown back centuries in a dark and unknown wilderness, having no reinforcements, players have limited resources. Killing furious monsters, building shelter, mastering skills like fishing, cooking and woodcutting to increase survival. While traveling distant lands, people will assemble and create a clan to win the never ending battle. Never being alone, other clans are looking for blood to quench their thirst! Only the most experienced at surviving this harsh environment will be rewarded with real world cash and fame!

I admit, I’m really not clear on whether they mean “real world cash and fame” in the in-game sense (i.e. back in your character’s own time, as opposed to the time you’re in after you’ve been thrown back centuries), or if they are actually suggesting that you and I will become rich and famous in real life by being good at Eternal Eclipse.

Aside from that, it sounds promising; I can’t remember the last time I played a Diablo-alike that featured survival of the elements as an objective. The description makes it sound like there may be hunger and exposure systems, though that’s surely a bit of speculation on my part.

Eternal Eclipse is reportedly planned for release in the second quarter of 2015 for Windows and Mac. In the meantime, as the video above shows, developer Naman Jain has released a free tech demo–you can nab it here.

Partia 2: The Pretenders War

Partia 2
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Nearly two years ago, the mobile sRPG Partia: The Broken Lineage broke onto the app store. Word has it that Team Imago has now released a sequel by the name of Partia 2: The Pretenders War.

The premise: I haven’t a clue, frankly. The developers don’t provide one. The title seems to suggest a war brought on by an illegitimate heir seizing the throne, but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. The one thing I do know is that the Partia series consists of turn-based tactical RPGs very, very close to Fire Emblem in style and mechanics.

Partia 2 reportedly features 22 stages, as well as a bevy of new features: nicer character portraits, support for factions (an allied army, and up to two enemy armies that can ally with one another), an optional “common turn” mode (where the players alternate moving their characters a la chess), improved AI, and support for movement after attacking for mounted units a la the more recent Fire Emblems.

The fact that the sequel has come out at all is a bit of a small miracle, given that the first game lost money over its 4-year development cycle. Perhaps this one will do better for Team Imago.

Partia 2 is available for Android on Google Play at a $6.00 price point; it will be out for iOS as well whenever it gets through the Apple review process.

Sproggiwood announced

Sproggiwood
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Three-person indie studio Freehold Games has announced Sproggiwood, a story-driven roguelike set in a world inspired by Finnish mythology.

The premise:

You begin as a simple farmer from the peaceful island of Clog. Lured into a mysterious portal by a talking sheep, you find yourself in a strange and wondrous realm as the prisoner of Sproggi, a mischievous forest spirit. But why has he captured you? To tame the wild creatures that roam the forests of his world, or so he says.

Hack at giant slimes, dodge flying fish, and outwit angry goat-men as you plunder beautiful, procedural dungeons for scrolls, potions, swords, and staves! And just as you think you’ve got the hang of adventuring in Sproggiwood, you do something to trigger the rise of a rival civilization. Will you and your Cloghead brethren become fast friends with these new mushroom people, or will they sabotage Sproggi’s best laid plans and endanger all of Sproggiwood?

As you go from dungeon to dungeon, these rival civilizations grow, racing to outclass one another with new weaponry. The developers state: “As you grow your civilization, play through each dungeon as one of six classes — farmer, warrior, archer, thief, vampire, and wizard — each with its own powers, art, and play style, each offering a unique tactical experience. Hack or think your way through dungeons, bask in piles of loot, and force civilization upon the inhabitants of Sproggiwood! It’s yours to seize!”

Is this is a tongue-in-cheek message about the effects of imperialism, or an endorsement of it? The game’s trailer seems to suggest the former:

Sproggiwood is reportedly planned for release on Steam on October 24th.

The Banner Saga released on iOS

The Banner Saga
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The Banner Saga, Stoic Studio‘s viking strategy-RPG-cum-interactive-cel-shaded-animation has finally been released for mobile devices: specifically, for iPhone and iPads of the 4S generation and later. (The game won’t run on anything from the iPhone 4 generation or earlier.)

In case you missed it, my first impressions piece on the PC version of the game from earlier this year is available right here.

You can snag the mobile version of the game for $9.99. Make sure you’ve left some room on your phone, though: this sucker weighs in at 1.75 GB.

New release: Auro

Auro
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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
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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!

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INT announced

INT
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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.