Latest Publications

Dungeon Rats announced

Word reaches me that Iron Tower Studio, creators of The Age of Decadence (covered previously here), are working on a turn-based, party-based dungeon crawler set in the Age of Decadence universe called Dungeon Rats.

Here’s the premise:

Your adventure starts in the dusty shadows of a prison mine many leagues from any trading post or settlement. The ‘Second Chance’ (as in your second chance to become a productive member of society) is the most feared of all ‘hard labor’ and ‘gladiator camp’ prisons. Once the jewel in a string of rich iron mines, the shafts were long ago exhausted and the ore spent. No longer profitable using conventional slave labor, the prisoners who work it now trade whatever ore they can scratch from the rock for scraps of food.

Having already tested the futility of fighting the guards, you do not resist when you are hurled into a cage suspended above the main shaft. The barred door crashes shut, the crack of a whip signals a pair of slaves to the crank, and the cage begins its slow and creaking descent. A one way trip to hell awaits, past bright fires, screaming faces, and beyond, into the impenetrable blackness of the lower levels.

Over the course of the game, you’ll struggle to rise up the prison hierarchy. The devs state that “you must fight to survive and develop your combat skills, acquiring better weapons and equipment as you go. Recruit allies to your struggle or carry on as a lone wolf, and kill anyone foolish enough to stand in your way.”

Combat has reportedly been deepened a bit from AoD, with Iron Tower adding in flanking bonuses and the ability to position your party members before a battle.

Here are the planned features:

  • Tactical combat system, including standard attacks, aimed attacks targeting specific body parts, and per-weapon special attacks such as Whirlwind and Impale.
  • Detailed crafting and alchemy systems: forge your own weapons, brew potions and poisons, experiment with Liquid Fire and Black Powder.
  • 8 weapon types: Daggers, Swords, Axes, Hammers, Spears, Bows, Crossbows, and Throwing Weapons, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
  • Fully customizable main character, as well as 10 possible companions, not all of them human (maximum party size is 4).
  • 50 challenging fights

Word is, the game’s planned for release next month, in October 2016. Given that it uses the AoD engine, we can probably expect that it, too, will be a Windows-only release.

No video just yet, but they do have screenshots.

New release: Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire

Word reaches me that Australian indie studio Whalehammer Games has at least released its strategy RPG fantasy strategy game Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire.

The game is “set on a world fallen into a medieval dark age after the collapse of a spacefaring civilization”:

You must guide Tahira, the 20-year-old princess of Avestan, on the most challenging night of her life as she fights to save her people from the genocidal Astral Empire.

You’ll fight large-scale tactical turn-based battles using guerrilla warfare tactics, including ambushing enemies, taking cover and knocking foes off cliffs. You’ll also develop relationships with those traveling with you and uncover secrets of a time when man traversed the stars with impunity.

The art style in Tahira is deliberately modeled on the style seen in The Banner Saga, with character actions animated using the same rotoscoping technique. The developers are up-front about this, though it’s obvious enough even from watching the trailer:

Here are some of the game’s features, per the developers:

  • Turn-based Guerrilla Warfare – Control up to 20 characters as you fight against the vast army of the Astral Empire in tactical turn-based battles. You must utilize the environment to even the odds by ambushing enemies, taking cover and knocking foes off cliffs and rooftops.
  • Never Fight the Same Battle Twice – Tahira has no filler fights. Each encounter has been specifically designed to advance the story. Battles take place in large environments and feature multiple phases, ranging from the three-stage defence of a town to a desperate struggle to rescue trapped civilians.
  • More Than Just Fighting – You don’t just advance from one battle to the next in Tahira, between skirmishes, you’ll find yourself exploring the environment, learning Tahira’s thoughts about the world and getting to know the people who are traveling with you.
  • A Rich Cast of Colourful Characters – Including Baruti, an Avestan General; Claw and Hammer, a mercenary power couple attempting to repay a 20-year-old debt to Avestan; and Iba, Tahira’s loyal horse.
  • Tactics for Beginners & Experts – With four difficulty settings, Tahira caters to gamers just interested in the story, seasoned turn-based tactics veterans looking for a brutal challenge and everyone in between.

The campaign in Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire lasts about 10 hours. The game is available for Windows, Mac and Linux; you snag it for $14.99 on Steam, GOG or the Humble Store. As for me, I was offered a copy to look at, so I’ll be checking it on video for you soon!

New release: Halcyon 6

Ken Seto from Canadian indie developer Massive Damage, Inc. writes in to announce the release of Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander, which they describe as a sci-fi RPG which blends base-building and exploration at both the starship and away-team levels.

Here’s the premise:

[A]n unknown alien force is carving a path of destruction towards Earth and you, as the Commander of an immensely powerful, newly discovered derelict starbase left behind by a precursor alien race, are the best chance for the New Terran Federation to stop the impending invasion.

The devs state that the game features “deep tactical combat,” but then go on to describe it as a “JRPG style combat system,” which…I can only assume the developers have a very different notion of what constitutes a deeply tactical system than I do.

Anyway! Here’s the release trailer, where you can see for yourself some snippets of the game in action:

And here is the official feature list, per the developers:

  • Base Building: spend resources to build station facilities (rooms) to enhance your production and technological capabilities, or build ships to help you control more territory.
  • Deep Tactical Combat: fight tactical ship or ground battles using a huge array of powers and combos to resolve hostile events, create a foothold in the sector and ultimately defeat the enemy mothership!
  • Exploration: assign your fleets to nearby star clusters, where they can handle emerging enemy threats, do missions for alien factions or secure bonus resources.
  • Crew Management: assign crew to station facilities to greatly improve their output efficiency, or to ships where they can contribute in unique ways to combat, missions and events.
  • Story Events: based on game criteria like rooms-built, alien diplomacy scores or officer traits/skills, the game will produce story events (often with multiple choice outcomes) that can lead to combat, time-related applied bonuses/negatives, officer attribute changes or any number of crazy in-game stories.
  • Replayability: Each playthrough has players dealing with a new randomly generated derelict station, surrounding galaxy, crew recruits, and alien factions

Halcyon 6 is available for Windows and Mac; you can snag it on Steam for $19.99 (less with the launch week discount). Checks Out Ara Fell

Greetings, indie RPG fans! Stephen Anthony, developer of Ara Fell, was kind enough to supply me with a code to check out the finished game, and after months of scrambling for time, I went ahead and checked it out while recording the experience. Here’s the first not-quite-an-hour of the game, with my live commentary/voice acting accompanying it:

So, what’d I think?


New release: Zombasite

Earlier this week, Soldak Entertainment announced that fantasy zombie-apocalypse action RPG Zombasite has finally been released. Think “Diablo” with a dynamic, changing fantasy world set during a zombie apocalypse scenario.

The narrative premise is rather wordy, so here is my edited-down version:

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!

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.

As is Soldak’s wont, Zombasite is set in a constantly evolving world with different factions and events driven largely by their interactions with one another.

Steven Peeler writes that food is rare in this game, as are vendors and supplies, and you’ll have to compete with rival clans for the few resources that remain. What’s more, the stresses of survival can affect your own clan members, and any that die can’t be brought back.

Here is the official list of features:

  • 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
  • Many hybrid classes to experience – 8 full classes, 24 specialties, 260 total combinations
  • Adventure with your friends with co-op multiplayer
  • Your choices truly impact the game!
  • Customize your experience with many character and world options including turning off zombies and clans.

You can snag Zombasite for $19.99 (though there is a 25% launch week discount in effect) direct from the developer, on Steam, on the Humble Store, and on Gamers Gate. There’s also a free demo available so you can try it out. Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Avadon 3 announced, gets release date

Avadon 3
Word reaches me that Jeff Vogel’s Avadon wRPG series is nearing completion, with the third and final chapter–Avadon 3: The Warborn–to release on September 14, 2016, nearly 3 years after the release of its predecessor.

Here’s the premise:

You are a Hand of Avadon, the Black Fortress. You are a warrior and spy, judge and executioner, with nearly unlimited power to fight the enemies of your homeland. Your word is Law.

But your lands have been invaded. Your borders have been overrun by barbarians, monsters, and powerful armies. Cities are burning, and your people are desperate for help. You have discovered a path to ending the war, but your plan will need every scrap of power and resourcefulness to succeed.

The ending to the saga is not set in stone, though. Yes, you can defeat the enemy and save your people. You might also betray your people and bring victory to the invaders. You can even, with cunning and violence, gain great power and wealth for yourself. In the conclusion to the Avadon Saga, the choice will be up to you!

I suppose you expect to see a trailer at this point? Well, I certainly don’t want to thwart your expectations:

I’ll be posting when Avadon 3 is out, so stay tuned! In the meantime, why not gawk at some screenshots?

New release: Bludgeons & Krakens

Zaid Walter of Cannibal Cat Software writes in to announce the release of Bludgeons & Krakens, which he describes as a turn-based RPG inspired by Ultima with simple, fast-paced combat and loot.

The premise:

Welcome to Abraxas! Unfortunately, you’ve arrived at just about the worst time imaginable. As a novice sellsword just looking for a job, you signed up with a mercenary company only to sell yourself into a land plagued by war, blight, a demonic invasion, and perhaps things even worse. I hope they pay you overtime.
The developer states: “The main quest requires the player to seek out and defeat bosses across the game world. The bosses can be defeated in any order, though some will be near impossible until the player reaches a higher level. These bosses also have specific abilities and weaknesses that can be exploited through the use of artifacts hidden in various areas. The player can choose to make use of these artifacts or not.”

There doesn’t seem to be a trailer, but we do have a feature list:

  • Play Your Way. Build your character from one of five classes–Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, or Druid–and customize him or her as you wish. Master weapon skills and magic abilities, upgrade your attributes, and empower yourself with mythic loot.
  • Explore a Strange World. Unearth ancient secrets in every corner of Abraxas. Meet the curious denizens of the land, many of whom will seek your help. Or simply wander the land in search of your fortune.
  • Fight for Survival (and Loot). Take on hordes of foes in turn-based combat. Sling spells, quaff potions, rend your enemies, and loot the bodies. When your skills are honed, seek out powerful bosses who will truly challenge your abilities.

Bludgeons & Krakens is freeware, though you have the option to donate to the developer if you like; Windows only. Snag it here.

New release: Cellpop Goes Out At Night

Remember The Real Texas? Of course you do! Well developer Calvin French of Kitty Lambda Games has written in to announce that he’s released a “mini-sequel” to The Real Texas. The name? Cellpop Goes Out At Night.

Here’s the premise:

Cellpop is a small floating-eye-like alien girl who lives at a shopping mall, Kad, out on the Barlic Wastes, on the Planet of the Friendeyes.

Two years ago, communications were suddenly cut off from Kad and the rest of the planet, and the train that connects the Barlic Wastes to The City stopped running.

Since then, you’ve grown up a bit. Everyone is still trying to go about their daily business but without any customers or outside contact, things at Kad are a bit weird. Some Friendeyes have even gone missing! But don’t worry– everything will be OK now that Mom built the wall. So just play with your best friend, Sokpop, do your chores, and try to be helpful to the adults.

Sooner or later things will get back to normal! They always do.

I confess, I don’t personally recall aliens figuring prominently in the original game, but The Real Texas was just weird enough that I’m willing to believe that this is, in fact, an actual sequel to it. Here’s the trailer:

You can snag Cellpop Goes Out at Night direct from the developer, or through any of Steam, GOG, or Cellpop Goes Out at Night is $3.99, but since it’s DLC, you’ll need the original $14.99 game to play it–you can get the original game at any of those same links above.

New release: Temple of the Abyssal Winds

Temple of the Abyssal Winds
Geoff Dunbar of Merry Prankster Games writes in to announce that Temple of the Abyssal Winds (previously covered here) has been completed, with all 6 chapters now available for download. In case you’ve forgotten, Temple of the Abyssal Winds is a party based wRPG with an isometric view and real-time with pause combat.

The narrative premise is as follows:

Twenty years ago, the demoness Urgoroth rose to power from the depths of the Temple of the Abyssal Winds. She was defeated, but your parents were lost in the conflict. Your aunt and uncle have raised you in the small village of Tomm’s Crossing, where life has been mostly peaceful. Until now…

Dun-dun DUUUUNNNNNNN! So ominous!

The trailer, like the premise, remains unchanged from 2014:

TotAW’s final feature list includes:

• Single player, controlling a band of adventurers.
• Real-time pauseable combat for realism and control.
• A combination of open-ended exploration and strong story driven plot.
• Tactically challenging encounters featuring many different strategies.
• Deep, complex role-playing system, inspired by popular paper-and-pencil role playing games.
• Dozens of quests, enemies, and monsters to tackle.
• Build the character you want to – dozens of skills and powers, and hundreds of spells and items.

The first chapter of Temple of the Abyssal Winds is free for Windows and on the Apple app store (iPad only). On Windows, each subsequent chapter must be purchased separately for $3.00; on iPad, each subsequent chapter is $2.99, available solely as an in-app purchase.

Pathway announced

German indie team Robotality, creator of sci-fi tactics RPG Halfway (covered here), has announced development of a new tactical RPG set in a pulp 1930s setting. The name? Pathway.

Given the trend, I can only assume that their next game is going to be called “Graphway,” about a war between graphic design professionals; or “Laughway,” about a team of comedians who must fight to survive th…I’m getting off topic here, aren’t I?

The premise of Pathway has something of an “Indiana Jones Tactics” vibe to it:

The year is 1936.

Ancient, bewildering artefacts are materializing on black markets around the world. Rumours of a new element, which German researchers allude to as Valkyrium-500, are spreading. Hushed voices speak of an elusive “Projekt Walhalla” – the meaning of which remains obscure. Meanwhile, agents of the Reich are reportedly conducting frantic excavations around the globe.

However, these puzzling artefacts also managed to draw the attention of wealthy private collectors. As the owner of Lankford & Co, a specialised business known for recovering unique items quickly and discreetly, you welcome this.

Your responsibility is to uncover the remains of a lost civilisation, before the Germans get to it. How exactly you go about this, is up to you and your thrown-together band of eccentric adventurers!

The developers have announced that the game will be like Halfway, but with a couple of major shifts in mechanics: they’re scrapping to-hit chances in favor of a deterministic system, and they’re scrapping modules in favor of old-fashioned leveling up and learning of skills. I have yet to see determinism carried out in a line-of-sight, gun-focused combat context like this, so it should be quite interesting to see how the developers approach that.

Pathway is being developed for Windows, Mac, and Linux; ports to other platforms are speculative. Pathway is tentatively planned for release sometime in 2017.