Latest Publications

New release: Ara Fell

Ara Fell
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Stephen Anthony of Stegosoft Games, writes in to inform me that the once-abandoned freeware jRPG Ara Fell has been released in improved, commercial form.

Here’s the game’s narrative premise:

Long, long ago, the elven sorcerers cast a spell to save the floating world of Ara Fell from destruction. Instead, they doomed it to fall from the sky. By chance, the fate of the world has been placed in the hands of a young woman.

Here’s the trailer:

Annnnd here’s the feature list:

  • EXPLORATION – Ara Fell is a world meant to be explored! Jump, crawl, swim and even fly through the air to solve puzzles and discover new locations filled with hidden treasure, secrets and adventure! Every corner of Ara Fell is designed with exploration in mind.
  • OPEN WORLD – Most of the world can be traversed from the moment you leave Aloria Village, the heroine’s home town… provided, of course, you’re strong enough. A clever adventurer may be able unlock secrets and discover powerful equipment early in the game if he or she commits to taking advantage of the open nature of the game world.
  • TACTICAL COMBAT – Ara Fell may be a story-heavy game, but the world is still fraught with danger. Choose specialized equipment and statistics, customizing each character to best suit your play style, and to best thwart each boss battle’s unique mechanics.
  • CHARACTER DRIVEN – When you join Ara Fell’s unwitting heroine on a quest to save her homeland, you’ll discover a world filled with vibrant characters who laugh, cry, crack jokes, lose their tempers, and even their will to go on as the size and scope of the curse that plagues Ara Fell becomes apparent. Friends and villains alike are not who they seem as the stakes grow ever higher…

Ara Fell is now available for $9.99 on Steam, itch.io, and Humble Store; Windows only.

Ebony Spire: Heresy announced, in paid beta

Ebony Spire
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Word reaches me that there’s a new graphical roguelike in development, one that has you maneuvering around in first-person in old-school “blobber” style. Created by Bacioiu Ciprian, Ebony Spire: Heresy plays like a first-person dungeon crawler (albeit one with procedurally generated levels, permadeath, and enemies that can use the same items, spells, and potions that you do).

The premise:

ES:Heresy is a first person roguelike in which the player (a berserker, night shade or scroll mage) invades the sacred tower of Dae’eria, the Ebony Spire, in an attempt to slay the fervent goddess! The player has to climb up all 10 tower levels to reach the most sacred of places. Each floor contains one or more portals to other realms that the player must visit in order to obtain equipment that can aid him in his quest.

As with the best of the old-school roguelikes, Ebony Spire: Heresy makes its source code freely available under an MIT license. The developer states that you can mod in new items and creatures fairly easily–no real coding necessary.

Ebony Spire: Heresy is available to download from itch.io for a suggested price of $1.00 (you can pay what you want). Windows and Linux.

New release: The Lost Kingdoms

The Lost Kingdoms
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Konstantinos “Savatar” Kantas writes in to announce the recent release of The Lost Kingdoms, a mobile RPG. Kantas states that this is his first game and it has some weaknesses, but it’s free and it’s short (a few hours in length).

The premise:

At the game you play as an unknown character that woke up inside a dark prison with no memory. Player must escape and try to recover back the his memory and find out who and why imprisoned him.

There you have it. The feature list:

* Retro pixel art graphics and aesthetic with tile based movement and exploration.

* A time phased combat system that requires fast thinking at real time.

* Increase your strengths by learning and upgrading 12 different skills and by discovering powerful equipment and useful consumables.

* Live and read the progress of your story through the Journal Entries at four chapters.

The Lost Kingdoms is entirely free with no IAP or ads. You can snag it for Android on Google Play, or if you prefer, download the .apk file directly from itch.io.

New release: Void Pyramid

Void Pyramid
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A. Hagen, developer of Ramble Planet (previously covered here), writes in to announce the release of a new post-apocalyptic, sci-fi Egyptian dungeon crawler set in “the spacefaring Egyptian empire”. The name: Void Pyramid.

In case that little summary didn’t blow your mind enough, here’s the narrative premise:

In the far future, the maniacal Prime Pharaoh rules the wastelands of Earth. Any who oppose him are exiled to the Void Pyramid. This outer space prison is populated bycriminals, beasts, and mutants. No one has ever escaped, but you must try…

Void Pyramid apparently took 2 years to develop in collaboration with one artist and one musician. Genre-wise, it looks a lot like a throwback wRPG; like something from the late 1980s or early 1990s. Despite the resurgence of the wRPG over the past few years, you still don’t see games in this particular mold much anymore:

Here’s the feature list:

*Choose to be a soldier, slave, or scribe. Overcome challenges with your unique skills.

*Explore the intricately designed pyramid. Each chamber is packed with foes, puzzles, traps, treasures, and other interesting stuff.

*Develop your character however you want with an unusual but intuitive advancement system.

*Use your brawn, wits, and agility stats to kick down doors, bend bars, hack computers, haggle with merchants, dodge traps, scale walls, and more.

*Find numerous solutions to every problem. Explore multiple paths through the pyramid. Experience alternate endings. Fight optional bosses. Discover hidden treasures.

*Experience a unique vision of the future. In the spacefaring future, the Egyptian empire has risen again. The Prime Pharaoh’s mutant armies oppress mankind…

Void Pyramid is entirely free. You can download it for Windows or Mac direct from the developer, for Android from Google Play, or for OUYA right here.

New release: YOU… and who else?

You and who else
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We truly are living in The Age of the Strategy RPG, folks! Aldorlea Games reaches out to announce that they recently released their first-ever sRPG, YOU… and who else?

The premise:

Compose a party of 9 Generals (among a total of 20) and conquer the mysterious locations around you to achieve the ultimate goal of restoring peace in a world at the brink of collapsing. Face (and defeat) legendary creatures such as Ogre, Cerberuses, Gargoyles and Lamias as your power grows and your army gets bigger.

Will you be remembered as the Hero (or Heroine) who saved the world, or miserably failed trying to do so?

I am deeply curious to know how this thing actually plays–there’s no trailer, unfortunately, and the actual website is pretty light on details regarding the game’s mechanics, but the screenshots lead me to believe that YOU… and who else? is a cousin to Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner, with battles resolved in jRPG fashion. Luckily, there is a free demo available, so you don’t have to rely on my guesswork!

In the meantime, here is the official feature list:

* Unique blend of Strategy and RPG
* 20 Hours of Addictive Gameplay
* Play up to 82 characters
* Mouse control
* Auto-saving
* 4 modes of difficulty
* Tons of Relics and Artifacts to discover
* Great-looking enemies, beautiful environments and charming music
* 144-page strategy guide available

You can get YOU… and who else? for $12.99 direct from the developer. Windows only.

New release: Knights of Aira

Knights of Aira
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Word reaches me that there’s a new strategy RPG on the scene entitled Knights of Aira.

Developed by “mirkwoodfalcon,” Knights of Aira comes with two distinct campaigns, each with its own narrative premise: The Company of Sir Oswell, and Grushnak’s Goblins.

The Company of Sir Oswell: Discover the dark secrets that lurk beneath the seemingly-peaceful world of Aira. Befriend humans and beasts alike on your quest to save the world from impending doom!

Grushnak’s Goblins: Join the goblin warlord Grushnak on a lighthearted quest to raze a village to the ground. Along the way, you’ll meet talking trees, pit beasts, angry mobs, and crazy old ladies.

Between the two campaigns, there seem to be 21 scenarios available in total. As for how it actually looks and plays, this trailer should hopefully shed some light on things:

The list of features:

  • Strategic combat
  • Challenging mechanics reward thoughtful playing and punish rash decisions
  • A compelling story line with memorable characters and epic combat
  • Includes two full campaigns: The Company of Sir Oswell and Grushnakh’s Goblins!
  • Beautiful retro pixel graphics by Oryx Design Lab

You can snag Knights of Aira on itch.io for Windows for a suggested $2.99 (it’s distributed using a “name your own price” system). It’s also available for Android on Google Play free of charge, albeit with in-app-purchases.

Ara Fell release date announced

Ara Fell
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You may recall, 6 years ago, me writing a review of the free (and seemingly never-to-be-completed) jRPG Ara Fell. One-man developer Stephen Anthony, now working with a team under the name Stegosoft Games, has written to me to let me know that Ara Fell has not only become uncanceled, it is actually near completion, and it’s getting a full commercial release in less than one month. Well! Despite a few deficiencies it had at the time, I quite liked Ara Fell when I played it in its unfinished state all those years ago, and so I consider this good news.

Here’s the premise, such as it stands now:

Long, long ago, the elven sorcerers cast a spell to save the floating world of Ara Fell from destruction. Instead, they doomed it to fall from the sky. By chance, the fate of the world has been placed in the hands of a young woman.

And hey, what do you know–there’s even a new trailer:

The feature list:

  • EXPLORATION – Ara Fell is a world meant to be explored! Jump, crawl, swim and even fly through the air to solve puzzles and discover new locations filled with hidden treasure, secrets and adventure! Every corner of Ara Fell is designed with exploration in mind.
  • OPEN WORLD – Most of the world can be traversed from the moment you leave Aloria Village, the heroine’s home town… provided, of course, you’re strong enough. A clever adventurer may be able unlock secrets and discover powerful equipment early in the game if he or she commits to taking advantage of the open nature of the game world.
  • TACTICAL COMBAT – Ara Fell may be a story-heavy game, but the world is still fraught with danger. Choose specialized equipment and statistics, customizing each character to best suit your play style, and to best thwart each boss battle’s unique mechanics.
  • CHARACTER DRIVEN – When you join Ara Fell’s unwitting heroine on a quest to save her homeland, you’ll discover a world filled with vibrant characters who laugh, cry, crack jokes, lose their tempers, and even their will to go on as the size and scope of the curse that plagues Ara Fell becomes apparent. Friends and villains alike are not who they seem as the stakes grow ever higher…

Ara Fell will be releasing June 2 on Steam and itch.IO; Windows only.

New release: Severed

Severed Large
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Word has just reached me that Drinkbox Studios recently released its highly anticipated first-person dungeon delver Severed (previously covered here).

The premise:

Take control of a one-armed warrior named Sasha, wielding a living sword on her journey through a nightmare world in search of her family. Swipe-based touch controls will let you solve puzzles, find secrets, and do battle with a host of disturbing monsters. As the journey goes on, you’ll unlock new abilities, ascend an RPG-style upgrade tree, and tease apart the mysteries of the dark fantasy universe Sasha finds herself in.

Here’s the latest trailer:

And here’s the list of features:

  • Dungeon Combat: Master offensive and defensive touch combat techniques to survive intense battles against a menagerie of enemies.
  • Severing: Best enemies in combat for a chance at severing their body parts — then wear them to gain new powers or consume them to upgrade your equipment and abilities.
  • Exploration: Follow branching routes through the unknown, using your wits to avoid hazards and solve puzzles.
  • Music: Original soundtrack from Juno-nominated band YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN featuring Pantayo.

Severed is exclusive to the PS Vita; you can buy it for $14.99 via the Playstation Store right here. (As for whether it will ever come to other platforms, the official word remains “no comment” for now.)

New release: The Banner Saga 2

Banner Saga 2
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Stoic Studio, creators of viking sRPG The Banner Saga (previously checked out here), have just announced the release of the second installment in that series: that, of course, being The Banner Saga 2.

The premise:

Continue your journey soon after the climactic events of The Banner Saga. The choices you made in the first game will affect who is alive and who is dead in this exciting sequel. As the world continues to crumble around you, only one bastion of hope remains, but getting there will require strong leadership, hard sacrifices, influencing new heroes, and, as always, sound strategy in combat.

The Banner Saga 2 reportedly features more interesting battlefields, an increase in both enemy variety and battle victory conditions, and a new centaur race (the “horseborn”).

Here’s the launch trailer:

The feature list:

• The epic Viking saga continues on – beautifully 2D hand drawn combat sequences and animations are further enhanced with special effects, once again accompanied by an evocative score from Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory
• Player choice that continues to drive your narrative – your story continues based on choices made in the first game as well as hard choices you have to make in this one.
• New Characters and a New Race – continue your epic journey interacting with new characters and a new race, the Horseborn.
• Improved Strategic combat with consequences – improved, more strategic battle boards enhance combat and permanent loss of characters will still weigh heavy on your mind long after the battle is over.
• The journey is as important as battle – your role in building and managing your caravan as you travel the vast landscape is critical to not only your own survival but the survival of an entire civilization.

You can get The Banner Saga 2 on Steam for $19.99 (with a 10% launch week discount knocking it down to $17.99). Windows and Mac.

Pyre announced

Pyre
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Word reaches me that Supergiant Games, the indie studio behind Bastion and Transistor, has just announced a new party-based RPG they’re developing called Pyre.

The premise:

[Y]our luck has almost run out when several masked wanderers find you and revive you from the brink. With your help, they seek to learn the truth about the Rites, a secretive competition through which the worthiest exiles can return home, absolved of their transgressions. As you journey across the Downside in the wanderers’ custom blackwagon, you’ll meet a variety of characters of all shapes and sizes, and learn what’s in store for each of them should they prevail in the Rites. Your actions will determine who returns to glory, and who remains in exile to the end of their days.

Mechanics-wise, the developers describe Pyre as “a distinctive gameplay blend that combines expressive decision-making on the world map with fast, action-packed confrontations against rival groups of exiles whose own freedom is at stake.”

Here’s a reveal trailer:

Supergiant are planning to release Pyre in 2017 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Playstation 4.