Latest Publications Checks Out The Banner Saga

Full disclosure: I backed The Banner Saga on Kickstarter back in 2012. I was excited about it then, and I remain excited about it now. It was with some glee that I downloaded the game and played through the first chapter last night; you can witness that, along with my commentary (and attempts at voice-acting a bunch of giants) right here:

“So Craig,” you might ask, “what do you think so far?”


New release: The Banner Saga

The Banner SagaAfter a long and harrowing development, Stoic Studio‘s epic strategy RPG The Banner Saga has finally been released!

Based on Norse mythology, The Banner Saga puts you in charge of leading a caravan of vikings fleeing from an approaching army of supernatural enemies. Along the way, you’ll settle disputes, make hard choices, traverse dialog trees and fight isometric turn-based battles.

The game features permadeath and eye-popping art in the style of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. In case you missed it, you can see the art style on full display in the official trailer from 2012 the new launch trailer they’ve just now released:

Here’s the official feature list:

  • Player choice that drives your narrative Every decision you make in travel, conversation and combat has a meaningful effect on the outcome as your story unfolds.
  • Over 25 playable characters from 2 different races, human and Varl (horned giants) Embark on your epic journey with a variety of characters from 7 different classes, each with unique abilities and upgrade options to fit your play style.
  • Strategic combat with consequences Victory or defeat and even the permanent loss of a character depends on which characters you choose to take into battle and what tactics you employ while in combat.
  • The journey is half the battle Your role in building and managing your caravan as you travel the vast frozen landscape is critical to not only your own survival but the survival of an entire civilization.
  • An epic Viking saga brought to life in 2D glory Beautifully hand drawn combat sequences and animations, accompanied by an evocative score from Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory, will immerse you into a fantasy realm based on Norse mythology.
  • Multiplayer Combat Enhanced Sharpen your combat skills in the free to play “Factions” multiplayer game. As you play through the single player experience you’ll also unlock new characters to use in multiplayer.

You can nab The Banner Saga on Steam for $24.99. The Banner Saga is for Windows and Mac computers. As for me, I’ll be doing an Checks Out episode on this one very soon…

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Hello, faithful indie RPG fans! We’re back from holiday break and ready to start spreading the word on up-and-coming RPGs by small independent developers. I’m trying to put more time into developing Telepath Tactics, so updates may not be quite as frequent as they were before, but I’ll definitely be updating the site at least once a week from this point onward.

Now! We left 2013 on a bit of a cliffhanger. How did all of our Kickstarter projects do?


Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

With Christmas looming over us and its associated shopping season in full swing, there is relatively little oxygen for indie game announcements (to say nothing of new releases). As I’ve advised developers to do, most indies have hunkered down and now wait quietly for the madness to end. Naturally, this leaves the inbox rather bare for the moment.

Before goes to sleep for the holidays, I want to know: what happened to those daredevil developers who waited until the last minute to run their campaigns? We had some successes from the group in our last Back to Back, but just as many casualties. The bright spots in a somewhat bleak landscape were Approaching Infinity, Bloom: Memories, Dex, Elliot Quest, Lords of Xulima, and The Mandate, each of which secured the asked-for funding. Among those which failed were After Reset, Deathfire: The Ruins of NethermoreFestival of Magic (left out of the last Back to Back but covered here), Graywalkers: Purgatory, King Voxel, and The Memory of Eldurîm, which puts the success rate at 50%.

However, the success rate is actually worse given that of the other games we mentioned, nearly all are soon to end well short of their funding goals. They are joined by some other brave souls, at least some of whom will hopefully make it:


New release: Riders of Arylide

Riders of Arylide Totally StonedA bit of digging around reveals to me the existence of a relatively new jRPG called Riders of Arylide. Created by Phantasos Games, Riders of Arylide was made in RPG Maker.

The premise:

When their guardian sets sail for the Red Mountains and never returns, Allegra and Thaddeus are forced to travel across the lands of Erinyeth following the clues he left behind.

As soldiers in the Royal Erinyeth Army, they are about to learn the secrets he has kept from them about their true past.
Follow your destiny as you learn magic, battle monsters and try to save the land you love from being destroyed.

The feature list:

● Over 30 side quests
● Integrated walkthrough and strategy guide
● Quest journal
● Tutorial
● Pirate Mini Game
● Mouse play

One thing the list doesn’t mention: encounters are visible while exploring, and can be dodged. That’s a pretty huge plus. I’m not sure why “Tutorial” is a feature and that isn’t, but hey–who am I to say what should be in their feature list?

Riders of Arylide is an RPG Maker game, so that means it’s exclusive to Windows. You can nab it for $6.99 direct from the developer; there is a free demo available as well if you want to try before you buy.

New release: Heroes of Steel

Heroes of SteelWord comes to me from the Trese Brothers that they’ve released their turn-based, party-based, top-down dungeon crawl Heroes of Steel.

You may recall that we last covered this game back in February, where we gave a very thorough run-down of the game’s premise and mechanics. What we didn’t have, though, was the game’s release trailer. Check that out here:

The feature list for the finished game is as follows:

  • 8 Playable Characters
  • Complex Branching Storyline
  • Explore Vast Underground World
  • Thousands of Weapons, Armor and Gear
  • 5 Rich Difficulty Levels

Heroes of Steel is available on Android via Google Play; it will be out for iOS as well within the next two weeks or so.

The game’s pricing deserves a bit of discussion. Heroes of Steel is evidently divided into four episodes, and four of its eight characters are “premium” characters. The four base characters are free; access to all each of the game’s additional four episodes costs $0.99 per episode, with an additional $1.99 to access the game’s four premium characters.

There will be an Elite version dropping sometime early next year with additional episodes; that version will contain all of the game’s content, and will be available for a flat $3.99; it will containing the game’s four episodes, but the premium characters will remain a separate purchase.

NOTE: If this pricing scheme confuses you as much as it evidently did me, consult this handy guide the Trese Brothers have created to clear things up.

New release: Reckless Space Pirates

Reckless Space PiratesWould you believe that there’s another Choice of Games title out? It’s true! The latest in their ever-expanding line of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-styled RPG hybrids is the sci-fi epic Reckless Space Pirates, written by Rachel Zakuta.

The premise:

You have a choice: join a crew of space pirates to steal priceless slime from a nest of mushroom-like aliens–or hoodwink the pirates and team up with the mushroom colony to prevent an interstellar war!

Will you survive the infamous space-slime pits? Will you earn the respect of the crew, or even start a romance with a space pirate? Can you negotiate with the fungoid aliens, despite linguistic and cultural barriers? Or will you blast their rubbery guts, plunder the slime pits, and retire in luxury?

Reckless Space pirates is $2.99 for iOS and Android, and can be purchased from the Chrome web store as well. You can get a taste of the game via a free web demo right here.

New release: Famaze

FamazeIf you’ve been reading this site for a long time, you may remember me mentioning Oryx and his highly popular roguelike sprite sets back in 2011. After years of enabling roguelikes from other developers, it looks like Oryx has finally stepped up to the plate with a roguelike of his own!

The game in question is called Famaze. Which makes me wonder: is this game, in fact, f-amazing?

Well. It features some very nice art by Oryx, and has an original soundtrack by Disasterpiece. So those things are good.

Beyond that, though, I admit that I wasn’t overly taken with it based on a brief playthrough. Famaze takes the spatial dimension out of combat, minimizes the player inventory almost to the point of nonexistence, and separates the spatial navigation and graphical representation of the game world into two distinct panes (which means a constant choice between either seeing an attractive representation of the game world, or seeing where you are actually going).

Still, it’s hard to complain too much about a free game, and Famaze is as free as they come. Famaze isn’t even embedded in a page: the SWF is simply made available as a standalone file to be played in-browser or nabbed from Oryx’s Dropbox. Try it out here. Checks Out Festival of Magic (Alpha)

I admit, I had been deliberately holding off on covering Festival of Magic. The developers stated publicly they they’d spent $1 million on making the game, and that they needed roughly another $1.15 million to finish it. These figures made me suspect that they might actually be a mid-sized development house trying to pass as a small indie team. Well, apparently not–after emailing the devs, they told me that their team is only 9 people, and that their budget is so huge because (a) they live in Norway and (b) jRPGs take forever to make.

After hearing that, I felt a little bad for doubting their indie credentials, so I resolved to sit down with their Kickstarter demo and see what Festival of Magic is about. (And, of course, to record the whole thing with commentary!) This was the result:

My first impressions:


Ravenmark: Mercenaries released on Android

Ravenmark MercenariesFantasy strategy game Ravenmark: Mercenaries, initially released for iOS back in July, is now out for Android as well.

As with the iOS version, the Android port is free to play. Witching Hour Studios are supporting themselves with ads and in-app-purchases; notably, you can disable the ads by purchasing the “Collector’s Edition” IAP.

Here’s a 12-minute long gameplay video from the developers showing how the game works:

Android users can nab the game here.