Latest Publications

Copper Dreams announced

Copper Dreams
Word reaches me that Whalenought, the developers behind Isle of Bxnes and Serpent in the Staglands, are now developing a 3D, isometric cyberpunk wRPG by the name of Copper Dreams.

The premise:

Dumped onto the island world of Calitana, you are one of hundreds drafted to ease the overcrowding that is rapidly miring the citizens of Earth in famine, violence and poverty. Once a beacon of hope, the isolated Calitana quickly devolved from lustrous to disastrous, unable to support its settlers, and overrun with unbridled corruption and lawless syndicates.

From waterways to rooftops, adaptability on the island means scaling the city heights, be it to avoid syndicate eyes or to explore the depths and secrets within. An isometric, fully 3d world allows for vertical freedom and movement. Traverse through districts by vaulting through windows, grappling hook to decks above, or jumping building to building. There’s no way off Calitana, but there are a myriad of ways through it.

Here’s a preview trailer:

The devs write that Copper Dreams will feature turn-based combat with time units and weapons with differing types of ammunition; a stealth system that makes use of sound, real-time shadows, and enemy field of vision; and the ability to customize a party of characters with cybernetic enhancements.

Whalenought tell me that they plan to run a Kickstarter for Copper Dreams, primarily “for additional content and a larger scope.” If the campaign doesn’t succeed, they’ll still finish development–the game will just be shorter.

Copper Dreams is being developed for Windows, Mac, and Linux. No tentative release date just yet, as the time it takes to complete will depend on the outcome of the eventual Kickstarter. You can sign up for email updates over on the Copper Dreams site. Checks Out Celestian Tales: Old North

Celestian Tales: Old North has been on my to-play list for quite some time, and I finally got around to giving the start of the game a go this past weekend. As per usual, I recorded as I went–here is the result!

My thoughts:


Banner Saga 2 release date announced

Banner Saga 2
Stoic Studio has just announced the release date for part 2 of The Banner Saga (somewhat-strangely entitled The Banner Saga 2, as though it were a sequel).

Although it’s a continuation of the story from the series’ first outing, The Banner Saga 2 is planned to feature some improvements, most notably improvements to the game’s combat consisting of

An increase in enemy variety, different combat win scenarios, improved and more strategic battle boards, and additional story delivered while the battle wages on

Here’s the announcement trailer:

Oh, and the release date? That would be April 19, 2016.If you don’t want to wait 3 weeks, you can pre-order it now on Steam for $19.99 (currently 10% off). Windows and Mac. Checks Out Balrum

Hey guys! You might have noticed that I managed to record and upload a couple of new episodes of Checks Out over the weekend! First up was Balrum–you can see the first 50 minutes or so below:

So, what’d I think?


New release: ChemCaper Act I

So! Remember ChemCaper, that chemistry-themed jRPG by Ace EdVenture Studio that was just funded on Kickstarter last month? Act I is somehow already out for Android and iOS.

The premise:

You are Roub Idyum, a Moon Being from Reac Ta.

For reasons unknown, a sinister foe has turned the usually friendly and helpful Petticles into dangerous little creatures, wreaking havoc on the peace-loving and knowledge-seeking Moon Beings.

In search of his parents, Roub will find many mysteries and wonders of his world. Not everything leads to an answer, and those he finds may not be the ones he wants to hear…

The developers appear to be leaning pretty hard on the “parents who want to help little Timmy learn chemistry” angle, and aren’t providing many details on the “actual game” part of the equation.

The developers state that ChemCaper has “over 100 characters and 14 locations based on chemical elements,” and promise “heroic quests / adventures and battles.” Beyond that, there isn’t a list of features. No release trailer, either–the closest we have is this video from during the game’s Kickstarter:

…heck, I can’t even find 6 different screenshots on the ChemCaper website to use for the gallery below.

If you feel like taking a chance on it, your price of admission will be $7.99: for iOS on the app store or Android on Google Play. The game is also planned for a PC release at some point, though when that might arrive is anyone’s guess.

New release: Dungeon Monsters

Dungeon Monsters
Word reaches me that French indie developers Mana Cube have just released a mobile first-person dungeon delver in the Shin Megami Tensei vein called Dungeon Monsters.

The premise:

Collect over 400 units, evolve them into fierce fighters and come up with clever battle strategies. Roam the depths of the underground and save the world from a lurking evil, grabbing serious loot along the way in this ground-breaking first-person RPG. But watch your steps in the dungeons! For you will forever rot underground should your torch run out before you’ve managed to find the exit.

Here’s a trailer:

For better and worse, Dungeon Monsters is free to play with in-app-purchases. Along those lines, one of the game’s innovations is a torch mechanic which limits the number of steps you have available to complete a dungeon level; when the light goes out, you have to restart. Refilling the torch so you can keep exploring a dungeon level costs real-life money.

If you’re dying for a first-person dungeon delver on your smart phone but too stingy to pay actual money for it, this might be for you. Dungeon Monsters is available now for both iOS and Android.

Mediocre Monster announced

Mediocre Monster
Word reaches me that there’s a jRPG in development that essentially gives the Wreck-It Ralph treatment to jRPGs. In development by Opal Squad, Mediocre Monster has you playing as a…you know…mediocre monster:

Imps. Goblins. Slimes. Shitake Mushrooms. These are a few of the first and weakest monsters you face in classic JRPGs like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Chrono Trigger. These monsters lead a depressing existence: walk around the forest, get slashed by a level 1 hero a few times, and disintegrate in an orange blur. Or so you think.

This is all in a day’s work for the employees of “The Bestiary”, the worldwide leader in random monster outsourcing. Employees go to the office each morning, get dressed, and go to work to pretend to die to heroes for their enjoyment.

Mediocre Monster puts you in the role of Gob, as he goes through everyday life working as a random monster. Follow Gob as he goes through a journey from being a lowly tutorial monster in the Tutorial Forest to being palette swapped into a well-respected monster who still dies to heroes easily, but after slightly more hits.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much completely charmed by that description.

As the monster, it’s your job to react appropriately to enemy status effects and elemental strengths / weaknesses, then drop the correct items after your inevitable defeat. Per the developers: “Gob is then paid a weekly salary dependent on his job performance. As more mistakes are committed, more deductions are taken from his salary. Gob can then spend his money around town for training, skills, items, town upgrades, house improvements, and new buildings.”

Here’s a trailer to show what this actually looks like in action:

I hope I’m not alone in thinking that this game looks hilarious. Here is the list of planned features:

  • Work as an RPG monster: Follow RPG standards such as attacking taunters and reacting to critical hits.
  • Improve your Monster: Learn tricks of the trade as you progress. Improve yourself with new skills, items, and palette swaps!
  • Meet Different Hero Parties: Face different hero parties as you progress as an RPG monster. You can eventually see someone familiar!
  • Town Improvement: Help the town improve by spending your hard earned salary on town infrastructure improvements and new buildings.

Mediocre Monster is currently about 3/5ths funded on Kickstarter. The developers write that development will continue even if they fail (though at a slower pace, as they won’t be able to work full-time on the thing). Assuming they succeed, Mediocre Monster is planned for release in April 2017; Windows only.

Ground Breakers announced, in paid beta

Ground Breakers
Erik Johnson of Vietnamese indie studio United Indie writes in to announce a turn-based sci-fi tactics game by the name of Ground Breakers.

The narrative premise:

A few centuries after the apocalypse, ice in the two poles have melted and the earth has no land left. Disorder and riot occurs everywhere. Governments were destroyed. People built giant cubes and linked them together to have a place to live on. Minerals became rare and hold much value. All the big corporates and organizations rise to powers and start to trade, research robot run by water to dominate mineral rich areas.

That said, per the developers, the single player campaign mode in Ground Breakers is event-driven rather than story-driven: “Campaign use dynamic events instead of linear story. Each play will follow different event flows which skyrocket the replayabilities. EG. Kidnap event, Judgement day event.”

The developers have also opted to eschew a traditional class system, instead giving you command of individually customizable robots.

As for the battles themselves, this trailer should give you the idea:

Here’s the full feature list:

  • The game features a single player campaign and multiplayer matches.
  • Test your wit in traditional tactic matches with 15+ types of different robots with many skills to toy with. More to come!
  • Wreak havoc while flexibly adapting to the 5+ types of ever changing battlegrounds.
  • Position your robots, capture important points and high grounds, protecting the fortress, protecting the key robot and so on…
  • Tweak your robots with chips. Collect chips with different shapes which you will have to arrange them in the board in the best way possible to maximize your robot’s abilities.
  • Expand your robot army by destroying the enemy’s robots and win some parts to craft new robots. Each robot has a different recipe and what parts you will get is pure luck.
  • Compete against other players in online battles and climb the leaderboard.
  • Expand your army, mostly by force, or by diplomacy or money.
  • Fight your way though the non-linear world domination campaign, face opponents with far superior equipment

Final release is planned for April 2016; but in the meantime, Ground Breakers is currently available on Steam Early Access for $9.99. Windows, Mac, and Linux.

New release: Naroth

Helge Foerster writes in to inform me about Naroth, a 3D, first-person, open world action RPG of the Elder Scrolls stripe that was recently (okay…like, a month ago) released for mobile.

The premise:

You travel to Naroth, a green plateau located between the kingdoms of Vilden and Jarrad.
On your quest for information about your father, you descend deeper and deeper into the abandoned mines to finally discover a threatening secret. Are you brave enough to face the danger?

Here’s a trailer, which actually gets the basics across pretty well:

And here’s the official feature list:

– open world, fantasy role playing game
– offline, single player gameplay
– 3D first person perspective
– freely accessible world with 3 villages and other locations
– over 3 dozen quests…
– …and even more NPCs
– 15 different enemy types
– 30 dungeon levels
– over 100 items to find and purchase
– long-ranged and melee weapons
– alchemy system
– comprehensive skill tree
– auto-mapping
– quest log
– up to 15 hours of playing time

Naroth is entirely free; you snag it off of Google Play right here and play it whenever you like. Android only.

New release: Balrum

The Balcony Softworks team has just written in to announce the release of Balrum. Previously covered here last January, Balrum is a 2D, isometric, open-world wRPG with farming and survival mechanics.

Here’s the new narrative premise:

It’s twenty years after your village fled the kingdom and took refuge in Darkwood. You always knew that these woods hold dark secrets but now you start to feel it’s evil on your own skin. Horrible things are happening. You discover fragments of the woods dark history and come to the conclusion that you have to leave your home. You know in your heart that once you step out of the protection of the place where you grown up, nothing will be the same. You have to face a world that’s in chaos. A world without laws. Nevertheless you feel something else too. You feel freedom. A completely new world awaits you to explore it, but the feeling quickly turns into guilt. There are people in Darkwood who are counting on your help. You are their last hope.

Created by a 2-person team from Hungary, Balrum has been in development since 2012. The game has turn-based combat with backstab effects (which I like), though you only control one character during those fights. The game also features stealth, crafting, farming, hunting, a faithful pet, and the ability to build a customized home (which NPCs can reportedly then visit to leave notes or offer quests).

This trailer from December seems to be as close as it gets to a release trailer, so have a look:

Now that the game’s done, here is the official list of features:

  • Real-Time world with Turn-Based Combat
  • A huge Open World with dozens of Dungeons to explore
  • Spend your learning points to create a pure class or a hybrid class
  • Dozens of Side Quests and an Epic Main Quest
  • Three separate paths leading to the end
  • Building
  • Farming
  • Tame various animals to be your loyal Companion
  • Deep Crafting System which allows you to create custom items
  • Day/Night Cycle with Weather Effects
  • Survival Mechanics

Balrum is available on Steam at a $14.99 price point (though there’s a 10% discount for the next few days). Windows and Mac.