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Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Hey guys! Back to Back has returned for one last round-up in the year 2015, before we enter the end-of-year Valley of Death from which virtually no Kickstarters return!

Of those games we checked in on last time, the successful games were Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan; Battle Chasers: Nightwar; Divinity: Original Sin 2; For the King; and A House of Many Doors. Crossfate suffered a worse fate, as did MegaMagic: Wizards of the Neon Age; Omnis – The Erias Line; Psypher; Severed Winds; and Tears of Avia.

So! What’s new in the Land of Crowdfundia?


New release: Celestial Tear: Demon’s Revenge

Celestial Tear
Tyrell and Whitney White of White Guardian Studios have reached out to let me know that the first portion of jRPG Celestial Tear: Demon’s Revenge (previously covered here as Demon’s Revenge, and in numerous Back to Back updates going all the way back to 2012) has been released!

According to the developers, this game has transformed dramatically from when I played an early demo of it 3 years ago–and evidently among those transformations is a new episodic structure. There will be three parts released in total; here is the plot premise of episode 1:

The story takes place on the planet Hasphal after humans colonized it and began hunting down its natives, Jehts, as they saw them as being disfigured and dangerous. You follow Sen as she heads into this ancient conflict built on prejudice, discovering the history behind it, its ties to religion, and even mysterious parts of herself.

I remember liking the game’s original combat sprites back in 2012, and based on the screenshots and release trailer, it looks like those have survived to the final release:

Per the devs, here are Celestial Tear’s features:

– A unique turn-based combo based combat system inspired by 16-bit fighting games.

– Exciting motion comic cut scenes.

– A beautiful world brought to life with 2D pixel art and animations.

– A rich story with voice acted dialogue.

– A powerful, original soundtrack.

Celestial Tear is Windows-only; you can nab it for $5.99 on Steam or via The Humble Store. In the meantime, the devs have provided me with a copy of the game, so I’ll do my best to check it out in short order!

Arcadian Atlas announced

Arcadian Atlas
Becca Bair, one-half of the brother-sister team that makes up Austin indie studio Twin Otter, writes in to announce Arcadian Atlas. The devs describe Arcadian Atlas as a strategy RPG intended as “a modern go at the Tactics Ogre & Final Fantasy Tactics game style.”

Even without that description, take one look at this game’s pixelly isometric screenshots and it’s pretty darn clear that they’re angling for that sort of approach.

Meanwhile, the narrative premise here is decidedly romance-y!

In the world of Arcadian Atlas, nothing is more brutal than love. And when a kingdom is at stake, love will rip itself to shreds. Now two people are finding themselves engulfed in a civil war they never wanted, and when sides must be chosen, will they find themselves still standing together – or will love leave anything standing at all?

I’m actually intrigued by the focus on a romantic relationship, as this is an angle we seldom get in (non-dating-sim) RPGs!

Meanwhile, on the crunchier end of things, here is the list of features they plan to have in the final game:

  • Hand-painted character art & a pixel perfect world designed by artist Becca Bair (Vidar, Dreamblazers). A labor of love!
  • Detailed battle system provides limitless strategy & challenges.
  • Epic storyline and 3-dimensional characters fleshed out by writer Taylor Bair (Business of Indie, Planet Destiny) will leave you intrigued & attached.
  • Grid-based tactics play style hits all the right nostalgia chords
  • Retro-style sound effects & modern, chilled out jazz tunes by Moritz P.G. Katz (Fort Meow, German Wahnsinn) bridge the gap between yesterday & today.
  • Innovative job classes with zero filler skills will keep you chasing that AP.
  • Marries tried & tested classic tactical RPG gameplay with new customizations & exciting mechanics that help innovate the genre.

Arcadian Atlas is being developed for Windows, Mac, and iOS, with an estimated late 2017 release date. Checks Out Voidspire Tactics

Hey folks! Sean Hayden of Rad Codex was good enough to send a review copy of Voidspire Tactics my way. I was curious to see how it played, so I did what I customarily do in these situations: I sat down to play it with FRAPS a’frappin and headset mic a’ready for yappin’. Here are the first 45 minutes or so of Voidspire Tactics, complete with commentary:

So! What did I think?


New release: Voidspire Tactics

Voidspire Tactics
Annnnnd we’re back! Sorry for the radio silence there, folks–some real-life stuff came up. Anyway, let’s get this ball rolling again!

First up, Sean Hayden writes in to announce that Voidspire Tactics (previously covered here) has now been released. Created by one-man army Rad Codex, Voidspire Tactics is an indie tactics RPG with a focus on exploration, party creation and character development.

The premise:

Just after stepping off the boat from a long voyage, the player is mistakenly abducted – along with the entire dock of Solport – into the Spire, a towering fortress comprised of chunks from other realms. Now they must fight to survive and discover the secret of the Spire.

Here’s the release trailer:

The feature list remains as it was when we last looked at this:

  • Open-ended exploration – traverse a nonlinear world full of secrets
  • Refined tactical combat fit for beginners and veterans alike – easy to learn, hard to master
  • Destructible terrain and elemental interactions – flood the battlefield, then shock everyone with lightning!
  • Abilities are good for more than just combat – freeze a river to cross it, or grow seeds into vines to scale mountains!
  • Choose from 4 playable races, unlock up to 17 classes, learn & upgrade 100+ abilities, and equip your choice of 50+ passive abilities
  • Atypical fantasy setting – not one elf, orc or goblin in sight!

Rich turn-based combat melded with exploration and an unusual setting sounds very much like my cup of tea, so I imagine I’ll be checking this one out soon.

In the meantime, you can snag Voidspire Tactics direct from the developer or on Steam for $14.99; Windows only.


New release: FreeCell Quest

FreeCell Quest
Bryan Livingston of indie house Legend Studio writes in to announce the release of FreeCell Quest, which is basically an RPG that employs the famous solitaire variant in place of combat.

The premise:

When an archmage takes control of the entire continent of Selvarin, the world’s most powerful wizards try and fail to defeat him in battle. You are a young wizard, a master of cards, and you may have what it takes to outwit him.

The better you play, the stronger you become. Get heroic loot and collect cards to unlock new free cells. Level up to become more powerful and gain amazing skills. Travel across a vast and mysterious land, playing game after game as you prepare for your final battle.

Here’s a trailer:

Livingston lists the game’s features as follows:

  • Play free cell battles with up to 8 suits of cards.
  • Gain rewards and experience from your victories.
  • Find and buy awesome loot to become more powerful.
  • Learn spells to help you with the difficult challenges.
  • Collect cards to unlock more free cells.
  • Dodge attacks coming from buried cards by uncovering them.
  • Enjoy exploring a huge world with over 500 unique towns on your epic quest of card sorting!

“Epic quest of card-sorting.” Sure, why not?

FreeCell Quest is available for Windows on Steam at a $4.99 price point (there’s a 15% discount during launch week in case $5 somehow strikes you as too steep). FreeCell Quest also comes in a free-to-play mobile incarnation for Android and Windows Phone.

Zombasite enters early access

Steven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment writes in to announce the early access release of Zombasite, his take on the azombie apocalypse through the lens of an evolving, dynamic, procedurally generated fantasy world.

The premise:

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. This is easier said than done. When a follower dies, they can’t be saved by any means. The Zombasite is highly contagious and zombies are quickly ravaging the world’s surface. Food is a critical resource that must be obtained. Vendors are rare and have limited supplies. Some of the stronger monsters have survived and are as dangerous as ever. Clans of humans and monsters are fighting over what few supplies are left.  Even within your own clan it isn’t safe. Humans living on the edge are even more unstable than usual. So yeah, survival isn’t easy.

And in case you missed it from last week, here’s the latest trailer:

Peeler summarizes the game’s features as follows:

* 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
* Adventure with your friends with co-op multiplayer
* Your choices truly impact the game!

You can pick up the current version of the game direct from the developer or on Steam early access for $14.99. (The game will increase in price to $19.99 when it sees its final release.) Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Darkest Dungeon release date announced

Darkest Dungeon
Word reaches me that Darkest Dungeon–available on Steam Early Access for some time now–has finally gotten a firm date for its official release.

That date is January 19, 2016. So now you know!

New release: The Age of Decadence

Age of Decadence
Iron Tower Studio has at long last released The Age of Decadence, one of the most highly (and lengthily!) anticipated indie wRPGs to come down the pike in quite some time.

The premise:

The Age of Decadence is not a game about killing monsters or exploring mystical lands, but rather, surviving amid the greed and brutality of your fellow humans and carving out a name for yourself. Good and bad are purely relative. It’s a world of scheming and backstabbing in which your words and actions have the potential to forge alliances and sow discord, and your path is never certain.

You get to play with seven different factions: three Noble Houses and four ‘professional’ guilds: merchants, assassins, thieves, and the army, all fighting for power or influence; over 100 named characters, over 750 ‘generic’ characters with unique IDs taking part in violent take-overs, assassinations, and power grabs, and over 600,000 words of dialogue: a well-developed and thought through world, believable characters, realistic motivations, but no elves, dwarves, magic, and wizards in fashionable, pointy hats.

As you may recall, I checked out a beta version of the game almost a year ago–this should give you a pretty good sense of what to expect. Or, if you want something quicker and less in-depth, this release trailer should do:

The Age of Decadence is $29.99; you can snag it direct from the developers, from Steam, or from GamersGate. Windows only.

New release: Royal Bounty HD

Royal Bounty
Remember Palm Kingdoms 3 (covered here)? Three-man Bulgarian studio iosoftware Ltd. hasn’t released it yet, but they have released an entirely different fantasy strategy game by the name of Royal Bounty HD.

“Royal Bounty?” you say. “Heyyyy, waitaminute, that sounds just like–” Yeah, it does! And as it happens, the developers are quite up-front about being inspired by the old 1990 classic King’s Bounty.

The premise:

You are an adventurer named Jim, just out of the island prison. How you ended up like this is unknown. You have no gold and no army. Angry Cell Guard is chasing your heels. What a difficult situation! Your first quest is get away from the maze and find a ship. But it is just a beginning of the story. Your road lies across four huge continents, inhabited by a variety of monsters. You are going to visit a desert, frozen lands, go through woods and towns, and in the finale meet your old friend, The Master. En route you’ll have to earn money and gather an army to face him fully equipped. Nevertheless, you will still need a helping hand from Dragons.

Sounds like as good an excuse to run around, building up an army and laying waste as any! Frankly, though, I don’t know how I feel about the conqueror of the known world being named “Jim.”

Anyway, here’s a trailer:

And here’s their feature list:

  • gorgeous, unmatched, top-class pixel art
  • true hardcore gameplay like back in the 90’s
  • 180 creature types in your army
  • long plot featuring several endings
  • tons of quests
  • well polished user interface

Based on screenshots, I’m just going to go ahead and guess that this game features a combat system reminiscent of the older Heroes and Might and Magic titles.

Royal Bounty HD is quite cheap; you can snag it for a mere $5.00 from a number of places: on Steam for Windows or Mac; direct from the developers for Windows, Mac, or Android; or on the Apple app store for iOS. (The devs tell me that the continued development of Palm Kingdoms 3 depends upon whether this game does well, in case that influences your decision to buy.)