Latest Publications

Underrail playable alpha demo release date announced

Stygian Software writes in to announce that Underrail, the hotly anticipated sci-fi isometic wRPG (previously covered here), is due to get a public alpha demo release later this month.

Developer Dejan Radisic estimates that the demo will come out sometime between August 20th and August 31st. The complete game remains due for release in the second half of 2013.

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf announced

Are you hungry for a new single player RPG with CCG-style combat? Hungry like the wolf? You’re in luck! Patrik Spacek writes in to announce Northmark: Hour of the Wolf, apparently two years into development by Rake In Grass (whom you may recall as the developers behind the fantasy strategy game Styrateg).

Rake In Grass cite Betrayal at Krondor as a major influence for Northmark, stating that they “wanted to draw on some of its strengths (namely the intriguing story-telling) to enhance the dynamics of our game.” Here is the premise:

The game begins with an attempt to kill the Lord of the Northmark castle. Throughout the game, you shall discover many different areas of the kingdom and get to discover their complex relationships to central Northmark.

Northmark bears some similarities to other games of the “battle-card” genre, yet it successfully manages to differentiate itself by being a full-scale RPG with a focus on a strong story. Its unique battle-card system further emphasizes the original grand vision of a thriving Northmark region. As a player, you shall adventure across the fantasy lands of Northmark with its varied locations – Vibrant cities, Deep dark woods, Deserted lost ruins and the Ancient mystic sites sacred to the Druids and Elves.

The main event here is, of course, the aforementioned card-based battle system. The developers were good enough to provide some beta footage showing off the current state of the game, where you can see the combat system in action:

Northmark is due for release this fall on Windows. Rake In Grass are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Mac and iOS ports as well; head on over if you want to pitch in.

New release: Unemployment Quest

I’m not sure how I missed this one: Unemployment Quest is a jRPG by Charles DeYoe with a decidedly…shall we say, “contemporary”…theme, released in mid-June.

The game’s premise is all but spelled out in the title. DeYoe writes:

Unemployment Quest is a game about the experience of unemployed youth.

The story is minimalistic as the game is not about an epic adventure so much as trying to reach a very simple goal.
Instead of fighting typical fantasy monsters, your foes will include “Doubts,” “Isolation,” “Shame,” and the main villain “Uncertain Future.”

Unemployment Quest managed to haul in more than $10,000 in Kickstarter funding by its deadline of May 20, which is pretty impressive considering that it’s an RPG Maker game using the default sprites and tilesets. I think that speaks pretty powerfully to how many people out there feel some connection with the game’s conceit.

Here is a trailer that goes to great lengths to point out how late I am in covering it:

Unemployment Quest has a free demo available; if you like what you see, you can get the full game for Windows for a flat $5.00.

RPG Jokes!

An indie RPG walks into a bar. “We don’t serve indie RPGs here,” says the bartender.

“Why not?” asks the RPG.

The bartender says, “You always bring a mob.”

 

An indie RPG walks into a bar. “We don’t serve indie RPGs here,” says the bartender.

“Why not?” asks the RPG.

“Look,” shrugs the bartender, “I’m just trying to level with you.”

 

A skill-based RPG walks into a bar. “We don’t serve skill-based RPGs here,” says the bartender.

“Why not?” asks the skill-based RPG.

The bartender says, “You have no class.”

 

An indie RPG walks into a bar. “We don’t serve indie RPGs here,” says the bartender.

“That’s not fair!” says the RPG. “We deserve service.”

The bartender shrugs: “You’re living in a fantasy world.”

 

 

An indie RPG walks into a bar. “We don’t serve indie RPGs here,” says the bartender.

“Why not?” asks the RPG.

The bartender says, “We’re IGF judges.”

 

Ha, ha! Ha!

…oh, wait.

Shadow Remnants announced

Johnathan Davis of Shorebound Studios writes in to tell me about Shadow Remnants, a 3D turn-based tactical RPG.

The premise:

In Shadow Remnants, you play as Drake, whose family was slaughtered by invading Entarians two years ago. Now a foot soldier in the royal infantry, he fights for vengeance. The closer he gets to the truth, the less he’s sure who the enemy is. The war, the royal family’s involvement in a cover up and the corrupt power within the relics — nothing is as it seems. The land of Avatia is plagued with evil and shrouded in darkness. Uncover the truth, unearth the ancient artifacts… Fight the darkness.

Man, “the darkness” is always doing such lousy stuff in RPGs. Stupid darkness!

The devs say that they’re looking to give the player choices which can “completely alter the storyline.” Color me interested, though there’s no word yet on what exactly that means. Maybe you can choose to make friends with the darkness? (If only you could talk to the monsters!) I’m guessing that they don’t actually intend to create multiple, totally independent plotlines based on player choices, as that would be a crazy amount of work; but who knows? I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

Speaking of seeing, here is a video showing off the current state of the game engine at this early stage of development:

It isn’t shown in this video, but the combat system evidently makes use of a timing-based charge meter mechanic where you can affect a character’s damage output on an attack-by-attack basis. The devs also seem to have put quite a bit of thought into making the game’s 13 characters classes interact in interesting ways, which is always a good sign. There’s more to say about the mechanics here (and the devs aren’t shy about saying it), so hit the jump if you want more details.

Shadow Remnants is planned for release on Windows, to be followed shortly thereafter with ports to Mac and Linux. There is no release date estimate yet, however. As is now customary, the developers are looking for funding through Kickstarter, and the speed of their progress almost certainly depends upon whether or not they receive the funding they require. They say that they’ve been approached by publishers, but prefer to stay indie. Me? I’d prefer that, too. If this game sounds like your cup of tea, then go ahead and help them stay out of the clutches of the darkness publishers.

(more…)

New release: Defender’s Quest

Since I’ve been loosening up on the sort of games I’ve been willing to post about lately, I figured it was time to stop agonizing about whether Defender’s Quest was really an RPG and just post about the thing.

Defender’s Quest is a hybrid RPG / tower defense game by Lars Doucet. Protector, the first game to claim the tower defense / RPG mantle, was not really an RPG at all, so I was reticent about this one. Despite my initial skepticism, however, now that I’ve spent a bit of time with Defender’s Quest, I have far fewer reservations about it. The tower defense-style combat system works quite well; and at the same time, the game still feels like an RPG because of a heavy focus on individualized character progression (characters can purchase their own equipment, and can be upgraded as you see fit via class-specific skill trees upon level up).

Defender’s Quest is story-heavy, with unique characters and dialog, as well as a tone that strikes a nice balance between drama and camp. This is a legit RPG, in other words; but words are seldom enough, so have a trailer:

In fact, that trailer probably wasn’t enough either. I don’t think this video does an especially good job of imparting the feel of playing Defender’s Quest; there is a free demo available right here, which I strongly suggest giving a try so you can experience the game for yourself.

Defender’s Quest is available for Windows, Mac and Linux for $6.99; you can buy it here. (I understand that an updated version is due to drop soon, at which point the price will rise to $9.99.)

Video preview: OFF

I just wrote about OFF the other day; I’ll admit, I was intrigued, so I figured I’d give the game a shot and record the experience. The results of my brief foray into the surreal world of OFF are documented below:

As an aside: I learned something today, folks. Dehort is totally a word.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City announced

Word has reached my ear that Valdis Story: Abyssal City, a side-scrolling action RPG, is in development courtesy of EndlessFluff Games.

Here’s the premise:

Over 40 years ago the Dark Goddess Myrgato attacked and killed her creator, the All Mother Valdis. Since this event Myrgato has been at war with her twin sister the Goddess of Light Alagath. The war has wreaked havoc on the land and the hope of mankind is dwindling as they are forced to choose a side or perish. Wyatt has been following a trail of clues for the past 5 years left by his father that he believes will lead him to find a way to end the Goddess War.

Do you like bullet points? Of course you do! Here are some of those, accompanying each of the game’s main features:

  • Intense combat weaving sword and sorcery together seamlessly.
  • Equipment and Customizable skills to fit your own unique fighting style.
  • Unique magic souls that aid in combat and traversing the ruins of the city.
  • Interconnected zones allow you to explore new areas or backtrack.

EndlessFluff have been posting videos periodically as they develop the game. One of them dates back to 2007, meaning that this has been in development in one form or another for quite a long time. Here are two much more recent videos, one showing off the game’s magic and leveling systems, and a second showing off hand-to-hand combat:

Valdis Story appears to have something of a playable build available already despite the fact that the game is still in development; you can nab that here.

The game is planned for a Windows release, with a Mac port likely to follow. There is some possibility of a Linux port as well, but the developers haven’t committed one way or another on that. No word on a release date yet; I’ll be sure to mention it once I find out! The game is planned for release in early 2013.

New release: OFF

A reader writes in to inform me of the existence of OFF, a surreal-looking French jRPG. Created by developers Mortis Ghost and Alias Conrad Coldwood way back in 2008, OFF has been localized into English by the Reconstructed Game Team. The localizers have this to say about it:

Originally in French with only few English resources, a part of the Reconstructed Game Team (including myself) have spent their summer break translating this gem to English to make it available to a wider public.
In “OFF” you take control of a mysterious person called “The Batter”, who is described to be on an important mission. The Batter, and yourself as his controller, are dropped off in zone 0, the first of 4 zones in a perplexing, unknown world about which you slowly find out more and more in the process of the game.

“OFF” has been praised and known as an insider’s tip between French gamers for its strong story, great characters and incredible atmosphere.

Looking at the screenshots, OFF reminds me of nothing so much as Space Funeral. You can download the game for free right here.

New release: Seedling

Connor Ullman writes in to tell me about Seedling, a nonlinear Zelda-style action adventure game he created and released recently. I’ve played a bit of it, and I can report that Seedling has a pretty interesting world with noticeable influences from Zelda: A Link to the Past and Shadow of the Colossus.

There isn’t too much to say about Seedling’s gameplay: mechanically, it’s a more-or-less straightforward clone of the older 2D Zelda titles. One exception: your health returns to maximum every time you change screens, which actually makes this even less of an RPG than Zelda.

Speaking of which: I had a small debate in my head about whether I should write about games like Seedling in the first place. “They’re not really RPGs,” I said to myself. “They’re Zelda-alikes. They have no stats, no leveling.” On the other hand, I already caved and started featuring fantasy strategy games, so I suppose it can’t hurt to cover this other close cousin of the RPG.

Besides, Seedling is enjoyable and free. Go ahead and give it a try.