Latest Publications

New release: Skyborn

While we’re on the subject of games that I should’ve posted about last year, Dancing Dragon (previously Deadly Sin Studios) came out with a really nice-looking jRPG called Skyborn last spring. (If “Deadly Sin Studios” sounds familiar, it might be because the developer is the same fellow behind the Deadly Sin series, one Phillip Hamilton–you can read my review of Deadly Sin 2 here).

Anyway, Skyborn! The premise is decidedly steampunkish in nature:

Life under the rule of the winged Skyborn race isn’t so bad for Claret Spencer, the star mechanic of an independent repair shop. She can patch up just about anything…but when a certain cravat-wearing customer turns her life upside-down, she finds herself pulled into an epic, city-wide conflict that’s going to take a lot more than elbow grease to fix!

If there’s any doubt remaining about this game’s steampunk credentials, the trailer should set those to rest:

As you can see, although Phillip has stuck with RPG Maker, he’s livened things up with some very nice custom graphics. There seems to be a “technology versus magic” theme going on here, which reminds me a bit of Arcanum. All in all, I’m looking forward to checking Skyborn out.

As for you, dear reader, you can nab Skyborn for $14.95; there’s also a free 1-hour demo available right here so you can try before you buy. As with all titles forged in the fires of RPG Maker, Skyborn is Windows-only.

New release: The Book of Legends

The Book of Legends
A bit of digging around has revealed to me the existence of The Book of Legends, released by the ever-prolific Aldorlea Games sometime last summer. I could have sworn I’d posted about this one already, but some searching around this site reveals that I have not, so here I am making up for lost time.

The premise:

The Demon of Fear, Azutura, is slowly but surely awaking because the world is increasingly being dominated by thieves, rogues and bandits. Indeed – Azutura feeds on people’s fears. The solution is found and crafted by the best alchemists of the realm: a special relic whose vapors will put the Demon in a profound sleep for the next few decades or so.

A notorious traveler gifted with an extraordinary strength, Jordan, is sent to the House of Fear where the Demon lies to do the job. But the very first day of his mission, he is robbed by thieves and loses the precious relic!

The Book of Legends doesn’t take itself too seriously, tone-wise, but it does feature some real role-playing choices. Depending on who you have in your party, you’ll get different perks, exploration options, even options for romance. TBoL features:

  • 40+ hours of playtime
  • 30+ characters to play
  • 125+ spells to cast
  • 60+ weapons and 110+ pieces of equipment
  • 100+ different enemies
  • 300+ areas to explore

Lots of numbers there–but do they reflect a game that’s any good? Well, if Gamezebo and RPGFan‘s reviews are any guide, TBoL is definitely enjoyable. If nothing else, the mere fact that it has 30+ characters with their own unique effects on the game is pretty darn impressive (though it’s not clear how many of those consist of summonable animals).

You can nab the full game for $22.99 direct from the developer; Windows only. If you want to try The Book of Legends out for yourself first, I suggest nabbing the game’s free demo.

Stellvia: Rising Wasteland announced

Chris Tompkins of Vaultek Studios writes in to announce Stellvia: Rising Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic wRPG very much in the Fallout 2 mold.

Tompkins is quite committed to not revealing any details about the main premise of the game, but I can confirm that it revolves around the fortified town of Stellvia. The apocalypse has occurred. Stellvia is under the sway of mobsters; tribesmen live outside its walls; mutants and raiders roam the wastes; and a mysterious, shadowy faction threatens the wasteland.

From what I can tell, the apocalypse in this game resulted neither from nukes nor environmental destruction, but rather from extreme partisanship. Extrapolated a bit, this could probably explain a fair few things (raiders, mobsters, etc.), but I’m still not clear on how political affiliation causes mutants.

This game bears a lot of gameplay similarities to the original two Fallout titles. Stellvia will be turn-based, with different aiming options in combat; you will create a single character, with the ability to recruit NPCs to your party if you play your cards right; and the game will feature skill points and special abilities that you can distribute upon leveling up. Tompkins states that they are planning some original features as well, including a crafting system.

Here is the game’s current trailer:

Stellvia: Rising Wasteland is still very early in development–an alpha demo is planned for release in 2014, if that’s any indication! Stellvia is intended for eventual release on Windows, with ports to follow, but of course that’s still a long ways off. There is a Kickstarter currently running if you want to help the development along.

Dark Gates announced

Dark Gates
Word has it that DFour Games is working on a dungeon crawler with randomized dungeons by the name of Dark Gates.

The premise:

Shadow … it came so suddenly. Fear found his home and pour sadness to peoples hearts. It is a time where peoples forgot how the clear blue sky looks like. Those who did never spoke about it. They feared to offend an evil and mysterious force which found a home in darkness of underground tunnels. Peoples waited for a someone to challenge Dark Gates hidden deep within labyrinth of death.

You control a party of 6 characters in this title based on the board game DeathMaze. According to DFour Games, the main feature of Dark Gates is the dungeon itself. “This is no predefined layout and every time you play, map is always different. Dungeon creates itself as you play. In your quest you will find monsters, magical items, trap, puzzles and treasures.”

Here’s a trailer showing what it looks like as of right now:

Based on that video, I have to imagine that Dark Gates would appeal to anyone who enjoys Monster’s Den–it seems very much in the same vein.

Dark Gates is still in alpha, but it’s available to folks who wish to help alpha fund it. You can snag a copy of the alpha for $9.99 on Desura, for £6.99 on GamersGate, or (for the next two days only) as part of The Hellish Dungeons Bundle. Windows, Mac or Linux.

Legend of Grimrock for Linux now on Steam

Legend of Grimrock devs Almost Human report that they have gotten the Linux version of their critically acclaimed dungeon delver up on Steam. ‘Nuff said.

Reobirth pre-alpha demo released

Jon Dibble, the developer behind up-and-coming 2D side-scrolling aRPG Reobirth (previously covered here), writes in to announce the release of a short demo for the game.

Reobirth remains early in development, and so the demo is necessarily rather limited. Dibble states that the demo is essentially a survival minigame:

Armed with your blade and bow and three spells (Dark Hand, Death Ball, Curen), you must fend off hoards of Dark Magic monsters and protect the Golden Hope Relic. See how long you can survive and aim for the high score! Although this demo can be played with a keyboard and a few different controllers have been tested, I highly recommend an Xbox 360 controller – this is the main gamepad used throughout development of Reobirth, taking advantage of rumble/force-feedback and the analog stick.

You can grab the demo right here and give it a try for yourself.

TBT: The Black Tower announced

TBT The Black Tower
Simon Mesnard writes in to tell me about TBT: The Black Tower, a very slick-looking 3D jRPG currently in development by a three-person French team.

The premise:

In 2011, Philippe Forté found a strange alien Cube during a routine mission on the Cobalt-5 satellite, around planet Terra. Hypnotized by this discovery, as if he was being called, he risked his own life to take the dark artefact in his hands. Noone ever heard of him after these events, and Philippe Forté is now known as a crazy astronaut who sacrificed his life for an illusion. Yet, the mystery remains.

In 2032, Yan Forté is a kind of forest ranger and lives in the woods of Lutetia – a country of the Europa continent on Terra. He has decided that he would never walk in the steps of his father Philippe, and that he would devote his whole life on protecting Nature on his beloved planet, instead of exploring the space. Things will suddenly change after he meets Ellana, a young girl with a strange black Die as a pendant around the neck, who came out of nowhere in a cloud of yellow particles…

According to the developers, “The game will feature a vast world to explore through various places that you reach from a Worldmap, with random encounters and turn-based battles.”

Mesnard states that TBT is heavily influenced by jRPGs of the PS1 era, and one look at the 10-minute gameplay video taken from the prototype should leave no doubt about that. Neither should the game’s current trailer:

TBT is planned for a Windows and Mac release sometime in 2014, with both French and English translations. There is an Indiegogo campaign currently running if you’d like to help them fund development, and the inevitable Greenlight page in case you want to boost their chances at winning the Steam lottery.

New release: Lunar Wish: Orbs of Fate

Lunar Wish
Hello, gentle readers! We’re back from our Memorial Day break with a free game for you to check out. Michael Lau writes in to tell me about Lunar Wish: Orbs of Fate, a jRPG he recently completed using RPG Maker VX.

The premise:

Serathium, the fabled land of legends home to Angels, Beasts and Vampires, and most importantly, the Heart, Spirit and Soul of Existence itself: The Lunar Orb.  One day, The Lunar Orb started to lose control and the very foundations of the universe itself begin to crumble around them. The destruction gave way to an event which no one in the history of time itself could have foreseen: The Rebellion of Serathium.

The story begins, when one day a young boy, Falk, encounters a highly mysterious and seemingly malevolent voice in his room which informs him that someone close to him will disappear. In search of clues, he gathers his friends on a journey to unriddle the mysteries of Serathium and find his missing friend.

Lau has taken something of an ensemble approach to the story, with multiple parties and no clear protagonist. He states that Lunar Wish is full of interesting puzzles and mini-games, with numerous custom battle animations and side quests. Here is a trailer:

Lunar Wish is 12+ hours long; you can grab it right here at no cost; Windows-only.

New release: Kingturn Underworld RPG

Kingturn Underworld RPG
Man; you turn your back for a few months, and BOOM: Mangobile releases another Kingturn game! For those who don’t know, Kingturn is a strategy RPG series for mobile devices (for more background, see this and this.)

The premise of this newest one, Kingturn Underworld RPG, is decidedly Disgaea-ish:

Juliet, necromancer and daughter of Overlord Xanthus, finds herself forced to flee the Underworld after a rebellion of her father’s minions. Struggling to survive on Andaria’s hostile surface, she has to take unusual measures to get things under control …

The primary Kingturn Underworld RPG campaign consists of 68 scenarios, with a shorter second campaign adding an additional 6 scenarios. The developer states that the main campaign is actually an “extended remake” of their earlier title Knightturn (a game which appears to no longer be available for purchase).

After a visit to the developer’s website, I have determined that the three Kingturn games are actually meant to comprise a trilogy: Kingturn Underworld is technically a prequel, since its story comes first chronologically.

Mangobile states that Kingturn Underworld RPG lets you command monsters and the undead, with new character classes such as the “Champion, Thief, Lizard, Demon, and Heretic.”

For now, Kingturn Underworld RPG remains exclusive to Android; you can nab it on Google Play for $4.89. An iOS port is scheduled to hit in September 2013, however. (It appears that Mangobile is actually in the process of porting the entire Kingturn series to iOS–they’ve already released an iOS version of the first Kingturn, and say that Kingturn Plus is slated to hit the Apple app store in June or July.)

Crypt of the NecroDancer announced

Word reaches me that Brace Yourself Games is working on a “roguelike rhythm game” called Crypt of the NecroDancer. I’m not sure words will do this justice, so watch these two videos instead. First, some early footage:

Second, a live recording of indie darling Matt Thorson actually playing an early build of the game using a DDR dance pad:

Brace Yourself coder Ryan Clark recently did an interview with where he spilled the beans on how this game works. It’s close to a true roguelike, but it’s real-time and rhythm-based in an effort to subvert what Clark sees as the “extremely unfair” nature of Rogue itself. He states: “I want NecroDancer to be based on a player’s skill more than knowledge of arcana.”

As for how the rhythm factors in:

Well, the main survival strategy is to observe the movement patterns of the enemies and use those to your advantage. (Every enemy has a predictable, repetitive movement pattern.) Most enemies move only every second beat, while the player moves on every beat. This means you have time to hit an enemy and retreat before it has a chance to strike back. And, for the enemies that do move on every beat, we’ve generally made them weaker such that they can be killed in a single strike. The player simply needs to wait for them to approach, and deliver a timely blow!

Clark tells me that they plan to release Crypt of the NecroDancer sometime in 2013 for Windows and Mac, with the possibility of other platforms to come after. If you want to keep abreast of the development process, Brace Yourself Games have invited the public to follow along on their forums.