Latest Publications

Game review: Dark War Strategy Chapters 1 and 2

  • Title: Dark War Strategy Chapter 1: Rise of the Dark Kingdom and Dark War Strategy Chapter 2: The Fifth Element
  • Developer: Belugerin Games
  • Platforms: Browser
  • Price: Free

Sadly, this is the best title shot I could find.Dark War Strategy Chapter 1: Rise of the Dark Kingdom and Dark War Strategy Chapter 2: The Fifth Element comprise a two-part isometric fantasy tactical RPG created in Flash by by Belugerin Games. Both chapters of Dark War came out back in 2008 on the internet’s Flash portals, and has clung tenaciously to the underside of the world wide web ever since.

Free tactical RPGs are pretty rare, and as those go, Dark War is a fairly well-developed one. It does have its share of problems, though, which keep it from attaining classic status.


New release: Inquisitor

Czech game studio Cinemax, s.r.o. (not to be confused with this Cinemax) has just released Inquisitor, a title described in the gaming press as a Baldur’s Gate clone with Diablo-style combat. (You have a party, but only control the main character.)

Here is the premise of Inquisitor:

The game brings you, a medieval inquisitor, to a gloomy world full of heresy, betrayal and devilish plots. You will hunt for perpetrators of the most atrocious crimes and you will meet a lot of cunning enemies. You will find yourself in the midst of a powerful conspiracy striving to destroy even the foundations of the thousand-year old Empire. As one of the three main characters you will explore all the mysteries of this depressing world and gain reputation of a fearless inquisitor and a witch hunter. Carry out dozens of secondary quests and develop your potential in order to face the more powerful and dangerous enemies and challenges. And remember—everything you do depends just on your own choice!

Funny–everything you do in this article also depends just on your own choice! Will you click the trailer below to play it? Or will you pass it by in favor of the text and screenshots below? Only you can decide.

GOG provides the following feature list for Inquisitor:

  • Three character classes–Paladin, Priest, and Thief–each with his own unique and independent story.
  • Wield the power of the Inquisition as you arrest heretics; use a variety of tools-such as the iron maiden, suspension, and the rack-to extract confessions and burn the heretics!
  • A wide, open-ended world for you to explore and exploit as you see fit.
  • More than 200 weapons, 80 spells, and 7 schools of forbidden and allowed magic!

Oh, and speaking of GOG: Inquisitor is available for $14.99 on GOG and on Desura. It is Windows-only. Inquisitor has already amassed a reputation for being brutally difficult and opaque; there is a review up at Gameranx that may help you decide whether Inquisitor is for you.

Anodyne demo released

Life is funny sometimes. I posted about the upcoming Zelda-alike Anodyne on Friday; on Saturday, I randomly met Anodyne developer Sean Hogan at Indie City Games, where he showed off Anodyne for everyone; and the day after that, Hogan released a public demo.

Speaking of which: Anodyne now has a demo! It comes in two flavors: via a Windows .exe installer (available here), and via a Mac-and-Linux friendly AIR installer, available here. Grab it while it’s hot.

(Note for folks using the AIR installer: if you download the .air file and can’t open it, it means you need AIR on your system. Get that here, or here if you use Linux.)

Anodyne announced

There’s another Zelda-alike on the horizon, folks: Anodyne, in development by Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka.

Here’s the gist:

Anodyne is a 2D adventure with Zelda-style dungeons, and aesthetics influenced by Yume Nikki. You explore multiple dungeons and passive locales, located in the surreal, and occasionally even disturbing, dream world of a human named Young.

Simple enough. Here’s a trailer showing off a recent build of the game:

Anodyne is being developed in AIR, and is therefore going to see a simultaneous Windows, Mac and Linux release (AIR 2.6 works on nearly all Linux distros). Release is planned for late fall this year; no word yet on pricing.

New release: Everlong

Dear reader, I know what you’re thinking: “Craig, Foo Fighters released that song, like, a billion years ago. Also, that’s a song, not an RPG.” How wrong you are! Everlong is also a jRPG, thanks to Doug Carpenter (and a small army of other folks). You are right about it being released a while ago, though. What can I say: it’s new to me.

Here’s the premise:

You are a Blackguard, a knight sworn to serve the Cirigoth Empire and trained in the dark arts, yet hunted by your imperial masters after turning renegade. Only through enlisting the aid of friends and allies can you escape pursuit and defeat the oppressive Cirigoth regime. Journey across the world’s continents to forge a confederacy and fight for freedom in global war. Yet a more insidious plot looms in the shadows. A fallen god seeks to exploit civilization’s folly and reclaim the dreams and nightmares of humanity.

Check it out: there’s even gameplay footage!

Everlong is free, but Windows-only; download it here.

Arakion announced

If you’ve been enjoying the wealth of first-person dungeon crawlers bursting out of the indie scene this past year, then you’re going to appreciate this: Arakion is a new RPG “reminiscent of old school Might and Magic” in development by Chris Taylor.

Here is the premise:

You’re put in control of three heroes  trying to survive a world devastated by war. Adventuring in Arakion will take you across open land, into deep dungeons and even put you in control of rebuilding a desolated town.

A great evil, nearly destroying Arakion in ages past, has returned. It is up to you to create a band of heroes to fight this darkness. The game takes place on two continents floating in the sky, as well as hundreds of minor islands. Arakion has been marred by war and strife for thousands of years and the landscape is a reflection of that.

The Arakion website provides more details on the world’s history and on a fairly unique stable of races.

Taylor is an artist and animator, and this fact shines through in screenshots bearing a visual fidelity comparable to Legend of Grimrock. Speaking of which:

Arakion is planned for release on Windows, Mac and Linux, and is set to receive localization in French. There is also a possibility of tablet support and localization to additional languages.

New release: 10 Fantasy Fights

Geoff Dunbar of Merry Prankster Games writes in to announce the release of 10 Fantasy Fights, a short (but free) fantasy tactics game featuring combat of the real-time-with-pause variety and a rules system reminiscent of D&D’s.

The premise is a bit flimsy, and by the author’s own admission, is there primarily to justify him stress-testing the game’s engine:

You will rapidly advance from a simple battle of a single inexperienced warrior against lowly minions, all the way to controlling a mighty band of legendary heroes against a near-invincible demon lord.

Yeah, that’s it. In short, it’s just a linear romp through (you guessed it) 10 fantasy fights in the Baldur’s Gate style. That said, it’s free, so there’s no good reason to avoid trying it if this sort of combat is your cup of tea. 10 Fantasy Fights is Windows-only; get it here. Additionally, Dunbar has said that he’s looking for feedback. Once you’ve given the game for a spin, weigh in with your thoughts right here.

New release: Dragon Fantasy

Hey folks! Sorry for the ridiculous delay in posting–the site host was down all day due to some friendly DDOSing from our friends over at Anonymous.

Speaking of friends: when you take a look at Dragon Fantasy, don’t you just feel like you’re looking at your old pal Final Fantasy 4? What’s that–you say don’t know what Dragon Fantasy is? Well, let’s fix that!

Dragon Fantasy is an episodic jRPG from indie development studio Muteki Corporation (who I am told really is just a few people, despite sounding like a giant, evil cyberpunk megacorp).

I’d tell you the premise, but so far, each episode seems to have its own independent story. To wit:

Chapter 1:
Join Ogden, a hero who’s been written off as past his prime as he goes on a new adventure to reclaim his past glory…

Chapter 2:
Prince Anders of Wester discovers the secrets beneath Castle Wester. Team up with Lt. Chester ‘Chest’ Manstrong of the Westerian Army and unravel the mysteries behind King Wester’s disappearance. But beware the mysterious mercenary, Serpent Diablo. Is he friend or foe?

Chapter 3:
Help Jerald, an adventurous thief, and his niece Ramona escape from the increasingly dangerous desert empire of Sandheim. A mysterious amulet will change their lives forever, and only one of them will make it to safety.

This trailer probably gives you a pretty good idea what you’ll be in for:

In addition to the chapters, there is an “Intermission” available which appears to be something of a Minecraft parody in jRPG form. Weirdly, this is the one I’m most curious about, purely because I am forever interested by the various ways in which games approach parody.

The first three chapters and “Intermission M” of Dragon Fantasy are available for Windows (via Indievania), as well as for Mac, each at a $4.99 price point. You can also get the game for iOS for a mere $2.99.

Worlds Beyond announced

Well, here’s something you don’t see every day: Worlds Beyond is an old school jRPG currently in development by Bridge Unit Orzo, created in an engine the developers built themselves from the ground-up.

The premise:

The universe has collapsed into an endless blue void, solid and featureless. Somewhere, there is a small pocket of existence where things continue normally, where the people wonder if there are others out there like them… Trapped in the lonely, featureless expanse of nothingness.

But genius persists, and a small order known as the Ysk discover a crude way of extracting power from the Edge of the World. With this discovery, however, things quickly spiral out of control… And into new and dangerous territory.

The story follows Cody, an orphan and farmhand, and his childhood friend Kira as they trace a growing conspiracy involving the Ysk, their strange technology, and concepts that may shatter their little world forever.

They have some screenshots already available, so why don’t we check those out?

Worlds Beyond clearly draws some influence from Chrono Trigger, with a world map of similar appearance and the ability to avoid the game’s turn-based battles.

Although Worlds Beyond is still very much in development, Bridge Unit Orzo have provided a free playable demo of WB so you can try the game out. The demo comes in both browser-based and Windows executable flavors; the finished game is set to run on Linux machines as well. (In addition, the developers promise both mouse and full gamepad support, which is pretty neat.)

Oh, and…you know. The K-word. Another one. Here it is. (Some days, I feel a little like a Kickstarter-link dispenser.) Still, Bridge Unit Orzo is a two-person team; in light of that fact, what they’ve accomplished so far is pretty impressive. I think it may well be worth your time to kick them some money and see what they can do with it.

DataJack announced

Interesting news, folks! Epic Banana Software has announced DataJack, a third-person isometric cyberpunk infiltration-focused action RPG. Did you catch all of that? Don’t worry; here’s the developer description to clarify:

DataJack is an upcoming 2D cyberpunk stealth action / RPG game which has been under development for four years. Set in the year 2030, following the collapse of nation states, the world of DataJack is run by megacorporations who recognize no rule of law beyond sheer military force. The game follows the career of a corporate mercenary who hires out his abilities as assassin, hacker and gunslinger to the highest bidder.

DataJack features hacking, stealth, destructible walls, dynamic guard AI, and real-time gunplay that hearkens back to the original Syndicate.

Still not getting it? Maybe this video will help:

I asked the main developer, Ryan Shaw, for more info about the RPG aspects of the game. He stated that he is following a model inspired by Deus Ex:

Everything is controlled through the flow of credits which you earn through missions- no separate exp / $$ counters. You then must decide what to soup up: your cybernetic limbs, your guns, your deck, your inventory, etc. So in essence it collapses the skills / leveling into a series of allocation choices. Better arms, for example, will give you better accuracy with your weapons, or you could invest in leg upgrades that would make your footsteps quieter.

DataJack will feature 28 moddable weapons and a handful of cybernetic augmentations to enhance your character as you progress. Shaw informs me that DataJack progresses via a branching series of open-ended missions from multiple factions:

It’ll be up to the player to decide what missions to take and when (limited by a sort of progression in faction standing) until eventually they hit upon one of the three endgame missions which will then lock them into working for that faction until the particular end. A few other games have this model, like the Armored Core series, or Escape Velocity (from way back in the day).

The factions are in place, and I’m working to give them unique presentations. One is your typical cyberpunk megacorp, one is a private military force, and the third is a radical youth anarchist hacker gang. None of them are particularly “good” and I’m getting the feeling that the main character isn’t a good guy either.

There is no estimated release date for DataJack yet; the developer tells me that it will be Windows-only.