Latest Publications Checks Out Legends of Eisenwald

Last Spring, you may recall me having posted about Legends of Eisenwald, a King’s Bounty-style RPG by Aterdux Entertainment with castles, garrisons and turn-based tactical battles. LoE was more than 2 years into development at that time, and was well on its way to raising what would turn out to be more than $83,000 on Kickstarter.

Nearly one year later (read: about two weeks ago), Alexander Dergay of Aterdux emailed me with a link to try out the game, which he informed me had just reached beta stage. What follows are my first impressions playing the beta.

Basically: there is a lot of good stuff here, but I also have some gripes. The balancing of many early game battles seems off. Further, as things currently stand, the game does an exceptionally poor job of explaining itself to the player, both in terms of its rules and in terms of providing visual feedback to the player during combat. (Dergay tells me that there was some sort of documentation about how to play that they forgot to send me, but alas, games are no longer in the age of RTFM.)

Luckily, all of this is stuff that can be easily fixed. Less likely to change is the fact that I can’t independently move my units during combat, a design choice that I am still far from sold on. Hopefully I will grow to appreciate it when I sit down to try LoE out at greater length in the future.

Aterdux Entertainment are planning to release LoE sometime this year.

Mini RPG announced, playable

Mini RPG
Jason Pickering has announced Mini RPG, an adorable small-scale jRPG he’s hoping to have finished within a month.

The premise:

The player will run around the overworld, solving puzzles and getting into random battles. the entire overworld will be rather small. maybe 10 x 10 screens. but there will probably be some running around and back and forth, similar to a zelda game where you suddenly get something to open up a new area you previously found. The player will be able to carry one item. these will always be story or puzzle specific, Key to unlock Door, Item for Person.

The Main story is you must find this magical amulet to Free the king who was turned to stone by an evil curse.

I am also hoping I can make a series of these after the base mechanics are in. I want the stories to change but always focus on this amulet. similar to the orb in the Heavy Metal movie.

Combat looks to be one-on-one and turn-based, a little like in the Pokemon games.  Mini RPG will feature a skill-based progression system. To wit:

The skills will be the players progession system. they will earn Gems instead of XP and the player can attach these to skills. thats how many times the player can use that skill in an encounter. so you can choose to go with more heals, or more fireballs. thats up to you. Level Ups will be handed out at story beats I decide to discourage grinding. Each time a player levels up they either earn a gem or an extra heart. Gems and heart will also be hidden in side missions too.

The game is being created in Flash, and has a playable prototype online right here. Go ahead and give it a try!

Soul Saga Episode 1 announced, but probably dead

Soul Saga
Disastercake Games has announced* Soul Saga Episode 1, a 3D jRPG being created in Unity.

* (Kinda. I actually found out about this game back in November, but kept waiting for a better time to write about it. It seems there isn’t going to be a better one, though, so here we go!)

The actual website is quite barren of details about the game beyond numerous screenshots showing how nice it looks, but luckily there’s an interview floating around the internet with some more details about it:

It’s basically inspired by the “Tales of” series, a long running series of role-playing games published by Namco. I grew up with the “Tales of” series, so I really wanted to capture its essence. It’s a very immersive experience powered by a procedurally built storyline.

The game is planned to feature combat styled after Final Fantasy 10, extensive character customization, and a cell phone inspired by the game Catherine that will provide access to “inventory, equipment, skills, [and] messages from and to other characters.”

A fair bit of the game’s art is complete, as is the game’s theme song. However, the game page lists it as due for release in March 2013, which is awfully soon given its current state of completion.

Worryingly, the Soul Saga blog hasn’t been updated since early November, nor have there been any new tweets from the DisasterCake Twitter account. Similarly, a video of gameplay promised for release in December has not materialized.

This is the creator’s first game, so it’s possible that he simply bit off more of the titular “disaster cake” than he could chew. (Incidentally, this is why I counsel people to avoid making an RPG until they have more game development experience.)

Hopefully this isn’t the end for Soul Saga; for now, though, I’m going to file this one in the game obituaries. A shame: it’s such a pretty corpse.

Swords and Sorcery: Sovereign announced

Swords and Sorcery Sovereign Logo
A little bird tells me that OlderBytes (a.k.a. Charles Clerc), creator of first-person dungeon crawler Swords and Sorcery: Underworld Gold (previously covered here), is embarking on a sequel by the name of Swords and Sorcery: Sovereign.

The sequel is set to be much larger than its predecessor, with 17 towns to the original’s three, as well as “48 surface maps, underwater maps, caverns and even a few uncharted territories” spanning mountains, forests, glaciers, desert, ocean, marshes, caverns and dungeons.

The plot summary, such as it now stands, follows:

The ancients spoke of a first coming. This had happened before and was likely to happen again. After years of peace disturbed by growing doubt and quiet rumors, subversity set in. The official response to the people’s demands for disclosure, as to the identity and whereabouts of the heroes that had once saved the realm, as to the nature of the evil they engaged and defeated, was continuously one of denial of any form of subsiding danger.

Then the dead started rising again. Albeit in small, easily manageable numbers, they were enough to turn subversity into rebellion. And rebellion was met with ruthless repression.

Baronies and Duchies seceded. While some renewed their oaths to the Crown, claims arose of the King’s madness and unfittedness to rule, followed by claims to the Crown itself. Others still crafted Royal Circlets of their own and war banners floated to the high winds. Winds that carried a renewed hint of the pestilence past, but few took notice.  The scent of blood spilt on fields of agony grew to such strengths as to make the subtle smell of ancient death next to unnoticeable.

Sovereign is due to introduce more spells and abilities, item crafting, two new character classes (druid and hunter), and competing factions whose affairs you can choose to meddle in.

Clerc states that he’s made a lot of progress on the game’s backstory, with 30 pages written, and that he has the character creation system nearly done. It also looks like he’s making headway on redesigning the game’s GUI. There is no planned release date yet; if this is anything like its predecessor, this should be a Windows-only affair.

Eternal Eden: Ecclesia announced, available for pre-order

Eternal Eden Ecclesia
Word has it that Blossomsoft, creators of the RPG Maker jRPG Eternal Eden, are hard at work on a more polished follow-up by the name of Eternal Eden: Ecclesia.

The premise for the sequel is vague on plot details, but it does contain an interesting new gameplay mechanic:

Eternal Eden: Ecclesia is a direct sequel to the 2008 role playing video game, Eternal Eden. In the first installment the player traveled in two parallel worlds. In this upcoming installment, the journey has evolved a bit differently; the player explores a single world but it’s constantly influenced by four powerful reality paradigms (Cryo, Terra, Inferno and Omega).

I asked the creator for more information about how the reality paradigms work; it seems that they’re ways of altering the environment of any given area in a way that reminds me of indie platformer Eversion:

The Cryo reality is some kind of Transylvania-ish projection that covers the world with frost and become populated by undead creatures. The Terra reality is some kind of Celtic projection that invokes elves, goblins and other similar mystic creatures. The Inferno reality engulfs the world in heat and flames. The Omega reality brings electricity, science, and technologies. Summoning these reality paradigms back and forth will allow the player to solve mysteries and progress through the game.

It’s actually a pretty interesting idea, in my opinion.

Eternal Eden: Ecclesia is evidently mostly done, with an announced release timeline of Q1 2013. Blossomsoft has stated that the game will be made available for Windows, Mac and iPad; you can currently pre-order the game through Paypal for $20.

Oh, and here is a metric ton of really nice-looking screenshots:

Stardew Valley announced

Stardew Valley
I’ve just caught wind of Stardew Valley, a Harvest Moon-style RPG / dating sim in development by Eric Barone. The idea seems to be that you’ll split your time between tending crops, dungeon crawling, and hitting on the locals.

The developer describes the game’s premise like so:

It’s up to you to choose your path… Will you devote your time to raising crops and caring for animals? Will you spend time in the local village, befriending the local townspeople? Do you get a kick out of slaying dreadful monsters in the mysterious mountain caverns? Or will you try to accomplish everything and claim the coveted title of “Stardew Hero”?

It’s up to you to decide.

Er. If ever there was a title that would get you beaten up at school, I think “Stardew Hero” would be it. I’d rather be called Stardew’d, myself. (Get it? Stardew’d? …never mind.)

Like little droplets of stardew, the game’s About page drops these little bullet points of features upon us:

  • 20+ crops that grow in different seasons
  • Raise cows, chickens, goats, rabbits, and more!
  • Build your farm the way you want by choosing the number and location of all your farm buildings!
  • Level up and earn skill points to spend in 6 different areas.
  • 30+ unique characters to befriend. Get married to one of ten eligible bachelors or bachelorettes.
  • Explore a vast, procedurally-generated cave to find materials and treasure, but make sure to bring your sword!
  • Spend your extra time fishing or searching for ancient artifacts.
  • 80+ achievements to strive for.
  • Over an hour of original music.
  • Craft helpful items and cook delicious meals to keep you going.
  • Decorate your house as you see fit.
  • Play as a boy or girl, and customize your appearance.

The procedurally generated dungeon crawling and implied time management aspect of this game make me think of Recettear, albeit with a focus on farming and date-simming over shop-keeping. There’s also some noticeable Minecraft influence going on here with the mining and crafting aspects. Basically, this game sounds incredibly ambitious. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t pan out: it looks like Barone’s already made substantial progress on this sucker. Here is the latest alpha footage of the game:

I have yet to see any mention of a prospective release date; based on the game’s Greenlight page, it appears to be targeted at Windows PCs only. Oh, and speaking of Greenlight: you can vote to get this game onto Steam when the time comes by visiting its Greenlight page right here.

EDIT: Per the game’s IndieDB page, it will also be seeing release on XBox 360.

New release: 8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey

8-Bit Adventures
Joshua Hallaran of Critical Games (creator of Path of Thanatos) writes in to announce the release of a new RPG maker jRPG, 8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey.

Hallaran says the game has over 7 hours of play time, with an additional New Game plus mode containing “Greater Difficulty, New Equipment, Rewritten Dialogue, Alternate Graphics for the first 5 Dungeons, and Two New Side-Quests.” So maybe it’ll be 15 hours total on a second playthrough? It’s hard to say, really.

Though the title of the game suggests 8-bit graphics, the feature list claims only to have “8-Bit Style Graphics,” which strikes me a little like selling American Cheese and then putting a notice on the packaging that actually, it’s cheese food.  I haven’t counted the colors to confirm whether the game actually uses an 8-bit palette, though its use of partial opacity already seems to disqualify it from claiming true 8-bit graphics.

But that’s all just a bit of quibbling, isn’t it? What matters is whether the game is well-designed and enjoyable to play. I haven’t had time to try the game’s free demo yet, but you certainly can! While you wait for that to download, here is a trailer for you to watch:

The full game is Windows-only and sells for $7.50–if you like what you see, you can snag it direct from the developer.

New release: Saturday Morning RPG Episode 4

Mighty Rabbit Studios is on a roll, folks, with Episode 4 of Saturday Morning RPG seeing release barely a month after the last one. “But Craig,” you say, “it’s been more than a month sinc–” Shhhh. I was on hiatus, remember? Here, look at these screenshots; you are feeling very sleepy…

The premise:

Commander Hood has stolen Christmas from the citizens of Shadow Valley and hoarded their gifts in his Antarctic hideout - the dreaded Terror Tower! It’s up to Marty to save Christmas and return the town’s gifts!

As with previous episodes, Episode 4: “Ho Ho HOOD!” is available as a $1.99 in-app-purchase from the main game, or for free if you’ve purchased the $6.49 Deluxe Edition.

SMRPG Christmas Special

Star Traders RPG comes to iOS

Andrew Trese, one of the sibling creators of Star Traders RPG, has written in to inform me that the aforementioned outer space RPG / economic sim (previously mentioned here) has been ported to iPhone and iPad so all you Apple loyalists can have a crack at it as well.

As with its original Android release, Star Traders RPG for iOS is free, with an optional $1.99 upgrade to the “Elite” version containing bucketloads of extra content. You can nab the game on the app store right here.

Moonshades announced

Last year was just chock full of announcements for new first-person dungeon crawlers, but it’s been a couple of months since the last one. Let’s consult our friend, the Magic 8 Ball.

Tell me, oh 8 Ball! Is the glut finally over?

Your sources say no? Funny; so do mine.

Your sources say no? Funny; so do mine.

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Here to turn the spigot back on is Moonshades, “an old school RPG” (sigh) that looks an awful lot like a low-poly Legends of Grimrock. It’s an in-browser game that (yay!) features multiplayer support, 3 races, 8 classes, crafting and pets. It also (double sigh) features achievements and “social media integration.”

There’s a trailer showing off a recent alpha build of the game, one that wisely omits the more iffy aspects of the feature list:

Only time will tell whether this lives up to its potential or wanders down the dark path of social games. For now, you can actually play the alpha for free without having to register; do that here and see how you like it.

Moonshades Alpha