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New release: Age of Pirates

Age of Pirates
The Trese Brothers have returned with another open-world RPG on the Android, this one pirate-themed. The aptly titled Age of Pirates is “a high-seas adventure RPG that mixes story RPG elements with a powerful trading simulation.”

The game has you playing as merchant Nathaniel Sveet on a quest to save his son. The devs write:

This high seas adventure RPG offers you the chance to enter the dynamic and exciting world of Laanbrakar and its mix of age of sail technology, powerful land magics, and industrial revolution. As the master and commander of your sailing ship, you are challenged with navigating the tricky political waters between nations on edge, dealing with sorcerers when you must and trading, bounty hunting or plundering to make a profit. Keep your ship bristling with guns and your crew well-fed. Age of Pirates offers both a rich set of story driven characters as well as endless replay value in its sandbox mode, allowing you take any path you choose as a captain of a sailing ship. Your actions affect the world around you as you grind enemy ports into dust with bombardments or end resources shortages through trade, bringing cities back into prosperity.

Among the game’s features:

  • Choose your own path through his expansive ocean world.  Play as a infamous pirate, a knight of one of the great nations, a law-abiding merchant, or a smuggler.  Age of Pirates provides a sandbox style of game play, allowing you to truly create your own path.
  • Masterfully execute your sailing adventures by taking advantage of the realistic wind engine, weather conditions, and the sail plan of your ship.
  • Open fire on enemy vessels with the long guns, broadsides, or lead the boarding action and duel the enemy captain in exciting high seas combat.
  • Trade the major 10 commodities across over many different types port economies, finding the best profit.  Proper planning as a merchant can lead to an easy profit as you ship lumber from forested region to a population center, but only the true experts can achieve massive riches.
  • Purchase, upgrade, and staff one of hundreds of sea faring vessels for your specific Captain’s style.
  • Battle against the terrors of the deep, from kraken and sea monsters to the ice demons who lurk in the fog.
  • Accept the challenge and try to achieve the more than 20 awards within the game by slaying monsters of the deep, surviving horrible challenges, dominating combat, or gaining exorbitant riches!

Sound intriguing? You can get a look at the game in this trailer:

Age of Pirates is currently an Android exclusive. Andrew Trese tells me that a future port to the OUYA may be in the cards, however, depending on the success of their Heroes of Steel OUYA port. In future versions, the Trese brothers are planning to add in even more new features: trading in specialized regional goods, simulated fencing, an upgradeable captain’s sword, and the ability to influence the fates of port cities.

As with all Trese Brothers games, Age of Pirates comes in two flavors: free and elite. The free version is, of course, free, and can be found on Google Play. The elite version is $2.99 on Google Play, and has more than twice the content of the free version (including a world map four times as large!) It also offers extra customizability in terms of characters, ship types and overall difficulty.

The Indie RPG Bundle goes live

Indie RPG Bundle
The latest edition of Kyttaro Games’s Bundle in a Box is RPG-themed!

The Indie RPG Bundle is a pay-what-you-want games bundle with a minimum contribution of $1.99. Whatever you contribute, you get of the bundle’s games, with a handful reserved for above-average contributions. Per the press release:

The bundle’s 13 properly lovely, varied and fully indie games, covering everything from WWI trenches and modern society to fantasy worlds and horror settings, are:
– Unemployment Quest, Frayed Knights, Hack Slash Loot, Gamebook Adventures: The Siege of the Necromancer, Inaria, Empires & Dungeons 2, Dungeon Fray and Styrateg for the PWYW tier.
– Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, The Wizard from Tarnath Tor, Northmark: Hour of the Wolf, The Wizard’s Lair and Telepath RPG: Servants of God for the beat-the-average tier.
We’ve covered a lot of these games before, and I’ve actually written full-fledged reviews of Frayed KnightsStyrateg and Call of Cthulhu, the Wasted Land.
In my opinion, this bundle would be well worth it for Frayed Knights alone (a game that otherwise costs $19.95); but there are other titles worth checking out here as well.
(Also, full disclosure: I am the creator of Telepath RPG: Servants of God, the last title in the beat-the-average tier.) Checks Out Eldritch (late alpha)

David Pittman of Minor Key Games was nice enough to give me access to a (very, very) late alpha version of Eldritch (previously covered here). He writes: “I’m calling it an alpha, but it’s closer to what other developers would probably call a beta: it is content complete, and the only things that are changing now are balance issues, minor polish, and bug fixes.”

My first impressions follow (coupled with eloquent observations like “that sparkly shit is the go-back stuff):

What surprised me most: this game is much, much creepier than the trailer would lead you to believe. The way one hears enemies wandering the vicinity is nerve-wracking; it reminds me a lot of System Shock 2. (Really, it’s amazing what a difference sound design can make.) Combined with the game’s permadeath-y mechanics, there is a lot of tension in every outing.

The only things I encountered holding Eldritch back are some minor interface issues. I found the instructions for controlling the game largely illegible; and sometimes, when I could read them, they were flatly incorrect. I never did figure out how to switch powers or open up my character screen. Most of the primary controls were intuitive enough, though (WASD to move, left-click to attack, right-click to use a power, mouse wheel to switch weapons). I found the F key somewhat awkward to use for interacting with the environment–I would have preferred the space bar, or Control, or tapping middle mouse, or anything that wouldn’t result in me accidentally leaning right when I meant to interact.

The interface issues weren’t big enough to keep me from enjoying this game, though, and they’re the sort of issues that can be addressed quickly. I expect they’ll all be ironed out by Eldritch’s release next month. In the meantime, Minor Key Games is actually taking pre-orders for this title. $15 will get you access once the game hits beta–that will happen in a couple of weeks, per the devs. Eldritch is Windows-only.

Eldritch announced

A bit of digging on the internet reveals to me the existence of

Eldritch is the first title by two-man indie studio Minor Key Games (consisting of David Pittman and his brother J. Kyle Pittman).

David tells me that both he and his brother walked away from stable careers in the AAA space to make this game, which is pretty ballsy. Luckily, I can see people quite liking this title. Aside from the internet’s deep and abiding love for all things Lovecraftian, Eldritch features a Minecraft-ish aesthetic that tends to ring a certain bell for gamers.

The feature list:

• Unearth ancient secrets and find your way to freedom!
• Sneak, fight, and explore strange worlds!
• Invoke mystical powers to augment your play style!
• Randomly generated levels provide fresh challenges and opportunities!
• Unlock shortcuts to jump directly to deeper dungeons!

Eldritch is going to be released for Windows on October 21, 2013. Until then, it remains on Steam Greenlight, where you may wish to upvote it. (As for me, I will be giving the pre-release build a shot soonish so I can give you some impressions.)

New release: Heroes of Loot

Heroes of Loot
Pascal Bestebroer of Orange Pixel writes in to with news that his action roguelike-like Heroes of Loot (previously covered here) has been released.

There isn’t much of a plot to speak of–here’s the game’s premise, straight from the developer and complete with winky emoticons:

Think classical Gauntlet on steroids and brought into the now. It’s fast, it’s chaotic, it’s action packed and it removes all the boring stuff that rogue-like’s sometimes have too much of in my opinion 😉

The game grows and changes as you progress as a player (made visible with the dungeon-difficulty meter displayed in the games interface)  so make sure to play a lot before diving into your review, because chances are you haven’t seen every challenge or mystery this game has to offer 😉

In essence, it’s Gauntlet with more RPG elements and procedurally generated levels. The trailer gives a pretty good overview of it:

The game is now out for Windows, Mac, and Linux, ($5.00); Android and iOS ($1.99); and OUYA ($2.99). Pascal states that he’ll be porting the game to Gamestick and Vita as well at a later date. You can snag a demo for Windows, Mac or Linux here.

New release: Dragon Fantasy Book 2

Dragon Fantasy Book 2 Logo
Word reaches me that Muteki Corp‘s indie jRPG Dragon Fantasy Book 2 (previously covered here) has been released on Playstation Network and Playstation Vita.

The premise:

Join Ogden and the heroes of Westeria in this classic JRPG epic, Dragon Fantasy Book II. Travel through the frozen wastelands of Tundaria, experiencing action packed battles without random encounters, using spatially aware Area-of-Effect attacks and power moves. Travel by pirate ship, defending against enemies in thrilling ship-to-ship rock monster combat! Defeat oncoming hordes of demons and huge bosses that threaten the entire world of Dragon Fantasy.

Adam Rippon of Muteki states that he’s drawn influence from Lufia II, Final Fantasy VI, Earthbound, and Chrono Trigger in designing this second part of the Dragon Fantasy series. (Of those, Chrono Trigger is the one I can see most in evidence in the game’s overall presentation; I’ll take his word for it on the other ones.)

You can snag Dragon Fantasy Book 2 for $14.99 off PSN if you’re a PS3 owner, or here if you own a Vita. (The game’s price drops to $11.99 for the remainder of the week if you happen to be a Playstation Plus member.) Checks Out Avadon 2 (Windows Beta)

In my hand Youtube account, I come bearing a new video: Checks Out Avadon 2! Specifically, we’ll be looking at an early version of the Windows port of the game. It’s still in beta, but this should give us a peek at what we’re in for:

Jeff Vogel has been making these sorts of games for a long time, and it shows. He’s gotten this thing down to a science. There isn’t much to critique here that can’t be chalked up to the limitations of an introductory sequence (after all, a measure of linearity is necessary if you’re going to teach the player basic skills for play in the right order).

The Windows port of Avadon 2 has been scheduled for release this fall; beyond that, we don’t have anything more specific. Given that the beta only represents 1/3 of the game’s content, I expect it’ll be at least a month or two more before it sees release in its final form.

Heroes of a Broken Land hits beta

Heroes of a Broken Land
Hey folks! You have probably noticed that I took a little vacation from posting on the site leading up to and after PAX; I’m now looking to get back into the swing of things.

To start us off, Andrew Ellem of Winged Pixel has written in to tell us that Heroes of a Broken Land hit beta as of September 3rd. Most of the listed changes are bug fixes, though new music and a much-needed graphical overhaul of the overworld map tiles are on offer as well.

You can check out my video of playing a late alpha build here; or even better, you can nab the new downloadable demo build for yourself: Windows, Mac or Linux.

Ellem lists balancing work and improved dungeon variety as major goals to hit between beta and the final release. In the meantime, Heroes of a Broken Land is up now on Steam Greenlight, so go ahead and upvote it if you’d like to help it succeed commercially.

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Howdy folks! The approach of PAX has made it rather difficult for me to keep the site updated over the past couple of weeks; moreover, I’m definitely going to be gone for a week starting Wednesday. But with that said, there’s no reason we can’t do a quick update on the state of crowdfunded RPGs, right?

Of the games from our last Back to Back, Dungeonmans, Frontiers, Last Dream, Liege, Rugged KingdomSoul Saga and Undertale all met their goals; a much better success rate than usual! Let’s see if this latest batch of games meets with the same success:

  • AdventurOS — a 2.5D Metroidvania that constructs its world procedurally based on the file system it finds on your hard drive. Footage of the game makes it looks quite early in development, but I think it could end up being pretty interesting.
  • Aurion : Legacy of the Kori-Odan — developer Madiba Guillaume Olivier bills this as the first-ever African fantasy action RPG. The art style borders on anime, but its subjects give it a decidedly unique touch (there isn’t much anime set in Africa, much less starring black characters). It looks promising, though I find the lack of video footage showing the game in action somewhat suspect.
  • Project Phoenix — this is a somewhat surprising one. It bills itself as an indie RPG with squad-based RTS gameplay (so…Infinity Engine style?) More odd than the description is the amount of experienced AAA talent on the team (among other things, Nubuo Uematsu is doing their music). The Kickstarter page already lists 17 team member positions, with more to come–in all likelihood, this game won’t qualify as indie by the time they’re done hiring their team.
  • Sword ‘n’ Board — a 2D Zelda-alike that openly embraces the idea that you’re a kid who is just making all of this stuff up as you go along. (To wit: “you will battle your way through imaginary enemies, cardboard forests, dark pillow fort dungeons!”)
  • Valgard’s Fate — a top-down, 3D, open world action RPG for mobile devices. For a game of this sort, it has rather nice graphics (as well as some adorably wonky walk animations that make me think of a stop motion film).

All in all, it’s a much leaner selection of games on offer compared to the mid-year glut we saw in our last Back to Back. That isn’t to say that there aren’t RPGs out there seeking funding right now; it’s just that most of them are MMOs and free-to-play, browser-based stuff (which I generally decline to cover). It should be interesting to see if a whole bunch of new projects suddenly pop up this Friday to coincide with PAX.

Movie night: Eschalon Book III, Telepath Tactics

Dim the lights and get comfy, folks: it’s time for another movie night, where we watch new videos of games we’ve covered before on