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New release: Dark Quest

Dark Quest
Oh dear. Pocket Tactics reports on the release of Dark Quest, a turn-based fantasy dungeon crawler for Android, iPhone and iPad by Brain Seal Ltd.

The premise:

An evil sorcerer has appeared in the lands, he has built a dungeon in the nearby village of faladir, where his minions use it as a base to raid the surrounding villages to bring terror and death to all its citizens. A hero by the name Zantor dares to defy the powers of the sorcerer and seeks to destroy the dungeon and put an end to this.

Dark Quest’s title art bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the board game Hero Quest, from the scene composition to the logo, right down to the nearly identical pose of each game’s wizard. Compare:


Now, it’s been a long, long time since I played Hero Quest, and I haven’t played Dark Quest at all, so I don’t want to speculate on what other things Dark Quest might have borrowed–but in my opinion, the developers are practically begging for a lawsuit on the basis of that title art alone. (Amusingly, despite the fact that they changed the dwarf into an archer for their title art, the three playable character classes in Dark Quest are in fact “The Warrior,” “The Wizard” and “The Dwarf”; there is no archer class!)

Here is the trailer–those more familiar with Hero Quest than I might be able to divine more:

Dark Quest is currently being sold for £1.99 on the Apple App store and $0.99 on Google Play. I do not support cloning, and as such, I will not be providing a link to this game until I’m convinced that it went no further than aping Hero Quest’s title art. On the strength of user comments below, I’ve added in the links.

Dragon Fantasy Book I released on PS Vita, PS3

Dragon Fantasy
Remember that time I mentioned that Muteki Corp.‘s Dragon Fantasy: Book I would be getting an enhanced version released on Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita? It’s happened!

As of late Tuesday, you can nab Dragon Fantasy: Book I from wherever it is that one nabs digital downloads for Playstation products. PSN, I think? (I wouldn’t know–I don’t actually own any Sony products more recent than the Playstation 2.) Per the developers, the updated PC version of the game is “good to go” as well, but for testing. I’ll be posting again when they make it available.

In the meantime,why not look at this updated trailer?

If you own a PS3 / Vita, you can snag Dragon Fantasy Book I right now for $9.99 ($7.99 if you’re a PS+ member). Go here to get the PS3 version; here to grab it for the Vita.

Bonfire enters paid alpha

Polish indie developers MoaCube have transitioned Bonfire, the fantasy strategy title with procedurally generated battles that I posted about last month, into paid alpha.

They write:

The game is available before it’s officially finished at a significant discount. The price starts at $7.95 and will move towards $15.95 as we get closer to the final build. Players can affect the shape of the final game by leaving feedback on our forums. While Bonfire is technically unfinished, we try to make each build feel like a polished and complete game, that’s just going to get expanded.

The Bonfire alpha has a free demo out for Mac and for Windows; as mentioned, it’s currently $7.95 to get into the alpha for Mac and for Windows.

Frayed Knights 2: Khan of Wrath announced

Yesterday, Rampant Games announced Frayed Knights 2: Khan of Wrath, the second episode in the Frayed Knights series (you can find my review of the first, Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon, right here).

FK2:KoW is being built from the ground up in Unity, so unlike the first episode, this one should run on Mac and Linux as well as Windows. It looks like Jay Barnson took some of the UI criticisms he received after the first episode to heart, as he has completely redesigned the user interface for episode 2. Given that the interface was 40% of everything that bothered me about the first episode, I find this to be a most welcome development.

The party roster will be expanded this time around, with support for six characters instead of just four (though you’ll still be able to import your characters from the first episode). There have been some changes to the game’s underlying rules, balancing changes to various feats, and the inclusion of a new “dynamic spells” system that will complement the original game’s stable of “fixed spells.” (More on rules changes and the new spell system here.)

FK2:KoW is currently planned for a simultaneous Windows, Mac and Linux release sometime in 2014.

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

There’s been a bit of a lull in people emailing me about their RPGs this past week, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for another Back to Back!

Every single game that was on last list remains available to fund, though most are approaching the end of their campaigns. Here’s the update, with some new titles added in:

  • Ace Arena — a 2D jRPG looking to raise more than $75,000 on Indiegogo. 29 days remain, and they have not yet received any pledges; this may have something to do with the fact that they claim to be designing a new engine despite using footage from what is pretty clearly RPG Maker.
  • Bloom: Memories — an unusual-looking Zelda-alike (previously covered here) with only 3 days left to raise another $18,000. That’s a lot to raise in such a small time frame, but given that they shot up $7,000 since yesterday, they should make it if their momentum keeps up.
  • Caravaneer 2 — this isometric post-apocalyptic survival wRPG / economic sim (previously covered here) is now in its final week, having finally surpassed its (quite modest) $5,000 funding goal.
  • The Enraged — a zombie-apocalypse-themed sRPG in the Shining Force mold, The Enraged is doing reasonably well on Kickstarter despite having one of the most awkward pitch videos I have ever seen in my life. There’s a downloadable demo, which I’m sure is helping. There are 12 days left to go on this one.
  • King Voxel — a 3D voxel-based Zelda-alike (previously covered here) with a new procedurally generated world / quest each time you start a new game. It has $526 raised out of a goal of $25,000; not exactly off to the best start, given that it’s been on Indiegogo since at least March. This one has 84 days left.
  • Lex Laser Saves The Galaxy, Again — a 2D “tactical puzzle RPG designed for busy people,” Lex Laser one is clearly going for a Buck Rogers, 1950s sci-fi aesthetic, which is cool. The “for busy people” phrase makes me wonder about its RPG credentials, though; I’ll be investigating this one further. They’ve got more than $64,000 left to raise in the next 25 days to meet their base funding goal.
  • Lords of New York — a 2.5D adventure/RPG hybrid (previously covered here) set in Prohibition-era New York City with a poker-based combat system. Unfortunately, it remains a little short of 10% funded with a day and a half remaining on the clock, and the base funding goal is so astronomically high that I doubt they’ll be able to meet it even with a tremendous last-minute push. Hopefully they’ll be able to retool and try again, as this does look like an interesting game.
  • Paradigm Shift — a 2D jRPG with $46 in funding and 18 days left to go on Indiegogo; it has raised literally zero dollars in the past two and a half weeks, which is a little depressing.
  • Pixelry Champions — a 2D jousting simulator with RPG elements, this game has a little less than three days to raise £20,000 or so (i.e. roughly $30,000).
  • Telepath Tactics — a 2D tactical fantasy RPG with mod support, currently on its last day of funding. This one’s more than 200% funded; if you’re looking to save a game in need, I recommend looking further up the list.

That’s all for this edition! Frankly, barring a couple of success stories, it’s looking a little grim this time around. Given the recent, wild success of campaigns like Torment and Divinity, I don’t think we can blame “Kickstarter fatigue” for that; in my view, it’s more likely that people have developed higher expectations for quality on Kickstarter, and the consequences for subpar presentation and marketing have grown more severe alongside it. One of these days, I’m going to write an article with my theories about how and when to Kickstart a game…

Ortus delayed

Oof. So, I just did a bit of checking up on Ortus (the wRPG I covered last July, in development by Elvidian Entertainment), and while the news isn’t horrible, it’s not great either. It seems that Elvidian underestimated the amount of work they’d given themselves with the project, and their Kickstarter funding has run out.

I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised to learn that $21,740 is an insufficient amount of money to keep a team of 4-5 working full-time on a wRPG for more than a year. Assuming only four team members and no outside expenses whatsoever, that means each team member had $5,435 to survive on for the year 2012. (When they say they lost a writer during this period, I can only assume that that is because he literally starved to death.)

While this may all sound rather dire, I’m happy to report that Elvidian has not, in fact, gone all Manse Macabre on us. They’re going to diversify their development a bit, completing smaller projects as they proceed to keep from going broke, and working on Ortus in between. They even posted a 2-hour livestream of them working on Ortus on the Ortus Facebook page on March 7, so it seems that the game is still coming along.

Jorvick announced, temporarily shelved

A little bit of digging on Steam Greenlight reveals the existence of Jorvick, a jRPG with a unique art style in development by TACS Games. (I link to the game’s Greenlight page because it appears to be the only official page that currently exists for the game–hopefully that will change at some point.)

The premise is very short: “A strange land of giant flowers and terrible beasts! Explore and learn the secrets of Jorvick!” Based on the screenshots I’ve seen, it appears that you’ll be in control of astronauts who’ve crashed on an alien world–but that’s just speculation on my part.

Here is the planned feature list:

  • Deep strategic turn based combat
  • Risky exploration that rewards the adventurous
  • Beautiful story told through in engine cutscenes
  • Level your characters using the nanosphere system
  • Battle many and giant foes
  • Learn the secret of Jorvick

TCS Games states that Jorvick is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux.

There’s no word yet on an expected release date; the developer’s last blog post about it, from September, mentions that “it’s very early days,” and a more recent comment below the post indicates that it’s “shelved temporarily” while the developer works on an as-yet-unnamed strategy RPG for the Vita and Playstation Mobile. A little early for an obit, then–I’ll be investigating further. In the meantime, why not look at some nice screenshots for a game that might or might not come to be?


Millennium 5: Battle of the Millennium announced

Millenium 5
Aldorlea Games has written in to announce the fifth installment in their Millennium jRPG series, called (appropriately enough) Millennium 5: Battle of the Millennium.

From what I’ve read, Millennium will feature tournament-style fights that occur in a sort of martial arts ring, where you can win by knocking (or tricking) your opponent out of the ring. Beyond that, information on the ground about this game is rather thin.

According to Aldorlea Games, Millennium 5 is “getting close to its release.” (It was initially scheduled for release in December 2012.) I expect they’ll release more details when that happens. In the meantime, why not look at some screenshots?

Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle announced, paid alpha released

Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle is a graphical roguelike in development by The Indie Forge. (Neither the developer nor the game seem to have an official website–look to the end of the article for links.)

I don’t think there’s a narrative premise, but there is a rather wordy feature list:

  • Expansive Random Generation – Everything from the dungeons design to the enemies and gear you face is randomly generated on starting a new game. Like traditional roguelikes, each new adventure offers a unique experience, with hundreds of different room types to explore, and even more items and enemies to populate them.
  • Clean Integrated Interface – All information you need about your character is on screen at once, and has been carefully optimised and integrated into the main game. Stats show gear progression on highlighting gear in the floor, and all loot can be dragged and dropped from the game world to your inventory.
  • So Much Gear – If you’re the sort of person who loves collecting gear which has lovely brightly coloured names depending on the item’s rarity, then this is the game for you. Gear drops are frequent, and the gear variety extensive.
  • Customization – What with all the gear, skills, characters and all, there really is a huge amount of room to make each playthrough of the game truly your own.
  • Crafting – Various forms of crafting will be available, from Blacksmithing to Alchemy. Materials can be found in amongst your sea of loot, which can then become new, shinier loot.
  • Slick Combat System – Every character has six abilities (mapped to QWERTY) which are used in combat, and well as just attacking with your equipped weapon. Q and W’s skills are determined by your main hand weapon, E and R by the character you are playing, and T and Y by a choice of your profession at the start of the game. Enemies also have skills unique to their type, which change how you combat different creeps. A spider for example, can web you to the floor if you get to close, and so is better taken out by using disabling abilities in return.
  • Easy to control, easy to run – The game is simple to pick up and play at any time, for any amount of time. Load times are instant, as is saving and closing, and the game itself in its current early build is playable on anything from a netbook upwards. It’s perfect for maybe a few minutes in your break, or for an hour to get down and seriously play.
  • Multiple difficulties – Keeping with the ‘playable on everything’ theme, here’s the ‘playable by anyone’ bit. Multiple levels of difficulty from ‘Pushover’ to ‘Impossible’ are available for players of any mind set or skill. Or just for those that fancy a challenge.
  • Massive Replay Value – Since every playthrough is unique, and every character, enemy, gear set, and room is different on each play, the game has tonnes of replay value.

Here’s the trailer:

There’s a wiki if you want to learn more about the game / spoil things for yourself, and a developer’s log if you want to track changes in the game over time.

The most recent update to Claustrophobia (just last week) puts it at alpha version 1.0.9. As is usually the way with roguelikes, you can buy in now and play Claustrophobia as it’s developed. You can nab it for $4.99 on Desura or £2.99 on GamersGate; I leave it to you to work out which is the better deal given shifting exchange rates. You can also find the game on Steam Greenlight and upvote it if you so desire. Claustrophobia is Windows-only.

Dragon Fantasy Book I getting an enhanced Playstation port

Dragon Fantasy
Adam Rippon of Muteki Corp. writes in to announce that Dragon Fantasy Book I is coming to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. In addition to porting the game to the new platform, Muteki Corp. has enhanced it with the following:

Redid all the graphics and sound for the optional “enhanced mode”, added a new dungeon to chapter 2 that makes every much more balanced, redid the UI to match the improvements added in DF2, added achievements…

So that’s pretty cool. The PC version of the game will be benefiting from these improvements as well.

The new-and-improved Dragon Fantasy Book I will be releasing for $10 later this month on April 16th. You can see some of the spiffied-up graphics in screenshots below.