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Happy 300th!

Greetings, gentle readers! It occurred to me just now that we’ve passed our 300th post here on Before we break out the noise-makers, I hope you’ll forgive me if I take a moment to wax sentimental.

It has been more than two and a half years since I began this site, hoping to provide sorely needed (and badly lacking) attention to small RPG developers. I’m proud of what has become: a place that has given attention to many dozens of small developers; a rallying point for hundreds of unique visitors every single day, each of them eager for new and interesting experiences in the RPG space; and a resource for people wanting to browse an organized (and ever-growing) collection of recent work from the world’s small developers.

Even better, I think I’ve mostly avoided falling into any significant ethical quagmires while running the site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the site as much as I’ve enjoyed running it. (For my part, I find it oddly satisfying to document an obscure title known only to a few dozen people.) Here’s to many more years of indie RPGs!

Antharion announced

Ari Rae-Silver writes in to announce Antharion, an isometric turn-based party-based wRPG in development by Orphic Software.

The premise:

Ever since the murder of the beloved King Mallory (uniter of the Kingdom) at the hands of his own debauched son (and now King) Zeverith, the Kingdom of Antharion has been ravaged by political turmoil. Zeverith’s first act as King was to dissolve the Senate; his second was to sell off large chunks of the Kingdom to rich noblemen who promptly enslaved many of their inhabitants. The Order was a collective of adept magical enthusiasts who for centuries collaborated in secret to tame and refine their arcane magical knowledge. Zeverith quickly became aware of the Orders existence through his network of spies and sought to stamp them out. Many were killed by Zeverith’s forces while others fled deep into the depths of long forgotten caverns – some of the more masterful Wizards even managed to magically construct artificial planes of existence to escape off into. In response, Zeverith began what would come to be known as The Great Purge, sending his men from city to city to hunt down every last Wizard leaving no stone unturned. As part of a poor group of peasants from a small quiet town on the outskirts of the Kingdom, you suddenly find yourself swept up in the purge when, without notice, a group of Zeverith’s men storm your town, murder nearly all of its inhabitants, and burn every last house to the ground. Taken deep into an underground dungeon for a torturing and eventual execution, you somehow manage to overpower your captors. What happens next will be up to you.

The developers state: “We wanted to fuse together elements from classics like: The Elder Scrolls (a huge open world), Baldur’s Gate (a deep tactical combat), and Ultima (a classic old-school look and feel) into a single unique RPG experience.” Combat is turn-based with action points; character creation lets you create every member of your party. The developers promise more than 100 dungeons, 20+ cities, and 50+ unique monster types, which would indeed mean a pretty huge world if successfully carried out.

There are many more details on the game’s page, including descriptions of the classes and the game’s magic system. All in all, it sounds mighty ambitious.

There are some screenshots below. I am doing my damnedest to look past the fact that the characters’ heads are enormous, and I think you should too. Antharion is due for release in June 2013 for PC, Mac, and iPad.

…oh, and there’s a Kickstarter. (Of course.)

Fabula Divina open alpha update

Graham Norville writes in to let me know that Fabula Divina (previously covered here) has been updated to version 0.32.

The developers tell me that there have been many, many changes. Among them:

  • Character generation and player classes are in.
  • There is now a magic system.
  • The introduction and main story of the first act is in (good for 2-3 hours of play).
  • The battle system for the player has switched to jRPG style mode, while monsters battle themselves on the map.
  • Karma is starting to be assessed.  (Example: if you take something from someone’s house, your karma goes down.)
  • NPC farmers grow their own crops.
  • Gardening has been implemented.
  • Two dungeons are in the game.
  • UI improved; roguelike-style keyboard input is in.
  • Help system has been implemented in the form of a guardian angel who you “talk” to.
  • Gems can be collected and pounded into glyphs to upgrade items.
  • You can now sail the high seas in boats.
  • The hero talks to you now, giving you feedback on what is happening to him/her in the world.

Well! That’s certainly a lot of improvements. Oh, and there is a trailer now:

The devs say that they are working on a system for random dungeon generation for their next update. As before, the game is freely available to download–snag it here.

New release: Twilight of the Gods (Götterdämmerung)

Word reaches me of a new jRPG: Twilight of the Gods (a.k.a. Götterdämmerung in the game’s original German).

Developed by Default Games, Twilight of the Gods takes place in 2112, a century after the world tore itself asunder:

In the year 2012, a series of unexplained terrorist attacks pushes the world into nuclear war; civilization as we know it is completely destroyed. The war’s few survivors gather in small villages and struggle against famine and disease. In the following decades, six charismatic leaders appear in various parts of the globe and begin shaping new civilizations from the ruins. It does not take long before these new empires start to fight among each other, and new wars break out.
Slowly, gradually, the new empires learn to live with each other; today, one hundred years after the nuclear war, the world lives in a fragile peace.
In the trading post of Dikea, on the southern border of the Saharan desert, a young boy grows up in a peaceful culture of farmers who shun any technology that is not absolutely necessary for growing crops. When a mysterious flying object falls into his father’s cabbage patch, his life is suddenly about to become a lot more interesting…

Here is a gameplay trailer that shows off the (surprisingly numerous) sides of TotG:

Twilight of the Gods is currently available for $19.99 direct from the developer. It is Windows-only. (If you don’t buy the game up-front, it functions as a free demo with two hours of gameplay available before you have to unlock it.) Checks Out Phantasmaburbia

Greg Lobanov (a.k.a. Banov) was good enough to provide me with a pre-release beta build of his upcoming jRPG spookfest Phantasmaburbia, and so I did what I usually do when developers give me early access: I scoped the game out and made a video! Click below to get a special sneak peek:

Phantasmaburbia is due to release on October 31st. However, no word yet from Banov yet on whether the characters are, in fact, just stuffing items in their pants throughout the game.

AAIMIE announced

James Sablatura writes in to announce AAIMIE, an unusual sci-fi first-person dungeon delver where you play as an AI robot.

AAIMIE, short for ‘Autonomous Artificially Intelligent Mechanized Industrial Engineer’, is a first person point of view dungeon crawler. You play as AAIMIE, a repair bot in a power facility on a distant planet. One day after a brief power outage, her memory banks were filled with new found knowledge of power facility, its secrets, its inhabitants and most importantly an uncontrollable urge to destroy the very facility she has spent her life repairing.

The developer describes AAIMIE as a cross between Tron and Legend of Grimrock. He writes: “AAIMIE focuses on exploration, story-telling, scripted events and a story-driven gameplay.”Although AAIMIE will feature real-time combat, Sablatura states that the game’s primary focus will be on exploration and puzzle-solving rather than constant fighting.

AAIMIE will not be party-based; the developer has stated that he wanted to focus on the feeling of isolation from being a lone repair bot. Sablatura has created an early trailer that demonstrates AAIMIE’s grid-based movement and gives a sense of the game’s aesthetics:

AAIMIE is due for release in “late 2013″ for PC, Mac, iOS and Android; no word yet on pricing. There is also a Kickstarter, if you’d like to help the game meet its modest budget goals for art, sounds, and Unity licenses.

Video preview: Checks Out The Real Texas

You may recall The Real Texas, the oddball, western-themed Zelda-alike released back in June by Kitty Lambda Games. The creator, Calvin French, was good enough to provide me a copy–my early impressions playing through the start of the game follow:

Actually, I undersold Calvin’s generosity just now: he was nice enough to provide me with some additional unlock codes for the game. Want a free code? Follow us on Twitter–we’ll be giving them away tomorrow morning / afternoon!

New release: Nethergate

Okay, this isn’t technically a new release: Nethergate Resurrection came out way back in 2008. However, Jeff Vogel wrote in to inform me that it was just recently released on Steam, and that is as good an excuse to finally post about Nethergate as any!

Nethergate Resurrection is a bit of an oddity. It’s a wRPG set in an actual quasi-historical setting: ancient Britannia, from back before “Britain” was officially a thing. Granted, the game is filled with all manner of made-up and ahistorical things like faeries and mythological locales and magical artifacts, but it’s set in something vaguely resembling real-world geography with real-world “races” (you can play as a Celt or a Roman), which is interesting in and of itself.

Here’s the premise:

Britannia is a land ravaged by war. The natives of this land, the savage Celts, have long been subjugated by the Roman invaders. At last, they have risen up in bloody rebellion. Battles rage across the land. Cities are sacked, the inhabitants massacred. And, lost in the chaos, in the small, forgotten valley of Shadowvale, a plan is being formed.

Soon, a band of barbarians will rediscover the lost secrets of magic. They will find a way to rid their lands of their oppressors forever. And you, as the Celtic warriors, will attempt to free your people.

Or you, as the Romans, will attempt to crush them. For the good of the Empire.

Sound interesting? The game is available for Mac and Windows direct from the developer for $15; the Windows version is also available through Steam for $4.99. There is a free demo as well; grab it here for Mac, here for Windows.

New release: Middens

John Clowder writes in to announce the release of Middens, “an exploration game using collage and original pixel art in tandem that takes the perspective of a drifter traversing a veritable x-zone.” If it were up to me, I’d call it a surrealist jRPG in the tradition of Space Funeral, OFF, or (perhaps the closest analog) Boundless Ocean.

The premise:

Roving its interminable wastes the nomad chances upon a sentient revolver beside an ominous pile of remains. The pistol offers its exploit in exchange for a pledge of inextricable companionship. Espousing to be the player’s conscience the dubious weapon directs the drifter to a nearby outpost wherein the story further unfolds.

Despite its appearance as a wasteland the rift is home to many strange denizens–some volatile and others ineffectual. Whatever their disposition the pistol represents the choice to engage them or to spare them. Aggression and passivity have their appropriate times with rewards and consequences being granted to both paths respectively.

Clowder reports that Middens features more than two hundred hand crafted creature portraits, an original soundtrack of seventy songs, a custom battle system, multiple endings, an open-ended world, collectibles, and some very attractive watercolor art by Shaina Nordlund. Oh, also: a trailer. It has one of those. Behold!

There. If that didn’t intrigue you, you should probably seek medical attention.

Middens is free and runs exclusively on Windows. The most recent version, v. 2.22, is available for download right now from or from GameJolt. What are you waiting for?

New release: Epilogue

Ryan Krafnick, the man behind indie studio Kraflab, began work on a graphical roguelike he entitled Epilogue in or around March of this year. On April 1, 2012, he released version 1.0. No one reported it on it. (Which is why we don’t release games on April Fools’ Day.)

Fast forward to a little less than two weeks ago, when the game reached version 2.6. Actually, strike that: fast forward to yesterday, when I finally learned of Epilogue‘s existence. Here’s the premise:

Years ago, the last heroic types failed to defeat Slith, the demonic overlord. Now, all peoples live as mindless slaves to him, and have for many generations. In this great absence of combat, your mind has been left to wander and you have started to realize who Slith is and what has happened to your people. Now you are free from his control and must defeat him once and for all! Dive down through 10 dungeon levels of fierce tactical roguelike gameplay and face your greatest fears!

Don’t be turned off by the standard-issue story–Epilogue features a nice little bundle of interesting mechanics that (in my view) make it worth checking out. For one thing, this game eschews the idea of random loot drops: as in a Fire Emblem title, all the loot you find on an enemy is stuff that that enemy was actually using. Epilogue also features limb-specific injuries, a fatigue/sleep system, class and skill specialization, and a bizarre menagerie of enemies (I quote: “On the first floors you can expect to find Robotic Snowmen, Dual Wielding Sea Otters, and Crazed Martial Artists”).

Here is a trailer that shows off the game’s visual style:

Epilogue is now available for Windows and Linux for $6.99 through Desura, and will perhaps one day be available on Steam if its Greenlight page gets enough upvotes. In the meantime, there is a free demo out for you to try–go ahead and see if you like it (Windows demo here, Linux here)!