Latest Publications

Dark Gates announced

Dark Gates
Word has it that DFour Games is working on a dungeon crawler with randomized dungeons by the name of Dark Gates.

The premise:

Shadow … it came so suddenly. Fear found his home and pour sadness to peoples hearts. It is a time where peoples forgot how the clear blue sky looks like. Those who did never spoke about it. They feared to offend an evil and mysterious force which found a home in darkness of underground tunnels. Peoples waited for a someone to challenge Dark Gates hidden deep within labyrinth of death.

You control a party of 6 characters in this title based on the board game DeathMaze. According to DFour Games, the main feature of Dark Gates is the dungeon itself. “This is no predefined layout and every time you play, map is always different. Dungeon creates itself as you play. In your quest you will find monsters, magical items, trap, puzzles and treasures.”

Here’s a trailer showing what it looks like as of right now:

Based on that video, I have to imagine that Dark Gates would appeal to anyone who enjoys Monster’s Den–it seems very much in the same vein.

Dark Gates is still in alpha, but it’s available to folks who wish to help alpha fund it. You can snag a copy of the alpha for $9.99 on Desura, for £6.99 on GamersGate, or (for the next two days only) as part of The Hellish Dungeons Bundle. Windows, Mac or Linux.

Legend of Grimrock for Linux now on Steam

Legend of Grimrock devs Almost Human report that they have gotten the Linux version of their critically acclaimed dungeon delver up on Steam. ‘Nuff said.

Reobirth pre-alpha demo released

Jon Dibble, the developer behind up-and-coming 2D side-scrolling aRPG Reobirth (previously covered here), writes in to announce the release of a short demo for the game.

Reobirth remains early in development, and so the demo is necessarily rather limited. Dibble states that the demo is essentially a survival minigame:

Armed with your blade and bow and three spells (Dark Hand, Death Ball, Curen), you must fend off hoards of Dark Magic monsters and protect the Golden Hope Relic. See how long you can survive and aim for the high score! Although this demo can be played with a keyboard and a few different controllers have been tested, I highly recommend an Xbox 360 controller – this is the main gamepad used throughout development of Reobirth, taking advantage of rumble/force-feedback and the analog stick.

You can grab the demo right here and give it a try for yourself.

TBT: The Black Tower announced

TBT The Black Tower
Simon Mesnard writes in to tell me about TBT: The Black Tower, a very slick-looking 3D jRPG currently in development by a three-person French team.

The premise:

In 2011, Philippe Forté found a strange alien Cube during a routine mission on the Cobalt-5 satellite, around planet Terra. Hypnotized by this discovery, as if he was being called, he risked his own life to take the dark artefact in his hands. Noone ever heard of him after these events, and Philippe Forté is now known as a crazy astronaut who sacrificed his life for an illusion. Yet, the mystery remains.

In 2032, Yan Forté is a kind of forest ranger and lives in the woods of Lutetia – a country of the Europa continent on Terra. He has decided that he would never walk in the steps of his father Philippe, and that he would devote his whole life on protecting Nature on his beloved planet, instead of exploring the space. Things will suddenly change after he meets Ellana, a young girl with a strange black Die as a pendant around the neck, who came out of nowhere in a cloud of yellow particles…

According to the developers, “The game will feature a vast world to explore through various places that you reach from a Worldmap, with random encounters and turn-based battles.”

Mesnard states that TBT is heavily influenced by jRPGs of the PS1 era, and one look at the 10-minute gameplay video taken from the prototype should leave no doubt about that. Neither should the game’s current trailer:

TBT is planned for a Windows and Mac release sometime in 2014, with both French and English translations. There is an Indiegogo campaign currently running if you’d like to help them fund development, and the inevitable Greenlight page in case you want to boost their chances at winning the Steam lottery.

New release: Lunar Wish: Orbs of Fate

Lunar Wish
Hello, gentle readers! We’re back from our Memorial Day break with a free game for you to check out. Michael Lau writes in to tell me about Lunar Wish: Orbs of Fate, a jRPG he recently completed using RPG Maker VX.

The premise:

Serathium, the fabled land of legends home to Angels, Beasts and Vampires, and most importantly, the Heart, Spirit and Soul of Existence itself: The Lunar Orb.  One day, The Lunar Orb started to lose control and the very foundations of the universe itself begin to crumble around them. The destruction gave way to an event which no one in the history of time itself could have foreseen: The Rebellion of Serathium.

The story begins, when one day a young boy, Falk, encounters a highly mysterious and seemingly malevolent voice in his room which informs him that someone close to him will disappear. In search of clues, he gathers his friends on a journey to unriddle the mysteries of Serathium and find his missing friend.

Lau has taken something of an ensemble approach to the story, with multiple parties and no clear protagonist. He states that Lunar Wish is full of interesting puzzles and mini-games, with numerous custom battle animations and side quests. Here is a trailer:

Lunar Wish is 12+ hours long; you can grab it right here at no cost; Windows-only.

New release: Kingturn Underworld RPG

Kingturn Underworld RPG
Man; you turn your back for a few months, and BOOM: Mangobile releases another Kingturn game! For those who don’t know, Kingturn is a strategy RPG series for mobile devices (for more background, see this and this.)

The premise of this newest one, Kingturn Underworld RPG, is decidedly Disgaea-ish:

Juliet, necromancer and daughter of Overlord Xanthus, finds herself forced to flee the Underworld after a rebellion of her father’s minions. Struggling to survive on Andaria’s hostile surface, she has to take unusual measures to get things under control …

The primary Kingturn Underworld RPG campaign consists of 68 scenarios, with a shorter second campaign adding an additional 6 scenarios. The developer states that the main campaign is actually an “extended remake” of their earlier title Knightturn (a game which appears to no longer be available for purchase).

After a visit to the developer’s website, I have determined that the three Kingturn games are actually meant to comprise a trilogy: Kingturn Underworld is technically a prequel, since its story comes first chronologically.

Mangobile states that Kingturn Underworld RPG lets you command monsters and the undead, with new character classes such as the “Champion, Thief, Lizard, Demon, and Heretic.”

For now, Kingturn Underworld RPG remains exclusive to Android; you can nab it on Google Play for $4.89. An iOS port is scheduled to hit in September 2013, however. (It appears that Mangobile is actually in the process of porting the entire Kingturn series to iOS–they’ve already released an iOS version of the first Kingturn, and say that Kingturn Plus is slated to hit the Apple app store in June or July.)

Crypt of the NecroDancer announced

Word reaches me that Brace Yourself Games is working on a “roguelike rhythm game” called Crypt of the NecroDancer. I’m not sure words will do this justice, so watch these two videos instead. First, some early footage:

Second, a live recording of indie darling Matt Thorson actually playing an early build of the game using a DDR dance pad:

Brace Yourself coder Ryan Clark recently did an interview with where he spilled the beans on how this game works. It’s close to a true roguelike, but it’s real-time and rhythm-based in an effort to subvert what Clark sees as the “extremely unfair” nature of Rogue itself. He states: “I want NecroDancer to be based on a player’s skill more than knowledge of arcana.”

As for how the rhythm factors in:

Well, the main survival strategy is to observe the movement patterns of the enemies and use those to your advantage. (Every enemy has a predictable, repetitive movement pattern.) Most enemies move only every second beat, while the player moves on every beat. This means you have time to hit an enemy and retreat before it has a chance to strike back. And, for the enemies that do move on every beat, we’ve generally made them weaker such that they can be killed in a single strike. The player simply needs to wait for them to approach, and deliver a timely blow!

Clark tells me that they plan to release Crypt of the NecroDancer sometime in 2013 for Windows and Mac, with the possibility of other platforms to come after. If you want to keep abreast of the development process, Brace Yourself Games have invited the public to follow along on their forums.

New release: Love’s Triumph

Love' class=
A bit of digging reveals to me the recent release of a new jRPG named Love’s Triumph by indie developer Gamer Fatigue Productions.

The premise:

Several months have passed since the events of Love’s Epitaph. Creighton, with his newfound ally, has taken the battle to the Tyrants. Together, they will stop at nothing to recover Lysa, and put an end to their schemes once and for all.

It all sounds delightfully soap opera-ish, I must say. Love’s Epitaph, the earlier title continued in Love’s Triumph, is similarly dramatic:

Love’s Epitaph follows a woman who is being pursued by an organization. Soon, a protector appears to defend her at all costs. Together, they must seek help from others, while trying to discover the mysteries behind their pursuit.

Here is the feature list:

  • Conclusion to the Love’s Epitaph storyline.
  • Customize your party with up to 8 different party members, with their own skills and weapons
  • New side view battle system replaces the older front-view battles
  • Several items to find with different ways to enhance your party
  • Love’s Triumph offers a recap of events from the first game, so new players can jump right in without having to play Love’s Epitaph

The 8-character party size cap is actually legitimately unusual, and might make this title worth trying. You can snag Love’s Triumph for Windows for $9.99, or grab the free demo to give it a trial run.

New release: Tales of the Drunken Paladin Version II

Tales of the Drunken Paladin
Steve Gibbon writes in to tell me about Tales of the Drunken Paladin, a comedic jRPG with some very nice custom character portraits. (“Custom,” of course, being relative to the rest of the graphics, which appear mostly to be defaults from RPG Maker.)

The game was originally released way back in 2009. Since that time, Gibbon has come out with two expansions, both of which are now sold as part of the full game in its newest incarnation, “Version II.”

The premise:

The story begins ten years after the invasion of “They” who we do not speak about, their expulsion from the kingdom and its subsequent recovery. We follow one of the great heroes responsible for saving the realm, and come to learn that he has not ultimately been using his riches and strength for the good of the world. Nor has he been using them for ill. Indeed, “Anebriate” the Drunken Paladin mostly prefers neutral things, like drinking and donuts.

However, there are those who have other plans for his riches. Our hero’s strength and memory are robbed along with his great fortune, and he must embark on a grand quest to find out why.

If this were the real world, my guess would be “liver disease, hippocampal disruption, and medical bills, respectively”–but this is a game, so that’s probably not why our hero has lost his strength, memory and savings. (At least, I hope it’s not; I don’t know if health care reform would work all that well for a main quest in an RPG.)

Gibbon states: “The game is pretty heavily modified and scripted, so there isn’t a lot left that’s default from the RPG Maker system except for some of the tiles and animations. It has a side-view battle system with an ATB that has served me well enough, but I think what’s special about the game is that pretty much everything you see in the game is interactive, and in some cases, contextual with the time of day and who’s in your party.” Pretty cool; why don’t we have a look at a trailer?

Gibbon notes that this trailer is outdated, and that the cool new character portraits shown at the top of the article are, in fact, in-game. Gibbon promises 35-45 hours of content, which is pretty darn good for a free game.

Yes, you heard right: this game costs no money. You can grab Tales of the Drunken Paladin for Windows right here for zero dollars. Go for it! And hey: if you like it, there’s even an option to donate some money to the developer so he can continue making games.

Stonehearth announced

Minecraft has always had sort of an RPG veneer, as have numerous other games with visuals inspired by its voxel aesthetic (see e.g. 3D Dot Heroes and Cube World). But we haven’t seen a proper voxel fantasy strategy title* yet–not until now. reader Steven Adamo wrote to me last week to let me know about Radiant Entertainment‘s project Stonehearth; the devs describe the game as “equal parts sandbox, RTS, and RPG.”

In Stonehearth you lead a band of settlers who must carve out their place in the world by gathering resources and building fortifications, while under constant threat from intruders.  As your settlement grows, you will eventually train up a standing army then venture forth into the world, where greater challenges await.

The features list reads as follows:

  • Randomly generated, destructible worlds built with voxels
  • Creative building on both large and small scales, from cities to teacups
  • Scripted RPG-style content to discover and adventure through
  • Robust class trees for both combat and civilian units
  • RTS-style combat with an emphasis on tactics over micro management

As for what this actually looks like in action, here’s the latest trailer:

I got in touch with one of the developers, Tom Cannon, to unearth more details about the game. He tells me that city management includes managing resources and crafting items, with the ability to both lay out the city on a macro level and create individual buildings right down to floor plans and furnishings.

I asked him about this game’s RPG credentials as well. (Specifically, character persistence, leveling, classes, and unit control.) Cannon had this to say:

All your settlers, both civilian and military, have their own class which will level up and gain new abilities: Carpenter, Mason, Blacksmith, Geomancer, Swordman, Archer, and many more.

Your town is made up of persistent characters, each with with a name, class, and level. You can upgrade your units’ class in a tech tree, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. Here’s a small portion of the class progression tree.

You control your military units directly, similar to an RTS. For your civilians and crafters, you give general orders like “chop down those trees” “build this house” or “craft me 10 swords” and they figure out how to do it themselves. We don’t want you to have to micro dozens of different kinds of workers/crafters, and like the ant-farm feel of your little guys working to implement your orders on their own.

You’ll have to deal with waves of invading enemies, which (scripted RPG content aside) seems to be the main source of the game’s battles. The developers state that although the controls derive from the RTS genre, battles “will play out at a slower pace, with a priority on strategic decision making over reflexes and multi-tasking.”

Stonehearth is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux. A beta release is planned in December 2013, with full release to follow in September 2014.

The game is presently on Kickstarter, where it has long since met its goal. Over the next 9 days, $15 will pre-order Stonehearth in anticipation of its full release in fall 2014, while $30 pre-orders it for beta release onwards.

*Except for Castle Story, arguably, though I think that one is a pure RTS title.