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New release: Love’s Triumph

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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.

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Back to Back is back! Welcome, you know, back.

Glancing over the campaigns that have ended since our last edition, Chasm succeeded admirably while Lex Laser, Wranglers and Paradigm Shift each fell short. The current round-up contains both returning projects and some fresh blood:

  • Ghost of a Tale — a beautiful 3D action RPG with anthropomorphic animals. IndieGoGo made a weird exception to its rules and extended the deadline for this one when the campaign creators appealed to them for more time. Ghost of a Tale now sits 87.3% funded, roughly 5,700€ (~$7,300) shy of the goal with 4 days remaining.
  • 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. On the minus side, this campaign remains stalled at $546 raised; on the plus side, there are 52 days left to do something about that.
  • Old Legend — 41 days remain for this 3D first-person dungeon delver.
  • Remnants of Twilight — a jRPG with some nice concept art and sprite work. If this project raises $1,710 in the next 11 hours, it will meet its goal.
  • Reobirth: Magic’s Awakening — “Reo; Re-e-eo! Daylight come, and we want to go home.” This is a sidescrolling 2D action RPG with some nice art and a legitimately cool-sounding system where you breed magical combat companions with varying abilities. (I previously covered Reobirth here). This campaign has an eminently reasonable $12,500 goal, and 31 days left to hit it.
  • Stonehearth — a fantasy strategy title that takes the “strategy” side of things a bit more seriously than most of the games I’ve covered in this category. That said, it also has persistent characters, classes, leveling, and promotion trees, so this actually has some legit RPG credentials as well. It’s already close to three times its funding goal; I’ll be covering this one soon.
  • TinyKeep —  a 3D, third-person action RPG with procedurally generated dungeons and cute, big-headed character models. The developer promises “a sophisticated AI system, designed to produce unique monster intelligence that behaves in exciting and unpredictable ways,” as well as a pet system. This campaign has 13 days to raise £13,000 (a little less than $20,000).

Nadia Was Here announced

Nadia Was Here
A bit of digging has revealed the existence of Nadia Was Here, a from-scratch (read: not made in RPG maker) jRPG with a unique battle system and an unusual, limited color palette in development by Joep Aben.

The premise:

This is not the first time this is happening.

A mage driven by guilt. Will any of his good deeds ever truly redeem him?
A warrior that lives in the past, will he ever be able to accept that he’s not who he used to be?
A thief born in poverty, will she ever be worth something?

Three ‘heroes’ set out on a journey to prevent time from starting over again.
But will it solve their problems?

NWH is due to feature 7 villages and a variety of puzzle-heavy dungeons. It also features an unusual combat system. Aben writes:

Characters only target the enemies opposite of them, and enemies only target characters opposite of them in return. The position and moves of the characters can be changed in real-time, and the characters will automatically perform those moves once the charge time needed for that move has been reached.

The game will have a set amount of battles. The only way to increase stats permanently is by using equipment, but even then stat growth is very limited. The main way to defeat more difficult enemies is to learn new skills and use those tactically. Not a single skill will ever be useless or outclassed by another, and not every skill will be useful for every battle.

Aben has made a video showing the current state of the battle system right here;here is a second video showing a bit of exploration; and finally, we have a trailer. (I can’t actually embed these for some reason, as they’re hosted on a weird video site that doesn’t play nice with WordPress, but do feel free to click the links.)

Nadia Was Here is planned for release in early 2014 for Windows, with probable ports to Android and iOS. Per Aben, Mac and Linux ports are a possibility as well.

For now, there is a free alpha demo out (Windows-only); go give it a try and see what you think!

Reobirth: Magic’s Awakening announced

Jon Dibble writes in to inform me of a side-scrolling action RPG he’s working on called Reobirth: Magic’s Awakening. (That’s not a typo, by the way–it’s actually spelled Reobirth, and pronounced like “ray o’ birth”.)

Here’s the premise:

When Reo, a powerful and devastating form of elemental magic, is unleashed across the greatest expands of the universe, sinister monsters of dark magic begin growing all throughout the galaxy. On earth, humanity is forced to seek refuge by escaping to the Hove, a large man-made airship that valiantly hovers high above the clouds. The privileged and high ranking civilians retreat to the Hove under command of the questionable Emperor Vioz, while the commoners are left on earth to fend for themselves against the growing masses of dark monsters. Two hundred years upon the Hove and the once mighty airship now slowly grazes through the air, desperately seeking restorations: damaged, quickly losing altitude, and seemingly mere moments away from plummeting back down to earth for the Emperor and all passengers to meet their untimely fate: death by Dark Magic monsters.

But in a moment,  a mysterious young boy with aquatic blue hair is seen standing motionless on the deck, mysteriously blending with the darkness of the night. No name, no origin –  stricken with an eerily uncanny silence and a deadpan expression drawn across his pale face.

“Who is this young boy that has slipped aboard?” the passengers whisper, completely perplexed. “There is no entrance to an airship that hovers hundreds of miles in the air!”

And this Reo – such a relentless and destructive force – how did that come to be?

Our adventure begins…

Based on early gameplay footage (which I’ll be posting here later this evening), the combat in Reobirth looks quite fast-paced, with a wide variety of sword attacks that call to mind Link’s move set from Super Smash Brothers. Dibble assures me that this is intentional, and that he has drawn further inspiration from SSB in utilizing tight controls and “a simple control scheme that focuses mainly around an attack button, a spell button, and a block button.”

Equally cool (or possibly even cool-er), Reobirth has a system where you breed little flying combat companions called “Pon.” Per the developer:

The Pon are largely autonomous creatures controlled by AI. Their movements and interactions will be both influenced by your actions and the context of the battle. For example, if you attack an enemy, the Pon will also immediately target that specific enemy – chasing and attacking. The Pon are also the spellbearers that enable your player to cast spells. Each Pon will be born with three spells (varying elemental types) which can be equipped in the spell palette (upper left hand corner of the screen, with each spell mapped to the SPELL button + a direction for easy spell casting). There’s a limit to how many times a Pon can cast a spell before it must recharge, but Pon will also have self-spells that they can cast at their own discretion (such as healing and other support spells).  The spells and power of each spell is determined via a Pon breeding system, similar to breeding Pokemon or Chocobos in the Final Fantasy series.

Reobirth is being developed for Windows, with possible Mac and Linux ports to follow. Dibble estimates that Reobirth has been in development 8-9 months; based on the game’s Kickstarter rewards, it looks like Dibble is aiming for release in September 2014.

Speaking of which: there’s a Kickstarter. It’s $10 to pre-order the game, which seems like a pretty fair deal to me. Checks Out Realms of Fortune

Back at the end of March, you may recall me covering the 2011 Elder Scrolls-style open world RPG Realms of Fortune. Developer Clayton Lilly was kind enough to provide me with a Windows copy of the game; as I often do, I chose to document my first 30 minutes with it for your amusement / edification:

Basically: not too shabby! I have a few things I could critique: it starts off slowly, there’s little to no exposition at the start of the game, and the stamina mechanic desperately needs a good blocking mechanic to complement it. But on the whole, the game struck me as pretty solid–especially so given the price (less than three dollars on Windows, and 99 cents on Android).

You can nab Realms of Fortune here for Windows, and here for Android. There’s also a free demo available (Windows, Android) in case you want to test drive it for yourself.

Movie Night: Tales of Maj’Eyal, Hartacon Tactics and Steam Marines

Happy Monday, and welcome to another glorious week of exploring the exciting and ever-expanding world of indie RPGs! While I do some digging into some new and obscure projects, why don’t we catch up on some games we’ve previously covered, complete with videos? (Or, as I like to call it: Movie Night!)

First up, we have graphical roguelike Tales of Maj’Eyal. Word has it that ToME received a big update on Friday. Among the improvements:

  • Rebalancing of many races and classes
  • Addons will stay active if the game’s patch version is over the required one. So addons for 1.0.1 will work on 1.0.2 (but would not on 1.1.0)
  • Most tier1/2 zones can now have alternate layout/stories/… brings some fresh air
  • Rak’Shor pride looks more .. necromancy, and is more interresting
  • More direct melee-range talent UI
  • Many bugfixes and improvements

Second, it looks like work is continuing on Hartacon Tactics; some basic AI for single player has now made it into the game, as demonstrated in this video:

Space Hulk-style roguelike Steam Marines has reportedly been updated to alpha version 0.75a, with “a bunch of small stability and bug issues, as well as improving enemy AI and polishing up some of the UI.” In addition: “Map generation is sped up, special wall tiles were added, player and enemy turns are more clearly separated,” and more. This video doesn’t actually show version 0.75s, but it’s much more recent than the last one I posted, so I’m going to run with it:

The House of Correction announced

The House of Correction
Raphael Gervaise of NotByDesign has emailed me to inform me of The House of Correction, a nonlinear tile-based first-person dungeon crawl with a horror theme and some quite nice-looking hand-drawn 2D graphics.

The premise:

A group of disparate companions are about to find themselves subject to the machinations of the mysterious House of Correction.

Faced with increasingly fiendish trials, seemingly designed to teach that the meaning of life is to die, and inmates whose derangement is matched only by the staff, you’ll need to utilize all your wits to help them overcome where countless others have failed.

But just who is setting the agenda in this insane bureaucracy? Have lunatics really taken over the asylum, is some more sinister force at work behind the scenes, or is this simply the correct level of therapy required for a return to civilised society?

The developers describe the game world as “unique” and “surreal,” and although I have little context to interpret its significance, I will say that I am definitely intrigued by the presence of unusual character stats like Ego.

According to the developers, The House of Correction features real-time combat, combat abilities that synergize well together, lots of weapons to discover, teleporters, illusionary walls, secret rooms, and other dungeon niceties.

Want to see more? Here’s a trailer for you:

You can also see a bunch of screenshots below (some of which mention an “insult skull”–that sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?)

There is a free playable prototype of The House of Correction currently out for Windows; you can download that here if you want to get a taste for what they’re aiming at. (They also have an alternate version with AZERTY keyboard support.) The game has been in development since June of 2011, but the developers are quick to note that this prototype is mostly just a proof of concept.

If you like what you see / play, do feel free to head on over to their Greenlight page and give The House of Correction your upvote.

Quadropus Rampage announced

Word has it that there is a “roguelike RPG brawler” in progress by developers Butterscotch Shenanigans. Quadropus Rampage began life as a 7DRL entry; the developers apparently liked it enough that they chose to expand it into a full game.

QR is a roguelike-like: it has levels, equipment, procedural generation and permadeath, but it’s also a fast-paced action game. You play as an angry, four-tentacled octopus. (I’m not sure why you’re angry, exactly, but I imagine that having one-half the regulation number of tentacles might have something to do with it.)

Here is a trailer giving you a sense of the how and why:

Word has it that Quadropus Rampage is coming “soon” to iOS and Android.