Latest Publications

New release: Nameless: The Hackers

Nameless The Hackers
Steve Ip of BoxCat Games writes in to tell me about Nameless: The Hackers, a cyberpunk jRPG where the fights are all simulated hacking battles.

The story follows a group of hackers who try to find a missing researcher who has decided to take action against a major secret government organization.  As the hackers uncover the traces of the researcher, they begin to unravel a conspiracy of epic proportions involving multiple agencies and shadowy corporations.

It’s funny: though he uses the term “cyberpunk” to describe this title, absolutely everything about the premise is contemporary. Even without having played it, I have to imagine that this is largely a commentary on Anonymous, PRISM, and security contractors like HBGary. (Hell, the “researcher” they’re looking for could easily be modeled on Edward Snowden!)

I offer that as a compliment; it’s rare to see an RPG grappling with social issues this close to the fore. Unfortunately, the story is billed as “light and humurous,” so I don’t know that it’s going to be giving these issues the examination that they deserve.

Ip writes that Nameless is 12 hours long and employs visual novel mechanics reminiscent of Phoenix Wright and Tales of Symphonia; you can see some of that in the game’s trailer:

Nameless: The Hackers is exclusive to iOS. You can nab it for $3.99 over on the Apple App Store.  Additionally, they’ve made the soundtrack available for free right here. Checks Out Last Dream

Hey guys! I kinda screwed up recording this: none of my hilarious, witty commentary made it into the video (sadface). BUT. This video will still give you a really good sense of how the first hour of Last Dream (previously covered here) plays. (And of course, those of you who hate it when I voice the characters will have a special treat.) Give it a look:

Think this looks interesting? You should download the free demo and give it a try yourself! (Windows-only.)

New release: Kanye Quest 3030

Kanye Quest 3030
So, this is apparently a thing. A developer going by the name of Phenix has released an RPG Maker game starring Kanye West, in what has to be the most ludicrous use of a celebrity persona since Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden. The game, in case the title of this post didn’t tip you off, is Kanye Quest 3030, a “a hip-hop-themed science-fiction 2D roleplaying game starring Kanye West,” with a clear nod to the classic sci-fi hip hop album Deltron 3030 (incidentally: you seriously owe it to yourself to buy that album if you don’t own it already).

The premise:

In January 2010, as rapper and producer Kanye West is taking the garbage out one day, he suddenly travels through a wormhole. Emerging on the other side, Kanye finds himself in the year 3030. In a dystopian city filled with clones of hip-hop musicians and under the control of a god-like dictator, can Kanye get back home?

The battles are all apparently rap battles that take place against the aforementioned clones, which is kind of amazing. Check out the trailer:

Kanye Quest is absolutely free to download and play; Windows only, though. Grab it here.

New release: Epic Quest of the 4 Crystals

Epic Quest of the 4 Crystals
Word has it that RosePortal Games (whom you may recall as the studio behind The Princess’ Heart) has released Epic Quest of the 4 Crystals, a new RPG Maker jRPG.

The premise:

In a world where classic tales come together, a young man must go on an adventure to collect four elemental crystals and save the earth!

Theodore lives a peaceful life, until one day General Kujae of the Empire comes to the village to capture him. He escapes and encounters a mysterious woman, who sets him on a grand adventure to collect four crystals and save the world from the evil Emperor!

Epic Quest is an intelligent parody and an amazing journey through a world where classic RPGs come together. Meet Rhen from Aveyond, Wendala from Laxius Force, Bubbles from Whisper of a Rose and more! A mind-blowing story and unique cast bring these beautiful tales together in one epic adventure!

So basically, in addition to being its own jRPG, this is fan service for people who are already into the more popular RPG Maker titles. It seems to have a fair bit of custom artwork, particularly in the character sprites–you can see some of that in the trailer:

As with all RPG Maker titles, this one is Windows-only. You can download a free demo here; the full game is available here for $19.99.

New release: Millennium 5: Battle of the Millennium

Millennium 5
Aldorlea Games writes in to announce the release of Millennium 5: Battle of the Millennium, the fifth and final installment of its Millennium series.

Millennium 5 is a jRPG with tournament-style mertial arts fights, where you can win by knocking (or tricking) your opponent out of the ring. The premise:

Marine has less than a week to get her friends (and herself) ready for the incredible showdown in Mystrock.
But as tempers flare and time runs out, isn’t the whole enterprise in danger of failing from the start?
Is Marine’s vision a glorious quest… or a sinking ship? And how can peasants face martial artists and their hordes of fans in their own arena?

The developers mention that Millennium 5 features a whopping 19 playable characters, with 40 secret rooms and 18 side quests sprinkled throughout the game.

There’s a free demo available for Windows; the full game is available for Windows for $19.99 direct from the developer. Nab the full game here.

Unrest announced

So! Here’s an interesting one. Unrest is an RPG being developed by Pyrodactyl Games (creators of the previously covered oddity The A.Typical RPG).

Unrest takes place in ancient India during a period of (what else?) unrest. “Play as ordinary men and women struggling for safety, freedom, food for their children, and a chance at peace.” Seems simple enough, but Pyrodactyl have published a lore update with some interesting details that make that premise seem a lot more intriguing.

The majority of the game will consist of exploring the massive city of Bhimra and the surrounding area, interacting with various characters, and trying to achieve your goals either through combat or conversation. The world is full of side quests and optional content for players with a keen eye.

Combat in Unrest is planned to consist of fast-paced one-on-one duels. The devs write that combat encounters will be infrequent and unique, and that violence will have consequences in the game world. On the tail-end of their successful Kickstarter campaign, Pyrodactyl put together a video showing off the game’s art style in its current prototype state:

The full list of planned features follows:

  • Explore the drought and famine stricken streets of an ancient Indian city, where a fog of hunger and discontent shrouds the natural beauty of the land.
  • Use the detailed conversation system to instill fear, command respect and gain the trust and friendship of others. Understand your enemies and make them see your side of the story.
  • The narrative adapts to failure and death – instead of a game over screen, the plot continues and your fate becomes part of it. However, you can still save and load at any time if you want to.
  • Make tough and interesting decisions in the lives of people untouched by destiny. The traditional hero’s quest of prophecy, power, and revenge forms a backdrop to your own struggles.
  • Combat is brutal, decisive…and always avoidable. Bloodshed might be the easy way out in some situations, but has lasting consequences beyond those apparent on the surface.
  • Hand drawn 2D art and soundtrack based on ancient Indian music to help you immerse yourself in the world.
  • Full mod support lets you create your own worlds and adventures.
  • Unrest will be available DRM-Free on multiple digital stores, without any DLC or micro-transactions. We promise.
  • Iron Man mode to make sure you deal with the consequences of your actions.

Unrest is planned for release on Windows, Mac and Linux machines in early 2014.

Rack N Ruin announced

Rack N Ruin
I’ve received an email telling me about Rack N Ruin, an action RPG being developed by Lifespark Entertainment (an indie studio created and run by ex-Blizzard artist Tyler Hunter).

The premise:

Rack n’ Ruin is an action adventure game featuring Rack, a demonic wizard with a flair for chaos and destruction.

Use a combination of malevolent magic, apocalyptic abilities, woeful weapons and insidious items as you journey across a vast open world. Ransack ancient dungeons, defeat hordes of heroic and unholy forces, battle a collection of behemoths and bosses, and discover the secrets of the land you seek to conquer. Watch your demonic powers grow as you enslave and corrupt the land, twisting fairytales into nightmares and turning paradise into pandemonium.

Hunter’s art employs a hand-painted aesthetic, and generally looks quite nice (though in my opinion the animations could use a few more frames). You can see it for yourself in the game’s preview trailer:

The game promises an open, explorable world with alternate “dark” versions of areas you’ve corrupted. If the idea of a “dark world” sounds familiar, let’s just say that I played an early build of this at PAX East earlier in the year, and I can confirm that there’s a fair chunk of 2D Zelda DNA floating around in this game’s cells. Of course, with that said, Rack N Ruin has more proper RPG elements than a Zelda-alike (read: loot and upgradeable magic from five different schools).

Rack N Ruin is planned for release in March 2014 for Windows and Mac, with Android and iOS ports to follow. I’ve been supplied with a build of the game, so I’ll be able to check that out in a video preview fairly soon. In the meantime, why not look at some screenshots?



RPS interview with Jeff Vogel

RockPaperShotgun has a new interview up with Spiderweb Software‘s Jeff Vogel where he shares his latest experiences in development, talks about his development process, and talks about the advantages of Steam and frequent sales.

RPS: Spiderweb has been going an for amazing twenty years, and clearly has a large following of dedicated fans. But from my perspective, the last couple of years have seen perceptions change from a quite niche specialist developer, to a broader appeal. Why do you think this is happening now? Is it simply reaching new audiences through online retailers and devices like tablets, or do you think there’s also a new appetite for meaty RPGs out there?

Vogel: I think the demand has always been there, but I just didn’t have a big enough microphone. Single player story-driven RPGs are one of the oldest, most beloved, evergreen computer game genres. The biggest frustration for me, over the years, is that I’ve known there are hordes out there who wanted to at least try my games, but I didn’t have the PR muscle to reach them. Steam changed everything for everyone. It certainly changed my life. The Humble Bundle is also fantastic, for the way it lets anyone, for a tiny price, try games and genres they would never have otherwise. That alone makes the Humble Bundle great for the industry.

The full interview is here.

Last Dream announced

Last Dream
Last Dream is a jRPG that has been in development by White Giant RPG Studios since April 2011.

The premise:

The storyline commences with a modest protagonist, lost in an unfamiliar world… As you struggle to find a way back home, you uncover an increasingly malevolent and time-twisted plot to devour the ancient creatures of Terra. You must confront this corrupted power to save Terra and ultimately, yourself.

Last Dream allows you to construct a party of 4, choosing from 8 different classes, and allows you to customize your characters further by directing their development upon level-up.

White Giant touts the game as a nonlinear experience, promising vehicular world travel and quests with alternate endings. You can see a bit of this in the trailer:

Last Dream is reportedly 95% complete and has doubled its (quite modest) $1,500 fundraising goal on Kickstarter. It is tentatively scheduled for a Windows-exclusive release early next month; while you wait, there is a free Windows-only demo available right here for you to try.

The Dungeoning demo released

The Dungeoning Burning
Side-scrolling action roguelike-like The Dungeoning (previously covered here) has gotten an alpha demo, according to developer Physmo.

The demo runs on both Windows and Mac OSX; you can grab it here.