Latest Publications

Soul Compass announced

Remember the good old days of Game Boy jRPGs like Final Fantasy Legend III? One brave soul by the name of Jesse Shepherd has undertaken to make a jRPG as if for a Game Boy. His game: Soul Compass.

Soul Compass will be a combat-driven, difficult, short, turn-based RPG. No grind, no random encounters, no exploration. The game features an engaging story, linear progression, 15 fixed normal encounters, 6 bosses, and possibly bonus challenge levels.

Shepherd has no web site, and neither does Soul Compass. However, Shepherd has released a few videos showing his progress so far; here is the most recent of those:

Soul Compass is planned for release for Windows at some point in 2013. The developer tells me that he expects to sell it for no more than $5.

Interview with Alex Gold (Psydra Games)

Since first checking out the oddball RPG / point-and-click adventure Dark Scavenger back in July, I’ve had a lot of questions percolating in the back of my mind. Thankfully, Alex Gold of developer Psydra Games was good enough to sit down and answer them.

Hey Alex! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
First, tell me about Psydra Games.

Psydra Games was established by a team of industry professionals with a backlog of pent-up passion, looking for an outlet to unleash it. Sometimes in the industry, you’re not always given the luxury to choose what you get to work on, so a few of us decided to branch out on our own.

Developing our first game, though frustrating, was ultimately a liberating experience. Whether or not we will pursue another project remains to be seen.

The mechanics for Dark Scavenger are unusual, to say the least. What were you aiming for while designing the game’s systems?

Our goal with the mechanics was to craft them specifically to the needs of the narrative. As we knew art support was going to be limited, we intentionally designed the gameplay to accommodate.


New release: Phantasmaburbia

Greg “Banov” Lobanov has just released Phantasmaburbia, his jRPG opus about a suburban subdivision infested with ghosts and the small band of teenagers who must fight increasingly desperate odds to save it.

The year is 201X (twenty-X-teen) and Owl Creek, a small modern neighborhood, has suddenly been overrun with ghosts. Four local kids, wielding weapons found in their homes and assisted by spirits of their ancestors, go on a suburban adventure to fight them.

If you liked the minigame-filled Dubloon (Banov’s previous game), this one will be right up your alley. Like Dubloon, Phantasmaburbia is a highly streamlined experience with a lot of tricks up its sleeve to keep gameplay varied and interesting. However, Phantasmaburbia has the advantage of being much more polished and atmospheric than its predecessor.

Here’s the launch trailer, which starts off silly and eventually gets around to showing some of Phantasmaburbia’s cooler features:

You may recall that I recorded my first impressions playing the game here, if you want to get a slightly better sense of how Phantasmaburbia plays. Or better yet: grab the demo and try it for yourself!

Phantasmaburbia is currently $9.99 for launch, though Banov informs me that the price will be reverting to $14.99 in roughly two weeks’ time. Phantasmaburbia is Windows-only, though Banov has stated that a Mac port is on the way. Grab the full game here.

New release: Moonchild

Aldorlea Games writes in to announce that they have released Moonchild, the latest of their jRPGs. The premise:

What kind of danger can a mother face to rescue her child?

Play as Queen Calypso and her friends going after Calypso’s abducted child and trying to figure out what happened… and why. Can you solve the mystery and rescue Moonchild? Play the game and find out!

The idea of playing as a queen going after her abducted daughter is actually pretty novel, as RPG plotlines go.

The developers promise 20 hours of play time, 9 playable characters, visible enemy encounters, mouse control, and three difficulty settings.

Moonchild is available for Windows at a $15.99 price point; nab it here, if you’re so inclined. Or if you’d prefer to try a free demo first (generally a good idea), they’ve made one available; grab that here.

Rainbow Nightmare: Libra announced

Karl Crawford has written in to announce a new jRPG project called Rainbow Nightmare: Libra. In development by Crawford under the name Ghost in a Bottle Games, RNL features the following premise:

Take on the role of Lady Libra as she goes above and beyond to help her friend find a cure for his disease. Along with her trusted friends they must sneak into the robotic Neon Empire. Unfortunately for them, it’s not that simple.

There’s also something about thwarting an attempt by the Neon Empire to take over a human kingdom, but it’s all a little vague at this point. The Neon Empire setting, in my view, is the most interesting part of the whole thing. It’s a nation run by robots, for robots. Humans approved for entry into the empire are second-class citizens; all others are subject to extermination.

Here is a trailer:

Although the trailer doesn’t show any proper battles, Crawford was good enough to provide a description of the battle system:

The battle system will be class based. Each character has 3 sub classes to switch between during combat to maximize buffs, heals, and attack or defense. Additionally a card system with 3 slots will be available to boost specific attacks or skills.

The combat system is designed to be close like FFX2. You build points during combat to “class” switch on the fly to meet various enemy strategies and formations.

Enemies will be visible on the map a la Chrono Trigger, so battles will be avoidable. With regard to bosses, the developer states:

You will encounter bosses in two flavors. Traditional RPG battle format where you utilize your skills, classes, weapons, and strategy to defeat a powerful foe that requires you to think and plan your next move. The second are timer bosses, that are simply too large to be directly damaged. You will need to outlast a timer and avoid it’s brutal attacks and incoming obstacles.

Crawford has said that you will have the choice of one of two parties of characters to play through the game with, each with different abilities and different “rewards to unlock.”

If you want to help the developer get enough funding to finish up the soundtrack and hire a second pixel artist, he’s running a Kickstarter for that express purpose right now. RNL will be released for Windows at some point; I haven’t seen any estimated release date posted yet.

Movie night: Telepath Tactics, Drox Operative and Valdis Story

Silence your cell phones and leave the babies outside, folks: it’s time for another of’s Movie Nights!

For this week’s edition, we have a new pre-alpha teaser for Telepath Tactics (previously covered here) showing off the game’s new character animations, an IGF trailer showing the latest build of Drox Operative (previously covered here), and some brand-new gameplay footage from the upcoming action RPG Valdis Story (previously covered here). Hit the jump for the movies!


New release: A Closed World

I’m behind the times on this one, apparently: I actually found A Closed World while I was browsing the official selections at Indiecade. A jRPG by Todd Harper and MIT’s Gambit Game Lab,

This console RPG-like game puts you in the shoes of a young resident of a village just outside a forest that everyone says is a place of no return. Supposedly home to hungering demons and a beast that would destroy the village, the forest is forbidden and nobody knows what’s on the other side. However, our hero’s beloved — tired of the oppressive attitude of the villagers — decided to go there, as anywhere would be better than home. Now it’s your turn to follow after. Are you willing to risk everything to find out what’s on the other side?

Here’s a gameplay video:

Truth be told, it strikes me as more of a proof-of-concept than a complete game. The mechanics of combat are imaginative in theme but undercooked in implementation, the narrative is never really explored too deeply, and the whole experience is ultimately quite short. However, with that said, the game is free and available to play in-browser, so it’s hard to complain. Try it here.

The Wizard’s Lair announced

David Williams writes in to announce The Wizard’s Lair, the latest in a seemingly endless stream of graphical roguelikes coming out of the community lately.

The premise:

The game is an RPG in the spirit of Roguelikes and the Mystery Dungeon series, in which the hero(you) is tasked to descend the Dungeon and defeat the Wizard of Anarkhis, who has stolen a powerful Staff and threatens to destroy everything in his wake! It has randomly-generated dungeons, fearsome monsters and a bunch of potions and spell scrolls to use!

Yup, sounds like a roguelike to me. Looks like one, too.

From the video, it’s apparent that this is one of those roguelikes that requires you to manage hunger by finding food as you progress. Beyond that, I’m not totally clear on what distinguishes this game from other graphical roguelikes (other than the little “poof” animation for clearing fog of war and sword swing animations, which are pretty swell).

The Wizard’s Lair is currently in beta, but you can pre-order it on either Windows or Linux for £3.50 (approximately $6) and play it as development continues. The game will cost double this amount upon release.

Dungeonspace announced

I’ve stumbled across a new first-person dungeon delver under development by the name of Dungeonspace.

“Another one?” Yup. This one stands out, however, for one big reason: “a LAN/Internet multiplayer mode.” The game also supports modding, with the ability to add in entirely new creature art and dungeon tilesets to the game.

The game’s premise is interesting as well, if currently short on narrative justification:

Dungeonspace is a classic Dungeon Crawler combined with Space exploration. Your aim is to build a ship, get into space and search for planets an explore them in a classic 2D Dungeon Master style. The space is meant for traveling from one planet to another (inspiring examples are Whale’s Voyage, Captive, Black Crypt and of course Dungeon Master).

Dungeonspace is still quite early in development, but developer Crank Gaming does have a few screenshots up. Check it out:

They ordinarily have a prototype version available to play in-browser, though it currently appears to be offline.


New release: Battlepaths

Christian Werner writes in with news of a new graphical roguelike, Battlepaths. (It’s new to PC, at any rate: Battlepaths was evidently released on XBLIG some 4 months ago.)

Created by Key17 Games, Battlepaths takes place across three realms. Battlepaths has a loot system reminiscent of Diablo, the ability to swap items between your characters, and a magic system based on consumable “potions” (some of which are evidently just thrown at enemies, alchemist-style). Leveling involves character specialization. To wit:

You can build a heavy, damage dealing tank, a deadly ninja that utilizes high speed and agility to attack his victims from out of nowhere, a true master of mind who crushes his foes with powerful combinations of special abilities, or something in between.

The goal is to become “powerful enough to face the Chaos Overlord”–if there is any semblance of a plot beyond that, the devs don’t mention it. Here is the trailer:

Battlepaths is available on XBox 360 via XBLIG for 80 points, or for Windows for $2.99 via GamersGate. There doesn’t seem to be a demo, but you can probably get a decent sense of how the game plays by watching this gameplay video.