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New release: Legend of Grimrock 2

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Word reaches me that Finnish indie developer Almost Human, Ltd. has released the sequel to their critically acclaimed real-time, first-person, party-based dungeon crawler Legend of Grimrock. The title? Legend of Grimrock 2! (Duh.)

The premise:

A group of four prisoners have shipwrecked on the secluded Isle of Nex. The island is filled with ancient crumbled ruins, mysterious shrines and a vast underground network of dungeons and mines. If the prisoners wish to make it out alive, they have to overcome the challenges devised by the ominous mastermind of the island.

LoG2, like its predecessor, is a game very much in the spirit of the original Dungeon Master. I’ve seen a bit of griping around the internet about the fact that, much like in the original Grimrock, LoG2’s characters are class-based and progress using a skill tree; not necessarily terrible things in my estimation, but it’s certainly a less free-wheeling progression system than we saw in Dungeon Master.

If early reviews are to be believed, this game features lots of outdoor areas, more open-ended exploration, and loads more content than the original Grimrock. You can get a taste in the game’s most recent trailer:

The feature list:

  • More than 20 hours of pure blooded dungeon crawling gameplay with grid-based movement and thousands of squares filled with hidden switches, pressure plates, secret doors, riddles, deadly traps and more.
  • Cast spells with runes, craft potions and bombs, fight murderous monsters with a large variety of melee-, ranged and thrown weapons, as well as firearms.
  • Create a party of four characters and customize them with 7 character classes, 5 races, and numerous skills and traits. Collect experience to hone their skills and discover improved equipment and magical artefacts.
  • 42 different kind of monsters including 30 new foes unique to Isle of Nex.
  • Play custom adventures created by others or make your own with Dungeon Editor.
  • More depth, variety and open ended exploration than in Legend of Grimrock 1. Enhanced AI, spell casting, puzzle mechanics and skill systems.

Legend of Grimrock 2 is available for Windows only. It costs $23.99 on Steam, GOG.com, and the Humble Store (albeit with a 10% launch discount for the next week or so).

How to not fail at Kickstarter in 8 more steps

Since I posted How to not fail at Kickstarter in 12 easy steps last April, a lot more people have come to me seeking advice–and as a direct result, my list has grown. The time has come for another article, one with even more tips and tricks for funding your game.

Kickstarter Stats
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Lest you think this follow-up article is unnecessary, a quick glance at Kickstarter’s stats page will correct you. As of today, there are nearly two failed game Kickstarters for every one that succeeds. The “games” category includes board games, which historically have higher rates of successful funding than video games do–if we were to look at video games alone, the ratio of failures-to-successes would likely be even worse! Suffice it to say, we still have a lot of room for improvement in terms of how we run our video game Kickstarter campaigns.

If you haven’t read the first article yet, now is the time! Don’t worry, I’ll wait. …all caught up? Good! Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you: How to not fail at Kickstarter in 8 more steps.

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Sora A Tale of a Hero announced

Sora A Tale of a Hero
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Mike Vaughan of Nissyoku Games writes in to announce Sora A Tale of a Hero, a 3D jRPG modeled after Final Fantasy 7.

The premise:

The back drop story revolves around a young teenage girl named Sora who idolizes her hero Serg (name not final), who is now the village chief of Violethaven which Sora was born an raised. Serg has told many stoires to Sora about his adventures from his travels when hes was younger. Sora would sit and listen intently to each story with amazement wishing one day to have an adventure of her own. But unbeknown to her did she know that her adventure was about to begin….

There’s a teaser video showing a first look at Violethaven, which appears to be the game’s starting town:

Sora is planned for release in 2015 for Windows, with mobile ports and possible console ports to follow.

New release: Pier Solar HD

Pier Solar
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Hey guys! Remember Pier Solar HD? Developer WaterMelon Co. has finally released it, and has written to me with the details! (Actually, they released it on September 30th; I’m a little late in posting this. My bad.)

The new incarnation of Pier Solar is a 2D jRPG featuring a strange mix of chunky pixel art and smooth HD graphics. I say “new incarnation” because this game was first developed long, long ago, and given an initial release on the Sega Genesis–we’re talking way back in 2004, here. Wanting to rerelease the thing with some updated niceties, the developers took Pier Solar to Kickstarter and were promptly buried in all the money from the internet’s jRPG-hungry denizens throwing dollar bills through their screens.

So, what’s the game about? The narrative premise goes a bit like this: Hoston is a young botanist whose father has become mysteriously ill. On a quest to save him, Hoston meets new friends, learns that they have to save the world, and discovers the true meaning of Christmas. (Minus the last part.)

This is given some very minimal elaboration in the game’s release trailer:

I admit, something about the inconsistency of the game’s visual aesthetic makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I might feel differently once I get around to playing it. (Speaking of which: I’ll be playing Pier Solar and offering my impressions just as soon as I get the game to run properly on my computer.)

In the meantime, Pier Solar is available for $14.99 on Windows, Mac, Linux, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, and OUYA. The developers tell me that it will be available on the Playstation Vita in the near future, and it’s planned for eventual release on Xbox One, Wii U, and Dreamcast as well.

Eternal Eclipse announced

Eternal Eclipse
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Word reaches me that there’s a new action RPG / survival game hybrid in development by the name of Eternal Eclipse, by developers also calling themselves “Eternal Eclipse.”

The premise:

Thrown back centuries in a dark and unknown wilderness, having no reinforcements, players have limited resources. Killing furious monsters, building shelter, mastering skills like fishing, cooking and woodcutting to increase survival. While traveling distant lands, people will assemble and create a clan to win the never ending battle. Never being alone, other clans are looking for blood to quench their thirst! Only the most experienced at surviving this harsh environment will be rewarded with real world cash and fame!

I admit, I’m really not clear on whether they mean “real world cash and fame” in the in-game sense (i.e. back in your character’s own time, as opposed to the time you’re in after you’ve been thrown back centuries), or if they are actually suggesting that you and I will become rich and famous in real life by being good at Eternal Eclipse.

Aside from that, it sounds promising; I can’t remember the last time I played a Diablo-alike that featured survival of the elements as an objective. The description makes it sound like there may be hunger and exposure systems, though that’s surely a bit of speculation on my part.

Eternal Eclipse is reportedly planned for release in the second quarter of 2015 for Windows and Mac. In the meantime, as the video above shows, developer Naman Jain has released a free tech demo–you can nab it here.

Partia 2: The Pretenders War

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Nearly two years ago, the mobile sRPG Partia: The Broken Lineage broke onto the app store. Word has it that Team Imago has now released a sequel by the name of Partia 2: The Pretenders War.

The premise: I haven’t a clue, frankly. The developers don’t provide one. The title seems to suggest a war brought on by an illegitimate heir seizing the throne, but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. The one thing I do know is that the Partia series consists of turn-based tactical RPGs very, very close to Fire Emblem in style and mechanics.

Partia 2 reportedly features 22 stages, as well as a bevy of new features: nicer character portraits, support for factions (an allied army, and up to two enemy armies that can ally with one another), an optional “common turn” mode (where the players alternate moving their characters a la chess), improved AI, and support for movement after attacking for mounted units a la the more recent Fire Emblems.

The fact that the sequel has come out at all is a bit of a small miracle, given that the first game lost money over its 4-year development cycle. Perhaps this one will do better for Team Imago.

Partia 2 is available for Android on Google Play at a $6.00 price point; it will be out for iOS as well whenever it gets through the Apple review process.

Sproggiwood announced

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Three-person indie studio Freehold Games has announced Sproggiwood, a story-driven roguelike set in a world inspired by Finnish mythology.

The premise:

You begin as a simple farmer from the peaceful island of Clog. Lured into a mysterious portal by a talking sheep, you find yourself in a strange and wondrous realm as the prisoner of Sproggi, a mischievous forest spirit. But why has he captured you? To tame the wild creatures that roam the forests of his world, or so he says.

Hack at giant slimes, dodge flying fish, and outwit angry goat-men as you plunder beautiful, procedural dungeons for scrolls, potions, swords, and staves! And just as you think you’ve got the hang of adventuring in Sproggiwood, you do something to trigger the rise of a rival civilization. Will you and your Cloghead brethren become fast friends with these new mushroom people, or will they sabotage Sproggi’s best laid plans and endanger all of Sproggiwood?

As you go from dungeon to dungeon, these rival civilizations grow, racing to outclass one another with new weaponry. The developers state: “As you grow your civilization, play through each dungeon as one of six classes — farmer, warrior, archer, thief, vampire, and wizard — each with its own powers, art, and play style, each offering a unique tactical experience. Hack or think your way through dungeons, bask in piles of loot, and force civilization upon the inhabitants of Sproggiwood! It’s yours to seize!”

Is this is a tongue-in-cheek message about the effects of imperialism, or an endorsement of it? The game’s trailer seems to suggest the former:

Sproggiwood is reportedly planned for release on Steam on October 24th.

The Banner Saga released on iOS

The Banner Saga
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The Banner Saga, Stoic Studio‘s viking strategy-RPG-cum-interactive-cel-shaded-animation has finally been released for mobile devices: specifically, for iPhone and iPads of the 4S generation and later. (The game won’t run on anything from the iPhone 4 generation or earlier.)

In case you missed it, my first impressions piece on the PC version of the game from earlier this year is available right here.

You can snag the mobile version of the game for $9.99. Make sure you’ve left some room on your phone, though: this sucker weighs in at 1.75 GB.

New release: Auro

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I’ve just learned that Auro–the not-technically-a-roguelike tactics title that was the subject of this interview–has finally been released! (Specifically, it appeared on Google Play in mid-September; the iOS release remains pending.)

Auro is a hex-based quasi-roguelike from DinoFarm Games, the creators of 100 Rogues.

The premise:

Set in an original fantasy universe, guide the brash, spoiled Prince Auro through procedurally generated dungeons, with only a handful of tactical spells and your wits to protect you.

Auro puts you in control of a single character with a selection of 9 distinct spells. The game features turn-based play, grid-based procedural dungeon generation, permadeath, and character advancement. Regardless, designer Keith Burgun is very adamant that this game is not a roguelike. Thus, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that the game’s trailer refers to it only as a “monster-bumping adventure”:

Auro reportedly features deterministic mechanics, relying heavily on emergent complexity to keep things interesting. (Clearly, Burgun and I have some measure of overlap in our game design philosophies.)

Auro is mobile-only; you can snag it for $2.99 on Android (and iOS, presumably, whenever this nonsense gets resolved).

New release: Mecha Ace

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Today in Choice of Games titles that I neglected to post about, we have Mecha Ace. Written by Paul Wang, Mecha Ace is a 230,000-word choose-your-own-adventure / RPG hybrid set in the midst of an interstellar war between Earth and its colonies.

The premise:

Step into the cockpit of a giant robot in an interstellar civil war! Customize your mecha to duel against enemy pilots with “monosaber” plasma swords. Find glory, disgrace, and even love.

Who will you be, pilot? Hero, villain, or renegade? Will you lead a unit of elite pilots to victory? Defeat your enemies with skill, cunning, determination, or heavy firepower? Fight for glory, for power, or for an enduring peace?

The game tracks your piloting skill, perception, willpower and presence; your total kills; your reputation; and your balance between warrior and diplomat on one hand, and between deliberation and passion on the other.

There is a short demo playable for free on the game’s page. You can pick up the full version of Mecha Ace for $3.99 for iOS and for Android; it is also available for Windows Mac and Linux via the Chrome Store.