Latest Publications Checks Out Heroes of Steel

Howdy, IndieRPGers! The Trese Brothers, auteurs of nearly a half-dozen Android RPGs, have offered me a Windows build of Heroes of Steel to check out.

If I’m not mistaken, Heroes of Steel is the very first game the Trese Brothers have released on PC, and so mobile origins notwithstanding, I’m judging the game as a PC title. Without further ado, here is the first 35 minutes or so of the game:

So! What’d I think?


Celestian Tales: Old North announced

Celestian Tales Old NorthCipto Adiguno of Indonesian indie studio Ekuator Games writes in to tell me about Celestian Tales: Old North, a jRPG they’re creating where the story spans three decades and your characters visibly age.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this game; they actually first wrote to me last summer when they were attempting to kickstart Celestian Tales. At that time, the future of the game was somewhat in doubt; as of today, however, that is no longer so, as they’ve hit 100% funding on their Kickstarter with 21 days left to go.

So what’s it all about? Here’s the premise:

Begin your journey as a youth learning your steps into knighthood. Serve great and powerful heroes as their squires. Take part in campaigns of glory by their sides. Be there as time withers even the mightiest of mortals. When heroes of today replace the yesterday, will you stand to defend your ideals? Will you be steadfast as realities confront your naive thoughts? Will your dark secrets be kept hidden from even dearest ones?

As decades change and life throws its worst, many a people come out a different person. That face you’re looking at the mirror might not be a face you used to know. Flames once shining in your eyes might have turned to cold ashes. Sincere laughters might have vanished into fake smiles to please your peers. Or perhaps you will stay the same, as unrelenting as ever in your beliefs. The path of life has many branches; it is up to you to pick which to tread.

The trailer gives a pretty clear sense of what the narrative is about, at least thematically:


The developers state that combat is modeled on Grandia. Enemies will be visible while exploring, and battles will be more substantial and fewer in number than in most jRPGs.

Celestian Tales: Old North is coming out in three parts; the first part is due out for Windows, Mac and Linux in November 2014, and the third part should be coming out by May 2015.

Heroes of Steel out for Windows, Episode 2 released

Heroes of SteelHey folks, remember this one? The Trese Brothers tell me that (1) they’ve now released the second episode of Heroes of Steel, and (2) the game is now available for Windows on Desura, where it is (a) miscategorized as a roguelike and (b) priced at $11.99.

The premise of the second episode:

Episode 2 sends your group into lava caverns and into the highlands of the east where you face Ice and Stone Trolls, crazed Cultists worshiping a spider god and legions of Orcin led by devious shamans. The monster intelligence systems for Episode 2 also raise the bar, forcing you to alter the turn-based tactics you’ve perfected in Episode 1 at every turn. As you progress through Episode 2: the Gathering Shadow, your group will gain access to new and powerful Talents – such as the Wizard’s Firestorm, the Cleric’s Banishment, and the Outlander’s Juggernaut – which were previously locked behind Level 18. The shops of the four new towns, and treasure hoards of the 20 new dungeons hundreds of new weapons, armors, and items available so that you can keep your party bristling with all the best.

Among other things, the developers state that this episode doubles the world’s size and adds more than 30 new monster types.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering if that $11.99 price tag for the Windows version gets you everything, or if you’re still going to be forced to engage in a spate of micro-transactions to get the complete experience. Thankfully, you have me around to get the answers to questions like these: the Trese Brothers assure me that the Windows version contains no micro-transactions; it comes with everything included. Go here for Windows, here for iOS, and here for Android.

Subterranea announced

SubterraneaJohn Mabbott of Cloud Nine Games writes in to announce Subterranea, a turn-based, party-based wRPG.

According to Mabbott, the goal is to approximate something like the old Gold Box games of yore, but in 3D and with the addition of destructible environments and physics-based interactions. To that end, Subterranea will employ the Dungeons and Dragons version 3.5 ruleset.

An abbreviation of the rather wordy plot premise:

Many decades ago, a fishing village called Gimlet grew on the side of the swamp like a small barnacle. The villagers of Gimlet scraped out a living, catching and selling the odd looking fish they hauled in from the swamp with their homemade nets.

Recently, a threat to Gimlet’s prosperity has emerged. Two survivors of a six-strong harvesting party returned from the swamp with a fevered table of a temple entrance found sunken near the centre of the swamp. The most brave (or foolhardy) of the harvesters broke through the entrance. When their screams rang out across the swamp from within the dark interior, the survivors fled for their lives, never once looking back.

Your party has answered the call and are gathered in the entry room of Gimlet Hall. You and the other adventuring parties eye each other nervously – will you help or hinder each other? A staff strikes the marble floor, the two massive doors swing open and a guard summons you to be addressed by the cabal…

Among the game’s planned features:

  • Tactical combat with cover and elevation effects
  • Create a party of up to 6 custom characters
  • Heavy use of physics in destructible environments

About those physics and destructible environments–check out what happens roughly 30 seconds into this video:

The game’s presentation is obviously still a bit rough at this point, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little rush of glee when that bridge collapsed and the enemies fell to their deaths. Besides, the game’s in pre-alpha–there is plenty of time to polish things up!

Subterranea is on Kickstarter, where it is about 1/5th of the way to its modest $12,500 goal. It is also on Steam Greenlight, where it awaits your upvote.

Subterranea is planned for a simultaneous Windows and Linux release in March 2015.

Saga Heroes announced

Saga HeroesUtah indie studio Wasatch Games writes in to announce Saga Heroes, an action RPG with a title apparently custom-made to draw the litigious eye of world-class scumbags

…where was I? (sorry, I got a bit distracted by my loathing of there.) Oh, right! Saga Heroes. Yes. So, here’s the premise:

save the world from evil by uncovering the cause of the corruption of the land by a cult called The Shadow, whose sole purpose is to release the Elder God of Death, Goth-Azul. You start in the small village of Aria, with the clothes on your back and nothing more. Gain the trust of the townsfolk by helping them out and they will reveal more of the story.

“Goth-Azul,” huh? You know, if I had $300 to blow, I might actually throw it at this game’s Kickstarter just so I could create an NPC with this as his dialog: “Man–Azul used to be so much cooler back before he went all Goth, you know? Now he’s got this cuuuult, and he listens to The Cure all the tiiiiime, and he’s just super into death. It’s totally lame.”

“Craig,” you might say, “what are you talking about?: You can’t just throw $300 at a game and create a character!” Ordinarily, dear reader, you would be correct–but this game has a Kickstarter. Feel free to throw money at it if it strikes your fancy! (Also: a Greenlight page for upvoting and such.)

Here’s the trailer:

According to Wasatch’s Kickstarter reward estimates, they’re planning to release the game in August–a very aggressive schedule, but certainly not impossible if they’re far enough along. (Developer Eric Wiggins tells me that the release date might slip if they don’t hit their goal, and the game’s scope will likely be affected.)

Saga Heroes is planned for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and Ouya.

Interview with Indinera Falls

AldorleaToday, we have an interview with Indinera Falls, founder of Aldorlea Games and creator of the Laxius Force and Millennium series. I sat down to chat with him about his reliance on RPG Maker, about his plans for the future, about his business model, and about whether direct sales are going to remain viable going forward in the face of Steam’s ever-expanding grip on PC game distribution:


Battle Brothers announced

Battle BrothersJan Taaks of Overhype Studios writes in to announce the development of Battle Brothers, which he describes as a turn-based strategy game with RPG and management elements. A better way to describe this game, however, would probably be to just call it “fantasy X-COM.”

The premise:

In the game you take on the role of a leader of a band of mercenaries and adventurers on the hunt for treasure, fame and legendary artifacts. As you journey onwards, an epic scale invasion unfolds that leaves nothing but burning rubble in its wake. You and your Battle Brothers emerge as the people’s last hope to unravel the source of the invasion and strike at its heart.

This “fantasy X-COM” thing seems to be a new trend, with BB joining Knights-Errant as part of a wave of indie fantasy strategy games with a team management overworld layer and turn-based tactical battles in between. (If we view the trend as slapping a strategy layer onto traditional RPG gameplay, then I think we have to include Heroes of a Broken Land here as well.)

BB doesn’t have a trailer yet, but it does have a pretty huge pre-alpha gameplay video with developer commentary:

Here is the list of planned features for when the game is completed:

  • Procedurally generated. Worldmap, combat maps, characters and even the nature of the invasion itself are procedurally generated. No two games will ever be alike!
  • Open and dynamic world. No boring linear missions, you decide where to go and what to do! But with choice come consequences – the world will change permanently as the invasion sweeps the lands, and you may just find a town burned to the ground if you don’t come to its aid.
  • Permadeath – decisions really matter. If a Battle Brother is killed in combat he is dead forever, his experience and skills will be lost. So you better think twice about that suicide charge with your most experienced Brother.
  • Complex yet intuitive mechanics. Below the surface is a complex system working but we dont want players to study manuals and tutorials all day long. If it makes sense in real life it makes sense in Battle Brothers.
  • Huge tactical combat maps. This is not checkers, this is a grown-up combat simulation. Field up to 12 Battle Brothers at the same time on huge combat maps. Send your rangers through the woods into the back of the enemy while your armored shieldbearers stall the enemy attack.
  • Height levels in combat maps. Use the high grounds for your tactical advantage! Increase the range of your archers or repell overwhelming attacks against unsurmountable enemy numbers.
  • Diverse enemy roster. Enemies don’t just differ in name. All enemies have unique skills and unique AI behavior, and you have to adjust your tactics if you want to stand a chance.
  • Character development. Each Battle Brother gains experience through combat. Level them up and aquire new, powerful skills and abilities to fit your own strategy.
  • No restrictive class-system. Your Battle Brother’s skills and abilities are given by their equipment and level. You want to make an all ranged squad? The only limitations is whether it stands the test on the field of battle!
  • Detailed inventory system. Equip your Battle Brothers with weapons, arms, armor and powerful accessories.
  • What you see is what you get. Every piece of equipment your Battle Brothers are wearing is displayed on the tactical map. This allows for making your troops look like you really want them to!
  • Dynamic damage display. See your Battle Brothers smash shields, get their armor shredded to pieces or get beaten to a pulp! Of course the same goes for the enemies.
  • Full fledged crafting system. Find and research new crafting recipes, gather resources and craft deadly weapons and impenetrable armor.

Hell–that sounds pretty good to me.

The developers estimate that they’ll have this one out by mid-2014 (though that seems a little overly optimistic to me, given that they don’t yet have the overworld strategy layer running). Battle Brothers will be for Windows, Mac and Linux. No word yet on whether there’ll be any Battle Sisters involved.

Palm Kingdoms 3 announced

Palm Kingdoms 3Three-man Bulgarian studio iosoftware Ltd. has reached out to me with news of an upcoming fantasy strategy title by the name of Palm Kingdoms 3 (the game does not have its own web page at the moment–just the Facebook page).

I’m not sure that there is actually a narrative premise at work here, but the basic gist of the game is as follows:

You control brave heroes to explore land, fight your opponents, and capture their castles. To achieve ultimate victory, you need to collect resources, fortify defenses, make allies, and go through many fights with aggressive inhabitants of these lands. During the journey your heroes will gain experience, learn new spells and skills, recruit and upgrade their armies. The more Castles you own, the richer your kingdom is. But you need protection from your foes, as they will come and siege you sooner or later.

Here is a trailer:

Palm Kingdoms 3 is planned for release in Fall 2014 for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Windows Phone and Android. In the meantime, it is on Steam Greenlight, awaiting your upvote.

Darkest Dungeon announced

Darkest DungeonA bit of browsing on Kickstarter has revealed to me the existence of Darkest Dungeon, a top-down dungeon crawler with some really intriguing mechanics relating to the psychological state of your party. Now in development by Red Hook Studio, Darkest Dungeon “was conceived as an antidote to the loot-piñata RPG experience which focuses solely on a character’s numerical capabilities. Squad leaders and sports team managers have to contend with the human factors as they strive to maximize effectiveness–why not in RPGs?”

The premise:

Darkest Dungeon is a gothic roguelike RPG dungeon crawler about the psychological stresses of adventuring. You will lead a band of four heroes on a perilous side-scrolling descent, dealing with a prodigious number of threats to their bodily health, and worse, a relentless assault on their mental fortitude! Five hundred feet below the earth you will not only fight unimaginable foes, but famine, disease, and the stress of the ever-encroaching dark. Darkest Dungeon focuses on the humanity and psychological vulnerability of the heroes and asks: What emotional toll does a life of adventure take?

“Wait a minute,” you might say. “Side-scrolling descent? I though this game was top-down?” Well, according to Red Hook developer Tyler Sigman, DD has something of a dual-nature Famaze thing going on:

You choose your path on the top-down roguelike map. You basically direct the party from room to room, choosing which passage way to take. But the movement is displayed in the sidescrolling panel.

There are not one, but two trailers out for this game right now. Sigman says that the first trailer uses mocked-up footage, while everything in the second trailer comes from in-game:

Darkest Dungeon has been successfully Kickstarted and then some. As of the time of writing, it is more than 200% funded only a few days into the campaign!

Darkest Dungeon is planned for release in January 2015, with early access due sometime late this year; for Windows, Mac and Linux.

New release: Eschalon: Book III

EschalonAfter an unexpectedly long development cycle, Basilisk Games has now released Eschalon: Book III, the third and final chapter in the Eschalon series!

The premise:

Eschalon: Book III brings the trilogy to a climactic end as you seek to uncover the mystery of your past, the secrets of the Crux stones, and who the Orakur really are. You’ll traverse miles of virtual wilderness and dungeons, filled with secrets and danger, in an unparalleled role-playing experience designed to feel like a true pen-and-paper RPG.

Although this game caps off a trilogy, Basilisk Games state that Book III “can be fully enjoyed even if you’ve never played the previous games.” I found that to be true for Book II, so I’m sure they can make it happen with the third installment as well. However, as we discovered during that last episode, there are definitely some plot spoilers in the intro cinematic; if you’re someone who is playing the Eschalon series for its plot (not the best reason to play them, IMO, but whatever), then I’d consider playing them in order.

Anyway! Here’s the release trailer:

Among the game’s features, as described by Basilisk Games:

• Dozens of fan-requested features and updates to the engine and rule set.

• Hundreds of graphic updates including re-rendered tiles, new spell effects, and enhanced environment effects. New sound effects and music in crystal-clear HD audio via an updated sound engine.

• Expanded stats for creatures give them new abilities, defenses and vulnerabilities. Combat will require new levels of strategy.

• New spells and hundreds of new items for you to discover. A huge world filled with secrets, riddles, traps, treasure, and glory awaits you!

• Book III is not a dumbed-down “RPG for the masses”. Rapid button clicking won’t save you here. Eschalon pays honor to the greatest RPGs of the past, with unlimited character development options and freedom to explore the world as you wish. The difficulty of the game does not scale to your character.

• Developer tools to be released shortly after the availability of the game. Build your own maps and make your own adventures!

• Single player only, like a great RPG should be.

The fact that they’re releasing the game’s map editor shortly after release is particularly appealing; mod support adds a lot of value here.

You can snag Eschalon Book III on and on Steam for $17.99 (10% off the regular price of $19.99). For Windows, Mac and Linux.