Latest Publications

New release: Deepfall Dungeon

Deepfall Dungeon
Deepfall Dungeon is a free, 3D first person dungeon crawler that was apparently released back in November (but hey–it’s new to me).

Created by LOD Games, Deepfall Dungeon doesn’t waste time pretending to have a plot:

You have entered the dreaded Deepfall Dungeon and must find the exit! Along the way, you will fight monsters, find treasure, cast spells and build your character from a nobody to a legend! Will you make it out alive?

As far as I’m aware, that’s pretty much it. The developer claims that the game contains 20 levels and hundreds of items to collect, though I’m less certain about the monster variety on offer. Here’s a trailer to give you a sense of what you’re in for:

No surprises here: just a straightforward Dungeon Master clone, minus the whole “having a party” thing.

Deepfall Dungeon is free; go download it now for zero dollars. (Windows only.)

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Back to Back is back! (As if the name left any doubt.) It’s been a couple of weeks, and we have a new slate of RPGs seeking funding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. We can make the difference for these games seeking a budget. Why not give them a look and see if they pique your interest?

New release: Heileen 3: New Horizons

Heileen 3
Going through my Enormous Backlog o’ Emails, I spy something from the ever-prolific Winter Wolves: a dating sim by the name of Heileen 3: New Horizons!

“A what?” I hear you say. “A dating sim? Cripes, man–this is supposed to be an RPG site!” Ah, but you see, dating sims are RPGs, technically. I mean, they have characters, dialog, grinding and leveling; it’s just that they’re more focused on (weird abstractions of) personal relationships and less focused on killing monsters/gathering loot/chasing magical MacGuffins.

The premise of Heileen 3 is only slightly ludicrous:

After being rescued by Captain Morgan and his pirate crew, they set o–

Wait, wait. Captain Morgan? Seriously? I…let’s…just not focus on that.

After being rescued by Captain Morgan and his pirate crew, they set off to find and reunite with her old friends. Aboard the ship, the Morning Star, Heileen ponders on what she’ll like to do with her life.

Along the way she will meet new characters, discover additional things about her old friends and maybe learn a profession thanks to the new skills system. The Virtues/Sins gameplay introduced in the second game is also present: every choice in the game will change Heileen’s personality, in a wide array of possibilities. Saint or sinner? That will be up to you to decide!

As is Winter Wolves’s wont, the game seems very focused on letting you customize your character and role play her relationships with a bevy of other characters. Celso Riva tells me that Heileen 3 features four potential romances (“Morgan, John, Jonathan or the new face Sebastian”), as well as 14 available professions with a custom unlockable ending for each. Word has it that four same-sex romances will also be coming to the game in a future expansion.

Look, off the starboard bow: it’s a trailer!

Heileen 3 is currently available for Windows, Mac and Linux at a $19.99 price point. Grab the full game here if this sounds like your sort of thing. Want to try it out before you buy? Grab the demo: Windows, Mac and Linux.

New release: Bit Dungeon

Bit Dungeon
KintoGames recently released Bit Dungeon, a Zelda-style top-down dungeon crawler, on iPad–and that’s as good an excuse to write about it as any. (The original game was actually released back in September, but hey–it’s new to me.)

The premise:

You and your wife were captured by demons…

You wake up trapped in a cell, grab your sword and let the quest to find your wife begin!

So, uh, you know: not exactly a Nabokov-level narrative, but sufficient to give one an excuse for running around a dungeon and sword-slashing things to death.

Bit Dungeon is available for free in browser (Newgrounds, Kongregate), or for $0.99 if you want to play it on iPad. Checks Out Legends of Eisenwald

Last Spring, you may recall me having posted about Legends of Eisenwald, a King’s Bounty-style RPG by Aterdux Entertainment with castles, garrisons and turn-based tactical battles. LoE was more than 2 years into development at that time, and was well on its way to raising what would turn out to be more than $83,000 on Kickstarter.

Nearly one year later (read: about two weeks ago), Alexander Dergay of Aterdux emailed me with a link to try out the game, which he informed me had just reached beta stage. What follows are my first impressions playing the beta.

Basically: there is a lot of good stuff here, but I also have some gripes. The balancing of many early game battles seems off. Further, as things currently stand, the game does an exceptionally poor job of explaining itself to the player, both in terms of its rules and in terms of providing visual feedback to the player during combat. (Dergay tells me that there was some sort of documentation about how to play that they forgot to send me, but alas, games are no longer in the age of RTFM.)

Luckily, all of this is stuff that can be easily fixed. Less likely to change is the fact that I can’t independently move my units during combat, a design choice that I am still far from sold on. Hopefully I will grow to appreciate it when I sit down to try LoE out at greater length in the future.

Aterdux Entertainment are planning to release LoE sometime this year.

Mini RPG announced, playable

Mini RPG
Jason Pickering has announced Mini RPG, an adorable small-scale jRPG he’s hoping to have finished within a month.

The premise:

The player will run around the overworld, solving puzzles and getting into random battles. the entire overworld will be rather small. maybe 10 x 10 screens. but there will probably be some running around and back and forth, similar to a zelda game where you suddenly get something to open up a new area you previously found. The player will be able to carry one item. these will always be story or puzzle specific, Key to unlock Door, Item for Person.

The Main story is you must find this magical amulet to Free the king who was turned to stone by an evil curse.

I am also hoping I can make a series of these after the base mechanics are in. I want the stories to change but always focus on this amulet. similar to the orb in the Heavy Metal movie.

Combat looks to be one-on-one and turn-based, a little like in the Pokemon games.  Mini RPG will feature a skill-based progression system. To wit:

The skills will be the players progession system. they will earn Gems instead of XP and the player can attach these to skills. thats how many times the player can use that skill in an encounter. so you can choose to go with more heals, or more fireballs. thats up to you. Level Ups will be handed out at story beats I decide to discourage grinding. Each time a player levels up they either earn a gem or an extra heart. Gems and heart will also be hidden in side missions too.

The game is being created in Flash, and has a playable prototype online right here. Go ahead and give it a try!

Soul Saga Episode 1 announced, but probably dead

Soul Saga
Disastercake Games has announced* Soul Saga Episode 1, a 3D jRPG being created in Unity.

* (Kinda. I actually found out about this game back in November, but kept waiting for a better time to write about it. It seems there isn’t going to be a better one, though, so here we go!)

The actual website is quite barren of details about the game beyond numerous screenshots showing how nice it looks, but luckily there’s an interview floating around the internet with some more details about it:

It’s basically inspired by the “Tales of” series, a long running series of role-playing games published by Namco. I grew up with the “Tales of” series, so I really wanted to capture its essence. It’s a very immersive experience powered by a procedurally built storyline.

The game is planned to feature combat styled after Final Fantasy 10, extensive character customization, and a cell phone inspired by the game Catherine that will provide access to “inventory, equipment, skills, [and] messages from and to other characters.”

A fair bit of the game’s art is complete, as is the game’s theme song. However, the game page lists it as due for release in March 2013, which is awfully soon given its current state of completion.

Worryingly, the Soul Saga blog hasn’t been updated since early November, nor have there been any new tweets from the DisasterCake Twitter account. Similarly, a video of gameplay promised for release in December has not materialized.

This is the creator’s first game, so it’s possible that he simply bit off more of the titular “disaster cake” than he could chew. (Incidentally, this is why I counsel people to avoid making an RPG until they have more game development experience.)

Hopefully this isn’t the end for Soul Saga; for now, though, I’m going to file this one in the game obituaries. A shame: it’s such a pretty corpse.

Swords and Sorcery: Sovereign announced

Swords and Sorcery Sovereign Logo
A little bird tells me that OlderBytes (a.k.a. Charles Clerc), creator of first-person dungeon crawler Swords and Sorcery: Underworld Gold (previously covered here), is embarking on a sequel by the name of Swords and Sorcery: Sovereign.

The sequel is set to be much larger than its predecessor, with 17 towns to the original’s three, as well as “48 surface maps, underwater maps, caverns and even a few uncharted territories” spanning mountains, forests, glaciers, desert, ocean, marshes, caverns and dungeons.

The plot summary, such as it now stands, follows:

The ancients spoke of a first coming. This had happened before and was likely to happen again. After years of peace disturbed by growing doubt and quiet rumors, subversity set in. The official response to the people’s demands for disclosure, as to the identity and whereabouts of the heroes that had once saved the realm, as to the nature of the evil they engaged and defeated, was continuously one of denial of any form of subsiding danger.

Then the dead started rising again. Albeit in small, easily manageable numbers, they were enough to turn subversity into rebellion. And rebellion was met with ruthless repression.

Baronies and Duchies seceded. While some renewed their oaths to the Crown, claims arose of the King’s madness and unfittedness to rule, followed by claims to the Crown itself. Others still crafted Royal Circlets of their own and war banners floated to the high winds. Winds that carried a renewed hint of the pestilence past, but few took notice.  The scent of blood spilt on fields of agony grew to such strengths as to make the subtle smell of ancient death next to unnoticeable.

Sovereign is due to introduce more spells and abilities, item crafting, two new character classes (druid and hunter), and competing factions whose affairs you can choose to meddle in.

Clerc states that he’s made a lot of progress on the game’s backstory, with 30 pages written, and that he has the character creation system nearly done. It also looks like he’s making headway on redesigning the game’s GUI. There is no planned release date yet; if this is anything like its predecessor, this should be a Windows-only affair.

Eternal Eden: Ecclesia announced, available for pre-order

Eternal Eden Ecclesia
Word has it that Blossomsoft, creators of the RPG Maker jRPG Eternal Eden, are hard at work on a more polished follow-up by the name of Eternal Eden: Ecclesia.

The premise for the sequel is vague on plot details, but it does contain an interesting new gameplay mechanic:

Eternal Eden: Ecclesia is a direct sequel to the 2008 role playing video game, Eternal Eden. In the first installment the player traveled in two parallel worlds. In this upcoming installment, the journey has evolved a bit differently; the player explores a single world but it’s constantly influenced by four powerful reality paradigms (Cryo, Terra, Inferno and Omega).

I asked the creator for more information about how the reality paradigms work; it seems that they’re ways of altering the environment of any given area in a way that reminds me of indie platformer Eversion:

The Cryo reality is some kind of Transylvania-ish projection that covers the world with frost and become populated by undead creatures. The Terra reality is some kind of Celtic projection that invokes elves, goblins and other similar mystic creatures. The Inferno reality engulfs the world in heat and flames. The Omega reality brings electricity, science, and technologies. Summoning these reality paradigms back and forth will allow the player to solve mysteries and progress through the game.

It’s actually a pretty interesting idea, in my opinion.

Eternal Eden: Ecclesia is evidently mostly done, with an announced release timeline of Q1 2013. Blossomsoft has stated that the game will be made available for Windows, Mac and iPad; you can currently pre-order the game through Paypal for $20.

Oh, and here is a metric ton of really nice-looking screenshots:

Stardew Valley announced

Stardew Valley
I’ve just caught wind of Stardew Valley, a Harvest Moon-style RPG / dating sim in development by Eric Barone. The idea seems to be that you’ll split your time between tending crops, dungeon crawling, and hitting on the locals.

The developer describes the game’s premise like so:

It’s up to you to choose your path… Will you devote your time to raising crops and caring for animals? Will you spend time in the local village, befriending the local townspeople? Do you get a kick out of slaying dreadful monsters in the mysterious mountain caverns? Or will you try to accomplish everything and claim the coveted title of “Stardew Hero”?

It’s up to you to decide.

Er. If ever there was a title that would get you beaten up at school, I think “Stardew Hero” would be it. I’d rather be called Stardew’d, myself. (Get it? Stardew’d? …never mind.)

Like little droplets of stardew, the game’s About page drops these little bullet points of features upon us:

  • 20+ crops that grow in different seasons
  • Raise cows, chickens, goats, rabbits, and more!
  • Build your farm the way you want by choosing the number and location of all your farm buildings!
  • Level up and earn skill points to spend in 6 different areas.
  • 30+ unique characters to befriend. Get married to one of ten eligible bachelors or bachelorettes.
  • Explore a vast, procedurally-generated cave to find materials and treasure, but make sure to bring your sword!
  • Spend your extra time fishing or searching for ancient artifacts.
  • 80+ achievements to strive for.
  • Over an hour of original music.
  • Craft helpful items and cook delicious meals to keep you going.
  • Decorate your house as you see fit.
  • Play as a boy or girl, and customize your appearance.

The procedurally generated dungeon crawling and implied time management aspect of this game make me think of Recettear, albeit with a focus on farming and date-simming over shop-keeping. There’s also some noticeable Minecraft influence going on here with the mining and crafting aspects. Basically, this game sounds incredibly ambitious. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t pan out: it looks like Barone’s already made substantial progress on this sucker. Here is the latest alpha footage of the game:

I have yet to see any mention of a prospective release date; based on the game’s Greenlight page, it appears to be targeted at Windows PCs only. Oh, and speaking of Greenlight: you can vote to get this game onto Steam when the time comes by visiting its Greenlight page right here.

EDIT: Per the game’s IndieDB page, it will also be seeing release on XBox 360.