Latest Publications

New release: 8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey

8-Bit Adventures
Joshua Hallaran of Critical Games (creator of Path of Thanatos) writes in to announce the release of a new RPG maker jRPG, 8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey.

Hallaran says the game has over 7 hours of play time, with an additional New Game plus mode containing “Greater Difficulty, New Equipment, Rewritten Dialogue, Alternate Graphics for the first 5 Dungeons, and Two New Side-Quests.” So maybe it’ll be 15 hours total on a second playthrough? It’s hard to say, really.

Though the title of the game suggests 8-bit graphics, the feature list claims only to have “8-Bit Style Graphics,” which strikes me a little like selling American Cheese and then putting a notice on the packaging that actually, it’s cheese food.  I haven’t counted the colors to confirm whether the game actually uses an 8-bit palette, though its use of partial opacity already seems to disqualify it from claiming true 8-bit graphics.

But that’s all just a bit of quibbling, isn’t it? What matters is whether the game is well-designed and enjoyable to play. I haven’t had time to try the game’s free demo yet, but you certainly can! While you wait for that to download, here is a trailer for you to watch:

The full game is Windows-only and sells for $7.50–if you like what you see, you can snag it direct from the developer.

New release: Saturday Morning RPG Episode 4

Mighty Rabbit Studios is on a roll, folks, with Episode 4 of Saturday Morning RPG seeing release barely a month after the last one. “But Craig,” you say, “it’s been more than a month sinc–” Shhhh. I was on hiatus, remember? Here, look at these screenshots; you are feeling very sleepy…

The premise:

Commander Hood has stolen Christmas from the citizens of Shadow Valley and hoarded their gifts in his Antarctic hideout the dreaded Terror Tower! It’s up to Marty to save Christmas and return the town’s gifts!

As with previous episodes, Episode 4: “Ho Ho HOOD!” is available as a $1.99 in-app-purchase from the main game, or for free if you’ve purchased the $6.49 Deluxe Edition.

SMRPG Christmas Special

Star Traders RPG comes to iOS

Andrew Trese, one of the sibling creators of Star Traders RPG, has written in to inform me that the aforementioned outer space RPG / economic sim (previously mentioned here) has been ported to iPhone and iPad so all you Apple loyalists can have a crack at it as well.

As with its original Android release, Star Traders RPG for iOS is free, with an optional $1.99 upgrade to the “Elite” version containing bucketloads of extra content. You can nab the game on the app store right here.

Moonshades announced

Last year was just chock full of announcements for new first-person dungeon crawlers, but it’s been a couple of months since the last one. Let’s consult our friend, the Magic 8 Ball.

Tell me, oh 8 Ball! Is the glut finally over?

Your sources say no? Funny; so do mine.

Your sources say no? Funny; so do mine.

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Here to turn the spigot back on is Moonshades, “an old school RPG” (sigh) that looks an awful lot like a low-poly Legends of Grimrock. It’s an in-browser game that (yay!) features multiplayer support, 3 races, 8 classes, crafting and pets. It also (double sigh) features achievements and “social media integration.”

There’s a trailer showing off a recent alpha build of the game, one that wisely omits the more iffy aspects of the feature list:

Only time will tell whether this lives up to its potential or wanders down the dark path of social games. For now, you can actually play the alpha for free without having to register; do that here and see how you like it.

Moonshades Alpha

New release: Age of Fear 2: The Chaos Lord

Age of Fear 2
All right, folks: time to start going through the backlog of news! First up, we have Age of Fear 2: The Chaos Lord, a turn-based fantasy strategy game from Leszek Sliwko.

Age of Fear 2 is, of course, the sequel to Age of Fear: The Undead King, which I reviewed here.

Age of Fear 2 comes with two campaigns, “The Demon’s Lover” and “The Horde.” There doesn’t seem to be a full plot summary available for either of them; however, one gets the general sense that one campaign involves the orcs fending off an invasion from the new Chaos Demon faction, while the second involves playing as the aforementioned Chaos Demons:

The story takes place in an untamed fantasy land, where four forces: the Human Kingdom, the Greenskins’ Horde, the Undead Legion, and the Chaos Demons, are fighting for domination and survival.

You’re about to encounter quick skirmishes, where your unit’s cooperation is essential. You will visit distant lands, either as a twisted succubus or an evil orcish warlord. And you will conquer cities, destroy demonic invaders, and discover ancient secrets. At least, you’ll do all of that if you can survive!

The feature list for Age of Fear 2 looks pretty solid; I’m somewhat amused that non-cheating AI is now a feature, and find myself wondering exactly how it was that the AI cheated in the previous game:

  • Multiplayer and skirmish modes! (HotSeat vs. AI vs. Networked Players)
  • Two full campaigns with multiple branches: The Demon’s Lover and The Horde!
  • Enhanced and non-cheating AI!
  • 91(!) units with over 100 unique skills, split into four distinctive armies (Human Kingdom, Undead Legion, Greenskins Horde and Chaos Demons)!
  • Over 40 unique battles and bonus content!

Meanwhile, the combat system appears to be mostly the same, featuring free movement across grid-free battlefields in a turn-based fashion:

Sliwko has promised that a mission editor will be made available in a future release. In the meantime, Age of Fear 2 has a free demo available right now for Windows, Mac and Linux; grab it here. The full version of the game is likewise available for Windows, Mac and Linux and can be yours for $19.99–buy it here direct from the developer.

Game review: Mainichi

Title: Mainichi
Developer: Mattie Brice
Platforms: Windows
Price: free

“I should try to be more positive today.”

Mainichi is not an RPG, but it’s made in RPG Maker and it forms an interesting contrast to games that are RPGs–so we’re going to examine it.

RPGs are games about character progression. Insofar as the player character is meant to be agent of positive change in the world, RPGs are also about capital-P Progress.

Mainichi is not about Progress. Nothing ever improves in Mainichi. Rather, it is a loop, an endless repetition of the same tiresome choices about whether to trade inordinate amounts of time for the ability to duck a near-constant stream of indignities.

I’ve complained about how RPGs almost universally fixate on the epic at the expense of the personal. Related to this, I think they can do much more to give us experiences from real people whom we might otherwise have difficult empathizing with. Mainichi seems custom-made to respond to these criticisms, focused as it is on personal experiences from a community in deep need of some empathy.


Happy New Year!

Another year, another bunch of great indie RPGs to check out. We’ll be back tomorrow with something interesting! Until then… - Chrono New Year

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Hello everyone! I’m back from my self-imposed exile and ready to start posting news about the world of indie RPGs once more.

As you all (probably) know, I’ve had a long-standing policy of not posting stand-alone articles about crowdfunding projects. My reasoning for this is that these projects are oftentimes speculative, and I don’t want to waste peoples’ time posting about games that haven’t even been formally announced yet.

However, I’ve decided to reverse that policy and start running round-ups of current RPG crowdfunding campaigns in a new feature I’m calling “Back to Back.” There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Most of these projects, in my experience, are labors of love that are going to be completed one way or another, with the real question being “How polished and feature-filled are they going to have the budget to become?”
  2. Crowdfunding is an inescapable reality of the indie space right now. It is, quite simply, just about the only viable way to scrape together a budget without finding a publisher (and thus, becoming not-indie).
  3. Because these are so prevalent, and because RPGs whose campaigns fail tend to get made anyway, the announcement of a crowdfunding campaign has largely become equivalent to announcing the game itself.
  4. I created this site to help indie RPG developers. Given factor 2 above, I’ve decided that I really ought to be covering these campaigns. (Also, my own experience running such a campaign has given me a special sympathy for the difficulties of conducting one without media coverage.)

So I’m going to start covering these. However, I don’t want to run an individualized story for every campaign that comes up, as that will quickly turn this from an indie RPG site into an indie RPG Kickstarter site. (Seriously, there are a lot of these campaigns.) Hence, the round-up format.

Finally, a quick disclaimer: unless otherwise noted, I have not played any of these games, and therefore cannot endorse them–I leave it to your discretion which you think are worth backing. Without further ado, here are a bunch of campaigns running right now for you to look into!

I encourage you to back any campaign that seems worthwhile to you without regard to whether you think it’ll make its goals. You won’t get charged if a campaign fails, after all, and it’ll help the creator by giving them more momentum and an easy way to contact you if they decide to try again.

(Note: Indiegogo’s flexible funding campaigns can’t “fail,” so you’ll be charged no matter what if you give to those!)

Game review: Drox Operative

Title: Drox Operative
Developer: Soldak Entertainment
Platforms: Win & Mac
Price: $19.95, free demo

Guest Review by Tof Eklund

Soldak Entertainment has built their reputation on action RPGs in the roguelike vein that Diablo popularized. The award-winning Din’s Curse may be their best known release, with its complex character interactions and dynamic world.

Some years ago, I got sucked into an ambitious but incomplete space action roguelike called Transcendence (side note: it seems that Transcendence is still in development). Drox Operative promises to take what I liked about that game and really push the RPG and simulation elements.

The setup is simple: dating back at least to Master of Orion 2, 4x space strategy games have included mercenaries for hire, either to captain your ships or with their own tricked-out ships. Drox Operative situates you as one of those mercenaries, taking jobs for the various powers seeking to conquer the known universe.


Open Beta: Rogue’s Tale

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image-3700‘s aptly named roguelike RPG, Rogue’s Tale, has entered open beta after being in development since 2009. This the second phase of the game’s open beta, which will end sometime in January 2013. Even though the game is in beta, it is playable from beginning to end and is in the very final stages of development. The game’s creators hope to release the full version of Rogue’s Tale in early 2013.

Rogue’s Tale is freeware for now and while it is a single-player game, it does require an in-game registration in order to play. You can download the stand-alone client, but you are also able to download and host a server of your own in case the the server goes down.

I just want to add that I have really been enjoying this game personally. It has some pretty graphics and silky smooth gameplay with deceptive amounts of depth to it. However, let me warn you, this game is hard. I don’t mean that Rogue’s Tale is difficult because it is a roguelike either. Rogue’s Tale is hands-down one of the toughest roguelikes I have ever played. Still, none of my deaths in the game have felt particularly unfair and I feel that Rogue’s Tale is certainly worth a look.

Download the Rogue’s Tale beta here to get started and feel free to report any bugs to!