Latest Publications

Dex announced

DexWord has reached me that there is a new side-scrolling cyberpunk action RPG in development. The name? Dex. (And no, it’s not a game about the White Pages.)

Dex is being developed by Dreadlocks Ltd. from the Czech Republic. The premise:

The main protagonist – a young woman leading an ordinary corporate life – is approached by a legendary hacker Raycast. She is asked to play her part in the events surrounding the enigmatic AI called Kether. The reason is her innate ability to move freely through the cyberspace, without a “jack” or any kind of implant. The whole story is a grinding stone between the heroine (Dex), the low-life and hackers (The Grid) and the corporations (The Complex) and the AI Kether struggling to reach the Singularity. The corporations want to rule Kether, the hackers want it to free itself and lead mankind onto a next evolutionary stage – but noone knows what would the real outcome will be.

This trailer shows off the game’s cyberpunk aesthetic, with some combat, stealth, and dialog to boot:

The developers state that Dex will feature multiple solutions to in-game problems, and–in a move that makes me think just a bit of Bloom: Memories–you’ll be able to visible “enter cyberspace” to interact with otherwise hidden features of the current area. As the developer puts it: “it takes place in two planes: physical reality and cyberspace. Cyberspace is omnipresent – you can go there anytime for an alternate take on things.”

According to the developer, you will always start the game as Dex, but you’ll be able to customize her by putting points into developing her skills in combat, stealth or hacking as you play.

As you progress through the game (XP rewards for missions, takedowns/kills, exploration etc.), you level up. This is very similar to Castlevania actually. The XP-driven advancement allows you to put skillpoints into skill lines (similar to Shadowrun Returns and Mass Effect). Plus you can purchase/unlock cybernetic implants, which alter the gameplay in some way – higher jumps (allowing to reach new places), silent movement, health regeneration, gas/EMP/projectile resistance etc.

Dex is currently on Kickstarter, where it’s having a bit of a slow start–head on over there if you want to help it along. (The developers assure me that development will continue if the campaign fails, but they’ll have to find an outside source of funding or else diminish the game’s scope and suite of planned features, with voice acting first onto the chopping block.)

Dex is planned for release on Windows, Linux, Mac and OUYA in June 2014.

Eremidia: Dungeon! announced

Eremidia DungeonWord has it that Indonesian indie developer Enthrean is developing a dungeon crawler with a jRPG style battle system. That game is called Eremidia: Dungeon!

The premise:

You play as the chosen Scout of Eremidia mainland, taking your chosen Heroes and the cursed King himself to dwell the deep, dark dungeons filled by Minions and many monsters that are waiting for you. Treasures, challenges, and traps are also waiting for you to be undiscovered in the dungeons. Play as a Summoner, explore the potent of every of available Heroes that you’ve discovered either by help of the Librarian or by your finding in the dungeon, providing myriad playstyle depends on the player’s liking. And at least, find and defeat the Black One to bring the peace back to Grace Island, where the threat itself comes from.

Eremidia reportedly comes with 20 playable characters, 13 quests, 11 runes, and 80 accessories.

Here’s a gameplay trailer showing off (what else?) a bit of the game, including a timed-hit combat system inspired by Paper Mario:

Eremidia is still in development. While you wait for release, you can download pre-release build 1.0RC1 to give it a try; there’s also a patch up to eliminate some bugs in this pre-release version.

Dimiria: The Agrarian Falls announced

DimiriaWord reaches me that Singaporean developers Softnetix Entertainment are hard at work on an episodic 3D action RPG. The first episode is called Dimiria: The Agrarian Falls.

I’m not sure what the subtitle is meant to refer to, if I’m being honest; it makes me think of a small waterfall by a farm. The plot premise doesn’t offer much of a clue either:

In this dark, heroic fantasy, you enter the land of Andhere Terrae and charge onto the front lines against the impending Hiristian invasion. Choose your warrior’s style and skills. Are you a Fighter; a strong and fearless combatant? Or are you a Mage; intelligent and cunning with incredible tactical potential? Or perhaps a Rogue; quick and stealthy, focusing on a single target to dismantle it with deadly efficiency and utmost precision. Whichever hero you choose, each promises uniqueness in its play style and skill sets.

The game is mission-based and organized by chapters. Although the game limits you to 3 predefined character types, it does give you the option of assembling a party from a selection of characters, so you’re not solely limited to picking fighter / wizard / thief.

Here is the trailer:

My jaw dropped a little at the female warrior’s walk animation. She’s in full plate armor, and yet she slinks around like she’s in a negligee. On the plus side, she’s not in boob plate or a chain mail bikini, so I guess it could be worse.

As the trailer states, Dimiria is currently in beta; the website estimates a December release for this first episode.

New release: Valdis Story: Abyssal City

Valdis StoryRemember back when I first wrote about side-scrolling action RPG Valdis Story: Abyssal City?  That sure was a long time ago, wasn’t it? Well, it just so happens that developers EndlessFluff Games went ahead and secretly released the game at some point between then and now! (I say “secretly” because I didn’t hear so much as a peep about it–I only discovered its release by accident when browsing Steam last week.)

Do we remember the premise? Probably not! Let’s recap:

Over 40 years ago, the goddess Valdis was killed by her daughter, the dark goddess Myrgato. Since this event Myrgato has been at war with her twin sister, Alagath the goddess of light. This perpetual war is fueled by human souls that the gods use to create their warriors; Myrgato twisting souls into demons, and Alagath manipulating souls to create angels. Each day the remaining human population dwindles as they are forced to choose a side or die.

So basically: deicide, matricide, and humans stuck in the middle of a cosmic war between the forces of heaven and hell. Not too shabby.

The actual game takes place in “the ruins of a holy city that was lost many years ago.” You play as a human named Wyatt, but there are other “heroes,” at least one of which appears as a playable character in screenshots.

The game has loads of smooth animations and a nice visual style. Combat is slow and deliberate, as is the game’s platforming. Everything is side-scrolling and action-y, as you can see in the trailer:

Valdis Story is available direct from the developer via their Humble Store widget for $14.99, though you can also find it for the exact same price on such storefronts as Desura and Steam. ( currently has it for somewhat cheaper.)

And just in case you want a little alone time with Valdis Story before you’ll know if you like it enough to commit, you can snag the free demo right here. Windows only.


The Banner Saga release date announced

Stoic Studio has posted a new trailer revealing an official release date for The Banner Saga. (The single player campaign, that is, not Factions.) The date: January 14, 2014.

Here’s the trailer: Checks Out Steam Marines

I’ve been wanting to check out Steam Marines for quite some time now; and luckily, developer James Seow was kind enough to indulge my desires with an alpha build of the game. This video is the lovechild of that unholy union. Behold!

So: first impressions! Steam Marines is basically what would happen if someone turned Space Hulk into a roguelike, made the Genestealers way slower, and gave the Terminators greater tactical diversity. The cramped spaces and incredibly dire consequences for screwing up are in perfect keeping with roguelike tradition, lending every decision a flavor of risk and an aftertaste of dread.

I didn’t really show the character creation screen much in this video, so you should know that you can actually select the character class of all four of your starting squad members. (Which is good, because if I had this to do over, I would swap out my grenadier for a second shotgun-wielder in a heartbeat.)

I only noticed a few issues during this playthrough, mostly fairly minor ones having to do with missing UI elements. (For instance: the game really ought to provide a visual indication of where a grenade is going to explode before you click it, and a visual indication of which rank your units are currently at on the promotion screen would be welcome.) It probably shouldn’t be possible to spawn directly in the exit to a level, and I question the balance on some of your unit upgrade options (does gaining 0.25 action points actually do anything for you?)

But really? These issues are relatively minor. And considering that the game is still in alpha, I can only assume that these are transitory problems already on Seow’s To-Fix List. In any event, whatever minor complaints I have about this build are far outweighed by the sense of glee I get when a well-conceived series of tactical decisions comes to fruition. Shotgun-blasting enemies into space is a particular delight.

I’m looking forward to the final release of this game. Until then, if you want to try it for yourself, you can snag the alpha for yourself for $7.99 right here.

Back to back: indie RPGs to fund

It’s been a while since we last did a Back to Back! So let’s find out: what’s new in the world of indie RPG crowdfunding?

The casualty rate on campaigns from our last edition was incredibly high, with only Data Hacker: CorruptionHyper Light Drifter, and Lords of Xulima meeting their funding goals. Ambrov X, Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, Cedaria: Blackout, Fortis Rex: Rise of the King, Magic Meisters, MIDRAIN, Night Job, Tales of Terrene: Book One, The Rescue of Amberlina, and  Tiny Kingdoms all failed. Ouch.

With that said, there were a few other Kickstarters I know of that both began and ended between then and now, all of them successfully: Cosmic Star Heroine, Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim and Comic ConQuest. So that’s good.

I’m sad I missed the boat on those, but luckily, there’s a fleet of even newer projects that we can talk about right now:


New release: Drox Operative Invasion of the Ancients expansion

Drox operative Invasion of the AncientsSteven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment writes to me to announce the release of the first official expansion for Drox Operative, titled Invasion of the Ancients.

The premise:

Before the Drox ruled the galaxy, before they were even sentient, there were older races now known as the Ancients. Using their Operatives, the Drox crushed and enslaved most of these races. The rest fled known space. When the Drox turned on their own Operatives, the Drox were utterly destroyed. Newer races emerged and thrived in the power void, never knowing the menace waited. Seizing their chance, the Ancients are invading to take their rightful place in the galaxy, as rulers! Thirsting for revenge, the Ancients can’t harm the extinct Drox, but they can crush the next best thing, the Drox Operatives.

The Ancient enemies are back! Can you defend the Drox Operative Guild and younger races against the Invasion of the Ancients?

Among the new features:

  • Defend against ancient race invasions
  • Destroy or defend space stations (military and production)
  • Guide the evolution of persistent galaxies
  • Design components with socketable chips
  • Play as or against the new race, the Scavenger
  • Battle new Talon, Legion, and Overlord monsters
  • Solve new quests and equip new components
  • Drox Guild quests
  • Unlock and play as 19 subraces

The expansion costs $9.99–you can pick it up direct from the developer for Windows or for Mac.


New release: Paper Sorcerer

Paper SorcererAfter last year’s glut of first-person dungeon crawlers, things have quieted down substantially. Luckily, we now have Paper Sorcerer to get the ball rolling again!

Created by Ultra Runaway Games after a successful Kickstarter last July, developer Jesse Gallagher describes Paper Sorcerer as “a single player turn based RPG focused on strategy, party-building, and environmental puzzles.”

The premise:

A powerful sorcerer is on the cusp of dominating the land. A group of heroes bands together and seals him away inside a magical tome. Now as the sorcerer you must escape from this ancient prison and find a way to regain your magical powers using your wits and an array of summonable creatures to aid you. There may be more powerful forces at work as you navigate the dungeons and fight the heroes sent to subdue you…

If that sounds just a smidge like the set-up of Wizardry IV to you, you’re not alone. Luckily, things have come a long way in the art of game mechanics since that old Sir-Tech title, so I imagine we’ll have a much better time playing Paper Sorcerer than we did struggling to free Werdna.

Another thing that’s improved since the days of Wizardry IV: graphics. Just look at this game’s neat ink-print style!

Paper Sorcerer is out for Windows, Mac and Linux for a mere $5–grab the full version here. There’s also a free demo available right here for Windows, Mac and Linux if you want to give it a try first.

New release: Onyx

OnyxRight on the heels of Hunters Grimm (previously covered here) comes Onyx, a jRPG collaboration between Aldorlea Games and Valkyria Games. (How is Valkyria games putting out this much stuff in such a short period? Beats me! Maybe they just contributed assets while they worked on Hunters Grimm?)

Regardless, here’s the premise of Onyx:

Play as Rowen, a secluded witch with a bad temper, who has to run after the people who stole her treasured ring given to her by her dead mother. But… could it be that the ring hides more than just emotional value?

Personally, I’m going to guess “yes,” but I suppose there’s technically only one way to find out: wait for someone else to buy the game, play it through, then spoil it for you.

…wait. Maybe there’s a second way to find out: get the game yourself and play it! Onyx is $19.99, Windows only. You can get a taste of what you’re in for by trying out the game’s free demo.