Latest Publications Checks Out Balrum

Hey guys! You might have noticed that I managed to record and upload a couple of new episodes of Checks Out over the weekend! First up was Balrum–you can see the first 50 minutes or so below:

So, what’d I think?


New release: ChemCaper Act I

So! Remember ChemCaper, that chemistry-themed jRPG by Ace EdVenture Studio that was just funded on Kickstarter last month? Act I is somehow already out for Android and iOS.

The premise:

You are Roub Idyum, a Moon Being from Reac Ta.

For reasons unknown, a sinister foe has turned the usually friendly and helpful Petticles into dangerous little creatures, wreaking havoc on the peace-loving and knowledge-seeking Moon Beings.

In search of his parents, Roub will find many mysteries and wonders of his world. Not everything leads to an answer, and those he finds may not be the ones he wants to hear…

The developers appear to be leaning pretty hard on the “parents who want to help little Timmy learn chemistry” angle, and aren’t providing many details on the “actual game” part of the equation.

The developers state that ChemCaper has “over 100 characters and 14 locations based on chemical elements,” and promise “heroic quests / adventures and battles.” Beyond that, there isn’t a list of features. No release trailer, either–the closest we have is this video from during the game’s Kickstarter:

…heck, I can’t even find 6 different screenshots on the ChemCaper website to use for the gallery below.

If you feel like taking a chance on it, your price of admission will be $7.99: for iOS on the app store or Android on Google Play. The game is also planned for a PC release at some point, though when that might arrive is anyone’s guess.

New release: Dungeon Monsters

Dungeon Monsters
Word reaches me that French indie developers Mana Cube have just released a mobile first-person dungeon delver in the Shin Megami Tensei vein called Dungeon Monsters.

The premise:

Collect over 400 units, evolve them into fierce fighters and come up with clever battle strategies. Roam the depths of the underground and save the world from a lurking evil, grabbing serious loot along the way in this ground-breaking first-person RPG. But watch your steps in the dungeons! For you will forever rot underground should your torch run out before you’ve managed to find the exit.

Here’s a trailer:

For better and worse, Dungeon Monsters is free to play with in-app-purchases. Along those lines, one of the game’s innovations is a torch mechanic which limits the number of steps you have available to complete a dungeon level; when the light goes out, you have to restart. Refilling the torch so you can keep exploring a dungeon level costs real-life money.

If you’re dying for a first-person dungeon delver on your smart phone but too stingy to pay actual money for it, this might be for you. Dungeon Monsters is available now for both iOS and Android.

Mediocre Monster announced

Mediocre Monster
Word reaches me that there’s a jRPG in development that essentially gives the Wreck-It Ralph treatment to jRPGs. In development by Opal Squad, Mediocre Monster has you playing as a…you know…mediocre monster:

Imps. Goblins. Slimes. Shitake Mushrooms. These are a few of the first and weakest monsters you face in classic JRPGs like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Chrono Trigger. These monsters lead a depressing existence: walk around the forest, get slashed by a level 1 hero a few times, and disintegrate in an orange blur. Or so you think.

This is all in a day’s work for the employees of “The Bestiary”, the worldwide leader in random monster outsourcing. Employees go to the office each morning, get dressed, and go to work to pretend to die to heroes for their enjoyment.

Mediocre Monster puts you in the role of Gob, as he goes through everyday life working as a random monster. Follow Gob as he goes through a journey from being a lowly tutorial monster in the Tutorial Forest to being palette swapped into a well-respected monster who still dies to heroes easily, but after slightly more hits.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much completely charmed by that description.

As the monster, it’s your job to react appropriately to enemy status effects and elemental strengths / weaknesses, then drop the correct items after your inevitable defeat. Per the developers: “Gob is then paid a weekly salary dependent on his job performance. As more mistakes are committed, more deductions are taken from his salary. Gob can then spend his money around town for training, skills, items, town upgrades, house improvements, and new buildings.”

Here’s a trailer to show what this actually looks like in action:

I hope I’m not alone in thinking that this game looks hilarious. Here is the list of planned features:

  • Work as an RPG monster: Follow RPG standards such as attacking taunters and reacting to critical hits.
  • Improve your Monster: Learn tricks of the trade as you progress. Improve yourself with new skills, items, and palette swaps!
  • Meet Different Hero Parties: Face different hero parties as you progress as an RPG monster. You can eventually see someone familiar!
  • Town Improvement: Help the town improve by spending your hard earned salary on town infrastructure improvements and new buildings.

Mediocre Monster is currently about 3/5ths funded on Kickstarter. The developers write that development will continue even if they fail (though at a slower pace, as they won’t be able to work full-time on the thing). Assuming they succeed, Mediocre Monster is planned for release in April 2017; Windows only.

Ground Breakers announced, in paid beta

Ground Breakers
Erik Johnson of Vietnamese indie studio United Indie writes in to announce a turn-based sci-fi tactics game by the name of Ground Breakers.

The narrative premise:

A few centuries after the apocalypse, ice in the two poles have melted and the earth has no land left. Disorder and riot occurs everywhere. Governments were destroyed. People built giant cubes and linked them together to have a place to live on. Minerals became rare and hold much value. All the big corporates and organizations rise to powers and start to trade, research robot run by water to dominate mineral rich areas.

That said, per the developers, the single player campaign mode in Ground Breakers is event-driven rather than story-driven: “Campaign use dynamic events instead of linear story. Each play will follow different event flows which skyrocket the replayabilities. EG. Kidnap event, Judgement day event.”

The developers have also opted to eschew a traditional class system, instead giving you command of individually customizable robots.

As for the battles themselves, this trailer should give you the idea:

Here’s the full feature list:

  • The game features a single player campaign and multiplayer matches.
  • Test your wit in traditional tactic matches with 15+ types of different robots with many skills to toy with. More to come!
  • Wreak havoc while flexibly adapting to the 5+ types of ever changing battlegrounds.
  • Position your robots, capture important points and high grounds, protecting the fortress, protecting the key robot and so on…
  • Tweak your robots with chips. Collect chips with different shapes which you will have to arrange them in the board in the best way possible to maximize your robot’s abilities.
  • Expand your robot army by destroying the enemy’s robots and win some parts to craft new robots. Each robot has a different recipe and what parts you will get is pure luck.
  • Compete against other players in online battles and climb the leaderboard.
  • Expand your army, mostly by force, or by diplomacy or money.
  • Fight your way though the non-linear world domination campaign, face opponents with far superior equipment

Final release is planned for April 2016; but in the meantime, Ground Breakers is currently available on Steam Early Access for $9.99. Windows, Mac, and Linux.

New release: Naroth

Helge Foerster writes in to inform me about Naroth, a 3D, first-person, open world action RPG of the Elder Scrolls stripe that was recently (okay…like, a month ago) released for mobile.

The premise:

You travel to Naroth, a green plateau located between the kingdoms of Vilden and Jarrad.
On your quest for information about your father, you descend deeper and deeper into the abandoned mines to finally discover a threatening secret. Are you brave enough to face the danger?

Here’s a trailer, which actually gets the basics across pretty well:

And here’s the official feature list:

– open world, fantasy role playing game
– offline, single player gameplay
– 3D first person perspective
– freely accessible world with 3 villages and other locations
– over 3 dozen quests…
– …and even more NPCs
– 15 different enemy types
– 30 dungeon levels
– over 100 items to find and purchase
– long-ranged and melee weapons
– alchemy system
– comprehensive skill tree
– auto-mapping
– quest log
– up to 15 hours of playing time

Naroth is entirely free; you snag it off of Google Play right here and play it whenever you like. Android only.

New release: Balrum

The Balcony Softworks team has just written in to announce the release of Balrum. Previously covered here last January, Balrum is a 2D, isometric, open-world wRPG with farming and survival mechanics.

Here’s the new narrative premise:

It’s twenty years after your village fled the kingdom and took refuge in Darkwood. You always knew that these woods hold dark secrets but now you start to feel it’s evil on your own skin. Horrible things are happening. You discover fragments of the woods dark history and come to the conclusion that you have to leave your home. You know in your heart that once you step out of the protection of the place where you grown up, nothing will be the same. You have to face a world that’s in chaos. A world without laws. Nevertheless you feel something else too. You feel freedom. A completely new world awaits you to explore it, but the feeling quickly turns into guilt. There are people in Darkwood who are counting on your help. You are their last hope.

Created by a 2-person team from Hungary, Balrum has been in development since 2012. The game has turn-based combat with backstab effects (which I like), though you only control one character during those fights. The game also features stealth, crafting, farming, hunting, a faithful pet, and the ability to build a customized home (which NPCs can reportedly then visit to leave notes or offer quests).

This trailer from December seems to be as close as it gets to a release trailer, so have a look:

Now that the game’s done, here is the official list of features:

  • Real-Time world with Turn-Based Combat
  • A huge Open World with dozens of Dungeons to explore
  • Spend your learning points to create a pure class or a hybrid class
  • Dozens of Side Quests and an Epic Main Quest
  • Three separate paths leading to the end
  • Building
  • Farming
  • Tame various animals to be your loyal Companion
  • Deep Crafting System which allows you to create custom items
  • Day/Night Cycle with Weather Effects
  • Survival Mechanics

Balrum is available on Steam at a $14.99 price point (though there’s a 10% discount for the next few days). Windows and Mac.

Overfall hits early access

Word reaches me that Overfall (previously covered here), the tactics-lite / roguelike hybrid from Turkish indies Pera Games, has just entered paid beta less than six months after hitting its funding goal on Kickstarter.

The premise remains:

You will lead two heroes on a journey across the high seas in search of their lost king. You will encounter people of all breeds and all creeds; ally with them or crush them without mercy. You will face many dangers; survive them and you may unlock new characters, weapons and skills. In a world where death is permanent, you must return to the beginning and make a fresh start. The heroes you choose, the weapons you unlock and a world that is randomized mean that no two adventures will ever be the same.

When I last posted about Overfall, the developers told me that the “two heroes” refer to your starting characters, and that you will be able to recruit up to 36 people to fight for you (with party size capped at 4 in any given battle).

Here’s a new trailer:

Per the developers, Overfall features:

  • A huge, dynamic world to explore, ruled by a number of races in constant conflict – it’s up to you to help or betray them
  • Challenging and addictive turn-based combat – careful strategy and cunning skill combinations are the key to victory against your foes!
  • Permanent hero death, procedural world generation, and high replay inspired by classic roguelikes
  • Interactive story encounters where the choices you make and the allies you recruit ensure no two journeys are quite the same
  • Unlock new classes, weapons, trinkets and skills as you progress in the game
  • Beautiful hand-drawn art of of 9 player characters, 36 combat companions, 80+ enemies, 80+ NPCs, and 100+ locations

You can snag the Overfall beta direct from the developers or on Steam Early Access for $9.99. Windows and Mac.


Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Buckle your safety belts and unscrew the caps on your flasks, folks–Back to Back has returned and it’s running at full speed!

Since we last peeked in on the world of indie RPG crowdfunding, ChemCaper, Kim, and Project Resurgence each ended at or above their funding goals, while only Hero’s Song failed. An impressive success rate!

So, with that in mind: what’s new?


New release: Hieroglyphika

Markus Hanka writes in to announce the release of Hieroglyphika, a graphical roguelike which uses pictograms in lieu of ASCII text or representational graphics.

The premise:

Hieroglyphika is a roguelike game completely without text but with pictograms.

You get lost in an ancient egyptian pyramid buried deep under the sand of the desert and full of traps and monstrous beings. Decrypt hieroglyphs to learn spells and to understand the magical nature of artifacts.

Hieroglyphika has a striking visual style, though with the exception of the inventory screen, I confess that I don’t find most of the pictograms being used here all that dramatically different from the icons that appear in most modern graphical roguelikes. Watch the release trailer and judge for yourself:

The more pertinent aspect that may set Hieroglyphika apart is the fact that it eschews all text, leaving you to work out the game’s mechanics on your own. I am, I confess, at least a little bit intrigued by this.

You can snag Hieroglyphika for $9.99 on Steam. Windows only.