Latest Publications

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan announced

Madiba Guillaume Olivier writes in to announce Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, a side-scrolling action RPG based on African myth and lore.

The premise:

Enzo Kori-Odan, prince of the Zama city suffers a coup d’état conspired by his brother in law on his coronation and wedding day with Erine Evou. The royal couple is then exiled and decides to go round the world in a quest for support. They will specifically have to assemble Enzo’s warring legacy to retrieve their throne. Beyond retrieving their position, the fallen royal couple will particularly discover the geopolitical and existential dilemmas attached to their roles of King and Queen.

Aurion has been in development by Central African indie developer Kiro’o Games Studio for several years now. Despite a failed Indiegogo run last year, they’ve kept plugging away, and now have this lovely teaser trailer to show for it:

Rather than return to Indiegogo, it seems that Kiro’o Games have hit upon the unusual idea of letting gamers buy into their business as shareholders in order to fund development of the game. I am not entirely clear on the legalities of such a move, or on the availability of legal recourse for people who decide to become shareholders under such a scheme, so I can’t recommend actually doing it–but if you have money to burn and you’re willing to risk it in order to help finance Aurion, the option is there.

Aurion is planned for release on Windows in Spring 2015, with a possible Xbox 360 port.

Americana Dawn announced

Americana Dawn
Greetings, loyal readers! After a bit of a break for Thanksgiving, we’re back with more indie RPG news.

Speaking of Thanksgiving: word reaches me that international indie devs Bit Bonton are hard at work on a new jRPG based on early American history and folklore called Americana Dawn.

The premise:

we follow Foster, the spirit of the sea, a gentle and innocent being who arrives in America with no apparent heritage or home. Lost to the wilderness of Shenandoah Valley, he lives in complete isolation for a hundred years until he is found and recruited into the provincial militia. Thus begins his strange journey, spanning across three wars and the entire eastern seaboard of North America: from the French and Indian War to the American Revolution, from the colony of Georgia to Quebec City.

Foster witnesses once loyal English become American rebels. He fights against dear friends turned foe, watches mortal companions blossom and wither, bears witness to the chain of events that would create the United States, and is left with revelations both inspiring and woeful.

This is not a story about a man who changes the world, but a world that changes a man.

There is an early trailer up showing some shockingly lovely sprite work, large scale battles that remind me more than a little of Suikoden, and party-based combat that is decidedly Breath of Fire-ish in appearance:

Americana Dawn originally received some funding via Kickstarter way back in May 2012, though the amount raised was not adequate to the task of funding an ambitious jRPG like this. The original team eventually disbanded, and project lead Maxwell K. Lam recruited a new one, funding development costs out of pocket while working multiple jobs. (Frankly, I’m feeling exhausted just writing about it.) I’m glad that they kept going, though–this looks lovely.

In order to fund the remainder of the project, Bit Bonton are now giving Kickstarter another go. They’ve raised a little over $16,000 out of their $70,000 goal so far, with 20 days left on the clock. (If they don’t hit their goal, I am assured that they’ll continue development–but hopefully they won’t have to scramble to make that work.)

Assuming this hits its goal, Americana Dawn is tentatively planned for Windows release in July 2017.

New release: The Tale of a Common Man

The Tale of a Common Man
Word reaches me that Aldorlea Games has released a brand new jRPG by the name of The Tale of a Common Man.

The premise:

Jerrat was a farmer, not a knight or a lord, a common man, what the world considered just one of the ‘little people’. But sometimes the world needs the qualities of a common man, and the actions of the little people can change everything.

Can Jerrat achieve his aim without ceasing to be the man his wife loved? Find out as you join him on his journey, where the tale of a common man intertwines with the destiny of a nation.

The developer states that TToaCM is highly customizable, with differing difficulty modes, the ability to set the random encounter rate, and the ability to simply opt for visible enemies over random encounters entirely. In a nice touch, character progression in this game is player-directed; you can allocate stat points however you like upon leveling up.

Among the game’s official list of features:

  • 7 plus 1 optional characters
  • Five characters in the active party to add strategic depth
  • 8-direction movement with mouse or keyboard
  • Title screen updates each time a new character joins the party to include their image
  • 17 side quests
  • 30 secret rooms to discover
  • 30+ hours of addictive gameplay
  • Make useful potions using ingredients and recipes
  • Great-looking enemies, beautiful environments and charming music

The Tale of a Common Man is available for Windows; it’s $19.99 to get the full version, though you can try out the game’s free demo first if you like.

New release: Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey

Letter Quest
I’ve just received word that there’s an RPG / word game hybrid out by the name of Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey. Developed by two-man indie studio Bacon Bandit Games, Letter Quest has been out for a few months now, but it only just released on Steam, so we’ll count this as a new release.

Letter Quest seeks to do for RPGs what The Typing of the Dead did for on-rails first person shooters; which is to say, it wants you to kill things by stringing together letters. The premise:

Help the adorable grim reapers Grimm and Rose defeat monsters, ghosts, evil bunnies and more using the power of words!

Letter Quest is a turn-based RPG where players attack monsters by spelling words. But be careful since the monsters fight back by creating different letter tiles such as poison, plague, stone, and whirlwind, or steal your health, heal themselves, use critical attacks, and much, much more!

So, uh, y’know–not super heavy on plot, this one. As far as the mechanics go, it’s basically PopCap’s Bookworm Adventures with RPG elements stacked on top, as you can see in the game’s trailer:

The features list, as contained in the email I was sent, reads as follows:

- 40 stages, with 4 unique ways to play each one
– Five separate areas, each with unique art and music tracks
– Tons of upgrades, books, potions, special items and weapons to help you on your journey
– Over 30 monsters to fight
– Boss monsters with unique abilities
– 70 quests to complete
– 52 Steam achievements, 24 leader-boards, Steam Cloud support and Steam trading cards
– Up to 100 (!) or more (!!) hours of play tim

(I don’t know who Tim is, but I’m sure he won’t mind being played.)

Letter Quest Grimm’s Journey is available for Windows and Mac for $7.99 on Steam (where it currently benefits from a new release discount) and the Humble store. You can also snag it for Android and for iOS, where the game is free…but filled with in-app purchases.

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire announced

Peter Castle writes in to announce Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire, an upcoming episodic strategy RPG with smooth, rotoscoped animations being developed by Australian indies Whale Hammer Games.

The premise:

When the Astral Empire disintegrated into civil war, thousands of worlds were cut off from one another. One such world, Ma’abtik, fell into a medieval dark age.

A thousand years later, rumours that the long dormant empire is stirring are confirmed as an army wielding devastating weapons from the past marches across Ma’abtik. Tahira, the last princess of a small kingdom called Avestan, finds herself tasked with leading the remnants of her people to safety as they attempt to escape the devastation.

There’s a teaser trailer up showing off the game’s lovely graphical style and giving a very vague sense of its mechanics:

Ooooh, those animations–so smooth! And there’s more on the way, it seems.

In addition to fighting turn-based tactical battles, the developers promise that you’ll have the ability to customize your fighting forces via an upgrade system, and develop relationships with your traveling companions. The first episode will feature four unique hero units, mixed together with generic troops drawn from four different character classes. The devs refer to a “large and eclectic cast who travel with you through multiple episodes”; in so doing, I can only assume that their cast is going to grow significantly from that initial foursome in later episodes.

Tahira is being developed for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and its initial episode will be getting a Kickstarter campaign starting early next year, with release tentatively scheduled for late 2015. (Castle assures me that development will continue regardless of whether the game meets its funding goal.)

New release: Heroes of Steel Episode 3: Whispers Over Steel

Heroes of Steel
The tireless Trese Brothers have now released a third episode of their top-down tactical dungeon crawler Heroes of Steel.

Prior coverage on the series can be found here; but for those who need to be caught up, the gist is that you play a group of four characters navigating the labyrinthine Underdeep after an apocalyptic event renders the surface of the world uninhabitable. There’s lots of dungeon delving and turn-based, action-point-based combat.

The premise of this latest episode is as follows:

The lights have burnt low, and the black gloom in the caverns shows it is the dead of night in the Underdeep. Your Heroes have talked late, for they while know what path they must take, there are hard choices ahead. The baleful threat of the City of the Dead hangs over the eastern regions, straining the relationships of the Braeys Family and Baron Koda to the breaking point.

It is time now to take up your weapons and ready your magic. Dark sorcery and even darker secrets await you in the City of the Dead. As does the surface of the world – the broken, shattered old world that your people once ruled.

The Trese Brothers write that Episode 3 adds 20 new dungeons, 20 new monster types, and more than 200 new types of weapons and gear to the game, enlarging the content in Heroes of Steel by an additional 33%. Character level caps have been increased from 28 to 36. Additionally, the update includes balance changes, a new option to make the game go faster, and an auto-buff feature.

You can snag all four episodes of Heroes of Steel on Android or iOS for $3.99, or for Windows at an $11.99 price point via Steam or Desura. (Or, if you’re a mobile gamer and the masochistic sort, you can download the prologue for free and download each subsequent episode a la carte via IAP.)

Unraveled announced

Criss Oliva writes in to tell me about the existence of Unraveled, a platformer / jRPG hybrid being developed by two-person indie team RosePortal Games.

The premise: Unraveled tells

the story of a little girl whose family has gone missing at a ship breaking yard. Based on real events, Unraveled takes you through a child’s imagination as she seeks out her parents.

As you travel through the ship breaking yard in search of her parents, the ghastly rotten environment transforms into various fantastical settings. Accompanied by flashbacks and exciting events, Unraveled subtly gives you all the pieces of a story.

The story is based on real events — inspired by the documentary The Wire Nest. Ship breaking yards and those who live around them are hardly ever covered by media and news. These families have to cope with horrible living conditions while facing the daily threat of their extinction. We wanted to cover this obscure aspect of our world!

The devs write that Unraveled is heavily story-driven, and that combat is “infrequent, smooth and strategic — each battle plays like a boss encounter.” There’s an early teaser trailer out that gives a taste of what we can expect:

Unraveled is planned for release in early 2015 at a $7.99 price point, Windows only. In the meantime, you can upvote Unraveled on Steam Greenlight if this looks like the sort of thing you’d like to have on Steam.

New release: Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf

Tales of Aravorn Seasons of the Wolf
Celso Riva has written in to announce the release of Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf, a new jRPG from indie developer Winter Wolves set in the same universe as Loren the Amazon Princess (itself previously covered here).

The premise:

The twins’ tale starts on a day like many others, when one of the siblings finds a young wolf and decides to take it with him/her. Thus begins the long journey which will take the siblings from the ice-shrouded Ninim to the desert-wrapped city of Dingirra to the storm-shrouded port of Shacklesplit. Explore the corruption-riddled halls of Dingirra, and contest with the crimelords who claim it as their own domain. Sail the high seas, battle mighty pirates, and discover their hidden treasures!

Travel alongside your old friend the ex-mercenary Vaelis, the illusionist Riley, the barbarian Krimm, the assassin Chalassa, the bard Jariel, and last, but not least, the crazy–ahem, the warlock Rowinda! As your relationships deepen, you may discover love with one of your companions. As you spend time together, you will find yourself influencing their very own storylines!

It seems that Winter Wolves’s trademark “Attractive People Hooking Up” mechanic is in full effect here–and if the description left you any doubt about that, the game’s release trailer will dispel those doubts:

Gratuitous titillation aside, this game is actually a pretty decent RPG, as documented in my video preview of the game’s beta from May. Also, I must say, good on Riva for giving the game a theme song; I can’t promise that I won’t still constantly get Duran Duran in my head when I think of the game, but that should help.

The game’s feature list reads:

  • - Fantasy RPG set in the world of Aravorn, like Loren The Amazon Princess
  • - Play as male (Shea) or female (Althea)
  • - Four characters to romance: Krimm, Riley, Jariel or Chalassa
  • - 8 unique party members each one with different skills
  • - Advanced isometric tileset maps for a bigger world to explore

Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf is out for Windows Mac and Linux direct from the developer; and given that it’s been Greenlit, I imagine we’ll see it on Steam sooner or later as well. It’s $24.99, with a free demo (Windows / Mac / Linux). Checks Out The Age of Decadence

So: The Age of Decadence! This highly anticipated indie wRPG has been in development for approximately one zillion (ten) years. With release finally looming, Vince Weller of Iron Tower Studio was good enough to provide me with a beta copy of The Age of Decadence to check out, and so I went ahead and made a video out of it for you to see. The results:

So, what did I think? On first impression, the Age of Decadence is very much my speed: a deep, non-linear wRPG with lots of well-written dialog trees and choices that impact your play experience down the road. Your choice of character background determines how you start off the game, and has real effects on how other characters perceive you. AoD also features a fairly deep action point-based, turn-based combat system (one that I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to show off during the video, but which you can try for yourself in the game’s freely available combat demo).

One thing I cannot stress enough is just how text-heavy The Age of Decadence is. Not only is there loads of character dialog, there is also a surfeit of descriptive prose. You will frequently find yourself in little pocket scenarios where the scene and the behaviors of other characters are set forth in text–scenarios which you are restricted to navigating via dialog choices (and the concomitant skill checks that accompany them). In these moments, The Age of Decadence feels more like a choose-your-own-adventure hybrid more than it does a pure wRPG.

I can very easily see this bothering some people, though I myself am more than fine with it. The world of AoD is delightfully seedy and full of intrigue, and its characters are convincingly rendered. There’s a real payoff to carefully reading through everything, and so I find myself genuinely enjoying trawling through all those wordy passages. That said, if you’re the sort of person who just reflexively mashes the Escape key during character dialog so you can get back to “the good parts,” you’re probably going to want to keep your distance; to a large extent, the text passages in The Age of Decadence are the good parts.

There are loads of different skills that come into play when navigating the game’s dialog; and thankfully, Iron Tower Studio adopted the very approach that I recommended here and divorced your character’s combat skills from non-combat skills. Consequently, you don’t have to be useless in combat to get the tools needed to engage with the game’s dialog-based challenges (though with that said, you do incur some penalties by creating characters with non-combat backgrounds).

With the caveat above about this game not being for people who hate reading, my early play experience with the Age of Decadence was very positive; assuming the mid- and late-game hold up as well as the start, I’d endorse this game heartily.

The AoD public beta is currently available for $24.99 on Steam, on GamersGate, and direct from the developers. (There is also a public beta demo for you to try out if you want to take a crack at it yourself prior to shelling out.) The Age of Decadence is planned for full release sometime in late winter/early spring 2015.

Graywalkers: Purgatory announced

Graywalkers Purgatory
After hitting their Kickstarter goal on the second attempt, indie developer Dreamlords Digital is officially good to go on developing their apocalyptic strategy RPG Graywalkers: Purgatory.

The premise: the apocalypse has happened, and

parts of Heaven, Hell and Earth have merged together in an event called “The Rupture”.  Your story begins in the new island of Purgatory, a place made up of displaced land masses located in the Bermuda Triangle. In this game, you play the prophesied leader of the Graywalkers, the 36 Hidden Ones who walk the line between the darkness and the light. It is your task to gather them all, unite the different factions of Purgatory under your banner, and lead the war to reclaim the world for humanity against the supernatural forces that have dominated the world.

Graywalkers will employ a structure somewhat reminiscent of Jagged Alliance 2, in which you send individual squads around the island completing various missions. The world will be dynamic: the developers state that “the world acts on its own motivations, but its destiny can be changed and shaped by you. Each of your actions (or inactions) will shape the economy and politics of the world.

The game will feature several factions with individualized agendas for you to interact with, and you’ll be able to recruit characters to pursue your own. Between missions, you’ll have to manage resources while researching technology and crafting tools to ensure your survival.

The list of planned features includes:

  • Races- Choose from races such as Human, Dhampir, Nephilim, Cambion, Wolfkin, Hunterborne and Faechilde
  • Character Paths- Choose from different paths/classes such as Arcanist, Armsman, Diviner, Martialist, Soldier, Agent and others.
  • Recruitment – Find, convince and recruit your team members from at over 40+ playable NPCs, each with own style, personality, motivation, relationship and history.
  • Strategic Management- Manage your resources, personnel, influence, technology, research, crafting and scavenging.
  • Factions- Each faction has their own agenda to pursue and do so on their own. Your action can influence their next move.
  • Resources – Scavenge for resources, rebuild lost technology, recover ancient relics, research new technologies, and craft objects from ordinary items that youfind.
  • Special Abilities- Each character has a series of special abilities such as spells, combat maneuvers, and special advantages based on his Race, Path and preferred Style.
  • Enemies – Encounter enemies such as cultists, gangers, criminals, demons, fallen angels, vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, witches and other supernatural creatures.

Graywalkers: Purgatory is being developed for Windows, Mac, and Linux, with a tentative estimated release date of January 2016. The developers plan to port the game to Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, iOS and Android tablets, and OUYA after its initial release.