Latest Publications

Darkest Dungeon announced

Darkest DungeonA bit of browsing on Kickstarter has revealed to me the existence of Darkest Dungeon, a top-down dungeon crawler with some really intriguing mechanics relating to the psychological state of your party. Now in development by Red Hook Studio, Darkest Dungeon “was conceived as an antidote to the loot-piñata RPG experience which focuses solely on a character’s numerical capabilities. Squad leaders and sports team managers have to contend with the human factors as they strive to maximize effectiveness–why not in RPGs?”

The premise:

Darkest Dungeon is a gothic roguelike RPG dungeon crawler about the psychological stresses of adventuring. You will lead a band of four heroes on a perilous side-scrolling descent, dealing with a prodigious number of threats to their bodily health, and worse, a relentless assault on their mental fortitude! Five hundred feet below the earth you will not only fight unimaginable foes, but famine, disease, and the stress of the ever-encroaching dark. Darkest Dungeon focuses on the humanity and psychological vulnerability of the heroes and asks: What emotional toll does a life of adventure take?

“Wait a minute,” you might say. “Side-scrolling descent? I though this game was top-down?” Well, according to Red Hook developer Tyler Sigman, DD has something of a dual-nature Famaze thing going on:

You choose your path on the top-down roguelike map. You basically direct the party from room to room, choosing which passage way to take. But the movement is displayed in the sidescrolling panel.

There are not one, but two trailers out for this game right now. Sigman says that the first trailer uses mocked-up footage, while everything in the second trailer comes from in-game:

Darkest Dungeon has been successfully Kickstarted and then some. As of the time of writing, it is more than 200% funded only a few days into the campaign!

Darkest Dungeon is planned for release in January 2015, with early access due sometime late this year; for Windows, Mac and Linux.

New release: Eschalon: Book III

EschalonAfter an unexpectedly long development cycle, Basilisk Games has now released Eschalon: Book III, the third and final chapter in the Eschalon series!

The premise:

Eschalon: Book III brings the trilogy to a climactic end as you seek to uncover the mystery of your past, the secrets of the Crux stones, and who the Orakur really are. You’ll traverse miles of virtual wilderness and dungeons, filled with secrets and danger, in an unparalleled role-playing experience designed to feel like a true pen-and-paper RPG.

Although this game caps off a trilogy, Basilisk Games state that Book III “can be fully enjoyed even if you’ve never played the previous games.” I found that to be true for Book II, so I’m sure they can make it happen with the third installment as well. However, as we discovered during that last episode, there are definitely some plot spoilers in the intro cinematic; if you’re someone who is playing the Eschalon series for its plot (not the best reason to play them, IMO, but whatever), then I’d consider playing them in order.

Anyway! Here’s the release trailer:

Among the game’s features, as described by Basilisk Games:

• Dozens of fan-requested features and updates to the engine and rule set.

• Hundreds of graphic updates including re-rendered tiles, new spell effects, and enhanced environment effects. New sound effects and music in crystal-clear HD audio via an updated sound engine.

• Expanded stats for creatures give them new abilities, defenses and vulnerabilities. Combat will require new levels of strategy.

• New spells and hundreds of new items for you to discover. A huge world filled with secrets, riddles, traps, treasure, and glory awaits you!

• Book III is not a dumbed-down “RPG for the masses”. Rapid button clicking won’t save you here. Eschalon pays honor to the greatest RPGs of the past, with unlimited character development options and freedom to explore the world as you wish. The difficulty of the game does not scale to your character.

• Developer tools to be released shortly after the availability of the game. Build your own maps and make your own adventures!

• Single player only, like a great RPG should be.

The fact that they’re releasing the game’s map editor shortly after release is particularly appealing; mod support adds a lot of value here.

You can snag Eschalon Book III on and on Steam for $17.99 (10% off the regular price of $19.99). For Windows, Mac and Linux.

New release: Undefeated

UndefeatedIt has just come to my attention that ever-prolific jRPG developer Aldorlea Games has released a new title by the name of Undefeated.

The premise:

Can you stop the Wastelands from spreading and overtaking the world?
Play as Marcus, Bastien and Fela, three army conscripts with little liking for what is supposed to be their next two years, yet who find themselves engulfed in a mystery that could very well cause the demise of their nation.

Personally, I’d like it if it turned out that it was all just a misunderstanding: that it was, in fact, the Wasted Lands that wanted to take over the world,  and only so they could spread their love of drinking and hard partying. Then everyone played beer pong together (a game at which the inhabitants of the Wasted Lands stood “Undefeated”), did shots, and lived happily ever after! I’m telling you: jRPG of the year, 6 out of 5 stars.

In support of my theory, I direct you to the screenshots at the bottom of this post. Look how many mushrooms there are! (Also: those are some really nice-looking enemy sprites, I must say.)

The feature list:

  • Innovative and Strategic Battles
  • Stunning Artworks from the Team Behind Moonchild and Opaline
  • Front-view Battles with Incredible, Colorful Monsters
  • 4 Modes of Difficulty (including Legendary)
  • Visible or Invisible Encounters – You Decide
  • 25 Secret Rooms to Discover
  • 16 Side Quests to Complete


You can snag Undefeated for $16.99 direct from the developer right here. Windows only. There’s also a free demo if you want to try before you buy. Checks Out Eschalon Book III

Hey guys! Did you know that after years of development, Basilisk Games is releasing the third and final chapter (er, sorry, “Book”) in the Eschalon series? It’s true! What’s more, they gave me a build to check out for the website! So when Book III hits in four short days, you will know exactly what you’re in for. Without further ado, I present to you Eschalon: Book III:

So, you’re probably wondering: what’d I think?

(more…) Checks Out Reflection of a Fallen Feather

After I posted about the recent release of Reflection of  Fallen Feather, developer Forepaw Software provided me a copy of the game to check out. As per usual, I recorded video of my first impressions playing the game:

My thoughts?


Song of the Myrne: What Lies Beneath

Song of the MyrneBeldarak Games writes in to announce the release of Song of the Myrne: What Lies Beneath, an action RPG created using those ubiquitous Oryx sprite sheets that I’ve mentioned on a few occasions.

The premise:

You get back to your home after a day of hard work at your field to find that the love of your life, your bunny, has been murdered.

You then try to find who did that and go to the village of Namok where you hear about a dungeon in which you could find your wife’s murderer. Then begin the descent of the dungeon where lies the truth about the murder…

It’s deliberately weird (I mean, your wife is literally a rabbit) and more than a little tongue-in-cheek.

In terms of mechanics, the developer states that the game is linear, action-heavy, and light on dialog and role-playing. He describes the game as a

top-down action RPG where you’re free to play as you want. You can be an archer, a mage, a fighter… or some mixes between all of this, the game use no classes so you build your character as you want while you level up and chose which equipment suits your play style the best.

This trailer should give you the general idea:

Song of the Myrne: What Lies Beneath is available for Windows, Mac and Linux for $2.49 through Desura and through IndieGameStand. The developer states that the game’s soundtrack comes free with purchase. Checks Out Heroes of a Broken Land (Full Release)

With the recent full release of Heroes of a Broken Land, I felt it was time to give the game a second look (especially so because I was somewhat bewildered in my initial attempts to figure out what was going on in the alpha). Here is the altogether much more coherent result from my more recent attempts:

My thoughts?


New release: Reflection of a Fallen Feather

Reflection of a Fallen FeatherWord reaches me that a new jRPG called Reflection of a Fallen Feather saw release on January 22. Created by developers Forepaw Software, Reflection of a Fallen Feather utilizes a truly unusual character advancement system.

The premise:

The main character (MC) is lost in a mysterious labyrinth with little recollection of the past and of who he used to be.  The labyrinth is teeming with “lost souls,” others that have lost their minds and attack with blind rage.  Like all others in the labyrinth, the MC has the ability to transform into any defeated foe and has been doing so to survive, but at a cost to his identity.

The MC teams up with two others that still have their wits in a journey to find an exit from the labyrinth, back to a life that he no longer remembers.  Along the way he recalls faint flashbacks of the past and ultimately must confront what he once did and come to terms with who he believes he is.

Here is a trailer:

And here is the game’s full feature list:

  • become the enemy—50 playable character types
  • full character customization—150 unique character abilities
  • hidden loot—dozens of unique accessories and tools
  • interactive open-world environment
  • fast-paced battle system—identify and exploit enemy weaknesses

The ability to morph into versions of enemies you’ve defeated (to say nothing of the general overall aesthetic) reminds me a whole heck of a lot of Final Fantasy Legend III, a somewhat obscure RPG for the original GameBoy. I’m curious to see how the developer implemented the progression system here.

Reflection of a Fallen Feather is pay-what-you-want for Windows; throw whatever amount of money you deem fair at the developer and nab the game here. (It is also on the XBox 360′s Live Indie Games market for $1.)

New release: GhostControl Inc.

GhostControl IncTassilo Rau of Bumblebee Games (ongoing developers of the jRPG Days of Dawn) writes in to tell me about a tactical RPG / strategy game hybrid they recently released. The name? GhostControl Inc.

Tassilo describes GhostControl as marriage of “turn-based strategy like in X-Com, business management as in Theme Hospital and insane ghosthunting like in Ghostbusters.”

GhostControl’s premise is pretty much a straight adoption of the premise from Ghostbusters:

For centuries we have accepted hauntings as unexplained phenomena which we can do little to stop. Side affects of living in a haunted home can include sleepless nights, headaches, smog everywhere and in some cases even physical damage in the house.

Enough is enough, with your help we intend to put an end to these paranormal pests. Build, manage and develop your own team of talented ghost hunters.

With the income from your team’s work you can equip them with some amazing gadgets, but manage your budget with care not everything is as useful as it may appear. Hunt your customer’s ghosts down – property damage should be kept to a minimum. Take on the ghosts, follow the map, take in the lovely sites and stunning landmarks.

Be the hero of the day and save the city!

The game features 18 types of ghosts, AI-driven competing ghost hunting businesses, and 20 hours of gameplay.

You can see a bit of the game in action (plus goofy live action video) in the release trailer:

Successfully Kickstarted in July of last year, GhostControl is now available in English, French and German, with Spanish and Russian localizations underway.

You can snag GhostControl Inc. for Windows or Mac for $13.99 from GamersGate, for Windows / Mac / Linux for $13.99 from Desura, or for Windows for £10.99 from the Windows store. (There is also an effort underway to get the game onto Steam via Steam Greenlight.)

Knights-Errant announced

Knights-ErrantDeveloper Chandler S. writes in to announce a new tactical RPG / strategy roguelike hybrid he’s working on called Knights-Errant.

…let’s play that back again, because if you’re like me, that genre description may not have computed. Knights-Errant is a tactical RPG with a series of procedurally generated overworld maps–maps which are themselves littered with procedurally generated turn-based tactical battles. So we’re talking something like Master of Magic, but with a stripped-down strategy layer, a beefed-up tactics layer, and individualized characters in lieu of generic legions.

Chandler writes that at the start of the game, you select a faction and are then matched against another, randomly selected faction. You select which battles to fight by moving your force around the overworld:

The game plays out in two parts. The overworld, and the battle map.

Each enemy unit you see on the overworld represents and encounter. When you walk into a unit on the overworld you get put into a battle where you gain experience, loot and gold.

Each overworld has a city or castle guarded by an enemy general that you are suppose to defeat. After clearing an overworld you move on to the next one, where the encounters are stronger and the loot is better.

Chandler states that the narrative premise changes somewhat based on the faction you play, but the general contours remain consistent. To wit:

In Knights Errant you play as a vassal stripped of land and title by an invading empire. It’s up to you to free your kingdom’s land and people from the invaders!

However, you can’t accomplish your quest alone… Along the way you’ll recruit mercenaries and train volunteers for your liberation army. Watch as your individual units grow and level up through a dynamic class system.

The combat system looks promising, with action points, flanking damage, elevation effects, and defense based on percentage resistances. The developer cites the roguelike Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup as his primary inspiration here.

Knights-Errant is being developed for Windows, with possible Mac and Linux releases based on demand. The planned release date: “Hopefully 2014.”