Latest Publications

New release: Dungeonmans

Developer Adventurepro Games (the new company of existing dev Jim Shepard) has now released their graphical roguelike Dungeonmans. First announced in the summer of 2013 following a successful Kickstarter run, Dungeonmans features a deliberately silly world with persistent progress between characters.

The premise:

In an untamed wilderness, where civilization lives in the shadow of fearsome beasts and lawless villainy, the only light against the darkness are the courageous Dungeonmens! With cunning minds, mighty thews and iron wills, these great heroes and heroines are dedicated toward exploring the unknown, taming the wild, and crushing the fiercest of beasts.

Adventure begins at the Dungeonmans Academy, an ever-growing bastion of learning that expands and evolves based on the efforts of its graduates. As heroes return from their journeys burdened by giant piles of precious loot and ancient wisdom, the Academy grows and future graduates are able to take advantage of this knowledge, starting with a leg up on their quest to avenge the bold graduates who fell in previous battles.

The vast overworld teems with adventure! There are indeed dungeons deep and plentiful, but also dripping swamps, deathless crypts, huddled warrens, forest camps of bandits and highwaymen, ancient towers ruled by powerful despots, and even more terrible dangers waiting in the darkest shadows. A Dungeonmans rises to the challenge with a healthy mix of Skills and Masteries, fighting up close, at range, with steel and spell alike. Unfettered by “class restrictions”, a Dungeonmans chooses the right tools for the battles ahead.

The dev has posted a launch trailer which helpfully shows us what the game looks like without the need for pesky “words”:

(My only regret about this trailer is that it doesn’t feature a choir full of manly altos belting out “Dungeon-maaaaaans!” in time to music, a la the theme to Rawhide.)

The game’s final feature list reads as follows:

  • True roguelike adventure: turn-based, tough but fair, countless combat options.
  • More than 75 unique player abilities.
  • 12 different styles of Dungeons and Battlefields with more on the way.
  • Six class archetypes to mix and match.
  • 50+ enemies, including the fearsome Triger!
  • The Dungeonmans Academy, your home base that grows with each play.
  • A world-class soundtrack brimming with music straight from the era of RPG classics.

I went ahead and checked out an early version of Dungeonmans last year; you can view my video preview from that experience here. Suffice it to say, I quite enjoyed it. I’ll be doing my best to give the new, finished version a first impressions piece of its own very soon, along with expanded thoughts on the game and how it stacks up against the current crop of indie graphical roguelikes.

In the meantime, you can nab Dungeonmans for yourself on Steam or via The Humble Store for $15; Windows only. Checks Out Dead State

Seattle-based indies Doublebear Productions were good enough to give me a copy of Dead State to check out. As is my wont, I set out to determine my first impressions of the game, recording the screen as I went. These are the results:

So, what did I think?


New release: Fight the Dragon

Fight the Dragon
Word reaches me that there’s a new 3D isometric action RPG in town by the name of Fight the Dragon. Developed by Australian indie devs 3 Sprockets, Fight the Dragon has no single overarching narrative premise to speak of–or at least, none the developers care to provide. Rather, the game relies heavily on community-created content.

The developers write:

Fight The Dragon ships with a highly flexible in-game Adventure Construction Kit (ACK) that allows players to design, play and share their adventures with other players on all platforms around the world.

The ACK (as is the gameplay) is designed to be as intuitive to use via a gamepad as it is via mouse and keyboard. Creators are able to sculpt and paint environments, place props, enemies, NPCs, Traps, checkpoints and other key game elements including hooking up basic logic systems for switches/gates and traps.

The Fight The Dragon community have already published over 1900 fantastic adventures, which means we have hundreds of hours of gameplay already created.

Here is a gameplay trailer:

The ease of making adventure modules and the enormous amount of community-created content on offer seem to be the main selling points of Fight the Dragon, but there is also multiplayer support to round out the package–to wit:

  • Local Drop-In Split-Screen Co-Op
  • Up to 4 player online Co-Op (cross platform)
  • LAN Server for local 4 player Co-Op
  • Full gamepad & Steam Big Picture support

Fight the Dragon is now available on the Humble Store and on Steam for $14.99 (currently with an additional release discount on the latter platform). Windows, Mac and Linux. Checks Out Coin Crypt

I finally got a free moment to make a new video last night, and Coin Crypt was next on the list!

For those who missed this one, Coin Crypt released just about a month ago, and represents Greg Lobanov’s take on mashing up the roguelike-like format with deck-building mechanics. He sent me a build to check out, and I did so. You can see what the start of the game looks like below:

So, what did I think?


New release: Dead State

Dead State
Christina Ramey writes in to announce the release of Dead State, a turn-based, 3D isometric survival wRPG set in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.

The narrative premise:

Dead State is…set at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse – a deadly illness is rampaging through the world, turning those infected into the walking dead. As society is beginning to fall apart, the player must organize a scant handful of allies, working on fortifying a shelter, scouting for food and supplies, making uncertain alliances with others, and attempting to hold together a group as humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. And although the zombies lurk as an ever present threat, the biggest obstacle to the player may just be other humans with the same goal: survival at any cost.

The baby of Seattle-based Doublebear Productions, Dead State has been in gestation for a long damn time now; since at least August 5, 2009. The reason for this long development cycle becomes apparent when you take a gander at the game’s list of features, which include:

  • Open-ended gameplay: Large explorable world and non-linear storyline allow players to explore the landscape of Dead State freely, and encounter new challenges each time they play
  • Engaging story and characters: Story and characters written by veteran game developer Brian Mitsoda (Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines) – features realistic and compelling dialogue and expertly-woven story elements
  • Compelling player choice: Players not judged by a linear morality scale, but asked to make difficult and challenging decisions to keep themselves and their fellow survivors alive
  • Complex and reactive character AI: Allies react realistically in combat situations, human enemies employ variable tactics against other character, zombies follow frightening mobbing behavior
  • Innovative mechanics: Noise mechanic affects how zombies track prey by sound, resource management within player shelter allows for streamlined upgrades and organization of ally tasks

A picture is worth a thousand words, of course, and so this release trailer is presumably worth at least a few orders of magnitude more than that:

There’s also a gameplay video from June available to show off how the game plays in more detail.

I confess, I tired of the whole zombie apocalypse thing long, long ago–but this game’s focus on turn-based strategy and human drama generates more than enough interest to overcome my zombie fatigue. You can expect me to check this one out soon.

Dead State is Windows-only; you can nab it from GOG or Steam for $29.99.

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.)