Latest Publications

Ara Fell release date announced

Ara Fell
You may recall, 6 years ago, me writing a review of the free (and seemingly never-to-be-completed) jRPG Ara Fell. One-man developer Stephen Anthony, now working with a team under the name Stegosoft Games, has written to me to let me know that Ara Fell has not only become uncanceled, it is actually near completion, and it’s getting a full commercial release in less than one month. Well! Despite a few deficiencies it had at the time, I quite liked Ara Fell when I played it in its unfinished state all those years ago, and so I consider this good news.

Here’s the premise, such as it stands now:

Long, long ago, the elven sorcerers cast a spell to save the floating world of Ara Fell from destruction. Instead, they doomed it to fall from the sky. By chance, the fate of the world has been placed in the hands of a young woman.

And hey, what do you know–there’s even a new trailer:

The feature list:

  • EXPLORATION – Ara Fell is a world meant to be explored! Jump, crawl, swim and even fly through the air to solve puzzles and discover new locations filled with hidden treasure, secrets and adventure! Every corner of Ara Fell is designed with exploration in mind.
  • OPEN WORLD – Most of the world can be traversed from the moment you leave Aloria Village, the heroine’s home town… provided, of course, you’re strong enough. A clever adventurer may be able unlock secrets and discover powerful equipment early in the game if he or she commits to taking advantage of the open nature of the game world.
  • TACTICAL COMBAT – Ara Fell may be a story-heavy game, but the world is still fraught with danger. Choose specialized equipment and statistics, customizing each character to best suit your play style, and to best thwart each boss battle’s unique mechanics.
  • CHARACTER DRIVEN – When you join Ara Fell’s unwitting heroine on a quest to save her homeland, you’ll discover a world filled with vibrant characters who laugh, cry, crack jokes, lose their tempers, and even their will to go on as the size and scope of the curse that plagues Ara Fell becomes apparent. Friends and villains alike are not who they seem as the stakes grow ever higher…

Ara Fell will be releasing June 2 on Steam and itch.IO; Windows only.

New release: Severed

Severed Large
Word has just reached me that Drinkbox Studios recently released its highly anticipated first-person dungeon delver Severed (previously covered here).

The premise:

Take control of a one-armed warrior named Sasha, wielding a living sword on her journey through a nightmare world in search of her family. Swipe-based touch controls will let you solve puzzles, find secrets, and do battle with a host of disturbing monsters. As the journey goes on, you’ll unlock new abilities, ascend an RPG-style upgrade tree, and tease apart the mysteries of the dark fantasy universe Sasha finds herself in.

Here’s the latest trailer:

And here’s the list of features:

  • Dungeon Combat: Master offensive and defensive touch combat techniques to survive intense battles against a menagerie of enemies.
  • Severing: Best enemies in combat for a chance at severing their body parts — then wear them to gain new powers or consume them to upgrade your equipment and abilities.
  • Exploration: Follow branching routes through the unknown, using your wits to avoid hazards and solve puzzles.
  • Music: Original soundtrack from Juno-nominated band YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN featuring Pantayo.

Severed is exclusive to the PS Vita; you can buy it for $14.99 via the Playstation Store right here. (As for whether it will ever come to other platforms, the official word remains “no comment” for now.)

New release: The Banner Saga 2

Banner Saga 2
Stoic Studio, creators of viking sRPG The Banner Saga (previously checked out here), have just announced the release of the second installment in that series: that, of course, being The Banner Saga 2.

The premise:

Continue your journey soon after the climactic events of The Banner Saga. The choices you made in the first game will affect who is alive and who is dead in this exciting sequel. As the world continues to crumble around you, only one bastion of hope remains, but getting there will require strong leadership, hard sacrifices, influencing new heroes, and, as always, sound strategy in combat.

The Banner Saga 2 reportedly features more interesting battlefields, an increase in both enemy variety and battle victory conditions, and a new centaur race (the “horseborn”).

Here’s the launch trailer:

The feature list:

• The epic Viking saga continues on – beautifully 2D hand drawn combat sequences and animations are further enhanced with special effects, once again accompanied by an evocative score from Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory
• Player choice that continues to drive your narrative – your story continues based on choices made in the first game as well as hard choices you have to make in this one.
• New Characters and a New Race – continue your epic journey interacting with new characters and a new race, the Horseborn.
• Improved Strategic combat with consequences – improved, more strategic battle boards enhance combat and permanent loss of characters will still weigh heavy on your mind long after the battle is over.
• The journey is as important as battle – your role in building and managing your caravan as you travel the vast landscape is critical to not only your own survival but the survival of an entire civilization.

You can get The Banner Saga 2 on Steam for $19.99 (with a 10% launch week discount knocking it down to $17.99). Windows and Mac.

Pyre announced

Word reaches me that Supergiant Games, the indie studio behind Bastion and Transistor, has just announced a new party-based RPG they’re developing called Pyre.

The premise:

[Y]our luck has almost run out when several masked wanderers find you and revive you from the brink. With your help, they seek to learn the truth about the Rites, a secretive competition through which the worthiest exiles can return home, absolved of their transgressions. As you journey across the Downside in the wanderers’ custom blackwagon, you’ll meet a variety of characters of all shapes and sizes, and learn what’s in store for each of them should they prevail in the Rites. Your actions will determine who returns to glory, and who remains in exile to the end of their days.

Mechanics-wise, the developers describe Pyre as “a distinctive gameplay blend that combines expressive decision-making on the world map with fast, action-packed confrontations against rival groups of exiles whose own freedom is at stake.”

Here’s a reveal trailer:

Supergiant are planning to release Pyre in 2017 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Playstation 4.

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Hoo boy–we’re a bit behind, aren’t we? I can’t believe it’s been so long since our last Back to Back!

Of those we looked at last time, Children of Zodiarcs, Knights and Bikes, RPGolf, and Shadows of Adam hit their funding goals; City of the Shroud, Consortium: The Tower, Dual Gear, and Zarya and the Cursed Skull did not (though Dual Gear had a flexible funding campaign, so it pulled in about half its goal).

So: what’s new?


New release: Hyperlight Drifter

Hyperlight Drifter
I confess, I was a little hesitant to post about this one, as (a) the developers never emailed me, (b) the game’s RPG elements seem minimal at best, and (c) every site on the friggin’ internet has already posted about it–but in the interests of completeness, here we go anyway!

Word reaches me that 2D sci-fi Zelda-alike Hyperlight Drifter has just been released. Created by 9-person indie team Heart Machine, Hyperlight Drifter raised close to $650,000 on Kickstarter in October 2013, and will no doubt rake in quite a bit more before its launch is through.

Here’s the premise:

Echoes of a dark and violent past resonate throughout a savage land, steeped in treasure and blood…

Drifters of this world are the collectors of forgotten knowledge, lost technologies and broken histories. Our Drifter is haunted by an insatiable illness, traveling further into the lands of Buried Time, hoping to discover a way to quiet the vicious disease.

Here’s the launch trailer:

And here’s the feature list:

• From each character to subtle background elements, everything is lovingly hand-animated.

• Easy to pick up, difficult to master; enemies are vicious and numerous, hazards will easily crush your frail body, and friendly faces remain rare.

• Upgrade weapons, learn new skills, discover equipment and traverse a dark, detailed world with branching paths and secrets abound.

Hyperlight Drifter is now available for Windows and Mac for $19.99, via Steam and the Humble Store, with a time-limited launch discount. The game will eventually be coming to XBox One and PS4 as well.

Copper Dreams announced

Copper Dreams
Word reaches me that Whalenought, the developers behind Isle of Bxnes and Serpent in the Staglands, are now developing a 3D, isometric cyberpunk wRPG by the name of Copper Dreams.

The premise:

Dumped onto the island world of Calitana, you are one of hundreds drafted to ease the overcrowding that is rapidly miring the citizens of Earth in famine, violence and poverty. Once a beacon of hope, the isolated Calitana quickly devolved from lustrous to disastrous, unable to support its settlers, and overrun with unbridled corruption and lawless syndicates.

From waterways to rooftops, adaptability on the island means scaling the city heights, be it to avoid syndicate eyes or to explore the depths and secrets within. An isometric, fully 3d world allows for vertical freedom and movement. Traverse through districts by vaulting through windows, grappling hook to decks above, or jumping building to building. There’s no way off Calitana, but there are a myriad of ways through it.

Here’s a preview trailer:

The devs write that Copper Dreams will feature turn-based combat with time units and weapons with differing types of ammunition; a stealth system that makes use of sound, real-time shadows, and enemy field of vision; and the ability to customize a party of characters with cybernetic enhancements.

Whalenought tell me that they plan to run a Kickstarter for Copper Dreams, primarily “for additional content and a larger scope.” If the campaign doesn’t succeed, they’ll still finish development–the game will just be shorter.

Copper Dreams is being developed for Windows, Mac, and Linux. No tentative release date just yet, as the time it takes to complete will depend on the outcome of the eventual Kickstarter. You can sign up for email updates over on the Copper Dreams site. Checks Out Celestian Tales: Old North

Celestian Tales: Old North has been on my to-play list for quite some time, and I finally got around to giving the start of the game a go this past weekend. As per usual, I recorded as I went–here is the result!

My thoughts:


Banner Saga 2 release date announced

Banner Saga 2
Stoic Studio has just announced the release date for part 2 of The Banner Saga (somewhat-strangely entitled The Banner Saga 2, as though it were a sequel).

Although it’s a continuation of the story from the series’ first outing, The Banner Saga 2 is planned to feature some improvements, most notably improvements to the game’s combat consisting of

An increase in enemy variety, different combat win scenarios, improved and more strategic battle boards, and additional story delivered while the battle wages on

Here’s the announcement trailer:

Oh, and the release date? That would be April 19, 2016.If you don’t want to wait 3 weeks, you can pre-order it now on Steam for $19.99 (currently 10% off). Windows and Mac. 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?