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Indie RPG Retrospective 2019

Hello, friends! I remain hard at work, furiously crafting my next game (one which I’m hoping to have out next year)–but there’s been a request for another year-end round-up of indie RPGs, and that means I’m back here to write another post like this one!

Without further ado: another giant summary of indie RPG releases from this past year!


The past year in indie RPGs

Hello, friends! It has now been a year since went on hiatus.

Part of me regrets having gone on hiatus, but I cannot deny that it has proved very fruitful for me as a developer. All of that reclaimed time has been put to good use, producing a successful Kickstarter for my strategy board game and loads of work done on my next (as-yet-unannounced) RPG.

Even so, I’ve started to get increasing numbers of people emailing me asking me if and when posts will resume, and I’ve been feeling the urge to post an update. One year in the world of indie games is a very long time, after all–surely I can post a big run-down of titles that released since last October, yeah?

So that, then, is what this post is for: a giant summary of indie RPG releases from this past year (one that will necessarily be incomplete by virtue of that fact that titles release pretty much every single weekday). Hit the jump for the list!



Hi folks! Craig here. As you’ve no doubt discerned, I simply have not had time to update the site these past few months, and…well, I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon, so the site is going on hiatus.

Time is, regrettably, limited. Right now I’m developing two(!) games in addition to holding down an unrelated full-time job and doing my level best to have something resembling a social life. As much as I’ve enjoyed publicizing all the little indie gems to come down the pike these past seven years, I’m just not sure it’s sustainable for me anymore.

Maybe that’ll change sometime in the future; maybe it won’t. But either way, I want this site to remain online as a testament to the indie spirit (and as a resource for folks who might want to see all the neat little games I dug up!) If things change and I have time to get back to posting here, you’ll be the first to know. But for now: it’s hiatus.

Age of Fear 3: The Legend announced

You may recall a fantasy strategy series known as Age of Fear–I reviewed the original way back in 2012, and covered its sequel when it released the year after. Well, Antonio Santo now writes in to announce that Leszek Sliwko has been developing a new entry in the series, entitled Age of Fear 3: The Legend.

As with prior Age of Fear games, AoF3 will come with two campaigns, each with their own narrative premise. Per Santo:

[Y]ou can either play as a driad [sic] and her bloodthirsty drider lover, supported by a crazy swamp witch, set on a quest for revenge after being captured by a slaver; or as a band of drunken greedy dwarves fighting against… well, everything on their path (mushroom-men included!)

Age of Fear titles are traditionally top-down, with free movement and a ferocious AI. Aof3’s gameplay trailer gives me little reason to doubt that the third entry in the series will be any different in this respect:

So what’s new from prior entries in the series? For one thing, it looks like your units will have individualized inventories and equipment now, which is a pretty big step up from prior titles. There also appears to be a world map, though it’s not clear how much freedom of progression the campaigns actually offer you. Finally, Santo writes that AoF3 “offers a PvP multiplayer mode and an extensive modding support – everything can be modded, from units’ sprites, stats and skills, maps, levels, campaign and even the AI behaviors.” Neat!

With that in mind, here are some other relevant points from the feature list:

  • Level up your units to create your own customized army with over 250 different spells and skills

  • Face an incredibly diverse enemy roster with close to 200 unique units

  • Permadeath – all characters that fall in a battle will stay dead – unless an evil Necromancer raises them as Zombies!

  • Use the terrain to your advantage in challenging battles with environmental hazards

  • Create your own world and share with the community thanks to its Steam Workshop integration

  • Use in combat more than 100 unique items and artifacts, each of them with their own bonuses, skills and/or spells

Age of Fear 3 is planned for release on September 1, 2017 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The developer is currently accepting pre-orders here; $19.99.

New release: Galaxy of Pen and Paper

Remember the old indie hit Knights of Pen and Paper from way back in 2012? Brazilian indie studio Behold Studios (more recently known for the not-technically-Power-Rangers tactics game Chroma Squad) has now released a follow-up title by the name Galaxy of Pen and Paper!

As the title suggests, GoPaP appears to be a sci-fi riff on the same meta theme behind the original Knights of Pen and Paper:

Galaxy of Pen & Paper is a turn-based, space meta RPG about a group of players rolling dice in the year 1999! Create your own game master and dream RPG party, explore distant planets, fight weird aliens and save the galaxy in the era of dial-up internet and floppy disks!

Here’s the trailer:

As you can see in the trailer, GoPaP features both squad-level turn-based combat and turn-based ship-to-ship battles, as well as simulated die rolls and galactic exploration. The developers write that you can customize your party, the players playing the party, and the GM him/herself.

Galaxy of Pen and Paper is available for Windows and Mac on Steam for $14.99; Windows, Mac, and Linux on The Humble Store for $14.99; as well as on Android and iOS for $4.99. The Linux version for Steam has been delayed (most likely due to the fact that pushing non-Windows stuff to Steam is an unholy pain in the ass).

Tangledeep released to playable beta

Word reaches me that Tangledeep, a new roguelike from one-man studio Impact Gameworks, has now hit public release (though of course, in the normal roguelike tradition, development will nonetheless continue for some time).

Here’s the premise:

For hundreds of years, people have lived in the safety of underground settlements and villages – where the only route to the surface is “Tangledeep,” a mysterious and ever-changing labyrinth. With memories of the surface world long forgotten, you set out for the labyrinth to discover what lies above. With each floor – full of magical beasts, ancient automatons, bizarre environments and hybrid biomes – the mystery grows ever deeper…

Tangledeep appears to draw some measure of inspiration from Japanese RPGs, with a Final Fantasy 5-style job system, pixel art in the SNES jRPG style, and even the ability to level up equipment by exploring procedurally generated “item dreams” that range from 2 to 6 floors deep, a la the item worlds of Disgaea.

Here’s the trailer:

Following the recent trend toward accessibility in graphical roguelikes, Tangledeep offers a non-permadeath mode. Among the game’s other features, as described by the developers:

  • Master deep, tactical turn-based combat across 9 unique jobs. (More to come!)
  • Share some of your progress between characters by using the banking system, or planting magic trees and raising monsters in town.
  • Take in the scenery – comprised of beautiful 16-bit graphics and carefully handcrafted maps!
  • Relax to a beautiful soundtrack composed by award-winning composer Andrew Aversa – joined by Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana) and Grant Kirkhope (GoldenEye 007, Civilization: Beyond Earth).

Tangledeep is currently available in Steam Early Access and on GOG for $14.99 ($13.49 with the 10% launch week discount). Windows, Mac, and Linux.

New release: Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood

You may recall me covering Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood back in May; developer Andrew Schneider has now written in to announce its release.

Nocked, for those of you who forgot, is a text-based RPG for iOS running on Disbound (a mobile implementation of the Twine engine):

You are Robin of Locksley. Hounded from your home by the Sheriff of Nottingham, take control of your fate in this extravagant illustrated role-playing game. Rob from the rich, rally the people, build a settlement, and battle the Sheriff of Nottingham for control of Sherwood Forest.

Here’s the trailer:

Meanwhile, the feature list remains:

-10+ hours of gameplay incorporating 400,000+ words of text; no two playthroughs are the same!

-9 romanceable characters, including both same- and opposite-sex relationships. Play as male or female Robin.

-3 customizable bases, each with a unique look and play style. Build your base and see it reflected in the art and story.

-127 pieces of hand-drawn digital watercolor art.

You can snag Nocked! on the Apple App Store for $5.99; iPhone and iPad only.

Burden of Command announced

Now here’s something I haven’t seen before: a World War 2-themed fantasy strategy title. Currently being developed by Green Tree Games LLC, Burden of Command puts you in the shoes of–you guessed it–a World War 2 commander. Or rather, to be more precise, a Captain:

You’re the Captain of a company of the fabled Cottonbalers, leading your men on and off the battlefield from Morocco to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Fighting psychology as much as bullets, you must build respect, trust, and battlefield experience to bring your brothers safely home.

“Now Craig,” you might say, “what makes this akin to a fantasy strategy title and not just one of a zillion different WW2-themed wargames out there?” Well, it’ ain’t the “fantasy” part–this game is striving for extreme historical accuracy. And much like a wargame, BoC primarily puts you in command of squads, not individual characters. However, Burden of Command has three big things going for it that set it apart from your typical war game: psychological modeling, role-playing choices, and an experience system.

Let’s start with that first bit. According to developer Luke Hughes, morale plays a big role in this game: not only does it influence the effectiveness of a unit’s actions on the battlefield, it determines the likelihood that your units even listen to your commands in the first place (as opposed to, say, simply running away). You can build trust and respect with your troops over time, which will have morale-boosting effects, and your troops can develop “mindsets” that influence their behavior as well. You’ll need all the morale you can get, because this game combines character permadeath with heavy RNG and a hard limit on how many commands you can issue per turn.

Here’s a teaser trailer to help you visualize this stuff:

As the trailer suggests, Burden of Command isn’t planned as merely a series of turn-based fights; randomized “dynamic” events will pop up in the middle of battles and force you to make difficult narrative choices as well. The decisions you make as a commander will impact unit morale, which–in combination with factors like equipment, terrain, flanking, line of sight, and experience–will determine how well your units perform. (That’s another thing: your units gain experience as they fight, and they become more effective as they do so–though I wouldn’t expect anything quite so explicit as “levels” to show up in-game.)

Burden of Command is being developed for Windows, and is tentatively planned for a Steam release in 2018.

New release: Pixel Shopkeeper

Yoshi of Pixel Prototype writes in to announce the release of Pixel Shopkeeper, a shop simulator / RPG / puzzle game hybrid.

The premise:

In Pixel Shopkeeper you graduate as a starry-eyed brand-new Playable Character with a massive student debt that you need to pay off – by opening your own shop and selling your wares! Obtain merchandise by battling dungeons, level up to get stronger, befriend the locals, upgrade your shopfront, and craft items that sell for hefty profits! In the process, meet new characters as you unlock hero classes and earn enough to make a stellar shop and possibly name for yourself!

If you suspect that this game is partially inspired by Recettear, you’re not alone! I asked the developer to expound upon the game’s mechanics a bit, and he sent this in reply:

During the day, you have a limited time to sell your items. When you go to a dungeon, you have to use up a day (similar to Recettear). You need to make payment events on certain dates and after you finish your loan later in the game, you unlock contest events which happen every other month.

The strategy involved is figuring out how to make furnishing placements before the day starts to min-max your shop. The people can also passively buy things based on chance but also occasionally have missions for you.

Combat within the game’s dungeons, meanwhile, seems to be of the grid-puzzle variety, and furnishes you new stock for your shop. You can see it all in action within the trailer:

Yoshi informs me that Pixel Shopkeeper will be getting some additional story-focused updates over the next month or so. In the meantime, Pixel Shopkeeper is available to purchase on Steam for $7.99 (less with the 15% launch discount). Windows only.

New release: Dungeons of Legend: Underwell

Mike Jimsworth of Dungeon Brick Studios writes in to announce the release of his new first-person dungeon delver for Android, Dungeons of Legend: Underwell.

The premise:

You play as a lone wanderer. Captured, robbed and cast into the Underwell Abyss, you are left for dead. But in the depth of the abyss is a dungeon crafted to test the very limits of your wits and bravery. Designed by a twisted mind, this lair looks promising but very dangerous. The warnings tell you to turn back, but that way is closed now… besides, you were never one to shirk from a challenge!

As the “lone wanderer” bit might suggest, this one’s in the mold of Dungeon Master. Here’s the feature list:

-Exploration: Each floor of this Dungeon is full of secrets, each more rewarding than the next!

-Puzzles, Riddles and mysteries: Your attentiveness and logic will be tested and duly rewarded!

-Monsters: The dungeon’s inhabitants don’t take too kindly to strangers!

-Loot: The right equipment and items will get you very far indeed!

-A mix of classic pixelated graphics and 3D environments

Dungeons of Legend: Underwell can be downloaded for zero dollars from Google Play, though I understand that it’s content-limited in some respect; $2 unlocks the full game. Android only.