Latest Publications

A Simple Roleplay Adventure announced

A Simple Roleplay Adventure
I have received word of a new jRPG in development. In what has to be the most literal naming of a game since “You Have to Cut The Rope,” it is being called “A Simple Roleplay Adventure.”

The premise:

ASRA, a simple roleplay adventure, is a 2D RPG game with basic graphic. You will explore a vaste world in the shoes of a quirky hero, with the help of many bizarre characters and facing hundreds of really badass enemies. Beyond the adventure, Peter will be forced to change his heart to something deeper, discovering that money, fame and cute chicks aren’t life’s most relevant things.

ASRA uses character sprites from Oryx’s ubiquitous lo-fi fantasy sprite set, and features simple turn-based combat in the Dragon Quest vein.

There is a free demo playable in-browser via the Unity plug-in; check it out here. No word yet on a date for the full release, or which platforms it will be out on.

Steam curation!

Some of you may have heard yesterday that Valve has unveiled a new automated suggestions system to assist with game discoverability on Steam, telling people about popular games similar to titles they’ve spent a lot of time playing.

At the same time, Steam has also received a new curation function, allowing people with Steam groups to compile lists of recommended games with short blurbs explaining what makes them worth trying. As the internet’s primary evangelist for little-known indie RPGs, I don’t think I’d be doing my job if I didn’t take advantage of this moment to recommend indie RPGs that I’ve played. To that end, here is the List of Recommended Indie RPGs!

Now, a few caveats are in order here:

  1. This list is not final; I will be adding games to it as time goes on.
  2. Some of my favorite indie RPGs are not on Steam; and unfortunately, this necessarily means that they are not available for Steam curation.
  3. I am only adding RPGs which I have played enough of–and in a complete enough state–to recommend with a reasonable level of confidence. Needless to say, games which I have not played are not going to be on this list; if you have a game you’d like me to play, please email it to me.

That’s all for now. If you have a Steam account, make sure to follow the list for my up-to-date recommendations!

Back to Back: Indie RPGs to fund

Welcome back to Back to Back! Of the games that ended since last time, Data Hacker: Reboot and Legend of Lotus exceeded their funding goals by a fairly wide margin; Mark of War was canceled; and everything else is still ongoing. We also have a bunch of new games joining the fray, which means that our list is going to be even longer than last time!

So what’s the latest in indie RPG crowdfunding?


Age of Grit announced

Age of Grit
Andy Morrison of IQ Soup writes in to announce Age of Grit, a Wild-West-themed steampunk airship RPG he’s now developing.

The premise:

[Y]ou play the captain of a beat-up, old, steam-powered airship exploring a large, cowboy-themed, steampunk world. You’re looking for whatever work you can find–bounty hunting, smuggling contraband, running guns…maybe even a little train robbery if you’re so inclined. ‘Bout anything to pay the bills, keep the guns loaded, the boiler stoked, and keep your ship in the sky.

The game revolves around the crew, their adventures, and the part they play in the larger universe that surrounds them.

Having read that, you will no doubt be precisely 0% surprised to learn that this game’s premise is drawn largely from the Joss Whedon series Firefly.

Combat will be turn-based and ship-to-ship, but your crew members will have an impact on the proceedings, supplying you with various skills, buffs, and debuffs. Morrison elaborates:

For example, the Gunner character might have an ability where he lets loose with all the ship’s weapons for a massive barrage.  The Mechanic might have an ability that “heals” the ship.  Each character will have complex skill trees with lots of different abilities to choose from as they level up and progress.  Certain abilities will have effects outside of combat–relating to things like buying/selling, crafting new gear, or traveling faster.

You can see a little bit of this in the game’s teaser trailer:

According to Morrison, the game will be largely open-ended, with the player free to accept or turn down missions from various factions, as well as a main quest line that the player can choose to advance or ignore. Each city will be navigable in a first-person perspective point-and-click fashion similar to that found in old adventure games, complete with characters and dialog trees.

Age of Grit is being developed for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS, and is tentatively planned for release in late 2015 at a $15 to $20 price point. Age of Grit is now in the last week of its Kickstarter campaign, where it has just met its funding goal.

New release: 500 Years Act 1

500 Years Act 1
Do you ever get an email, then completely forget that it exists before you have a chance to do anything with it? That evidently happened with the subject of today’s post. Poor Will Games wrote to me back in May to announce the release of their real-time space exploration RPG 500 Years Act 1 on PC; and now, roughly 500 years later, I am posting about it.

The premise:

The Earth was dying and humanity boarded ships to colonize the stars. These ships were named after the wonders of the ancient world: The Giza, The Alexandria, The Rhodes and finally, The Artemis.

The Artemis landed and set up a colony on an Earth-like moon. Then the Ants, an insectoid species, came and enslaved the colony. All hope was lost.

Years later you were born in the Artemis colony and joined the resistance against the Ants.

One day the Ants suddenly left your colony for unknown reasons. The Proctor of your colony tasked you with finding the ancient Artemis colony ship. Among the wreckage you found the captain’s yacht; and it still works! You and your crew take to the stars to find the other humans, if they are still out there. 500 years after the destruction of Earth…

If the plot seems a smidge reminiscent of Homeworld, the game’s trailer gives the strong impression that this game is in fact much more influenced by Starflight:

Per the developers, the 500 Years Act 1’s features include:

  • Story driven space adventure
  • Explore solar systems
  • Meet alien races
  • Arcade style combat
  • Equip your ship based upon the type of enemy
  • Fight huge bosses

500 Years Act 1 has apparently been available for $0.99 on Android and iOS since March, with the Windows port available for a mere $2.99.


Hunter’s Tale announced

Francesco Segala writes in to announce The Hunter’s Tale, a new action RPG he’s developing as part of the studio “Bad Tempered Dev.”

The premise:

You’ll face a fantasy world in which animals have taken over the world and humanity lives in small villages. You are a hunter just arrived in the village and his job is to supply food to those people wandering around the wildlands and hunting all sort of different beasts. Crafting new weapons and armors will be fundamental to go forward.

The developers describe Hunter’s Tale as an “old-fashioned action RPG,” though many of the elements they relate (a lone character trying to survive in a hostile world consisting mostly of wilderness, and crafting items to that end) are really quite modern.

There’s a trailer out, from which we can get a sense of the aesthetic and some of the basic mechanics:

The developers have not supplied any information about when they plan to release Hunter’s Tale. It is being developed for Windows.

If you want to follow progress on the development of Hunter’s Tale, Segala is documenting said progress on a developer blog. A demo is reportedly due to come out sometime this month; in the meantime, the developers are trying to drive traffic to this page.

New release: Madam Extravaganza’s Monster Emporium

Madam Extravaganza
There’s a new jRPG in town courtesy of John Wizard Games. The name? Madam Extravaganza’s Monster Emporium!

The premise is a little vague, but it’s all we’ve got, so here it is:

Located in Monsterville, the town in the woods…

Do you ever wish you had more? That you could leave it all behind and start over? Well thanks to Madam Extravaganza, you can!

Treasures await in the forests for any who are brave enough to seek them out. Just bring your life savings and come stay at our inn, open for all.

We welcome all guests to try to defeat the monsters in battle, then you will return safely home, richer than you ever imagined.

There is a free demo available; the full game costs $13.99. Windows only.

Divinia Chronicles: Relics of Gan-Ti announced

Divinia Chronicles
Martin Sander of Chinese German indie developer Team Monkey writes in to announce work on a 3D over-the-shoulder action RPG called Divinia Chronicles: Relics of Gan-Ti.

The premise:

A long time ago at the peak of the High Kingdom of Pandura, a group of seers looked into legends of a powerful force believed to be the origin of life; this they called ‘Gan’, though modern peoples know it as ‘Divinia’. The ancients sought to utilize Gan as a weapon; in doing so, their perverse intentions spawned the malignant ‘Gan-Ti’, or ‘anti-life’. Infusing Gan-Ti into artifacts, the godlike High Kings ruled the Panduran Archipelago with an iron fist. Eventually, rebellion arose and the Order of Archkeepers was formed of the most noble warriors to free the people. They managed to capture the relics of Gan-Ti and cast them into the fiery pits of Mt. Suvius near the shores of Oria island. With the evil power of the relics suppressed, the monsters that terrorized the countryside were slain and the old Kings overthrown. Peace had come. As of late, however, rumblings have been heard from Mt. Suvius, and the wise have come to fear an eruption. With a reckless young King having just assumed the throne of Oria, will the powers of Gan-Ti again fall into the hands of the most powerful, or can a new force arise to combat the inevitable?

Divinia Chronicles is being built in the Source engine. As you can see in the teaser trailer below, Divinia Chronicles features some lovely stylized graphics and combat reminiscent of 3D Legend of Zelda titles:

If this all looks strangely similar to another indie game, that’s most likely because up until recently, Team Monkey had been calling the game “Saga of Pandoria.” According to Sander, they switched the game’s name due to trademark concerns.

The developers state that Divinia Chronicles features proper character leveling and magic, and that the combat system features such niceties as a Zelda-style lock-on capability and the ability to block and evade attacks.

Divinia Chronicles: Relics of Gan-Ti is being developed for Windows–though there is no estimated final release date yet, the game is due to show up on Steam Early Access by the end of 2014.

New release: Subterra

It has been a few months since I went trawling around RPG Maker game affiliate sites looking for new jRPGs, and when I did so today, I was not disappointed. Among the new releases that have flown under my radar is a Warfare Studios title known simply as Subterra.

The premise:

Earth is nothing but a distant memory to humankind now. Subterra is they place they know as home, an underground world, vicious and dangerous.

When Dian is diagnosed with a disease known as “The Pale”, Dryst, her brother and the Wielder, the only one who can use the ancient sword Mallbane to defeat the great evil Devordor who seals the entrance to Earth, will step up to his fate, to save his people and his dear sister.

Warfare Studios is hosting a free demo, which you can grab here. The full game costs $14.99; Windows only.

New release: Tactics Maiden

Tactics Maiden (Android) - 01
Mangobile, the developer behind the ever-growing mobile strategy RPG franchise Kingturn, has released a brand new mobile strategy RPG by the name Tactics Maiden.

The developers have not released any sort of narrative summary, so I have no idea what the storyline is. In fact, it isn’t immediately clear to me whether this even takes place in the same universe as the Kingturn series. Perhaps that doesn’t matter much, though, as the setting and story of these games has never been particularly strong.

More important is the fact that Mangobile has finally released a new game trailer for this one (they’d just been reusing the same old trailer for their three prior releases), and it shows battles that are undeniably in the Kingturn style:

(There is also an 11-minute gameplay video showing a full battle if you want more detail.)

So what’s actually new here, aside from improved UI graphics and character sprites? According to the developers, there are a few things that make Tactics Maiden stand out from its predecessors. To my mind, the most significant of these is the addition of “flexible character builds with skill points that can be redistributed at will.” Previous titles had characters undergoing a rather rigid progression as they leveled–the ability to customize your character’s progression promises to be a big, welcome change.

Among the other new features: improved enemy AI, the ability to rename your characters, 5 difficulty settings that can be adjusted mid-game, 36 character classes, more than 70 skills, 85 battle scenarios, and more than 1000 equippable items.

Losing a battle now stings more than it did in Kingturn, as you won’t retain the experience, items and gold you gathered immediately prior to your defeat–you’ll have to win outright to avoid losing these. (You can also retreat from a battle to retain experience and enemy loot drops, but the game will fine you a certain amount of silver for your trouble.)

There is one big change that I think might end up being a step backward, however: conquering (and losing) outposts no longer affects maximum army size. This promises to reduce the strategic importance of gaining ground and holding on to enemy outposts; but more worryingly, it risks turning battles into drawn-out wars of attrition, since the enemy will have fewer constraints preventing them from reinforcing to full size even at the very end of each battle.

You can nab Tactics Maiden for iOS or for Android for $4.99. (The first 8 scenarios can be played for free if you want to try the game out before committing.)