Latest Publications

That Which Sleeps announced

That Which Sleeps
Joseph Vivolo of Boston indie studio King Dinosaur Games has written in to announce the development of That Which Sleeps, a turn-based fantasy strategy game in which you play an ancient evil plotting to take over the world.

The premise:

[T]he player takes on the role of an awakened evil from the world’s past and must manipulate a living, reactive world from the shadows using a variety of corrupted agents as well as what armies he can muster to his cause. Players must balance an aggressive approach utilizing his considerable powers with the need for secrecy – heroes are constantly examining clues left behind by the actions of the player and eagerly hunting the player’s agents.

The main game takes place on the world map, where you can dispatch agents to villages, cities, ruins, and other places of interest to complete a variety of dynamically generated challenges. Certain agents will be better suited to certain challenges, affecting how many turns it takes for them to successfully complete the task. In the meantime, your agents and their minions may be attacked by meddling parties of heroes.

Combat occurs in the style of a Final Fantasy boss battle, except that you control the boss: “the Agent leverages and often sacrifices his minions to distract or overwhelm key members of the adventuring party while he himself utilizes his unique powers to overcome the heroes, and, as may often be the case, escape. Early combat will seldom lead to outright death, but every time a Hero loses a certain amount of health he will gain an injury, and if his willpower lowers he may gain a neurosis – both of which can be much more useful for you than a corpse.”

Damage is high on both sides, making fights quick and deadly. The developers state that the venue of a fight matters as well:

Fighting in a city may draw out guards, guildmates, or cabal mages depending on what features exist in the city. Who they fight for is up in the air, if you are “welcome at court” in the nation then they will side with you against the pesky adventurers, but if you are wanted, or a Champion of the nation is on their side, they will battle against you.  Battle locations can also have traits, if you were discovered while skulking about in the catacombs the battle will be “Cramped” – and heroes won’t be able to attack you if you have a living minion, but also a single hero can guard his entire team.  Fight in the swamps and the heroes may find themselves poisoned, in a Holy City you may find your “Imbued” powers significantly weakened.

The game seems to be still be fairly early in development, as there isn’t any video footage or screenshots of combat yet, but the developers have compensated by providing a really lengthy, detailed description of the game’s mechanics. All in all, it seems like you will have a few approaches available to you: brute force, subterfuge, a sort of insidious diplomacy, and various paths in-between. I’ll be copy-pasting the full description below the break.


Back to Back: Indie RPGs to fund

It has been less than a week since our last Back to Back, but so many new campaigns started right after that last post that I feel I would be remiss not to update you all!

Every game that was in the last edition is still seeking funding except for Legena, which sadly fell short of its goal. Here’s the current roster of games, old and new:


New release: Wind Child Black

Wind Child
Word reaches me that there’s a new RPG Maker jRPG on the scene. It’s called Wind Child Black, and it appears to be something of a collaboration between Warfare Studios (the prolific developer behind Jade’s Journey, Opaline and Vengeance Road) and Amaranth Games (the even more prolific developer behind Ahriman’s Prophecy and the Aveyond series).

The narrative premise of Wind Child Black is as follows:

Five souls, brought together in a simple rescue mission, to find and save one lone girl, find themselves pulled into something so much bigger than they had anticipated, so much larger than they know. Why are they opposed at every turn by an ancient sorceress? Why are they stalked by a vengeance-minded killer? How are the four greatest heroes in all of history connected? And is anyone who they say they are? Or who they believe they are?

As they explore a land founded by heroes and haunted by its tragic past, they will come to learn that they are more connected then they had believed.

Once they were strangers. Circumstances made them companions. The journey will make them friends. Destiny will make them heroes.

According to developer Raphael Delmaschio, Warfare Studios was the primary creator here, with Amaranth Games providing art and occasional design input.

Wind Child Black is not available on the Warfare Studios site, but it is available via affiliate sites. Pick your favorite: it’s $19.99 on Amaranth Games and Aldorlea Games. Windows only. There’s a free demo here. Checks Out Halfway

Robotality was good enough to provide me with a copy of Halfway, its sci-fi strategy RPG, and so I have undertaken the task of playing it for a while and formulating an impression. You can witness this, as ever, below:

My thoughts?


Back to back: indie RPGs to fund

Back to Back is back once more, as we take a lil’ peek at how the world of indie RPG crowdfunding is getting on. Of the games we looked at last time, InSomnia, Midora and TimeSpinner were successful; FranknJohn and The Legend of Sonia fell short.

So what’s new?


New release: Unrest

Pyrodactyl Games has now released Unrest, a sort of wRPG-ish chat-em-up set in a fantastical variant of an ancient Indian city.

The premise:

Set in a fantasy interpretation of ancient India, Unrest is an adventure RPG focused on story and choices. Play as five ordinary people who are struggling to get by in the in the famine-stricken city-state of Bhimra.

Brave poverty, disease, treason, political and social upheaval. Face unique burdens and gripping dilemmas as you struggle to survive in each chapter…but choices made to help one character may well make life harder for another.

In Unrest, there are no heroes of legend, there is no mystical quest, and fate has not chosen you. You’re on your own.

The game makes very sparse use of combat, instead giving you access to a number of branching dialog trees that affect the way you get through the game. Reportedly, Unrest adapts to reflect characters deaths and dialog choices you’ve made. In fact, your character can straight-up die and the story will continue on without them.

I played the first hour or so, and offered my preliminary thoughts on the game here. For a shorter snapshot of the game, here is a trailer:

Unrest reportedly comes with mod support, which is quite interesting; I haven’t seen much in the way of details about what can be edited and what tools come with the game to effectuate said editing, however.

One bit of housekeeping before I get to the details on how to buy it: it has come to my attention that Unrest has a publisher, “Kiss” (not the glam rock band, presumably, although that would be amazing if it were). I spoke to Pyrodactyl, and luckily, it seems this was purely a “come in at the end of development and help with distribution” arrangement–thus, Unrest qualifies as an indie title under my rubric.

Unrest runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. It costs $14.99, with a launch discount on many platforms. You can purchase Unrest direct from the developer, on Steam, on GOG, on the Humble Store, on Gamers Gate, and on Green Man Gaming. Or, if you’re on the fence, go download a free demo from the game’s Steam page.

New release: The Wizard

The Wizard
As was foretold by the great sage Yourstruly, turn-based dungeon crawler The Wizard has now been released by developer Hypnotic Owl!

The premise:

You are the most handsome wizard of the academy. Except your face just got stolen. Can you make it through monster-filled mazes to catch the mysterious thief? Learn arcane gestures to cast magic spells and gather experience to make them more powerful! Position yourself strategically and outwit your enemies. Play this amazing turn-based dungeon crawler to prove that you are not just a pretty face!

You’ll have an ever-expanding spellbook at your disposal, from which you’ll cast particular spells by drawing their patterns around yourself. The Wizard appears to play like a roguelike, but it lacks the “procedurally generated world” aspect necessary to the designation, instead featuring fixed levels with hand-designed puzzles.

Here’s the trailer again:

The Wizard is 100% free, though the developers have helpfully placed a Paypal donation widget on the game’s page in case you want to help them out financially.

As an HTML5 browser game, The Wizard is playable on any computer or device with a working browser. (The developers recommend using Chrome.) Play The Wizard here.

New release: Halfway

Folks: Halfway has now gone all the way–which is to say, the 2D tactical RPG is now out!

Halfway is set several hundred years in the future, and has a decidedly Alien / System Shock 2 thing going on:

In Halfway you take control of a small team of survivors faced with a violent invasion onboard the colonial vessel Goliath. As their leader you will guide them through the dark and cramped corridors of the ship to slowly take back the control.

If you have any hope of surviving, you’ll have to fight, face your fears and outsmart the enemy!

Halfway uses a turn-based, cover-based combat system reminiscent of what we saw in the Firaxis’s 2012 XCOM remake. Characters are each unique and skill-based; progression occurs via packs and special suits that improve your characters’ abilities.

Here’s the trailer:

The devs state that Halfway will eventually be given mod support and a campaign editor, though that isn’t out just yet. (Word is that it will be released “soon.”)

Halfway is available for Windows, Mac and Linux on Steam; it costs $12.99, with a 10% release discount. (The game will be available on the Humble Store as well later today.)

New release: Dragon’s Dungeon

Word reaches me that there’s a new Android roguelike out by the name of Dragon’s Dungeon.

Created by Russian developer LunarPixel, Dragon’s Dungeon is distinguishable from most graphical roguelikes by the inclusion of an optional “easy mode,” which permits a slain character to respawn with all of his / her loot.

The game also includes merchants, the ability to gamble for gold in a card mini-game, a full-fledged crafting system, and a non-standard leveling mechanic that sounds like something of a combination between the mushroom houses from Mario 3 and Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid:

Non-standard character leveling is formed randomly, too, and is represented by a field with 120 cells, each of them hiding a skill or a stat point. Skill cell is marked with gold. Learning an available cell opens its neighboring cells to be learned later.

Here is the official trailer:

The developers have provided a gameplay video as well. (It’s in Russian, but you should be able to follow along with what’s happening fairly easily.)

Dragon’s Dungeon is exclusive to Android, and comes in “lite” and “full” varieties. The lite version is limited to two character classes and a single 25-level dungeon location; the full version offers a choice of all six character classes and three 25-levels dungeons. You can pick up the lite version for free here, or the full version for $1.99 right here.

Legena: Union Tides announced

Jeremy Beare of Grandpa Pixel writes in to announce Legena: Union Tides, an SNES-style jRPG he’s developing.

The narrative premise: “It is a time of discord, and the creatures of the sea have decided to organize against the oppression of their employer, Poseidon–to form a sort of…Union Tide.”

…ahhhhh, just kidding! Here is the actual narrative summary:

Legena, n.  A legend that spans an era: the legend of the Narrator

Have you seen the red sky? And the green lightning? Rumour has it whenever the sky turns red and the land is struck by green, the Narrator appears. A time traveller I hear. You best be a good boy. You best be a good girl. Otherwise the legend will come true. The Narrator will get you.

Take the role of Tetiro Aceus and Atesan Turwin to explore the open seas, stop the pirate lords and discover the dark side of the Legena universe. And how their roles turn the gears of a legena that spans countless eras.

I’ve spent a little time with an early demo version, and the main thing that stuck out to me during my brief time with it is how utterly weird the story is. This comes through a bit in Legena’s debut trailer:

Legena is presently on Kickstarter, where it needs to raise about $7,500 more. If successful, it will release next December for Windows, Android, OUYA and GameStick with improved graphics; if it fails, they will press on with development, but it will take longer to release, and not to the level of quality the developers wish.