Latest Publications

World Slayer announced

Daria writes in to inform me that there’s a new 3D jRPG in development by the name of World Slayer. In development by a (primarily Russian) 5-person studio simply calling themselves World Slayer Team, World Slayer takes the unusual tack of making your protagonist the one who’s out to destroy the world:

Occasionally some worlds, for an unknown reasons, become affected by the Corruption, which gradually deforms them and their inhabitants. When the Corruption reaches the critical level, the whole world turns into a Corrupted Monster, that devours other Worlds. Since it’s mostly unknown where the Corruption comes from and how to get rid of it, the world heavily affected by it must be destroyed by the World Slayer (you).

But the moment the Slayer arrives into the world, he is immediately attacked by a mysterious sorceress, who drains all of the Slayer’s power, but also loses all of her own memory. Everything that happens afterwards is up to you, the player. You can finish the story as a typical savior, as a manipulative villain, as a madman or a mad woman, as an elaborate strategist, a romantic hero or maybe just do nothing and have fun (and who cares about the world that’s collapsing?)

As the premise suggests, the developers are taking pains to make the game nonlinear, drawing inspiration from a myriad of wRPGs in the process (they specifically cite Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age).

Here’s a teaser trailer:

The developers list the following features planned for the finished game:

  • Completely nonlinear single player campaign
  • The relationships between the protagonist and main companions could vary from a friendship or a common romance… to a global catastrophe
  • Faction Rivalry mode (strategic good old Sengoku-like addon) becomes available, allowing the player to conquer cities and lands like a strategist, improve the army and build defences
  • Crafting weapons, devices, and magic stones
  • Battle system that looks deceptively simple, offers a large variety of tactics to trick a stronger enemy
  • Story – the narrative isn’t built on trivial claims about saving the world and cutout “chosen one” templates, instead it’s based on characters’ interactions and non-standard storytelling decisions, which the player has to deal with. The story is presented somewhat frivolously, with humor and a bit of parody.

There is currently a demo available for World Slayer (Windows, Mac, and Android). The full game is being developed for Windows, Android, iOS and Switch, with a planned simultaneous release date of winter 2017 (and a potential PS Vita port to follow).

Bevontule announced

Andy Fenton of two-person, Ohio-based indie studio Multithreaded Games writes in to announce Bevontule, a 3D jRPG they’ve been developing since May 2015.

Here’s the premise:

As the troubled continent of Onich spirals further into decay, an ancient foe reappears amidst the chaos, offering salvation.  Join a diverse cast of characters and the outcast among them, looking perhaps to stave off the looming calamity… or unwittingly hasten its arrival.

In Bevontule, you’ll traverse a massive and varied continent, inhabited by war-ravaged nations, revel factions, impregnable beasts and far-more insidious and unknowable forces.  You’ll explore expansive plains, aid survivors in ruined towns, delve deeply into caverns, and navigate forbidden ruins—all in the service of discovering the existential threat presently posed to Onich and perhaps humanity itself.

Exploration in Bevontule looks to be in modern jRPG style, with enemy mobs visible on the map. Combat, meanwhile, looks to be spatial and turn-based, eschewing grid-based movement in favor of a more freeform radial variety a la Age of Fear or Phantom Brave:

Meanwhile, the developers’ list of planned features for the final release is pretty enormous–I’ve actually edited it a bit for length:

  • Mature and highly-detailed plot spanning thousands of years, inspired by games like Xenogears and Shadow Hearts.
  • Beautiful 3D environments to discover, explore and conquer, including a massive, JRPG-style overworld.
  • Free-roaming enemies with a wide variety of movement patterns, behaviors and habitats; avoid or engage at your own discretion!
  • Unrelenting and highly-intelligent enemy AI that can be scaled to various difficulty levels.
  • A large cast of interesting characters with defined roles, yet deeply customizable skillsets, with multiple builds for each combatant.
  • Enemies learn and level up as you do, accessing new skills, tactics and other ‘enhancements.’
  • Unlock, learn and equip from hundreds of combat skills, attribute bonuses, and world-based buffs.
  • Scavenge, create and upgrade items with our original skill-based crafting system.

Bevontule is being developed for Windows, and is currently planned for a 2018 release.

Sacred Fire announced

Martin Kolesar of four-person indie team Poetic Studio writes in to announce Sacred Fire, which he describes as a psychological RPG about revenge and loyalty.

The premise:

Sacred Fire is a narrative RPG in which your humanity and emotions impact your fight for survival and inner freedom. Inspired by ancient Caledonia, the story follows a group of resistance fighters and their rise to power.

Choosing motives, ideas and feelings is as important as choosing your actions. Develop your personality and compete for influence to change the story and avert a tragic ending.

From what I can tell, your interaction with the game occurs exclusively through selecting menu options, but the way the developers plan to present everything is pretty slick–check out the gameplay teaser showing a bit of this, or this more scattered (but comprehensive) alpha trailer:

Planned features include:

  • Cinematic turn-based combat
  • Psychology affecting your performance
  • Choice making with probability checks
  • Competing story characters
  • Multiple endings
  • Narrated by Doug Cockle, the voice of the Witcher

Sacred Fire is planned for release in spring 2018 for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. The developers intend to later port the game to PS4 and Xbox One as well.

New Release: Cosmic Star Heroine

Bill Stiernberg of Zeboyd Games writes in to announce the release of Cosmic Star Heroine, a sci-fi jRPG about a galactic secret agent.

The premise:

Alyssa L’Salle is one of the top secret agents at the Agency of Peace & Intelligence on the Planet Araenu. But when she uncovers a horrible conspiracy, she has to go rogue in order to save the day! Can Alyssa save the galaxy when everyone (and everything) is out to stop her?

Stiernberg writes: “The game focuses on fast-paced, streamlined turn-based combat, battles on maps that can sometimes be avoided with careful maneuvering, and a huge host of characters and abilities to choose from.”

Cosmic Star Heroine’s overall presentation is clearly influenced by Chrono Trigger, as you can see in the trailer:

And lest you still doubt the Chrono Trigger influence, the game’s list of features should put those doubts to rest. Among them:

  • Brisk pacing that respects your time! Save anywhere!
  • No separate battle screen! Battles take place directly in the areas that you explore!
  • 2D visual style straight from the height of gaming’s 16-bit era!
  • Animated cutscenes reminiscent of the Sega CD and Turbo Duo era!
  • Soundtrack by HyperDuck SoundWorks (Dust: An Elysian Tail, Precipice of Darkness 4)!
  • Innovative turn-based combat system that focuses on flow and strategy!
  • Multi-character combo techniques!
  • Your own spaceship! Recruit new agents to help your home base grow!

Cosmic Star Heroine is now available for Windows on Steam and The Humble Store at a $14.99 price point, and for Playstation 4 at the same price on the Playstation Store. (Stiernberg writes that they intend to port the game to Playstation Vita, Mac and Linux as soon as they can, with an Xbox One version to come later down the line.)

7-Day Roguelike Challenge 2017 entries posted

The annual 7-Day Roguelike Challenge has once again come to a successful conclusion–word reaches me that the entries have been scored and posted at Temple of the Roguelike. Why not give some of them a try?

Caves of Qud announced, public alpha released

Brian Bucklew of Freehold Games (the 3-person studio that you may remember as the developer of Sproggiwood) writes in to tell me about Caves of Qud, a strange retrofuturist science fiction/fantasy roguelike.

Impressively, Freehold Games have apparently been developing CoQ since 2007. (I mean, 10 years is actually not that enormous a period of time to spend developing a complex roguelike; but still!) Caves of Qud has been out in Early Access since mid-2015, making this announcement pretty late (but hey: better late than never, right?)

Anyway, let’s get to the premise:

Caves of Qud is a science fantasy RPG and roguelike epic steeped in retrofuturism, deep simulation, and swathes of sentient plants. Come inhabit an exotic world and chisel through a layer cake of thousand-year-old civilizations. Play the role of a mutant from the salt-spangled jungles of Qud, or play as a true-kin descendant from one of the few remaining eco-domes: the toxic arboreta of Ekuemekiyye, the ice-sheathed arcology of Ibul, or the crustal mortars of Yawningmoon. Decide: is it a dying earth, or is it on the verge of rebirth?

The developers write that “Caves of Qud is a deeply simulated, biologically diverse, richly cultured world.” They state that they “wanted to weave a rich, exotic, and well-researched culture around deeply simulated physical and political systems. The result is an open-world roguelike where the gameplay is unpredictable, the plants are sentient, and the development is ongoing.”

If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around this, well, maybe this trailer will help:

Features reportedly include:

  • Assemble your character from over 70 mutations and defects, and 24 castes and kits — outfit yourself with wings, two heads, quills, four arms, flaming hands, or the power to clone yourself; it’s all the character diversity you could want.
  • Explore procedurally-generated regions with some familiar locations — each world is nearly 1 million maps large.
  • Dig through everything — don’t like the wall blocking your way? Dig through it with a pickaxe, or eat through it with your corrosive gas mutation, or melt it to lava. Yes, every wall has a melting point.
  • Hack the limbs off monsters — every monster and NPC is as fully simulated as the player. That means they have levels, skills, equipment, faction allegiances, and body parts. So if you have a mutation that lets you, say, psionically dominate a spider, you can traipse through the world as a spider, laying webs and eating things.
  • Pursue allegiances with over 60 factions — apes, crabs, robots, and highly entropic beings, just to name a few.
  • Learn the lore — there’s a story in every nook, from legendary items with fabled pasts to in-game history books written by plant historians. A novel’s worth of handwritten lore is weaved together with a procedurally-generated history that’s unique each game.
  • Die — Caves of Qud is brutally difficult and deaths are permanent. Don’t worry, though — you can always roll a new character.

A full release of Caves of Qud is planned for sometime in 2018–but there’s no need to wait, as you can grab the alpha and start playing immediately for $9.99 via Steam Early Access. Windows, Mac, and Linux.

War of Velana announced

Word reaches me that there’s a new sRPG in development by 6-person indie studio Loreweaver. The name: War of Velana. Developer Justin Mitchell tells me that War of Velana is inspired by Shining Force (which earns the game brownie points right out of the gate, as far as I’m concerned!)

Here’s the premise:

The Black Triad waged war on Alta 200 years ago and were defeated. Now, a new dark army stirs and threatens to bring chaos to the country again. A ranger and his friends get wind of what’s happening and chase after a Kovellian mage to try and prevent another war.

Mitchell states that the interface and overall structure of the game are similar to Shining Force, but that War of Velana will depart from that series in a few significant ways. First, combat cut scenes are side-view (a la the GBA Fire Emblem games) rather than taking the “behind the attacker” perspective that the Shining Force series was known for.

Mitchell also tells me that the team took some inspiration from Final Fantasy Tactics: new skills can be learned by all classes, not just spellcasters, and you will have three turns to revive downed characters in a fight before they die. (On most difficulty settings, death is not permanent: you can revive dead characters by praying to the Goddess in true Shining Force style.)

As for the game’s aesthetic approach, this video trailer should give you an idea of what you can expect:

Planned features include:

  • Multiple classes and build types. Some classes can be promoted and some are specialty classes (like Alchemist).
  • Each character gets a unique set of abilities and stat growth ranges regardless of class. For example, your two Soldiers will play pretty differently.
  • 6 Chapters, each exploring a different part of the country of Alta. Each region has a unique environment and design feel.
  • Many layers of secrets, lore findings, secret characters, and rare enemies to find and hunt.
  • Intuitive system design and quality of life features (like seeing every unit’s HP/SP bars with the pull of a trigger).

War of Velana is being developed for Windows and Mac, with a tentative release planned for spring 2018. In the meantime, it’s on Kickstarter, and there’s an alpha demo currently available right here.

New Release: Shadows of Adam

I’m a little late with this one, but better late than never: word reaches me that Shadows of Adam, a jRPG created  by the five-person indie team Something Classic, has now been released! (And by “now,” I of course mean “at the end of February.”)

The premise:

A specter haunts the small, remote village of Adam. It is the ghost of its dour hero, Orazio, who set out 10 years ago without explanation and never returned, leaving his son and adopted daughter to wrestle with the dark secret he left behind. A secret that must now be revealed if the children hope to save their departed father, though its revelation could unhinge the world.

Shadows of Adam features really nice original art in 16-bit SNES style, as well as what appears to be a custom engine (i.e. I don’t think this one is made in RPG Maker).

Here’s the trailer:

The developers promise 10-12 hours of gameplay, four playable heroes, no random encounters (all wandering enemies appear onscreen), and a “deep, character-driven story with lots of humor.”

You can find Shadows of Adam on Steam for $14.99 (Windows, Mac, and Linux)–or on Green Man Gaming at the same price (Windows only).

New release: Battle Brothers

Word reaches me that Battle Brothers (previously covered here) has finally been released! Developed by Hamburg-based indies Overhype Studios, Battle Brothers is a strategy RPG set in a gritty quasi-medieval setting with a procedurally generated overworld, battles, and quests.

The premise:

Battle Brothers is a turn based strategy RPG mix which has you leading a mercenary company in a gritty, low-power, medieval fantasy world. You decide where to go, whom to hire or to fight, what contracts to take and how to train and equip your men in a procedurally generated open world campaign. Do you have what it takes to lead them through bloody battles and to victory?

The game is split between a world map, where you can wander and take contracts to earn money or hire new mercenaries for your group–and a turn-based combat layer, where individual battles play out. The game’s release trailer gives you the gist:

I last checked out Battle Brothers nearly two years ago; it was a fairly impressive game even then. Now, after two years of incubation and regular updates on early access, I can only assume that it’s grown more so. (In particular, I hope that the developers have addressed some of the more annoying aspects of the game’s zone-of-control mechanics.)

The developers cite among the game’s features:

  • Permadeath. All characters that die in combat will stay dead – unless they return as the undead.
  • All characters come with their own background stories and traits. Want a stuttering ratcatcher, a greedy witch hunter or a drunkard disowned noble?
  • Character development without a restrictive class-system. Each character gains experience through combat, can level up and acquire powerful perks.
  • Equipment that matters. Different weapons grant unique skills – split shields with axes, stun enemies with maces, form a spearwall with spears or crush armor with a warhammer.
  • Diverse enemy roster. All enemies have unique equipment, skills and AI behavior.
  • A dynamic event system with atmospheric encounters and tough decisions outside of combat.
  • Three late game crises – a war between noble houses, a greenskin invasion and an undead scourge – add a looming threat along with new contracts, enemies and events.

Battle Brothers is available on Steam for $29.99. Windows only.

Legrand Legacy announced

Aditya Gunawan of Indonesian indie developer Semisoft writes in to announce Legrand Legacy, a 3D jRPG they’re currently developing after successfully raising about $56,000 on Kickstarter last month.

The premise:

Mugna Feud, the great war between the Kingdoms of Fandor and Altea, puts Legrand in a chaotic state. You play as Finn, a young slave who wakes up without any memory of his past, yet soon discovers that he possesses mysterious powers beyond his control. Embark on an epic adventure in this sprawling fantasy universe and fight alongside the Fatebounds to bring peace back to Legrand and prevent the Second Coming! But beware, something deeper and darker awaits…​

So, uh…when the developers reference the Second Coming, I’m just going to go ahead and assume they don’t mean that you’re fighting to prevent Jesus’s return.

Exploration appears to occur on a screen-by-screen basis, with 2D backdrops and a fixed-camera view. Combat, meanwhile, appears to consist of turn-based fare with real-time minigames that impact the effectiveness of your characters’ attacks.

You can see this all in action in the gameplay teaser below (though there’s also a cinematic trailer here if pre-rendered stuff is more your speed):

Per the developers, the finished game is planned to feature:

  • A fully immersive experience with stunning FMV and 3D cinematic cutscenes, epic original soundtrack, and a rich story line
  • 3D models and original assets come together with gorgeously stylized hand-drawn 2D backgrounds
  • Action packed turn-based combat and tactical warfare scenarios that will test not only your skill but also your wits and keep you on your toes
  • Recruit NPCs to rebuild your Castle, play mini games, and go on rewarding side quests
  • Configure items and grimoire that characters can wield in combat, set combat formation, or review journal to track quests
  • Collect loot from slain enemies and craft items or sell them for money

Legrand Legacy is tentatively planned for a Steam release in September 2017; Windows only. While you wait, there’s a free pre-release demo available to try from the game’s Steam page.