Latest Publications

Alvora Tactics announced

Sean Hayden of Rad Codex–creator of Voidspire Tactics–writes in to tell me about a new tactical RPG he’s been plugging away on, called Alvora Tactics.

The premise:

Great Serpent Alvora has been tormenting Limroft for centuries, swooping down and devouring wilderness and cities. Now its corpse has been discovered hanging off a remote cliffside – and it’s up to you to explore and discover the valuable ancient ruins within!

Hayden is reusing the Voidspire Tactics engine and sticking to what it does well: namely, exploring a bizarre setting interspersed with small-scale tactical combat. This teaser trailer ought to give you the gist:

There are a few planned changes from Voidspire–particularly promising is a 50% increase in maximum party size, from 4 up to 6. Hayden writes that this game will be more combat-focused than Voidspire was, and shorter: he pegs it at 10-12 hours in length.

Some of the other planned features:

  • Explore a mix of procedural and handcrafted areas full of varied & challenging encounters
  • Destructible terrain and elemental interactions – set a jungle ablaze with fire magic, or summon water then electrify it!
  • Combine 10 races, 23 classes, 150+ upgrade-able abilities, and 50+ passives to create your ideal party
  • Unique fantasy setting; no elves, orcs, or dwarves

Alvora Tactics must be all but complete now, as Hayden lists the game’s release window as April 2017. As with Voidspire Tactics, Alvora Tactics will be Windows-only.

All Walls Must Fall announced

Jan David Hassel writes in to announce All Walls Must Fall, a “tech-noir” isometric tactics game with RPG elements and clear XCOM inspiration now being developed by Berlin indie studio inbetweengames.

All Walls Must Fall is set in future, alternate-reality Cold War Germany, and features an appropriately paranoid cyberpunk premise to go along with the setting:

Berlin, November 2089 – For 150 years of Cold War both sides have used temporal technology to counter each other’s every move. But this deadly love is finally coming to an end as a rogue nuclear strike has both sides sending agents back in time to find out who did it and how to prevent it before everything turns to ash forever. Over the course of a journey that jumps and loops through a single night in the city, players will unravel the conspiracy keeping East and West locked in struggle and oppression. As lines between factions become blurred, choices become difficult. Which side to play? Who to side with? When both time and free will are an illusion – who can you really trust? Will your actions tear down the wall, bring stability, or perpetuate a cycle of war and terror? In the end all walls must fall.

AWMF employs a real-time-with-pause combat system where unit actions are timed to the beat of the game’s music. AWMF will also include stealth and persuasion mechanics, meaning you’re not locked into combat as the sole means to achieve mission objectives.

You can get a sense of how this game will play from the teaser trailer:

Now, about those missions–the developers state that each campaign will be procedurally generated when you start a new game:

A single campaign consists of a number of missions, taking place in the same night in Berlin. Missions are not scripted, but give you a clear goal. It’s up to you to decide on how to best achieve it within the sandbox of a Berlin nightclub. A single campaign will take a few hours to play through, but each one will contain different missions and may have different outcomes.

Hassel tells me that the game’s assortment of RPG elements is rather limited at the moment, in that “the RPG progression mechanics we have in the game are buying of new weapons and time manipulation abilities. You pay for these with a time resource that you collect for fulfilling missions and doing thing[s] within them.” He states that they intend to add more RPG progression mechanics in later, but it’s not clear right now what those might be.

All Walls Must Fall is now on Kickstarter, where it’s well on its way to being funded. The game is being developed for Windows and Mac, with a closed alpha coming in May and a planned Early Access release this fall.

Jester’s Quest announced

Fendi of Slovakian indie studio Cybernautic writes in to tell me about a new metroidvania he’s developing called Jester’s Quest.

The premise:

Jester’s Quest is metroidvania pixelart platformer where you have to save the kingdom with the pixie helpers and a killer unicorn. Jester’s main weapon – pogocello can smash enemies into bloody parts in easy two button combat system and you can also upgrade himself, weapon and pixies.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering what on earth a “pogocello” is right about now–so I’ve saved you a few precious seconds by Googling it. Go on, read. Got it? Okay, now back to the game.

Despite the fact that Jester’s Quest’s graphics will consist almost entirely of pixel art and frame-by-frame animations, Cybernautic are creating the game in Unreal Engine 4.

Fendi states that there is not a single word written anywhere in Jester’s Quest–all communication occurs iconographically through sequences of symbols, in a language he refers to as “ikontalk.” You can see a bit of that in the game’s teaser trailer:

The game’s official page describes other planned features:

  • Jester with his main weapon – pogocello, can attack enemies with two buttons combo style combat system. You can link primary attack (damage dealer) with secondary (radial damage or block breaker) and mix them together with multiple secondary weapons like magic cards or “jack in the box” bombs or with special fairies attacks.
  • Pixies are small fairy tale fairies which will help jester on his quest. They have special abilities like lockpick, repair or summon light and also special attacks like fireball, lightning or poison. They can also charge jester’s pogocello up to five tiers so he can unleash all the energy in it with a devastating blow.
  • And did I mentioned that jester can ride a killer unicorn? Oooh yeah. This fantasy beast beats everyone with its magic horn. But will be jester able to tame it?

So yeah. Suffice it to say that this game looks quirky as all hell. Jester’s Quest is being developed for Windows; it’s currently planned for release sometime in the second quarter of 2018. Checks Out The Tenth Line

Well! It’s been a little bit since I last posted one of these, hasn’t it? My backlog hasn’t grown any shorter in the interim, but I figured I should get back to it. As such, I (somewhat arbitrarily) selected The Tenth Line from among those games that had been sent to me as the subject of this newest episode.

Per custom, I recorded the screen as I played, the results of which you can see below:

So: what did I think?


Children of Zodiarcs announced

You may recall the 3D tactical RPG Children of Zodiarcs from some of our Back to Back coverage in early 2016. In development by 9-person Montreal team Cardboard Utopia, Children of Zodiarcs went on to rack up about $195,000 in funding, and has been in development since that time (and, indeed, before it).

The premise:

Nahmi and her companions go on a mission to steal a priceless relic of a decadent noble, but what awaits them is more than anyone bargained for …

Relentlessly pursued by city guards heavily armed with deadly Zodiarc weapons, they are forced to make a desperate escape through gilded palace chambers, sun-drenched slums and dank underground catacombs.

As they city guards, battle rival bandit gangs, and even a clan of subterranean cannibals, it becomes clear that they have only each other to depend on. To emerge victorious, they will need to trust one another and use everything at their disposal, making choices that no one should have to make.

Can a motley crew of outsiders survive this vicious world without sacrificing their own humanity?

Children of Zodiarcs employs a deck system for character actions, with personalized decks you build for each character, as well as what appear to be loads of virtual dice thrown visibly on the screen to determine the effectiveness of each action a character takes. You can see how this looks in this teaser trailer:

Children of Zodiarcs is planned for Windows and Mac release through Steam, as well as release on Playstation 4. Release is scheduled for sometime in 2017.

A quick note about the indie-ness of this game: a PR guy from Kartridge, Craig Stephens, got in touch with me to let me know that the Square Enix Collective is now publishing Children of Zodiarcs. This is no doubt good news for the team–but of course, this also immediately put me into detective mode, as I am sworn to only post about games that are indie! According to Stephens, “SEC avoid any interference [in development] and instead offer support where needed.” This is what I needed to hear to feel assured that this publisher arrangement does not violate the cosmic laws of indie-ness. As more and more indie games get signed to “indie publishers,” I’ll be building up a sort of “white list” of such companies that have an official hands-off policy. For now, Square Enix Collective is on that list.

New release: The Tenth Line

Elliot Mahan of Sungazer Software writes in to announce that platformer/jRPG hybrid The Tenth Line (previously covered here) is now out for PC!

The premise, in case you need a refresher:

Guide the princess of Easania and her unusual but reliable companions through a world of magic, beasts, and dragons while avoiding the clutches of a mysterious cult in hot pursuit.

This release is accompanied by a swanky new release trailer, which neatly communicates The Tenth Line’s central ideas:

The game’s features, per the developer:

  • Explore the world through fast-paced 2D platforming by controlling three separate characters, each with unique movement mechanics and ways of interacting with the world.
  • Take on dozens of foes at one time through turn-based RPG battles with an active timing element.
  • High quality background and sprite artwork, and a grand, varied soundtrack.
  • Unique progression and ways to level-up: power up combat moves and set up character-specific specialties through training, and gain levels to spend on the puzzle-like Power Flow board to increase stats and learn new attacks.
  • 12+ hours of gameplay, plus post-game challenges and a New Game Plus mode.
  • Optional story-focused mode that removes most enemy encounters and simplifies platforming to allow a player to quickly experience the entire story.

You can snag a copy of The Tenth Line on Steam for $9.99. Meanwhile, a free demo remains available right here. The Tenth Line is available for Windows and Mac only for now, but Xbox One and Playstation 4 ports are still planned with a tentative May release date.

Fort Triumph combat demo released

Alert reader Bobz has spotted a playable pre-alpha demo for Fort Triumph posted on GameJolt in anticipation of the game’s forthcoming Kickstarter.

Per the developers, this is purely a combat system demo:

Current version (0.4.5) has a tactical layer demonstration, no strategic layer nor story implemented yet so there’s plenty to look forward to.

For more on what they have planned for the finished game, check out our story from this past September right here.

Skullstone announced

Jakub Ćwikliński of 9-person Polish indie development studio Black Torch Games writes in to announce that they have a new first-person dungeon delver in development–a real-time, grid-based blobber in the tradition of Dungeon Master–by the name of Skullstone.

Here’s the premise:

An ancient structure, long buried under Lisenian woods, is slowly rising due to unknown forces. Skullstone stands on top of it – a dreaded entrance into the darkness below. Evil creatures come out of it killing brave men, snatching frail women and helpless children. While local monks waste time praying in their monastery and deciding how to deal with the stream of evil beings, people of the town of Lisentar act on their own by calling for mercenaries who can save them.

As you can see from this trailer, Skullstone bears a certain resemblance to Legend of Grimrock, albeit somewhat lower fidelity:

Here is the planned feature list:

  • Choose from 20 different characters with different active and passive skills
  • Explore vast dungeon levels made in few different visual styles
  • Fight against unique monsters
  • Find best ways to defeat enemies able to curse you and attack you at range
  • Visit the town to receive quests and claim rewards
  • Listen to the impressive ambient and dungeon synth OST

Skullstone is planned for release in the last part of 2017.

Last Stonelord announced

Italian indie developer Livio Morganti writes in to announce Last Stonelord, which he says is influenced in part by Ultima Online. It honestly looks rather like a single-character survival RPG to me despite its “with RTS elements” description. Speaking of which–here’s the official premise, such as it is:

Last Stonelord is an Old school Rpg with some Rts elements , awakened in a unknow land, you have to conquer your way towards glory and become a Stonelord ! Gather, craft , build, fight  and raise your empire!

Morganti admits that he is not great with English, so perhaps we should just let this rather attractive teaser trailer do the talking for him?

Here is the planned feature list, straight from the press kit:

  • Start with nothing and try to survive.
  • Huge world with dynamic events.
  • Build and defend your village. Grow it into a big city with lots of NPC followers ready to work for you.
  • Move fast riding mounts, trains and boats, transport more Craft Item with Karts.
  • Explore dangerous places with lots of secrets and treasures.
  • Craft quality items based on your skills levels, almost everythings can be player made.
  • Develop your Avatar as warrior , mage or artisan !
  • No fixed class , exp or caps lavels, only skills to train!
  • Your actions influence your karma, will you become good or evil?

Last Stonelord is presently on Steam Greenlight; Morganti writes that he intends to release the game to Steam Early Access this summer in English and Italian. It’ll be for Windows and Mac, with console support to follow at some point in the future.

New release: Witch Hunt

I’m actually a few months late with this one, but hey: it’s new to me! Turns out, Aldorlea Games released another jRPG back in October, mere months after the release of their previous title. This one is a witch-themed jRPG called–you guessed it–Witch Hunt.

The premise:

Welcome to Ravenshire, the land of curses, tricks and undead spirits.  The Devil Witch, a feared scaremonger, has put everybody tightly shut in the warm comfort of their homes, while outside rain doesn’t seem like it will ever stop.

You are Cybel, a witch of noble descent, and you know the Devil Witch is just another tale to keep people in check. But one day, as you’re meeting your boyfriend in the streets of your hometown, the impossible happens, as he is turned into a clucking chicken – one of the Devil Witch’s signature curses.  Could she be real? Do you have what it takes to go after her and reverse the curse on your boyfriend? Do you have the courage to face down terror and evil? Can you deal with all that the Devil Witch can throw at you? Enter a unique, amazing adventure and find out!

Well, there you have it: the classic battle of boyfriend-loving noble witch versus boyfriend-cursing devil witch. Aldorlea promises 25 hours of gameplay, plus the following features:

  • Play up to 9 characters in a unique, enthralling atmosphere
  • Great production values and innovative skills upgrading with levels
  • Mouse control & Auto-Saving
  • 4 modes of difficulty & New Game+
  • 46 legendary creatures to hunt down
  • 16 Relics to discover and 10 Sidequests to complete
  • Aldorlea’s vintage style (The Book of Legends, Laxius Force)

Witch Hunt is $19.99 direct from the developer, with a free demo available. Windows only.