Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 3, 2012
As usual, I’m far overdue for talkin’ up what’s going down in the indie RPG realm. I don’t pretend to have exhaustive knowledge of this ever-more-impressive domain, but in my regular delves into the labyrinth of indie games I’ve come up with a few treasures I’d love to share knowledge about:
Legend of Grimrock was released a couple of weeks ago. I’m still a fan, and I’m still playing. I haven’t had too much time the last couple of weeks, but taking an hour here and there has always been very satisfying. The reviews I have seen for this old-school style RPG patterned after Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, and similar titles have seemed universally positive – often glowing. Anyway, Matt Barton has an amusing look at the game in his latest Matt Chat Video. Be warned – it does contain some smallish spoilers.
Italian indie developer Winter Wolves have really put more into their newest story-heavy RPG, Loren the Amazon Princess, than any of their previous RPG or “visual novel” games before. Similar in style to their sci-fi RPG Planet Stronghold, Loren features a bigger world, more position-oriented tactical turn-based combat, a dozen different “romantic options,” lots of branches on the storyline, and all the expected trappings of a JRPG with some strong western RPG and visual novel influences. I’m personally not sure I’m a fan of the custom soundtrack based on the video, which seems to borrow from the J-Pop that often makes the title music for anime. Your mileage may vary. But the game itself looks like a lot of fun, and an expansion is already promised. You can grab the free demo at the above link and give it a try.
The massive update to Classic Games Remade’s Swords & Sorcery: Underworld sounds like it is very close to release. Charles Clerc was kind enough to send me a beta of gold version, and I can attest that while the changes are definitely far more than skin-deep, there’s something to be said for the improved graphics truly improving the entire experience. They don’t need to be cutting edge – just nice – and the new graphics are very nice. The game has a lot of great improvements, and truly feels like a new game. If you have fond memories of the first half of the Might & Magic series, you should check this one out upon its release.
After Aveyond 3 was broken up into several chapters (combining to make the largest Aveyond yet), it’s been a while since the last one one was released. Work is beginning on a new Aveyond, and it may use a brand-new engine, rather than RPG Maker, which will allow it to be available for Windows, Mac, and Android on release.
Referred to as “an adventure game that combines strategic turn-based combat with unique point-and-click mechanics,” I’m really not sure what the difference would be yet between this game and an RPG. So while I’m taking their word on it being an adventure game, it looks like it has some cross-over mechanics that would appeal to RPG fans. Dark Scavenger was just released on both Windows and Mac, so you can click the link above to take a look and try out the demo.
Forge of Legends is a little earlier in development than I usually report on, but the developer got into contact with me to tell me more about it, and I gotta admit I’ve got my hopes up. For one thing, it’s another RPG where you guide a party in a first-person perspective through the world. It promises turn-based, tactical-style combat, which immediately excites me. Just a little. Click the link above for more info.
A free expansion pack (okay, DLC) is coming out for this popular tongue-in-cheek graphic roguelike, entitled “Dungeons of Dredmor: You Have To Name The Expansion Pack.” It features new content for massively-eyebrowed heroes: more skills, new monsters, and new tilesets. You can grab more information here.
This is a browser-based fantasy RPG that pays some homage to old-school western RPG styles. While it clearly possesses some MMO-like aspects, including being able to see other players in-game, it sounds more like a browser-based asynchronous multiplayer game. You do your own thing and have some limited interaction with other players. Besides building up your party (or “cohort”), the focus is also on building up your home village and collecting ‘companions.’ The game just entered open Beta, so you can try it out yourself at the above link.
A new public beta demo for Age of Decadence has been released, addressing several of the issues that people complained about with the first demo release. You can check out the new public demo at several links available in this thread.
The remake of Avernum: Escape from the Pit (which was itself a remake of Exile) has now been released for the PC. It’s much better-looking than its earlier incarnation, and I understand its makeover is far more than skin-deep.
This horror-strategy-RPG based on the Call of Cthulhu dice-and-paper RPG has now been released for the PC! For those bold enough to try Intel’s App-Up, let me know how it is. The PC download is available here.
I can’t wait for this game. As much as I still pine for a true sequel to Depths of Peril, this spacefaring RPG looks like it has just about everything I loved from DoP and a whole heck of a lot more. The game is now in alpha, and I’m expecting it to vie with Legend of Grimrock for being my favorite indie RPG of the year. The latest update doles out some information on more of the races of the galaxy.
Styg has posted some more updates on this sci-fi indie RPG in the forums, including some of the latest and greatest gameplay developments, like the inclusion of stealth. This is really shaping up to be a pretty exciting project, and I look forward to its release (any chance of it being before the years’ end, Styg?). You can check out more information in this forum thread.
I haven’t finished this one yet, either. I interrupted my game of Darklight Dungeon Eternity to play this one, which I then interrupted to play Underworld Gold, which I then interrupted to play Grimrock. They are all great games, dang it! Anyway, there’s a patch, which I don’t believe messes with your saved game (I hope not!) – details available here.
This is an interesting story. At one point, this series was pronounced dead, ending at the second game. The games just didn’t do well enough – in spite of the mighty Penny Arcade pushing “their” game. Bummer. Tycho even posted the story of the third chapter online so that fans could at least read how the story concludes.
But now they’ve contracted with Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games, creator of Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII, to come up with a decidedly different-looking game in the series. Going from 3D to the 2D, 16-bit look, it’s a departure, but promises a continuation of the style and storyline of the original games. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the humor of the original games, I was amused and entertained. I am looking forward to checking this one out when it releases this summer. On top of this, there’s a spot on the page for yet another sequel – R-SPoD #4. Interesting stuff!
Update – I was reminded of this one shortly after I posted this, so I thought I’d sneak it in here rather than waiting until the next round-up. The demo is already available at the above link. This is a Steampunk turn-based RPG with a heavy combat focus. Already out for iOS, they are now working on finishing up the Mac and PC versions.
Various Kickstarter Projects
I have not even tried to keep track of all the RPGs attempting funding through Kickstarter. I think it’s awesome, and I see some very worthy titles being funded, and some other worthy-looking titles not making it. Wasteland 2 and The Banner Saga are two very notable RPGs by proven teams which have been funded far in excess of their original plans. Shadowrun, based on the popular dice-and-paper RPG which has already seen a couple of video-game incarnations, was extremely successful in their campaign as well, hitting nearly $2 million in funding of their $400,000 goal. While not focusing on RPGs, Jane Jenson (of Gabriel Knight and King’s Quest fame) has Moebius and Pinkerton Road Studio as a rather unusual project for making 3D third-person adventure games… with an eye towards making future Gabriel Knight games! That one has fifteen days to go, and the Kickstarter-backed Legends of Eisenwald has 18 days left to cover the last bit of their funding – which is more to help their launch, as the fantasy-strategy game is already deep into development. Crate’s Grim Dawn open-world action-RPG set in a fantasy Victorian era is looking pretty good, and are really close to their goal. Boot Hill Heroes, a single-and-multiplayer retro JRPG-style in the style of American Westerns (how’s that for a mix?) has more than doubled its modest funding goal with more than two weeks left to go. Echoes of Eternia is almost out of its funding phase, having hit nearly 4x their own modest goals. Legend of the Time Star is a retro 2D side-scrolling style RPG made by an indie team with some industry experience, and is still early in its campaign (but not very far along on its goal). The Storybricks campaign just started, which is not so much a “straight” RPG by itself as a really cool MMORPG toolset focused on shared storytelling with some pretty significant talent behind it. Sadly, Lenore Hoehl’s Tortured Hearts was unsuccessful in its funding campaign, but they’ve pledged to keep working on the game regardless.
Please feel free to contact me if you have some more tidbits and news about indie RPGs (especially the ones I’ve not heard about!) to share in the next installment!
As for me… holy crap, how am I gonna find time to play all of these? I mean, good gravy! I’m not done with Grimrock yet, and that’s one of the less time-consuming titles listed here! Then I’ve got some serious back-tracking to do. But you know, this is the right kind of problem to have. A few years ago, the “indie RPG” was a rare creature indeed. Then for a while there, it was all games in the 16-bit JRPG style. It feels like the floodgates have opened with a good mix of styles and approaches to the genre. It’s a good thing.
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