In a break from the lull of an otherwise largely uneventful summer, THQ Nordic broadcast their second annual showcase event today. Among numerous games to make an appearance during the event was Alkimia Interactive's Gothic Remake, which you may recall entered production back in 2020. The developers promised to take criticisms of the game's original playable teaser into account, but it's hard to tell just how much has changed based on the new cinematic trailer, which takes us into the depths of the Old Mine. The next game to be presented was Haemimont Games' Jagged Alliance 3, making its first appearance since it was originally announced last September. For this title there was a proper gameplay trailer, and I must say it doesn't look bad at all. Will Bulgarians save Jagged Alliance?
Neither of these games has a launch date yet, but perhaps we'll learn more about them at Gamescom later this month.
The next location to be added to the Colony Ship Early Access build is the ECLSS, home to the ship's critical life support systems and the faction of cybernetically augmented monks who maintain them. The monks of House Ecclesiastes were described in a development update published back in 2018 which the update announcement largely rehashes, but it does include a few new screenshots as well.
The ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support System) is now available, bringing the number of locations to 8 out of 12.
When the Mutiny broke out, the Chief Technical Officer promptly sealed the ECLSS, declaring that neither side will use it in their war. Those who wished to leave were allowed to do so; the rest remained with CTO Miller, committed to supporting life on the Ship.
Miller knew that the warring factions would be coming for the ECLSS. They would want control, power over life and death on the Ship, something their enemies could never permit. The fight for ECLSS would make the fight for Mission Control look like a border skirmish, and Miller knew how it would end: with destruction of the Ship’s essential systems, the failure of the mission, the death of every man, woman, and child aboard the Ship. That, he could not permit.
The only hope lay in true independence. But how? They would need strength of body, to resist force. They would need strength of will, to live apart from all society. And they would need all the intelligence they could get, not only to maintain Ship systems put under terrible pressure by both the civil war and the mere passage of time, but also to navigate the Ship’s shifting politics. Outsiders would need to believe the inhabitants of ECLSS to be above petty human concerns; and inside, they would need to be above petty human limitations.
The answer lay buried in the Ship's databanks: augmentations meant only for the most extreme circumstances, for small or even individual deep-space maintenance missions, augmentations that would make a man more than a man, and less – able to survive alone, smart enough and strong enough to deal with any challenges that might arise on years-long expeditions.
These augmentations went beyond the artificial eyes and reinforced bones common to the Ship, and amounted to a fundamental reworking of the human body. Functions inessential for long space missions would be removed altogether, freeing the body’s resources for more practical needs.
With this transformation, the ECLSS crew would become what they needed to be: just as the God of Ecclesiastes was above human struggles for power, for fame, for wealth, so too would the superhumans of the ECLSS be above the Ship’s passing struggles, devoted solely to its survival. Outsiders would be able to see them as something other than a foe or friend; and they would have the strength to carry out the heavy task before them.
The next update for Colony Ship will consist of new content for the Pit and is scheduled for late October, although I imagine that like this update it might be a bit late.
It didn't take as long as I expected for Styg to publish his next development update for Underrail: Infusion. This update is about the game's character model customization system. As you might expect, Infusion will allow players to customize their characters' skin color, hair color, hair style and so on during character creation. Where it will differ from most RPGs is that a character's body type will be determined by their physical attributes, a system that will also apply to NPCs. The devlog includes an image with examples of various male character models.
In this dev log, I'm going to give you a little sneak peek of what character customization will be possible in the new engine. Today, I'll only be showing and discussing male characters, but you can expect analogous customization for females as well.
As I mentioned in the previous dev log, we're now using PBR (physics based rendering) for characters. Might not be that apparent in the screenshot below, as all the characters are naked, but it'll definitely make a lot of difference once we start equipping them with gear made of different materials..
Of course, first and foremost, you'll finally be able to pick a skin color. Then you'll be able to select your hair style, beard and mustache styles and colors. Both skin and hair colors will be chosen from a predetermined list, so no orc, alien, or other unnatural silly characters will be allowed.
You'll also be able to choose a face from a predetermined list, though this will probably have the least visual impact due to the size at which models are rendered.
Characters also support having piercings, tattoos, scars and the like, but we'll see how we're going to make these accessible to player. For the most part, you'll probably not be able to choose these at characters creation, but will instead have to earn them along the way.
The most important feature, for me at least, is the body type variety. This you will not be able to pick freely, but instead, your visual body type will correspond to your physical attributes: strength, agility, and constitution. Strength will make you bigger, while agility will make you leaner. Constitution has a more complex interaction with your visual appearance as it is both a measure of physical sturdiness and endurance.
These things will also, generally, apply to the NPCs, so you'll be able to gauge their physical properties from their appearance.
That's it for now. I know a lot of you are very interested to see some environment screenshots, so hopefully we can get those out relatively soon as well. I think you'll be quite impressed with the upgrade from the previous game.
Looks pretty good. I hope Styg can keep up this rate of updates.
Swords and Sorcery: Sovereign, sequel to the Might & Magic-inspired indie favorite Swords and Sorcery: Underworld from the esteemed Charles Clerc, has been in development for almost a decade. The last time we got any news about Sovereign, Steam Greenlight was still a thing. but this month it unexpectedly resurfaced. Now Charles has released a new teaser trailer for the game, which appears to showcase some of its more atypical elements, including robotic foes and Arabian Nights-themed areas. I'll post the trailer here along with Charles' development status report from earlier this month.
The idea was to replicate Underworld with a surface world. But I quickly envisioned more (as my announcement post suggested already).
It needed a new magic system. With lots more spells.
And lots of passive and active skills.
Then the event module, which worked nicely for Underworld’s scope, did not allow me to sustain something that much bigger. It was a mess. It’s nice and coherent now.
About 200 maps.
As for the main questline, let’s just say it changed a few times.
I’m working on a new video and a Steam page that I aim to activate as Iron Ruler launches. I’m thinking there might be some synergy between the two. Also it should allow for a somewhat more reliable ETA.
I’m looking at Q4 2022. But I’ve been overly optimistic before…
As stated, Charles is aiming to release Sovereign at the end of the year. I wouldn't take that date to the bank, but regardless it's nice to know that the game isn't dead after all this time.
6502 Workshop's Ultima-like 8-bit RPG Nox Archaist seems to have been well-received by retro gaming fans following its release at the end of 2020, even achieving a respectable 10th place in our GOTY poll for that year. After releasing various promotional goodies throughout 2021, the game's developers have decided to put together an oldschool expansion pack called Lord of Storms. The expansion will add a new quest to the base game, in which the party shall be tasked with venturing out into uncharted territory in order to investigate a recent increase in storm activity. Here's the full description from its announcement:
You have learned of Lord Estintar’s suspicions that the cult has something to do with the increase in storm activity. He charges you with investigating. The task will not be easy, but you accept this duty.
Your quest will take you to uncharted reaches of the Isles of Wynmar. Traps, puzzles, and powerful magic items await, which may or may not be able to help you.
Those brave and foolish enough to face these perils will come face to face with the Lord of Storms!
The Nox Archaist: Lord of Storms digital download includes:
New HDV hard-drive image for Apple II, Mac, or PC
A brand new quest line
New mobs and new unique items
New features, including character renaming
PDF of the manual
Note: This is an expansion pack for Nox Archaist, and requires the full game to run.
Nox Archaist: Lord of Storms is available for preorder from 6502 Workshop's website and is currently scheduled for release on March 31st next year. The developers have also set up a Patreon page for retro fans who wish to support them on a more regular basis.
A bunch of weirdo Potatoes from Frozengem Studio have just announced their oldskool dungeon crawler Dungeons of the Amber Griffin. It looks like a gripping Grimrock lookalike about Kashubians*, developed "In cooperation with the Museum of Kashubian and Pomeranian Literature and Music in Wejherowo" (lol).
I hope you are ready to master arcane Kashubian magic and defeat the demons:
Play as a group of daredevils who explore the world of dark fantasy in search of fame, amber and gold. Experience the classic mechanics of the iconic ‘90s Dungeon Crawlers with a new twist. Solve the mystery of the ghost that haunted the ruins and discover a bestiary based on Kashubian beliefs.
Get ready for an exciting journey through the world of the Mystical Kashubia. Learn the beliefs of ancient Pomeranians and deal with the monsters that have begun to roam the area. While defeating the monsters, gather information for a bestiary, based on Kashubian stories.
Create a team of four daredevils with various skills useful in combat. Choose character classes such as, e.g. WÒJÔRZ (Warrior), DULAS (Rogue), ŻÉRCA (Priest), KÙTIN (Mage) and decide on their development.
The main plot of the game is related to the figure of a griffin who, according to one of Kashubian legends, hid a huge lump of amber in an unknown place in Kashubia.
Even at the beginning of the 20th century, in Kashubia, there were cases where the corpses of the deceased were dug up and their heads cut off with a special peat shovel. People believed that these were the so-called wieszczi or òpi, who – after death – rose from the grave to kill members of their family.
ETA: Sometime 2023.
* Kashubians are a people living in northern Poland who speak funny. They are the descendants of Silesians who missed their ship to America.
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As you probably know, the esteemed George Ziets left inXile back in late 2019 in order to found his own RPG studio called Digimancy Entertainment, alongside fellow inXile veterans Kevin Saunders and Steve Dobos. Just what Digimancy have been doing since then remains a mystery, but we do know that a project they were working on (rumored to be published by Paradox Interactive) was cancelled in late 2021. The studio survived however and they continue to work on their own internal RPG project, reinforced by a cadre of former Disco Elysium writers. Today GameBanshee published an extensive interview with George. While there are no major reveals here, he does offer a few hints about the nature of the project, in addition to his thoughts about various aspects of narrative design, the challenges of running a remote work-based studio, and other relevant topics. Here's an excerpt:
GB: Now, moving on to your current projects, Digimancy Entertainment opened its doors back in 2019 as an RPG-focused studio. With your background, that last part is in no way surprising. But still, could you tell us what draws you towards role-playing games in particular?
GZ: I’ve always been most interested in games as a narrative and storytelling medium. Even when I was playing tabletop as a teenager, the stories and characters were my focus as a GM. I loved the back-and-forth, collaborative storytelling between GM and players, and CRPGs are one of the best ways to achieve that feeling in a video game format.
RPGs also have the capability of immersing players in a world - all elements of the game working together to transport players into another reality. Most RPGs don’t achieve that, but a few come close, and that’s the experience I’m striving for.
GB: These days it feels like a lot of games feature at least some RPG elements. How deep and complex do you think they have to be before a game can be considered an RPG?
GZ: For me personally, player choice is critical in RPGs. The more the player can decide how to develop and customize their character / party, and the more their choices affect both narrative and gameplay, the more RPG-ish a game becomes.
As an example - an RPG needs to have some form of player-controlled improvement (“leveling up”) and customization over the course of the game. It’s not enough for the player-character to just acquire a new weapon or capability at various points– they need to be able to choose *how* to improve their character. That could happen in a very simplistic way – e.g., the player could just be given a choice to improve one of three skills at every level-up. That isn’t very interesting or RPG-ish, but if the game also had a highly reactive branching storyline and a very open-ended structure that provided strong consequences to the ways in which the player pursues their goals, I might still classify the game as an RPG.
On the other hand, if a game has a highly sophisticated and versatile system of level-up and character customization with tons of skills, feats, abilities, weapons, etc., in addition to a branching story and open-ended structure, that game is very clearly an RPG to me.
Beyond that, my definition of an RPG is broad. I don’t think RPGs need any specific game system or setting. An RPG doesn’t even need combat if it has other systems to replace it, but it’s critical that those systems be at least as interesting and fun. As a genre, I think the subject matter of RPGs is going to broaden considerably in coming years – combat-driven RPGs will remain with us, but they’ll be joined by RPGs that rely on other fun mechanics too.
GB: You personally worked on the official spiritual sequel to Planescape: Torment - Torment: Tides of Numenera - and an unofficial one - Mask of the Betrayer. And now, you're employing some of the people behind Disco Elysium, another game that was widely compared to Black Isle Studios' masterpiece. Any chance that whatever you still have cooking will continue this trend of heady narrative-driven RPGs?
GZ: Yes! That’s our goal, especially for our internally-driven projects.
Our current internal project is very much part of that tradition, and it takes place in our own unique setting. Steve and I created a prototype back in 2019, and development was delayed by our other (now cancelled) project, but we’re back to working on it with a small team now, including some former Disco folks.
GB: Your studio's mission mentions exploring "the intersection between RPGs and other genres." Which other genres would that be, and what makes them interesting to you?
GZ: The genre I personally find most interesting in this context is strategy. I love strategy games like Total War, Crusader Kings, and King of Dragon Pass, the latter of which is an excellent example of how strong narrative elements can be integrated into a strategy game.
This gets back to what I mentioned earlier about choosing a narrative experience you want to portray in your game and then designing mechanics around it. Sometimes strategy elements might be the best way to do this. As an example - imagine a game where the player takes the role of an agent provocateur in a 19th or early 20th century world, sent to infiltrate and stir up trouble in an enemy city. Such a game might need a combination of some traditional RPG interactions with strategy elements like directing the activities of workers during labor strikes and assigning your minions to tasks like fomenting unrest in poor districts, organizing rallies and riots, and infiltrating government offices.
GB: Anything else you can tell us about your ongoing projects?
GZ: Hmm… only that our internal project is inspired by a combination of real-world history, an ancient philosophical tradition, and one of my all-time favorite fantasy settings (among other things).
I'll let you decide if that second-to-last answer is a hint or a red herring.
Since it was announced last month, Owlcat have published several lore and companion updates for Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader on the game's official website. Coming right on the heels of their Wrath of the Righteous DLC announcement, yesterday they unveiled the first in a series of Rogue Trader dev diary videos. Narrated by lead narrative designer Olga Kellner, this first episode is a basic introduction to the game's premise, including concept art and a few snippets of WIP gameplay footage. It also offers a quick look at a few of the game's companions, which include the player character's loyal seneschal, an unsanctioned psyker, a Battle Sister, an Aeldari Ranger, and a Space Marine from the Space Wolves chapter.
That's it for Owlcat weekend. If you'd like to learn more about Rogue Trader, there were also a couple of interviews recently with creative director Alexander Gusev at Rock Paper Shotgun and IGN.
Owlcat may have announced their next game, but you may recall that they still have one more DLC left for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous this summer with another season pass on the way. As described in last year's season pass announcement, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous - The Treasure of the Midnight Isles is a combat-focused roguelike mode DLC set in the abyssal isles around Alushinyrra. Like the similar Beneath the Stolen Lands DLC for Pathfinder: Kingmaker, it will be accessible both from the main campaign and as a standalone game mode. Treasure of the Midnight Isles will be launching on August 11th. Unlike the previous two DLCs for Wrath of the Righteous, Owlcat put together a brief teaser trailer for this announcement, which I'll post here along with their press release.
Cyprus, Nicosia 14 July 2022: Owlcat Games and Prime Matter are pleased to announce that the multi award-winning, critically-acclaimed Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is coming to consoles on 29 September 2022.
The epic RPG will be available on both physical and digital formats for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S via backward compatibility); as well as Nintendo Switch via the Cloud.
The Enhanced Edition of Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous will become the standard version for the console release, and also will be available for all PC owners of the game on 29 September for free.
The Treasure of the Midnight Isles DLC
In addition to the eagerly-anticipated console announcement, Owlcat Games also confirmed that The Treasure of the Midnight Isles—the third premium DLC for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous—will launch 11 August 2022. The islands—scattered across the dark abyssal ocean—hide treasures untold (and horrors unspeakable). Board the grim cursed ship and venture into the unknown to find your fortune… or demise.
Explore the vast archipelago full of treasures and dangers in a stand-alone rogue-like mode, or as a part of the main campaign
Try out different builds and party compositions, taking advantage of the enormous variety of the Pathfinder role-playing system – including the mythic paths
Death is just a setback! If a party perishes, its progress can still help you in subsequent playthroughs
Equip new magic weapons, put new magic potions and scrolls on your belt, and challenge both old and new enemies
Discover the secret of the ship that takes you on your journeys – and the truth about the ultimate treasure you're seeking
Prepare for your trip to the Midnight Isles with a 50% discount for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous in the Epic Games Store Summer Sale. Also, the Mythic Edition and Commander Edition are available at a 45% discount. The Epic Games Store Summer Sale starts today and ends 28 July 2022.
As stated, Owlcat are also putting together an Enhanced Edition of Wrath of the Righteous for consoles, which will be available on PC as a free update. I guess they'll have to come up with a name for the inevitable even more enhanced edition after the second season pass is done.
Last year we spotted an upcoming new RPG called A Quest That Became Legend. It's a non-grid based open world blobber with turn-based combat, in which the player leads a party of four characters on a quest to "defeat the dark conjurers" and save the world. Despite the abundance of gameplay footage on the game's YouTube channel, we don't really know much about it. It does look pretty nice, though. This weekend the anonymous developer, who goes under the title of Neon Light Studio, finally launched the game's Steam page and put together a proper trailer. Check it out:
A Quest That Became Legend is a game inspired by old school RPG classics, with turn based combat and an open world environment. Set out on an epic quest to defeat the dark conjurers and save your world from destruction.
Explore the lands and venture into different crypts, dungeons, and many other places to battel all kinds of monsters, and maybe find yourself some shiny treasures or some strong magical items. Create a party of 4 heroes and up to 4 different hero classes, all with unique skills and abilities. Help the people you meet on your way, level up your characters and become a living legend as you quest to save the world.
Note: Game is in late development, but some changes may still occur. UI visuals are probably going to get updated. If and when changes occur the store page will be updated to reflect the latest version.
According to its Steam page, A Quest That Became Legend is scheduled for release early next year. We'll continue to keep an eye on it.
The eighth major patch for Baldur's Gate 3 was released yesterday following its introduction at the latest Panel From Hell event. This time, Larian have added the Bard class to the game as well as Gnomes as a playable race. As with previously revealed classes, bards in Baldur's Gate 3 come in two flavors: the melee-oriented College of Valour and the spellcasting-oriented College of Lore. As for gnomes, they come in Forest, Deep and Rock varieties. Other changes included in the new patch include a "swarm AI" feature which allows trash mob enemies such as goblins to move simultaneously during certain battles, improved dialogue cinematics, the option to cast the Detect Thoughts spell during dialogue, updated models for certain companions, new hairstyles for character creation, a new set of animations for elven characters, and shovels with which you can dig for treasure.
As for the panel itself, it was presented in the form of an extremely silly bardic rock contest and was shorter than Larian's previous streams. Instead of an extended gameplay session, Swen only demonstrated some of the bard's new abilities and fought a single battle against some vicious harpies. Here's the trailer for the new patch and an excerpt from the accompanying community update:
Trebel Makers: A new Bard class comes to Baldur’s Gate 3
Bards are a versatile class who inspire their party with words or music. Their signature move, Bardic Inspiration, positions them as a robust support class, allowing them to boost an ally’s effectiveness in combat and emboldens them to hit harder and faster. But whether your Bard’s other strengths lie more in spellcasting or in combat will depend on which of their two subclasses you choose once they reach Level 3.
Bards of the College of Valour are deadly with simple weapons, using the proficiencies and skills of their subclass to deal devastating attacks. Their signature ability - Combat Inspiration - makes them a powerful addition to any team, allowing them to inspire allies with their valour, boost weapon damage and Armour Class, or add a +1d6 bonus to the next Attack Roll, Ability Check, or Saving throw.
Bards of the College of Lore, on the other hand, are capable spellcasters who seek out knowledge anywhere it lives, and use deft wordplay and magical abilities to confuse and debuff foes. As a Bard of the College of Lore, you’ll be able to unleash a string of insults that sap the confidence of your enemies – dealing out a 1d6 penalty to Attack Rolls, Ability Checks, and damage dealt until their next turn.
Their signature ability - Cutting Words - allows them to unleash a string of insults to sap the confidence of their enemies, dealing out a 1d6 penalty to Attack Rolls, Ability Checks, and damage dealt until their next turn. Inspired by this power, Patch 8 features 97 bespoke insults, each meticulously crafted by our team of talented writers who have spent years honing their wordsmithing skills in the Rude Arts.
Playable Gnomes come to Baldur’s Gate 3
In Patch 8, we are adding our first new playable race since launching in Early Access. They are curious. They are adventurous. They can make for an impressively compact projectile should you ever feel the urge to throw one.
Gnomes are one of Faerun’s brighter races, starting things out with +1 intelligence and Gnome Cunning - which grants them an advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma-based Saving Throws against magic.
Should you choose to play as the reclusive Forest Gnome, you’ll receive +1 Dexterity on top of that, as well as Darkvision to see better through the shadows. Deep Gnomes of the Underdark receive Superior Darkvision by comparison – allowing them to see even further in the dark - and can hide in rocky terrain using their subrace trait Stone Camouflage.
The third playable Gnome subrace is the Rock Gnome, not to be confused with my Angus Young tribute band of the same name. Rock Gnomes receive +1 Concentration, Darkvision and Artificer’s Lore, giving you a double Proficiency bonus on History checks.
The full patch notes for the update are available here. According the Swen, the game is now in the final stretch of development. Perhaps they're saving Paladins for last?
RatTower's Ultima Underworld-inspired dungeon crawler Monomyth was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter last year. Development on the game has progressed steadily since then, but it has taken a bit longer than expected to finalize due to RatTower's decision to refactor the codebase in order to make feature development easier. The benefits of that extra work will hopefully be apparent with yesterday's release of the Monomyth backer beta. The beta consists of an area called the Lysandrian Heartlands, the caverns surrounding the game's main settlement, and it includes features such as dialogue, blacksmithing and swimming. Details about these features (including brief gameplay snippets) are available in last month's Kickstarter update. There's no launch trailer for the beta, so here's a longer progress report video RatTower put together back in May.
Unfortunately, it seems that only 34 backers actually have access to the Monomyth beta build, so I'm not sure we'll get to see much of it. The game's demo is still available, but I would recommend expanding beta access to all backers eventually. The final release of Monomyth is now scheduled for autumn.
Right, we're now running XenForo 2.0. Why? Because progress, that's why. Also using old deprecated software is bad.
There are still some tweaks and mostly minor features to bring back online (like there always have been in some cases) but core functionality appears to be up and working.
The front page is up, and we can post content again. We're aware there are some issues with updating forum indexes with the latest post, and alerting users to new posts in the news forum. Rest assured this is our top priority and we'll get right on that.
Thanks to @Twiglard for his work on the forum theme. Hopefully most of the bitching has been resolved now. And special thanks for his efforts on the back-end with code support.
It took much longer to finalize than Vault Dweller and his team originally planned, but following an extended beta testing period, the Habitat update for the Colony Ship Early Access build is finally here. In case you've forgotten, the Habitat is a vast urban arcology where most of the ship's inhabitants live, including its three major factions. With this update, the game's second chapter is now complete and available to play. Altogether about 60% of its final content is now done. The update announcement has more details:
After a three-month delay, the Habitat is finally ready to be released. It's an important milestone that adds one of the most important and biggest locations to the game and marks the end of chapter 2. As of right now, 60% of the content is done.
In the Habitat you finally get to meet the three main factions (the Brotherhood of Liberty, Church of the Elect, and Protectors of the Mission) and see what they're all about, meet the faction party members who'll join one once you're ready to proceed to the ECLSS, and learn more about the machine you found in the Armory. Unlike the Pit, the Habitat is more about diplomacy (read scheming and plotting) and setting up the playing board for future branching.
While the current stage's content is done (you'll return to the Habitat once you're ready to deliver the machine, which will unlock new quests), we'll continue improving the visuals, adding minor conversations and expanding the existing ones throughout the development, so it will be an ongoing project. Anything you wish to see there (I assume you know by now what we can and cannot do), let us know.
The delay forced us to re-evaluate the remaining workload and update the 'roadmap':
End of Jul - ECLSS and the maintenance deck
End of Oct - The Pit (chapter 3 content)
End of Dec - Heart (the mutant town)
End of Feb - Hydroponics (Yellow and Red Zones), Mission Control (lower levels)
End of Apr - The Armory (level 3), Bridge and the end of chapter 3, all locations are done.
End of Jun - Endgame (chapter 4)
It's a safe schedule that gives plenty of time to each item. The only new locations on the list are the ECLSS, the mutant town (smaller than the Pit), and the Bridge. The other locations will be using the existing assets (and already animated creatures).
We apologize for the delay, of the Habitat and the final release. We did our best and worked non-stop since Christmas. We hope you'll like the end result and look forward to your feedback.
As stated, because of the unexpected delay the game's entire development roadmap has been pushed back. The final launch date is now scheduled for June 2023.
After Sunday's Starfield and Pentiment reveals, it looks like there aren't going to be any further RPG announcements of significance this summer. However, we did get to hear a bit more about those two titles during today's Xbox Games Showcase Extended, where Microsoft shoves various additional features that were left out of the main event. They brought in Pete Hines to talk more about Starfield and about what make a Bethesda RPG more generally. The general gist of it is: See that planet? You can fly to it with your customizable spaceship. Later on, they unveiled a three minute Pentiment dev diary video featuring Josh Sawyer and artist Hannah Kennedy, who spoke about the game's premise and visual style.
Barring any surprises, that's probably it for this summer's gaming festivities. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
After five years of development including over a year in Early Access, Room-C Games' The Hand of Merlin was released today. Despite its availability, it's been hard to get a Codex consensus on this one. As the latest in a recent wave of "weird Arthurian" tactical RPGs that also includes titles such as Sword Legacy: Omen, Tainted Grail: Conquest and the well-received King Arthur: Knight's Tale, the game is likely to be overlooked. But it's turn-based and isometric, so the Codex will do its part. You've already seen the launch trailer, so I'll just quote publisher Versus Evil's press release:
Denver, CO – June 14th, 2022 - Independent developer Room C Games in co-production with Croteam and in partnership with indie publisher Versus Evil are excited to announce that their rogue-lite RPG game The Hand of Merlin has left Steam Early Access today on PC, and is available to play on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The console versions launch with all eight major updates from the PC version included.
The Hand of Merlin is a turn-based rogue-lite RPG in which Arthurian legend clashes with dark and foreboding sci-fi horror. This unusual merging of genres introduces a wholly unique sci fi element to its storytelling. Utilizing both squad-based and turn-based combat, players can employ tactical cunning to use cover, set up ambushes and coordinate attacks with ranged, melee and spellcasting combat to conquer both human and unworldly abhorrent creatures and other enemy characters they encounter on their quest.
The Hand of Merlin will take players on a journey from Albion to Jerusalem to explore richly-imagined medieval lands on the brink of apocalypse - assaulted by an otherworldly evil from a story crafted by Jonas Kyratzes (The Talos Principle, Serious Sam 4) and Verena Kyratzes (The Lands of Dream, Serious Sam 4).
The Hand of Merlin is a game where choices are permanent depending on the decisions players make as they carve a path across the lands of Albion, Marca Hispanica and al-Andalus. Adventurers will also need to find a keen balance as they weigh the risk and reward for the paths they choose.
What players take with them on this journey will be essential since combat is inevitable, trading in nearby towns can improve arms and armor, or they can continue to roam and trade with hermit artisans in the wild. Renown is the backbone of progression in The Hand of Merlin and can be used to level up party heroes, and players can choose between a randomized set of new skills or improved attributes to balance out the combat prowess of their party.
Since entering Early Access in May 2021, The Hand of Merlin has had eight major updates on its path to version 1.0, which have added a variety of gameplay options for players, including randomized party creation, new epic questlines, meta progression, passive skills, alternate maps and varied difficulty modes. One of these latest updates includes ‘Endless Mode’, a brand new way to play the game with a new biome, complete with 20 unique new combat maps and an opportunity for players to learn Spells, and for fueling up Hard Mode+ run modifiers. Combined, these eight updates provide a comprehensive set of features designed to enhance the overall player experience for RPG fans.
“Throughout Early Access we’ve committed a lot of time and energy into community feedback with a series of updates that have really embellished the games features and replayability based upon what the community was telling us, we’re extremely pleased with the results and the work the team has done to make The Hand of Merlin a truly competitive rogue-lite RPG.“ Said Robert Sajko Creative Director at Room C Games.
With a large focus on exploration and encounter, mortality is the consequence of existence in human form, but even in defeat, players retain collected arcane knowledge as they jump from one parallel dimension to the next. No two worlds are ever quite the same, and each journey will be unique. Defeat is not the end in this realm, only a new beginning. For a full list of updates and features added to the game head over to The Hand of Merlin Steam page here.
The Hand of Merlin is available now on PC via Steam, Epic Game Store and GOG. Priced $24.99 / £18.99 / €22.49 for the Standard Edition with a Deluxe Edition priced at $29.99 / £22.49 / €26.99. A soundtrack of the game is also available for $7.99 / £5.99 / €6.99. Console versions are priced $29.99 / €29.99.
Versus Evil has a 40% launch discount in place for its first week on sale for the PC version on Steam.
As mentioned, The Hand of Merlin is available on Steam and GOG for $25, with a massive 40% launch discount until next week. I suspect Versus Evil aren't too optimistic about the game's chances either. Which is a shame, because it does seem like the developers put a lot of effort into it. Oh well.
It's time for another edition of Steam Next Fest, during which demos of upcoming games are made available to the public on Steam. Among the RPGs participating this summer is Jeff Vogel's upcoming Queen's Wish 2: The Tormentor, but the most interesting one must be Czech Arkania-like Aledorn, formerly known as Dungeons of Aledorn, which has somehow returned from the vapor after its original development team broke up in 2019.
These and all the other demos will be available until (at least) June 20th. As always, various developer livestreams are scheduled over the course of the week. Details are available on each game's Steam page.
The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase has become the most important event of the annual summer gaming festival formerly known as E3. There were fewer RPG announcements during this year's showcase than I'd hoped for, but what we did get was pretty interesting. Obsidian finally formally announced Pentiment, the historical RPG from Josh Sawyer whose title was leaked last year. Set in 16th century Bavaria, Pentiment is a narrative RPG in which players will assume the role of Andreas Maler, a monastic illustrator at fictional Kiersau Abbey who finds himself caught up in a series of murders over a twenty five year period. Not much is known about gameplay other than that it owes more inspiration to indie titles such as Night in the Woods than to Disco Elysium, but the game's heavily stylized appearance is already proving to be extremely divisive. Pentiment has a Steam page and will be launching this November. For more details about the game's premise and visual style, check out Josh's interview with IGN.
So that's nice, but obviously the highlight of the evening was Bethesda's space RPG Starfield. Originally announced way back in 2018, Starfield was recently delayed to early 2023 and Bethesda have revealed little about it other than a few sporadic dev diary-style videos. However, any angst about that was surely wiped clean by the fifteen minute gameplay reveal they released today. To keep things brief, the game is very much Skyrim/Fallout 4 in space, including outpost construction and an improve-by-use perk-based character system. Of course, it also features space travel, including ship management and arcadey space combat, across over a hundred star systems and a thousand planets. Are you hyped, Codex?
That's it for this year's Xbox showcase. Unfortunately, Obsidian's other titles and inXile's unannounced game were a no-show. Perhaps something interesting will show up during the PC Gaming Show later today, though.
There's not much going on during today's summer gaming festivities. However, upcoming Ultima-like SKALD: Against the Black Priory did make a brief appearance during this year's Guerrilla Collective event with a new teaser trailer. Narrated from the perspective of a doomsday cultist who doesn't think much of adventurers, the trailer showcases some of the game's latest new visual effects. Check it out:
There's no launch date for SKALD yet, but a new demo representative of the final game will be available this month, presumably for Steam Next Fest.
Marvel's Midnight Suns, the Marvel universe card-based tactical RPG from Firaxis announced last year, was originally supposed to have been out this March. After seeing the initial reactions from the community, Firaxis announced their decision to postpone the game's release back in November. Could that mean they were going to drop the card-based combat? Yesterday during the Summer Game Fest opening event, amongst countless sci-fi horror game trailers, there was also a new cinematic trailer for Midnight Suns announcing a release date of October 7th.
There's no gameplay here, but there are plenty of details about it in the new batch of hands-on previews that were published across the web alongside the announcement. Some of the previews claim the game is totally like XCOM and others say it's the anti-XCOM, but all confirm that yes, the cards are still there.
This was the only news announced yesterday that was (barely) relevant to Codex interests. There'll be more stuff happening over the weekend, but I guess the Xbox Showcase on Sunday is going to be the main event for RPGs.