It is the beginning of a new era on the Isle of Avalon! We're happy to announce that King Arthur: Legion IX will be launching in early 2024. This expansion to the critically acclaimed tactical role-playing game, King Arthur: Knight's Tale, completely changes how you experience the mythical island: new heroes, foes, combat mechanics will provide interesting twists, as the game is played from the perspective of the Roman Ninth Legion.
This brand new campaign will detail how the Legion prepares for an invasion and uncovers the remains of a Roman colony in Avalon. The new protagonist must reveal the hidden secrets of the Lady of the Lake.
Stay tuned for more information about this robust new tale, meanwhile you can check out the previous game (which is now on sale on Steam!) if you still haven't. It will receive a free 2.0 update and a new Season on December 2, 2023, and will also launch on consoles on February 22, 2024.
This is certainly an exciting time for the lost souls of Avalon! What do you expect to see until we reveal more?
The Lord of Nothing DLC completes the story of the adventurers who began their journey in the Through the Ashes DLC — they have traveled from the burning city to the frozen realm, where they encountered a mystifying behavior of local demons. They will meet Penta — their new android companion — find an ally in an angel of Sarenrae, and travel through portals to different locations: a wizard's tower full of goblins, a village overrun by giants, a mysterious settlement in the tropics, and the Shadow plane. They will face a powerful demon lord before whom they are almost powerless. What other dangers will they meet along the way? What do the forests and castles along their path hide? Will our adventurers be able to resist, or will they succumb to the influence of the evil deeply rooted in these lands? Find out in The Lord of Nothing DLC!
The commander of the Fifth Crusade will not be left behind — they and their team will embark on a dangerous journey and an epic battle!
This new adventure is even more exciting with 15 new archetypes, new feats, and new spells — try the new possibilities of character development in both the DLCs and in the main campaign!
Last but not least, our new RPG — Warhammer, 40,000: Rogue Trader is ready for release on December 7th! Wishlist it so you don't miss the release then head into the grim darkness of the far future without delay!
Or take advantage of the final opportunity to pre-order the game on the website to get exclusive rewards!
First off, a huge thank you for your patience and ongoing support. We're super excited to let you know that our much-anticipated game, Zoria: Age of Shattering, is set to officially launch on March 7th, 2024.
Okay, so here's the situation. We're a team of three developers. We showed the demo to different gaming events, organized closed on-site playtests, listened to an external QA team and after gathering all this feedback we came to the conclusion that what we have isn't what we can hand over to you in the next month.
Zoria: Age of Shattering is an ambitious project, considering the scale of our team. We would say it's very ambitious, as we are reaching nearly 300k words in the game. An extensive story is great, but we also have a ready to-do list of things that require our work. We can certainly confirm that the game is playable and we have achieved content-lock. However, the content itself is only half the success. UX, your comfort of playing, and a great focus on eliminating as many bugs and blockers as possible is our priority at the moment. In short, we want to give you a game that we're proud of.
We believe that you understand the situation and that the additional weeks of waiting will be worth it. We have prepared 30+ hours of content for you, and the best is still waiting for the reveal!
Also, you have time to finish Baldur's Gate 3, there are no excuses in March!
Since we gathered you here, we'll put all the cards out on the table and reveal the price as well. Zoria: Age of Shattering will be available for purchase at $24.99.
Follow us on Twitter and join our Discord if you haven't already. Let's stay in touch!
It's that time of the year again. All the stars and planets are in the right position and it's time for an Infusion dev log.
We already showed you the extent to which we upgraded the visual aspects of the engine, but the mechanical changes that I've done so far and am yet to do are just as extensive, and perhaps more radical. I'm going to talk about them one by one, in separate dev logs, as I continue to test, tweak, and refine them.
Our immediate goal with the engine and the game is to (re-)implement a number of items and mechanics, get a few areas together, and get the game in a state where it can be played for real, so to speak. Mainly so I can better asses how all these changes work in practice, but also so we can produce a short demo video and show you the game in action for the first time.
So, anyway, let's get to the changes to the armor mechanics and damage resistance in general.
In Underrail, the damage resistance was divided into percentual resistance and flat threshold. Incoming damage would be reduced either percentually or by flat amount, whichever would reduce more damage in any given case. This caused a lot of balancing problems. Threshold was generally either useless or overpowered (especially when stacked in early game), while resistance was hard to progress with armor quality, as its percentual nature made it already scale innately.
All these problems really came to forefront when I was implementing different types of shotgun shells in Expedition. Balancing usefulness of different shells in this system was just impossible and it took a lot of tweaking to make it even remotely decent with liberal use of seemingly arbitrary threshold and resistance ignore factors. At one point I was tempted to just implement a completely different interaction for the shells specifically, but decided against it for the sake of consistency.
Another problem with the old model was that all resistances stacked globally. Meaning: resistances from boots and helmets were equally effective as body armor and they all aggregated when it came to interacting with incoming damage. This made me really hesitant to put a lot of resistances on helmets and boots because, on one hand, I didn't want them to make the high resistance armors completely broken by just maxing (or near maxing) out all the resistances and, on the other hand, I didn't want these items, because of their high resistances, becoming mandatory for characters that use ligher armor in the body slot.
There are other problems too, but these are the main issues, I think.
So how does the Infusion's new system differ from the old one?
In Infusion we're going to have a lot more gear slots, mainly from separating body armor and helmets into multiple component slots. This will provide the player with a lot more damage resistance sources. But unlike in the old system, these resistances will not stack. Instead, they will all interact with any given attack separately. So whenever you're struck somewhere on the body, the game will check what armor covers that spot, and it will interact with that armor piece. If there are multiple pieces, it will go through each of them separately, from the outer toward the inner. E.g. you might have some minor resistances on the overcoat that will interact with an incoming bullet or a stab before your torso armor.
For now, I have no intention to allow the player to choose which part of the target's body they're attacking (Fallout style), but there will be different special attacks / stances that will influence this (e.g. decapitate). Also, elevation and size of attacker and the target will also play a role here. So, for example, attacking someone from an elevated position will give you a better chance to hit them in the head and worse (if any) chance to hit their feet.
Different types of creatures will have different body part arrangements. For humans it is as follows: Head (5%), Torso (55%), Arms (10%), Legs (including the pelvis) (25%), Feet (5%). The number in brackets is the current working chance to hit distribution for a generic ranged attack. These numbers will vary for different attacks and situations, but it should give you some general idea what areas are going to be most important to cover with armor in most situations.
Depending on the armor design itself, it may end up covering one or more body parts. In the example of an armored rig/vest, which is the only crafted armor at the moment that's implemented, in addition to covering the torso, it can also provide some additional protection to arms and legs.
Last week we revealed the first of the playable clans for Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, Brujah. Today we’re excited to be sharing the second playable of the four available at release, in Fall of 2024. Following launch, two additional clans will be made available in DLC: one giving you a new way to experience the main-game and another offering a completely unique Seattle story.
From the ashes of the attack on their main chantry, the Tremere know the clan is injured but far from fallen.
Playing as a Tremere in Bloodlines 2
As a Tremere in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, you use your arcane powers to control your own Blood and that of your foes. The playstyle is rewarding when keeping your distance in combat, making enemies scream in agony as you boil their blood, shaping your own vitae into projectiles, or even ripping the blood from their veins.
Next week, we’re on hiatus for Thanksgiving, but we’ll be back with a third playable clan at the PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted on the 30th of November.
We proudly present Colony Ship and invite you on a dystopian adventure of a (very short) lifetime.
Seven years in the making, Colony Ship is our third game and a second full-scale RPG that emphasizes choices and different ways to play. We hope you will enjoy the game (if in doubt, try the demo first) and we look forward to your feedback.
We’d like to thank the Early Access players who supported us and helped us make a much better game. We wouldn't have made it that far without you.
This is it! We are thrilled to announce that the Early Access for Wantless: Solace at World's End is officially live! It's time for you to become a mind-doctor and make good use of your tactical cunning in a dystopian future.
Here's what you can look forward to at this stage:
Discover your role in Wantless
Immerse yourself in a bleak future, where most have chosen to escape suffering by entering an artificial slumber. Help those who remain by facing their inner struggles and appeasing their mind.
Customize your gameplay
Experiment with skill-crafting to create a wide array of deadly custom spells. Face over 50 challenging enemies and take on 22 formidable bosses, with their own strategies to bring you down.
Discover six distinct environments, each with its own set of monstrous... Inhabitants.
With 4 patient difficulty tiers and an extensive skill tree to personalize your playstyle.
Wantless reaches its full build creation and tactical challenge potential in the endgame, past the current end of the main storyline. Endgame content will be vastly extended with our first large Early Access update, planned for December 2023.
The day many of you were waiting for is near. I’m happy to inform that Legends of Amberland II: The Song of Trees is going to be released on PC (Steam and GOG) on the 5th December 2023. The game will be also ported to consoles (Nintendo Switch and XBOX) somewhere in 2024. At the launch day the game is going to be localized to English, German, French and Polish. Further languages will be most likely added shortly after the PC launch.
Overall, the game is ready, in the raw form, and now is undergoing QA, localization, testing, etc. So, barring some calamity where I would be unable to upload the final build and press “release” button, the release date is assured.
I would like to thank an army of volunteers, contractors, testers and various other helpers. It was so much easier to make the game with the support of so many of you! Which was especially important since that’s my first game which was done without Early Access. Thanks and I hope you will enjoy the game!
Xeryn is about to become even more captivating as we proudly announce the release of our highly anticipated expansion: Sunfire and Moonshadow, featuring a vast new region to explore. As of now, it is available to the public on all major PC platforms and it can be purchased as part of our Season Pass, which includes two future DLCs.
Brace yourselves for adventures filled with treacherous challenges and untold secrets waiting to be unveiled. A swathe of new settlements, new enemies to conquer, new stories to be a part of, a large cast of characters, and new quests to complete through which you can make your mark on the continent await you. That’s not all, however, as the Bronze Desert introduces a central conflict involving three new factions – the Ahari, the Chimera Legion, and the Handjari. The expansion features content approaching half the size of the core game.
It is also important to note that we’ve just done away with the in-game campaign time limit (those elusive 11ish years). This became necessary because there’s just so much to do now (with all the free DLCs and now the expansion) that it would have created a requirement from players we felt would be against the slow and methodical style of Vagrus. Unfortunately, expanding the time limit was not a good option either, especially considering future content. More on this in the article we penned on the issue.
We have also hammered out quite a number of issues in our latest update.
Now let's jump into the details!
New Content (Sunfire and Moonshadow)
“Sunfire and Moonshadow” Expansion is released at the same time as this update.
Content and quests that come close to half the vanilla campaign in size.
The gigantic, seething Bronze Desert and the twilit Lands of Shadow are accessible
New settlements and points of interest in the added regions, including oil fields, oases, and frontier outposts.
New faction: the Handjari – work for them to earn their friendship and rewards.
Nemesis factions: The Chimera Legion and the Ahari are embroiled in a cruel fight for survival. Choose a side and fight for their victory!
Brand new music to accompany the Expansion, soon to be added to available OST.
Breathtaking artwork featuring the new regions and locations of the Expansion.
A great many new NPCs with their own stories and personalities.
An abundance of new Gear and Equipment.
Well over a dozen new enemy types, both in Companion and Crew Combat encounters.
We’re revealing the first of four playable clans available at release in Fall 2024 in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 today. Following launch, two additional clans will be made available in DLC: one giving you a new way to experience the main-game and another offering a completely unique Seattle story.
No huge surprise in which clan’s boot is kicking open the door first… Don’t get too comfortable though, there’s always something unexpected in World of Darkness.
Who Are The Brujah? The Learned Clan, Rabble, Punks, Hipsters, Prometheans, Rebels, Philosopher-Kings, Hellenes.
Brujah is the learned clan, the clan of radicals, the clan commonly misjudged as punks looking for trouble, the Brujah are guided by passion and dedication to an ideal. And if they have the supernatural strength to back that passion up, who are you to argue? Rebellion unites their blood, whether that rebellion is of the subtle lend me your ears kind or the fists out, fire in the streets sack of Rome kind is down to the individual.
Playing a Brujah in Bloodlines 2
If you’re a player who leaves the shadows to the cowards, knows the frontline is where the fun is and idealistically rebels against power, Brujah is your clan.
In Bloodlines 2, Clan Brujah will offer a brutal melee playstyle with its abilities (in Vampire: The Masquerade, known as Disciplines) getting you into the fray and rewarding you for staying there. Exemplified in the video, our Brujah uses charge to gain a burst of momentum, grab an enemy, drag them with you and body slam them into a wall. Don’t assume you’re limited to charging just one enemy either. In early 2024, we’ll be back with a complete list of Brujah discipline powers you will be able to use in game.
Brujah is the first of four clans available at release in Fall 2024 and next week, we’ll be back with the second playable clan. The following week, we’ll be on Thanksgiving hiatus, before coming back to reveal the third playable clan.
Hi Everyone! After a long and hard crossover with Unreal Engine 5, we are finally firing up Playtests!
We have prepared game modes for you: Tutorial, Music Mode (with music by Percival Schuttenbach), Puzzle, Speedrun and Benchmark. We hope there is something for everyone.
As this is a Playtest version, we are very much interested in your feedback. We hope you will catch bugs (let's hope there are as few as possible) and that the performance of your computers can withstand Software/Hardware raytracing.
We are also keen on your feedback on gameplay balance, difficulty of puzzles and controls.
In the game under Events, you will find information about the rewards you receive for completing tasks.
We will try to fix bugs on an ongoing basis so as to release a demo with a new map in music mode in November.
The campaign mode will be available in Early Access after fundraising on the Kickstarter platform.
So, jump into the dungeons and show them who rules in the land of Magical Kashubia!
ps. We haven't fully implemented DLSS3.5 yet and sometimes the mouse cursor disappears at the start of the game - just press 2xALT-TAB.
Hello mercenaries! We're thrilled to announce that The Iron Oath 1.0 is now live! It's been a year and a half since our Early Access launch, and we just wanted to say a big thank you to our awesome community for joining us on this journey. Your feedback and support has been invaluable in helping to shape the game into what it is today.
Whether you're a new or returning player, we're excited for you all to jump into the world of Caelum and experience everything that we've been working on! Here are the key features of the 1.0 update, the patch notes, and a summary of what has been added since our EA launch:
1.0 Key Features
The conclusion to the main campaign brings a series of new quests with new unique mechanics. We expect the average playtime for the campaign to now be between 25-30hours.
The hunt for legendary gear begins! Maps with the locations of legendaries can be obtained in high level dungeons, so keep an eye out for Knowledge events while exploring! There are currently 10 items to collect that have their own unique bonuses, with more on the way!
New unique quests, repeatable quests, and Legendary quests! In total, we estimate the game now has at least 40 hours of unique content.
When you're far enough into the game, the region of Dragate will unlock, allowing you to scratch the surface of its mysteries by delving into a new combat environment.
Test your prowess by unlocking over 30 new Steam achievements as you play through the game.
While the game's campaign and primary features are now complete, there are still many more stories we want to tell in the world of Caelum. We're looking forward to continuing development throughout 2024 and hopefully beyond with more major updates!
Thank you once again for all your support! Whether you're a Kickstarter backer, an Early Access adopter, or just found out about the game, we hope you enjoy your time playing The Iron Oath! Be sure to spread the word and tell your friends, and if you haven't yet, we would also really appreciate you taking a moment to leave us a Steam review. They're important for not only gathering feedback, but also for the game's visibility
It’s been quite the year since we started developing Sunfire and Moonshadow, our first expansion. Those of you who’ve been following us know that it is introducing a new vast region to explore with a swathe of new settlements, new enemies to conquer, new stories to be a part of, a large cast of characters, and new quests to complete through which you can make your mark on the continent of Xeryn. That’s not all, however, as the Bronze Desert introduces a central conflict involving three new factions – the Ahari, the Chimera Legion, and the Handjari. The expansion features content approaching half the size of the core game.
We have already shared many of its numerous teasers and tidbits, and now we have very good news for those who have been looking forward to getting their hands on it. *Drumroll* The release date for Sunfire and Moonshadow is officially the 7th of November! We’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while now and we are eager to share the anticipation with you all. So much love has been poured into its development; we can only hope that when the time comes, you’ll be able to enjoy playing it as much as we have creating it.
Furthermore, we are adding a Season Pass that will allow players to buy both the expansion and a further two upcoming DLCs! This way, we will gauge interest in our unannounced DLCs, one of which will be adding two companions to the core game (planned release in the first half of 2024) while the other will add a new region (expected around the end of 2024). The Season Pass will grant you a small discount on all that is included, and will greatly support future content creation as well.
Until then, stay patient, stay vigilant, and conquer the wasteland!
- The Lost Pilgrims Team
I’ve been looking forward to showing you the hard work that our art team has done to bring life into our game. We’re using a relatively new technique in concept art to help us. Normally all the screenshots you see are fully finished levels with lighting and details in-game. But today I’ll be showing some of the earlier versions that we use to visualise what that final product will look like.
The first thing we keep in mind is the Bloodline 2 art direction. We want to create a foggy, dark, and neo-noir environment where the player can hide and attack from the shadows. The perfect setting for a vampire!
Our goal is to provide the 3D team with a few images to show them our idea for a location or a character. We try to keep our concepts grounded to the real world, but we try to push reality up to 11 (as our Art Director John McCormack always suggests) so the player can experience something unexpected and never seen before.
Why make concepts in Unreal?
Building worlds directly in the game engine is incredibly easy and fun. Thanks to our experience on other TCR titles, we had the chance to learn Unreal and experiment with a Concept Art pipeline to add this piece of software to our workflow.
Bloodlines 2 was the perfect game to push our skills in Unreal to the next step. We had a huge asset library available in this game, including props, characters, and materials. The most logical step forward was to use Unreal to create our concepts rather than creating everything from scratch.
The fog system and the lighting in Unreal are much closer to reality than other real time engines, especially with the recent update to UE5. So this was the perfect tool to visualise our version of Seattle. We have built these underground scenes in Unreal 5, using a fog volume and lights with volumetric options active. Once the composition is approved we then rendered them and quickly painted over in Photoshop.
The Creative Process
Before working on an environment, we usually receive a brief from Ben Matthews, Associate Art Director, who provides us with a rough idea of the environment he needs, together with some references. After spending some time searching for references we jump on Unreal and start working from a block-out scene done by the Level Design Team where we import our 3D assets and give “life” to their level.
As always when designing, we start from the big shapes first and then place some provisional lighting and fog. Traditional concept art generally captures the world from one perspective and you have to start from scratch if you’re painting something from another angle. Choosing a good camera angle early on is important and we usually set up a few cameras so our art director can choose what shot works better for him and then we are good to go with the final touches.
Once the first pass gets approved, we then move onto detailing our scene and this is the most fun part. This stage feels like playing a real-life simulator game where you can create little dioramas and add storytelling to the scene. If needed, we create additional assets with Blender and then import them in Unreal Engine. For example, in this bathroom piece we have modelled the toilet and bath using Blender and then imported the assets in Unreal where you can easily assign materials to them.
Finally, we render our scene using the high-resolution screenshot tool in Unreal, import the render passes in Photoshop, compose the scene and paint over it adding more details and pushing the mood even further.
We are also lucky that we can easily import 3D characters and plug specific animation loops onto them so our environment will instantly come to life! Here we have used our 3D model of a Hunter done by Kjartan Tysdal, Senior 3D Character Artist, to populate the scenes and add storytelling elements.
A Fresh way to make Concepts
If you are in a rush, you can skip the thumbnailing process and do it directly in 3D, also you can show a real-time 3D scene rather than one single image so it’s easier for Directors to have the right feeling of the space. Lastly, you can provide the 3D art team with your scenes so they have a base to work with when building the scenes for the actual game… if they can figure out how to deal with our very messy layers!
The below concept shows the police looking for you in an abandoned building. To showcase this, we have built a few rooms and a corridor using our assets in Unreal Engine and then rendered a few shots to follow the story of this policeman looking for you. Since the scene was done in Unreal, the Art Director could easily navigate the space and experience the flow and mood of it.
Obviously this game contains a LOT of blood. We were lucky enough that the 3D Art Team provided us with a few blood decals to use directly in Unreal. We placed them in our scenes and lit them in an interesting way to enhance their shiny property, adding a slight hue of red light so the blood colour is not affected by the mood of the scene!
These pieces show a vampire haven under attack. We placed a lot of corpses and blood directly in Unreal and then did a paintover to add all the extra details we needed to sell the story and mood.
I think that creating concepts in Unreal is the future of Concept Art. A lot of Concept Artists are expanding their skill set to learn this fantastic tool. Being able to create a real-time scene that your directors can navigate and give you live feedback is priceless and it makes the game better.
We’ll be back in another two weeks, but this time with a Video Diary where we will summarise the content from our latest Dev Diaries. If you have any questions relating to the first four dev diaries, feel free to send them to us on Discord and we’ll try to answer as many as we can.
Today we shared some very exciting news on our Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 news stream! We were joined by Sean Greaney (EVP of Darkness) and Ian Thomas (Narrative Director at TCR), who discussed some of the game’s features relating to both narrative and roleplaying. In case you missed it, you can find it below.
In the stream, we were introduced to the protagonist of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2; Phyre, an Elder vampire at odds with the voice in her head, who confronts Seattle’s powerful elites at war over the City’s fate.
Players choose Phyre’s clan and gender and begin exploring a reimagined Seattle filled with compelling characters while maneuvering through complex relationships. Choices and conversations (even outfits!) shape how the environment and characters react to Phyre, changing how the story unfolds.
We are happy to share that over the coming weeks we will reveal the four clans playable at launch. The first will be revealed next week. In addition to these four clans, an additional clan will be made available via DLC. A sixth clan will appear in a unique, standalone DLC. Details on the DLCs will be shared during 2024. Some of the clans will be familiar to Bloodlines players, but some will surprise!
If you still want more, we can recommend checking out our live-play chronicle Seattle By Night season 2, as Jason Carl leads our Coterie on a journey through Seattle, encountering challenges linked to the events that will unfold in Bloodlines 2.
October 30, 2023 -Ervya Studios is excited to announce its upcoming title Rain Tactics, coming soon on Steam. Players can now check out its announcement trailer here, and its steam page here.
Rain Tactics is a cyberpunk RPG tactics with roguelike elements where you play Winter, an invincible god who desperately wants to die. To fulfill his wish, Winter needs to reach the Gate of Oblivion before it is too late. Alas, the Gate is guarded at the top of the tower-city of Shavanath by minions of the Lady of the Dark. And she is decided to deny Winter’s request. Explore the tower city of Shavanath, lead your avowed into battle and take control over your godly powers to change the course of Fate.
Turn-based combat inspired by classic SRPG systems where every attack can be fatal to your avowed
Multi-class job system where every character can adopt a different class depending on the mission ahead
Rogue-like run generation that makes every ascension of the city of Shavanath unique
Deep lore and characters backstories which are unraveled with every run
Unique fighting system where you may choose between unleashing Winter's godly powers and suffer the consequences, or risk your avowed life into battle
Today is a special day when BEAST enters the realm of Early Access and is available to play now!
We sincerely invite you to be one of the first to try our first production as a False Prophet Dev Team. Your feedback is now a crucial part of our strategy for further updates and patches so please feel free to post it here on the Steam forum or on our official Discord channel.
Below is some good info to help you have a good time with your exclusive code! Please read through it all.
We recommend playing with a mouse and keyboard for now.
You are playing exclusive pre-alpha content.
Early Access Steam opens October 25th
Full game Release in 2024.
You will experience the story from two sides with Anton and later, Prince Nicolai.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE & CONTENT OF THE EARLY ACCESS VERSION?
The EA version is currently in the Pre-Alpha (early) state and contains a chunk of the game (and bugs) with over 20 playable missions, 2 main characters, 7 enemy classes, 11 enemy types, and 40 weapon types. Many hours of replayable fun await! Localized versions of the game will arrive later this year.
TIPS, TRICKS & MORE TALKING POINTS
We recommend checking out all three tutorials to fully understand the uniqueness of the system.
Remember to collect consumable crates. Ammunition is very valuable and a very limited resource in BEAST.
If you score a critical hit you will see some bloody and gory dismemberment.
There will be difficulty levels from easier to hardcore where if you die, it’s permanent and you’ll have to restart the game.
In addition to the Early Access release, be prepared for an official DEVELOPER LIVE STREAM starting just after 5 PM CEST. During the stream, we will show you the basics of the game and we will go through the first stages of the game together! If you have any questions some small Q&A will be also available!
See you all here on the Steam BEAST Store Page
False Prophet Team
Our team is excited and proud to share the result of many years of hard work with you.
Dark Envoy is our attempt to breathe new life into the RPG genre by creating a more dynamic gameplay experience and introducing our own RPG systems that encourage creativity and experimentation. We aim for players to feel as if they are in a sandbox of possibilities.
As an independent, self-funded company without a publisher, we had the freedom to take such risks and break away from genre norms. We know this approach comes with its challenges, but we believe that without risks, there can be no great adventure.
Originally revealed in 2022, the Arabian Nights-themed single character dungeon crawler Islands of the Caliph was abruptly released last month in time for the annual Realms Deep event. In a year insanely packed with RPG releases, the game might have quickly been forgotten if it hadn't caught the attention of a certain Darth Roxor, who has an interest in such things. Although its core gameplay mechanics appear to be rudimentary at best, Roxor is a fan of the game thanks to its murderhobo-friendly exploration, ambitious choice and consequence, and unique implementation of the Islamic faith. Here's an excerpt from his review:
Another important part of the simulation experience is the game’s elaborate religion system. You could say that one of the main quests is to become a good Muslim and perform the pilgrimage to the Kaaba (aka the Hajj) – but before that you have to discover the remaining pillars of Islam, which include the creed, prayer, almsgiving and fast. And the fantastic thing is that all of these, except the first one which is just learnt once, have a direct representation in gameplay. IotC uses the full Muslim calendar, with Arabic names of days and months, and even gives some significance to the phases of the moon, which change daily. Every day is divided into prayer times, and keeping up with your prayers gives you a steady flow of XP – this even has a dedicated tool in the form of a prayer rug that you can carry around everywhere to perform your emergency prayer. Then there’s also the annual almsgiving, which entails giving away a percentage of your money, and fasting during Ramadan, which gives you XP boosts for each day of completed fast.
There are several factors that I really like and appreciate about the inclusion of religious practices in this game. For starters, they’re very respectful to both the subject matter and the player, in that they are authentic and woven well into the gameplay without feeling preachy or intrusive. In fact, I would hazard guessing that one of the major motivations behind the development of this game was to present Islam in a good light as opposed to the dumb ways it’s usually depicted in media – and the remarkable thing is that the goal was achieved successfully without having everything else suffer for it, as is often the case with works of media that are focused on religion. If anything, perhaps there was even a little too much restraint applied here, given that these practices are largely optional, and in the one situation where they truly matter, you can somewhat hand-wave them away by visiting your local mosque and getting all the “faith bonuses” without effort.
Nevertheless, the religion mechanics also have some nice conveniences to them. For instance, when you rest, you will always wake up in time for prayer, so there’s no need to keep very close tabs on that, the prayer rug makes sure you don’t have to haul ass back to town every three hours to pray, while the details on Ramadan and alms are clearly listed in your journal.
Mentioning the journal brings me to the final point I’d like to discuss in this chapter, and which also left me positively surprised. The quest design.
For the major part, the quests are very simple and basic. Usually they entail fetching something from a dungeon or delivering a message from one island to another. Nothing really ground-breaking, to be sure, but some of them, particularly the main quests, can form very long chains that can be a headache to finish. That is because they can be very expansive and involve the entire world map, but also thanks to how the game rewards paying attention to things and keeping notes – and it doesn’t hold your hand at any step of the way.
In fact, you aren’t even expected to take and finish every single quest. Some of them have borderline glowing neon signs that tell you “this is a bad idea, turn back now,” and if you do go through with them and bring a calamity upon the world with your actions, then you have only your dumb ass to blame.
Because the consequences for some of these “bad quests” can be truly catastrophic, and I have to say that you’d be hard-pressed to find a game that makes gameplay repercussions for bad choices severe enough to actually make you feel like you truly screwed up. We’re talking entire cities getting wiped, half of them being blocked, and numerous quests being temporarily inaccessible. It takes massive balls to go through with such design, and I have nothing but respect for this, especially since it’s also tremendously fun to try to fix the mess you’ve caused.
The only major point of criticism I have on this front is related to what I mentioned at the beginning of the previous chapter – there is simply no introduction or context or mention of what you’re trying to do in this world, and why you’re embarking on this whole adventure. It would have been perfectly enough to say that you’re a foreign traveller who came to the archipelago to learn about Islam. There, this is your motivation for going forward. But as it is, there’s simply no main objective to be had in this game until you progress very far into it.