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Indie Obscure indies that deserve more attention - Updated Jan. 2020

V_K

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As the various voting threads show, there have been a few games this year that were exceptionally good (or just good) but flew under Codex's radar because there was no kickstarter, or the devs weren't so kind as to post progress reports here. And quite probably more than a few games slipped through the cracks in a similar fashion in past years. So I thought that maybe we should a a sort of obscure indie watch, but only for the good ones. I'll start with some titles I know to be little-known and good, and I welcome suggestions.

Newest Additions

Cosmos: The Secret Melody (2020) [free]
[TB] [Open World] [Sci-Fi] [Survival]

An Ultima-inspired sci-fi RPG in fully simulated open galaxy.
Dedicated thread.
Finder's credit: Infinitron

Titan Outpost (2019)
[No Combat] [Open World] [Sci-Fi] [Base Management] [Survival]

Hard sci-fi RPG with no combat and focus on survival, exploration and base management.
Dedicated subforum.

Whispers of a Machine (2019)
[Adventure/RPG] [Premade PC] [Puzzle Heavy] [No Combat] [Alternative Solutions]

Cyberpunk adventure with slight RPG elements: moral choices the PC makes affect her personality, which in turn unlocks new augments affecting the puzzle solutions.
Dedicated thread.

Legends of Amberland (2019)
[TB] [Open World] [Full Party Creation] [Combat Heavy]

Open-world blobber in the vein of Might&Magic 3-5 but with much bigger pixels.
Dedicated thread.

Theseus: Journey to Athens (2019)
[TB] [Premade PC] [C&C]

Turn-based RPG very faithfully based on Greek mythology.
Dedicated thread.

Lurking 2: A Madness (2018)
[TB] [Full Party Creation] [Open World]

Sequel to Lurking with better combat, deeper systems and damn charming art. Stays true to the Ultima formula of hunting for clues in a big and detailed open world.
Dedicated thread.

Alvora Tacticts (2017)
[TB] [Full Party Creation] [Roguelike] [Alternative Solutions]

Sequel to Vodispire Tactics set in the innards of a giant serpent. Open world gave way to a procedurally generated dungeons and party size increased to 6, but environmental interactions, character customization and smart AI are still there.
Dedicated thread.

Unexplored (2017)
[RT/TB] [Single Character] [Roguelike] [Puzzles] [Equipment-Based Progression]

Unique roguelite whose innovative level generation algorithm makes better levels than most handcrafted ones. Plays closer to Ultima Underworld than to Nethack. As is fashionable today, has a turn-based mod.
Dedicated thread.
Finder's credit: ColCol

Driftmoon (2013)
[RT] [PC + Hirelings] [Puzzle Heavy] [Exploration Heavy] [Linear] [Whimsical]
Charming and very well written fairy-tale RPG/Adventure that does whimsy right.
Dedicated thread.

Unepic (2011)
[RT] [Platforming] [Dungeon Crawler] [Single Character] [Humorous]

Unepic is a parody game that mixes metroidvania mechanics with some proper RPG systems.
Dedicated thread (slightly prosperous)

WarWizard (1993) [abandonware]
[TB] [PC + Hirelings] [Open World]

DnD-inspired RPG with tactical battles. Features a huge open world consisting of several kingdoms.
Dedicated thread.

2017


Hellenica (2017)
[TB] [Combat Heavy] [Premade Party] [C&C]

Tactical JRPG with highly interactive environments set in a steampunk version of Ancient Greece.
Finder's credit: Rahdulan
Dedicated thread

2016

Bastard Bonds (2016)
[TB] [Squad Building] [Open World] [Combat Heavy] [Alternative Solutions]

A mixture of squad tactics and open world exploration. Combat could use more complexity, but the game makes up for it with innovative premise and mechanics.
Finder's credit: Drowed
Dedicated thread

Lurking (2016) [free]
[TB] [Full Party Creation] [Open World]

Exploration- and investigation-focused RPG in the vein of Ultima 3-5 with a large open world and complex non-linear main quest.
Finder's credit: CryptRat
Dedicated thread

Siralim (2015)
Siralim 2 (2016)
[TB] [Monster Taming] [Procedural Generation] [City Management]

A unique blend of monster taming, rogulike and castle management genres. Summon or catch monsters and send them through procedurally generated dungeons completing randomized quests.
Finder's credit: Chaotic_Heretic, Humanity has risen!
Dedicated thread (Siralim 2)

Epikos (2016)
[TB] [Premade Party] [C&C] [Linear]

Despite Ultima-like appearance, Epikos is a somewhat linear game with a branching storyline and premade characters that never level up. Its gretest strength is the variety and inventiveness of you characters' and monsters' abilities.
Finder's credit: CryptRat
Dedicated thread

Towers of Twilight (2012/2016)
[TB] [Party+Hirelings] [Open World] [Procedural Generation]

Experimental RPG where you lead a party of unlimited size through a procedurally generated open world complete with glorious Spectrum-style visuals.
Finder's credit: CryptRat
Dedicated thread

Bludgeons and Krakens (2016) [free]
[TB] [Single Character] [Open World] [Combat Heavy]

Ultima-style open-world RPG mixed with Diablo-style loot threadmill. Overworld geography doesn't make sense, but the quests are varied and well-written.
Finder's credit: Infinitron (sort of)
Dedicated thread

Goetia (2016)
[Adventure/RPG] [Premade PC] [Puzzle Heavy] [No Combat] [Alternative Solutions] [Open World]

Atmospheric horror Adventure with slight RPG elements like character power-ups and alternative solutions. Not really an RPG but too good to be missed and we don't have a similar thread in the Adventure subforum.
Finder's credit: Jaesun
Dedicated thread

Void Pyramid (2016) [free]
[TB] [Dungeon Crawl] [Puzzle-Heavy] [Single Character] [Alternative Solutions]

Exploration-focused puzzle-RPG. Light on mechanics, but heavier on reactivity and alternative solutions than many full-blown RPGs.
Finder's credit: CryptRat

Balrum (2016)
[TB] [Single Character] [Crafting] [Alternative Solutions]

Single-character turn-based RPG with slow character growth, sadistic encounters and farming elements (the last are optional if you don't mind a bit of grinding).
Dedicated thread.

7 Mages (2016)
[TB] [PC+Hirelings] [Puzzle Heavy] [Dungeon Crawl]

A sequel to Gates of Skeldal featuring more than a few innovations in both mechanics and level design, but bogged down by awkward writing and simplistic character system.
Dedicated thread.

2015

Voidspire Tactics (2015)
[TB] [Full Party Creation] [Open World] [Alternative Solutions]

Open-world tactical RPG with great character system, highly interactive environments and handcrafted encounters with good AI.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: Kalasanty11, Roqua

Artifacts Adventure (2015)
[JRPG Combat] [Open World] [C&C] [Full Party Creation]

An open-world JRPG, if there can be such a thing, with full party creation and tons of C&Cs (the game boasts 70 different endings).
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: CryptRat

The Dwarf Run (2015)
[Puzzle Heavy] [Linear] [Premade Party] [Humour] [TB]

A rare party-based RPG/Adventure hybrid with hard battles, easy puzzles and nonsensical humor. The ending is reported to suck, though.
Dedicated thread

Ruzar - The Life Stone (2015)
[Dungeon Crawl] [Puzzle Heavy] [RT] [Singe Character]

A solid, if not very original, single-character RT dungeon crawler with very non-linear dungeon design. Kinda like Anvil of Dawn but with less charm.
Dedicated thread

Dex (2015)
[Platforming] [RT] [Single Character] [Open World] [???]

Sidescrolling cyberpunk RPG set in an open city. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in fun exploration and good quest design.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: StaticSpine

Waste Walkers (2015)
[Open World] [Survival] [???]

Post-apocalyptic open-world RPG with focus on suvival made in RPGMaker.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: Roqua

Templar Battleforce (2015)
[TB] [Squad Building] [Combat Heavy] [???]

Story-centric squad-based tactical RPG heavily influenced by Warhammer 40K.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: Roqua

Dustbowl (2015)
[RPG/Adventure] [TB] [Survival] [Alternative Solutions] [Crafting]

Post-apocalyptic Adventure game with light RPG and survival elements.
Dedicated thread

2014

Heroes of Steel (2014)
[TB] [Premade Party] [Combat Heavy] [???]

Story-centryc tactical RPG from the makers of Templar Battleforce.
Finder's credit: Lhynn
Dedicated thread

Heroes of a Broken Land (2014)
[Full Party Creation] [Open World] [City Management] [Procedural Generation] [Blobber]

Turn-based blobber in M&MIII style with procedurally generated worlds and dungeons and light city management elements.
Finder's credit: Jaesun
Dedicated thread

Last Dream (2014)
[Open World] [Full Party Creation] [JRPG Combat] [RPGMaker] [???]

A mix of JRPG story and combat with WRPG openness and detailed character customization.
Finder's credit: Grape_You_In_the_Mouth, Roqua
Dedicated thread

LISA (2014)
[JRPG Combat] [Premade Party] [???]

Extremely punishing side-scrolling JRPG in a postapocalyptic setting.
Dedicated thread

2013

Datajack (2013) [free]
[RT] [Single Character] [Mission Based] [Alternative Solutions] [???]

An isometric cyberpunk Stealth Action/RPG that allows you to choose between three different factions and several approaches to missions at hand.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: Saduj, tred

The Occult Chronicles (2013)
[Boardgame] [Procedural Generation] [Optional Permadeath] [Single Character]

A unique horror-themed roguelike/boardgame hybrid with deep mechanics, rich lore and lots of well-written events and quests. Challenges are resolved through card-based minigame though, which might not be to everyone's liking.
Finder's credit: Crooked Bee, I guess
Newspost+thread
Codex review

2001 - 2012

Iji (2010) [free]
[Platforming] [RT] [Single Character] [Alternative Solutions] [???]

Described by some as "System Shock 2 in 2D" Iji is a platformer/RPG that is heavy on alternative solutions and C&Cs.
Dedicated thread

FreedroidRPG (2010?) [free]
[RT] [Crafting] [Single Character] [???]

Weird sci-fi Action-RPG in the Diablo vein but with more plot featuring the Linux mascot as a protagonist.
Finder's credit: Siveon

Age of Fear: The Undead King (2011)
Age of Fear 2: The Chaos Lord (2012)
[SRPG] [TB] [???]

Story-heavy RPG/Strategy hybrid with branching missions, persistent units and challenging turn-based combat.
Finder's credit: pakoito, oscar
Dedicated thread (Age of Fear 2)

Dark Disciples 1&2 (2004&2009) [free]
[Puzzle Heavy] [TB] [Alternative Solutions] [Single Character]

Two freeware top-down RPGs focused on puzzles with multiple build-dependent solutions. Could serve as a manual on how to do RPG level design right.
Dedicated thread

Hellion (2009) [free]
[Dungeon Crawl] [JRPG Combat] [PC+Hirelings] [Alternative Solutions]

A great dungeon crawler made in RPGMaker, but with custom character system that features 7 classes with extensive skill trees and a dozen trainable non-combat abilities.
Finder's credit: V_K

Mr. Robot (2007)
[Platforming] [JRPG Combat] [TB] [???]

A game combining isometric platforming with JRPG elements as you control a gang of robots aboard a starship on their quest to save the crew.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: Vault Dweller, Unkillable Cat

1990 - 2000

Aleshar: World of Ice (1997) [free]
[Open World] [Survival] [TB] [Map Travel] [Single Character]

Open-world RPG in a frozen realm with focus on survival and unique magic system. Gets pretty close to roguelikes in the number of ways you can die.
Let's play

Gates of Skeldal (1998) [free]
[Dungeon Crawl] [Puzzle Heavy] [Party Creation + Hirelings] [TB] [Blobber]

Stylish turn-based blobber set in a large and mostly open world with many unique locations to explore. Originally availible only in Czech, a fan English translation exists now.

Cythera (1999)
[Open World] [Alternative Solutions] [PC+Hirelings] [TB]

A very good Ultima clone, combining some of the best features of U5-U7 and UUW, but set in a much darker world. Unfortunately it is Mac-exclusive and incompartible with OsX. The only way to run it today is through a Mac emulator.
Finder's credit: V_K

Excelsior Phase 1: Lysandia (1993)
Excelsior Phase 2: Errondor (2000)
[Open Word] [Single Character] [TB]

Clones of Ultima 4 and 6 respectively, they make up for the lack of party with more detailed character systems. The main flaw of the games is that combat relies on RNG too much.
Finder's credit: Stabwound

Nahlakh (1994) [free]
Natuk (1999) [free]
Tower of Darkness (unreleased) [free]
Pirates of the Western Seas (unreleased) [free]
[TB] [Full Party Creation] [Combat Heavy]

Tom Proudfoot's games feature some of the best tactical RPG combat, robust character systems and little else.
Dedicated thread

Aethra Chronicles (1994) [free]
[TB] [Party Creation + Hirelings] [Open World]

A traditional turn-based RPG based on the Rolemaster PnP system with all the delicious number-crunching that implies.
Dedicated thread

Walls of Bratock (1994)
Flame Storm (1995)
[TB] [Open World] [Full Party Creation] [???]

Open-world games in the vein of Ultima 4-6 but with DnD-inspired character system.
Finder's credit: Marquess Cornwallis

Unknown

The Legacy (???)
[TB] [Open World] [Full Party Creation] [Blobber]

The older brother to a recently facelifted The Quest, The Legacy is a turn-based blobber in the vein of MM3-5 with full party creation and tons of content. Even comes with an (unwieldy) world editor.


...and you may also want to check The Codex of Roguelikes thread.

UPD: Links for non-Steam versions of some games, courtesy of CryptRat

Some games from the list can be purchased directly on the developer's site :
Voidspire Tactics
Mr. Robot (a demo version is available)
Heroes of a Broken Land (a demo version is available)
Last Dream (a demo version is available)
Age Of Fear & Age Of Fear 2 (a demo version of the second episode is available)

Dex is available without DRM on the Humble store : Dex
The Dwarf Run is available without DRM on indieGameStand : The Dwarf Run
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Roqua

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There are a ton. Waste Walkers, Bloodlust, I Shall Remain, Templar Battleforce, Macabre is a really well done rpgmaker jrpg (and I hate jrpgs), Red Solstice is a decent RT squad building game somewhat like that Syndicate remake game but with campaign missions instead of open world, Void Expanse and Star Nomads 2 for space games with character building (one has party building too), ICY, Dex, Fallen A2P, I played Shadowrun Chronicles as a SP game and thought it was better than any of the Shadowrun Returns games (better character building, combat, story, itemization, implants), I don't know if the definitive edition of S&S: Underworld counts, the Quest is another one new to steam, Celestial Tales is another jrpg, Wanderlust Adventures, Amber Throne, Enemy (I haven't tried this one yet myself), Wave of Darkness. I may be missing a couple as my memory isn't the best.
 

Roqua

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And I would just like to highlight Waste Walkers again as it is an extremely well done game worth highlighting. The developer has just come out with an expansion, and he also put the rpg system up for P&P players.

This is a game that should be a lot more popular than it is and would be if people just gave it a try. Templar Battleforce is also extremely well done and for people who like squad TBS games you really can't go wrong with this. It is much better than Halfway and Steam Marines in my opinion. Much deeper systems and game in general.
 

V_K

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Ok, let's parse that a bit. ;)
Bloodlust, Shadowrun Chronicles, S&S: Underworld, the Quest, Wave of Darkness
Those, I think, are fairly well-known around here (and some of them known to be not very good). Am I wrong?

Red Solstice is a decent RT squad building game somewhat like that Syndicate remake game but with campaign missions instead of open world,
Void Expanse and Star Nomads 2 for space games with character building (one has party building too)
Got it, two more endorsements pending.

Enemy (I haven't tried this one yet myself)
Then let's wait for someone who has.

Waste Walkers, I Shall Remain, Templar Battleforce, Macabre, ICY, Dex, Fallen A2P, Celestial Tales, Wanderlust Adventures, Amber Throne
Could you give a little bit more info on those, please? A one-line description, like in OP would be best.
 

V_K

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kangaroodev

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Black Cats Story, it's someone of the funniest games I played, and it's free and made in rpg maker. It has some pretty brutal humor going in it, and just by the drawings you can tell how silly it's gonna be. Just play the first 10 minutes, trust me. It had a kickstarter and it sadly failed, which is a shame because from all the rpg maker games I've seen this one was much better and funnier.

 
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kangaroodev

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Sure man, just try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised, give it just 10 or 15 minutes so you can play the hilarious intro. Right now I played it for almost 5 hours and I'm at the end of it, it's a shame it isn't more popular. You'll see how funny Black Cat is when he replies with things like "ok" to serious dialogue.
 

Lucky

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I'm guessing this is for RPGish games only? Because there are lots of obscure titles that deserve more attention in general. Also, how niche is niche enough? Games with no thread or those that are unpopular but good? Might be better to always require a recommendation since there's also games with threads that only have threads to discuss how bad they are.

Lots of the games Roqua named have threads, such as ICY, Dex, and Waste Walkers. Templar Battleforce in particular stands out and has a thread in the Strategy section. Waste Walkers is surprisingly better than expected.

If games like Binding of Isaac count, then Nuclear Throne and Our Darker Purpose are really fun to play. Both have threads. Cogmind's a pretty good roguelike and Teleglitch is a shooter roguelike combination. For weird freeware games there's OFF, Middens, Barkley Shut and Jam, and Space Funeral. The freeware Desktop Dungeons is in some ways better than the paid version. Iji isn't an RPG, but is an excellent freeware game worth playing anyway. LISA the Painful RPG is a good story driven RPG.

I'm not sure we should promote unreleased games here, you know how these kickstarter promices may turn out.

Many thanks! :brodex:

Might not be suited to this list then, but I'd recommend keeping an eye on Liege anyway. It's shaping up rather nicely.
 

kangaroodev

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There have been a lot of good recommendations in this thread, but I don't think nuclear throne and teleglitch are obscure at all, they are actually pretty popular, even LISA.

But seconding IJI anyway, one of the best free action/rpg platformers.
 

Roqua

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I was sticking to 2015 games, but I have been meaning to recommend to VK two rpgmaker games that are better than average with controllable character progression. Last Dream and Deadly Sin 2.
 

Lucky

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There have been a lot of good recommendations in this thread, but I don't think nuclear throne and teleglitch are obscure at all, they are actually pretty popular, even LISA.

But seconding IJI anyway, one of the best free action/rpg platformers.

I'm mostly thinking of games that don't have very active threads here that people might want to try nonetheless. I agree that they're not too obscure outside the Codex though, which is why I'm curious what kind of obscure these games need to be.
That reminds me, AntharioN is a fun little game and has a thread.

Iji is also indeed great and it is shame that Remar is now wasting his time at Ludosity.
 

kangaroodev

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The iji dev works for that now? Never heard of it, but kinda weird because he could had just made a remastered version of Iji and sell it, so he would continue to make his own games, he clearly has potential in him.

Anyway just so I keep it topic related here's some other obscure indie games that deserve some attention:

Fortune Summoners which is an arpg platformer. It's made by a very small team, I remember the dev programming and drawing everything in it, only the music had been bought from a studio (I may be wrong). But either way if you like hard games this is a good one, because the combat system is really nice.

The story isn't super amazing but it's really enough to keep you entertained and one of the things that you will hopefully love about it is the absolutely great pixel art, the 3 party combat, and the occasional puzzle when exploring. Finished it on hard for the first time and it took me like 20 hours because I wasn't rushing, I think you will like this if you like hard games, definitely one of my favorite platforming rpgs if that's a thing. Shame about the dev though because now he's working an office job, I don't think the game sold that well. So try the demo at least.
 

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Looking at the entries so far... eeewww. Some obscure things better stay obscure.
 

pippin

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Looked at Dark Disciples the other day at abandonware, which is the link you provided. Will try it soon.
 

V_K

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I'm guessing this is for RPGish games only?
Yep, it's in the General RPG Discussion section after all. ;)

Also, how niche is niche enough? Games with no thread or those that are unpopular but good?
Let's say no dedicated thread or a thread with up to 5 pages. Yes, I pulled this number out of my ass, but I'm open to other suggestions. Having a newspost should probably disqualify a title, but I'm too lazy to check.

Might be better to always require a recommendation since there's also games with threads that only have threads to discuss how bad they are.
That's the reason for the 3 endorsements rule.

Lots of the games Roqua named have threads, such as ICY, Dex, and Waste Walkers. Templar Battleforce in particular stands out and has a thread in the Strategy section. Waste Walkers is surprisingly better than expected.
Given the totally arbitrary rules above, ICY is out, the other three are in as soon as someone writes a one line description for them. I can't do that since I haven't played any of then.

Iji isn't an RPG, but is an excellent freeware game worth playing anyway. LISA the Painful RPG is a good story driven RPG.
I remember seeing recommendations for both on the Codex, so once again - someone give me descriptions and I'll add them to OP.

If games like Binding of Isaac count, then Nuclear Throne and Our Darker Purpose are really fun to play. Both have threads. Cogmind's a pretty good roguelike and Teleglitch is a shooter roguelike combination. For weird freeware games there's OFF, Middens, Barkley Shut and Jam, and Space Funeral.
Could you give me a bit more specifics on those?
 

V_K

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Since it's now obvious no one wants to help me in this task ( :rpgcodex: ), I have investigated some games from the thread and added them to the OP. Descriptions for some might be off since I haven't actually played them.
 

CryptRat

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Since it's now obvious no one wants to help me in this task ( :rpgcodex: ), I have investigated some games from the thread and added them to the OP. Descriptions for some might be off since I haven't actually played them.

Dex (2015)
Metrodivania meets Deux Ex in an open side-scrolling cyberpunk city.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: StaticSpine
With my terrible prose, I'd go with something like "A 2D Cyberpunk Sidescrolling RPG. The core mechanisms (combat, stealth, hacking) are not deep but exploring the open city and solving its inhabitants' quests are fun".
 

Roqua

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Sorry, I actually missed you asking for descriptions. Another one like Hellion is Last Dream - it has full 4 member party creation and controllable character customization in the form of purchasing passives and active abiltiies for skill points. It does not have the great skill system like hellion, where you can increase your lockpicking, etc.

But, it looks a lot better than hellion and has fully remapable keys. The game is decent. Nothing to write home about. But most of the games on there are the same.

One game that really, really needs more exposure (in my opinion) is Aarklash Legacy. The amount of people that haven't played this is criminal. It literally is the only game ever made with not just a hands-on, need to pay attention, take an active participation in combat RTwP system, but a full-blown really good combat system that happens to very surprisingly be RTwP.

It is more of a Squad tactics game than an rpg, but it has loot drops and upgradable equipment and a decent character development system, but no chargen and all characters are pre-made like a jrpg.

It is really necessary to have played this game to be taken seriously in any discussion about combat models in crpgs. Everyone who discussed combat models in crpgs without having played this game should be IP banned.
 

Roqua

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Since it's now obvious no one wants to help me in this task ( :rpgcodex: ), I have investigated some games from the thread and added them to the OP. Descriptions for some might be off since I haven't actually played them.

Dex (2015)
Metrodivania meets Deux Ex in an open side-scrolling cyberpunk city.
Dedicated thread
Finder's credit: StaticSpine
With my terrible prose, I'd go with something like "A 2D Cyberpunk Sidescrolling RPG. The core mechanisms (combat, stealth, hacking) are not deep but exploring the open city and solving its inhabitants' quests are fun".

This really is a good game and well worth playing. I don't know why you haven't yet or if you plan on playing it, VK, but it is a solid rpg with everything a rpg needs to be considered one without being muddy. Its fun, has a good story, and plays well with M&KB.
 

Xzylvador

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
Consortium's pretty good and I believe currently free or if not, very cheap.
Only thing I can really fault it for is that's it's short and combat is shit -though you can play through without fighting- but more than makes up for it with a pretty original story and C&C, enough of it to play through it again.
The Kickstarter (Consortium: The Tower) for its sequel is about to fail because of obscurity, which is sad. They'll still make the game, though I hope it doesn's suffer too much under budget cuts. The original game kind of seems more of a concept/tech demo and intro (a very good one) for The Tower and playing through it really left me wanting for more.

Edit/add: Kind of unsure of how 'RPG' this, but somehow it's got a Deus-Ex vibe going for it (though not THAT good because of its small size, combat and stealth)... which is one of the reasons the sequal seems or seemed to promising.
 
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HiddenX

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Good thread!
Many of these games are listed on RPGWatch: here & here & here.
 
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