RPGs in 2019, Part V

Another day, another batch of adventures. RPG players are getting a lot of options outside of the usual high fantasy this year especially with sci-fi, cyberpunk, and dystopian settings.

Star Renegades

Release date: 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, XBO
Developer: Massive Damage

This one’s a tactical turn-based RPG pitting players and their party against The Imperium in a bid to free countless worlds from their tyranny. Aside from the clean and colorful 16-bit look that the game is using, the game also promises a number of twists to the usual formula.

One thing it is attempting to do sort of takes a slight bow from Monolith Productions’ Shadow of Mordor/War series in using a procedural system to generate “unique enemies and bosses that evolve as you play”, ranking up through the course of the adventure. That bot boss that you might have ruthlessly recycled a few dungeons ago might turn up again, bigger and badder and itching for revenge.

Combat will be using a turn-based, timeline format (you can see your turn place at the bottom of this screen). Giant robots!

This also involves the dungeons you’l be exploring creating a unique experience for each player as they also manage equipment and even discover new characters along the way. Bonds formed from between these characters can also create progeny, kids that may one day take up the battle against the Empire.

Realms of Quest V

Release date: 2019
Platforms: Commodore VIC-20
Developer: Ghislain de Blois

It’s 2019 and it’s always refreshing to see a lot of love for classic CRPGs. This one is slated for the VIC-20 and is just the latest entry in a series that Ghislain de Blois has continued to work with for years.

Realms of Quest V is about as old school as you can get from its 8-bit visuals, top down view, and its turn-based combat. Even the manual he’s working on is illustrated and packed with the kind of writing that makes me miss the days when those added as much to the immersion of the game as the packaging. Indie Retro News has a nice writeup of what you might be able to expect from the next installment.

The game is even getting a physical release with a real manual thanks to Double Sided Games, just like the old days.

Ghislain de Blois’ blog (if you really want to follow his progress, his Twitter is regularly updated and he maintains a forum thread here) also describes a few more elements that are being added to his RPG featuring “hundreds of monster, character and scenery portraits, 16 player races and 16 player classes,” a 10 player party, cities and townspeople, and “an overland map that exceeds the Ultima IV world in terms of size.”

It’s as if the manual was teleported straight from the 80s. The only thing that might be missing is a warranty card and a color catalog.

Crossroads Inn

Release date: 2019
Platforms: PC
Developer: Kraken Unleashed

If you’re tired of raiding dungeons, slaying gods, and hoarding loot, there’s always a game like this opening the way to a different kind of RPG life. Instead of doing all of that hero stuff, Crossroads Inn places you in the shoes of a tavern owner who wants to make his small inn as legendary as the adventurers that might wander through its doors.

Your inn will start small but soon become a mighty kingdom of beer, feasts, and comfy beds.

The game comes with a campaign mode, “From innkeeper to a king” where you start off as, well, an innkeeper and somehow rise to the throne through a number of adventures from the comfort of your bar. The sandbox mode is exactly that — build and develop your inn and meet challenges along the way for as long as you want.

In building your inn, you can customize its look, the room layouts, hire and review staff, manage supplies and payments, establish trade routes, and quietly gather rumors to help your business thrive and dominate the competition. And with an inn comes a variety of visitors from down-on-their-luck adventurers to the occasional noble, each a part of a faction that may help or hinder your progress. There are even scenarios that you can challenge your inn management skills with. It’s like CivTavern, only with more RPG elements, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.


Release: 2019
Platforms: PC
Developer: Massive Work Studio

Dolmen was successfully funded on Kickstarter in October last year and is also featured as part of the Square Enix Collective where they can receive feedback from industry insiders. It’s a sci-fi, action RPG that’s emphasizing a lot on story and discovery with its unique setting and visuals, dropping hints to its dark backdrop with mentions of “cosmic horror” and a “lovecraftian plot”.

Players will be able to level up, craft gear, search bodies, and piece together an alien alphabet to try and survive Revion Prime long enough to find answers.

It takes place on a world called Revion Prime in a system orbiting a star called Nynfeid, and all that is left on this world are the weird, alien ruins and twisted landscape of a mysterious civilization that is no longer around — the “corpses of its people were expelled from its atmosphere, so their mass decomposition wouldn’t alter the ecosystem”.

You wake up from cryosleep deep beneath the surface of this world with no memory, or any recollection of how exactly you got there, leaving it up to the player to explore and piece together the past, present and possibly survive long enough to have some kind of future.

Combat in the game sounds action based with a variety of discoverable weapons planned and there are going to be some “survival” elements such as crafting and adapting materials to what you need. Co-op and PvP are also modes that are being planned for the game.

Dark Devotion

Release date: Early 2019
Platforms: PC
Developer: Hibernian Workshop

Another Kickstarter project on Steam, this 2D metroidvania and roguelike RPG is set in a grimdark world where a mysterious Temple holds sway over the order to which the player belongs to, the Templars. The temple has always been around for as long as anyone can remember, a “place of darkness and despair from which no one ever came back,” but our God commands us to overcome this shrine to prove our devotion”. It’s where the victims of the Inquisition are thrown and never return.

Inside the Temple, not everything apparently died — life, and unlife, found a way to survive within its inescapable walls transforming each area into something resembling mockeries of the world outside. There is the dungeon area, then a twisted bestiary zone, then a third and deeper level where black masses and the occult sciences hold sway.

A mysterious chapel in the depths. Could it be hiding a way out? Or something much, much worse?

The young woman who dares to enter the Temple is one of the Templars. Within their order, they can advance themselves and their place in their chosen squads to finally prove themselves ready to enter the Temple. It sounds like a suicide mission because no one has ever returned, but those who enter are promised a place in Heaven.

Aside from the detailed lore, the 16-bit visuals of the game also follow suit with plenty of animated pieces and a solid looking aesthetic that promises to be just as gritty as the text flavor. Players will find equipment that can alter their stats, create builds for facing down specific horrors and challenges, and hopefully survive long enough to do the impossible.

At least the room is well lit now.

The game is also adamant in keeping things tough. A currency called “faith” can be gathered up and used to open “secret paths” and discover treasures, although it sounds scarce. You can even use it to upgrade your character. Each area has certain paths through them and there is no backtracking it sounds like — once you pass into one of these paths, it’s forward all the way or die trying. But there are save points along the way if you manage to find them along with precious healing items and gear.

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