Here we are again with another great batch of games for our weekly Indie Roundup! This week we’ll be looking at a quartet of games, some inspired by your favorite RPG experiences of old, some unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, but all guaranteed to be worth taking a gander: Shadows of Adam, Yaga, Long Gone Days, and Children of Zodiarcs. So kick back, enjoy, and get ready to bookmark/follow some great new indie experiences.
Shadows of Adam (Something Classic)
Shadows of Adam is another indie title designed to tweak your nostalgia senses – in this case, your love of old eight- and 16-bit JRPGs of yore, the kind that you “played all night until you had to go to school exhausted the next day.” I certainly have fond memories of that.
The game unashamedly admits to being inspired by the old Final Fantasy games, but fortunately for those that aren’t stuck living in the past, it aims to progress the genre by adding some new features and intractability to the experience. While “simple done well” is the game’s main tenet, they’ve added a few features that most JRPGs of the time didn’t have. Gone are the random encounters, with Shadows of Adam opting to display its battles on the world map as you wander around (alla Chrono Trigger). Gone are the boring old maps where you simply wander around looking for the right path. Now you must “jump and climb and even fly through an interactive world crammed with details and secret rewards.” This creates a fresh-looking experience amidst an otherwise retro game that looks like not only a joy to play…but also a joy to behold. Dungeons even purport to take a page from The Legend of Zelda’s books with unique exploration mechanics specific to those dungeons.
There will be some familiar JRPG puzzle mechanics; however, Shadows of Adam will offer unique twists. We’ve got tentacles and floating magical orbs and lots more! This is not a puzzle game that will baffle the casual gamer. Like baby bear’s porridge the difficulty is tempered to be “juuust right.”
The story follows Kellan, a “brash, rash, and sometimes crass” boy from the titular village of Adam, as he must find out what happened to his father, Orazio, the legendary hero of Adam.
Ten years ago he left without explanation and never returned, leaving his son and adopted daughter to wrestle with the dark secret he left behind—a secret that must now be revealed if the children hope to save both Adam and their departed father, though its revelation could unhinge the world.
Shadows of Adam is aiming to release for PC, Mac and Linux, though “depending on its success” a number of other platforms – including Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation Four, and mobile devices – might also be an option.
You can check out the game’s Kickstarter page here and maybe throw a couple bucks its way if you are so inclined. Shadows of Adam also hit Steam Greenlight and you can give it a vote here. You can also follow the developers on Twitter (@SomethingClassc)
Yaga (Breadcrumbs Interactive)
Are you a fan of fairy tales? Do you enjoy the oft-underused stories of eastern-European folklore? Well then, Yaga might be a game to keep your eyes on.
Yaga is an action RPG allowing you to shape your own east-european folktales through the actions and choices you make.
Enter the gloomy world of eastern Europe folklore and mythology, rich with deadly creatures, charming characters and lots of secrets. Your choices are combined with procedural generation to tell the story of a one-handed blacksmith roaming the world in search of adventure. You get to decide where the story goes, how important are the characters you meet, who is an ally or an enemy; and the game will throw a few plot twists your way. What kind of folktales will you tell?
In Yaga, you play Ivan, a one-handed blacksmith (already feeling the fairytale vibe) and the game promises a level of customizability to your tale with “fateful crossroads” that allow you to choose your own path, thereby telling your own story. Do you choose a quick but difficult shortcut to your destination? Or a treasure-filled road? Do you choose to stay at the hut of a witch or a haunted inn? Your choices change how the story unfolds in a world inspired by easter-European folklore. But be careful, because your choices also have repercussions.
How you act towards others can result in cheerful smiles or sulky frowns, warm promises or chilling curses, a raised glass or an incoming shovel. Will you kill the fallen serpent for loot or spare it for the promise of help? Clean that old well or just smash it to pieces?
Your one-armed pal is fully upgradable, allowing you to choose how you tackle the perils that lie before you.
Yaga looks like it’ll be an intriguing experience if only because it promises to be different every time you play. Your character is not a single, specific person but rather a placeholder to be taken over by the protagonist of a hundred different stories, different each time you tell it.
In one story he’s Ivan Tsarevich, helped by a magical wolf and seeking to capture a firebird. In another he marries a warrior princess, who he then must rescue from the immortal Koschei. In a few others he’s the son of a peasant, thought dimwitted by his brothers, who in the end gets half a kingdom as a reward for his good deeds. The common elements between all the versions is that he’s kind, naïve, daring and jovial. He can be almost anything, which means he fits the generic part of our requirements. But he’s a bit too generic, and as he’s represented in the folklore illustrations, not that visually impressive. Which makes sense, since folklore is an oral tradition.
Long Gone Days (Buramathews)
I’m going to cut right to the quick here. While the pixel visual style (I will never not love well-done pixels) and concept of a “modern-day RPG with turn-based battles, quests and lots of dialogue” did intrigue me, there was one line in Long Gone Days‘ description that piqued my interest more than any other:
The game is in English, but during your journey some NPCs will speak in their native tongues. This means you’ll need specific party members to help you out to buy at shops and complete quests.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty cool innovation to me. Imagine a game world where not everyone speaks the same language, or you don’t get a magical mcguffin to instantly be able to speak with the mysterious foreign people. What a novel idea!
In Long Gone Days, you play as Rourke, a “young man who was designated to be a soldier at birth.” Oh and he was born in the core of the Earth.
After being deployed to the surface, Rourke finds himself in a world full of new things, and for the first time in his man-made life, he feels like he has a choice. Driven by his will to be free, he does the impossible to desert his post and convince others, not really knowing the overall consequences of his actions.
While the game sounds like it’ll be typical RPG fare on the surface, it places additional weight on both the social aspects of exploring a different culture as well as the nuances of running a team of adventurers. Not only will your character learn about social conventions as they explore the new world they’re thrust into, but you’ll also be charged with keeping the morale of the team high with dialogue options and helping out your team in certain ways during battle.
Children of Zodiarcs (Cardboard Utopia)
Finally, we have Children of Zodiarcs, which is unapologetically inspired by tactical RPGs of old like Ogre Battle and, most importantly, Final Fantasy Tactics, but with some additional twists in the form of collectible cards and craftable dice.
Children of Zodiarcs comes from our deep love of these games, as well as board games and collectable card games like Magic: The Gathering. We decided to bring these two passions together to make a game that would resonate with fellow fans of Tactical JRPGs, and also add to the genre in fun and exciting ways.
Zodiarcs is a game that engages you at every moment with a sophisticated story, memorable characters, and gameplay that provides countless opportunities for strategizing the ultimate victory.
The combat is standard “tactics” fare. You’ll move along a grid-based map trying to find advantages against your foes by flanking or cornering them, but it adds the aforementioned twists in the form of cards and dice. Each attack you make comes from a customizable deck, different for each character. This adds a level of randomness and adaptability to the mix. Maybe you had fully planned to flank and defeat the enemy boss this turn, but you find out that it literally is not in the cards, so you must opt to position yourself defensibly or take care of a lesser foe while you wait for the whimsical gods of fate to favor you. You supplement your cards with dice that are rolled based on what card is drawn.
Fortunately, it’s not all luck.
Zodiarcs is a game of planning. Outside of combat you will build a deck of cards for each of your heroes. While you will always know WHAT is in your deck, you won’t know WHEN you will get it, making each card draw an opportunity for new strategies to emerge. Make yourself more lucky by crafting better odds for your heroes.
Not only are you charged with building a deck for each character, playing on their individual strengths and weaknesses, you also have the ability to craft your own dice to further play up your characters’ abilities, whether you’re playing swift and cunning Nahmi or reckless and deadly (even to herself!) Brice. The cast if as colorful and interesting as the games that inspired it and each character influences the way battle plays out.
The ability to build your deck of cards and customize your dice makes combat in Children of Zodiarcs about how well you can adapt to changing situations. It took us months of prototyping to find the perfect balance between tactics and influenced luck, but we put the prototype into the hands of Tactical JRPG fans and they have been excited about what we have to offer.
Not only does the game have a fine pedigree of inspiration to draw from, but its talent is equally refined with a team of AAA industry veterans from games like Eternal Darkness, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, The Warriors, and Far Cry 3. Combined, the team represents 60 years of game development experience from across 35 shipped games, meaning it has all the talent in the world to back up its boasts.
To find out more about the game, including its intriguing story – a tale of arcane machines and a dying world – check out Children of Zodiarcs’ Kickstarter page here. It’s already more than doubled its humble goal within only a couple days, but more is always better. There are, after all, stretch goals to be reached! The game has similarly been greenlit by the Steam community. You can also give the developers a follow on Twitter (@CardboardUtopia).