No Place for Bravery
News

Is there enough room for another pixel-art RPG?

There’s a close-knit cloud of terms frequently cropping up in the discussion of action role-playing games lately. “Atmospheric,” “minimalist,” “roguelike,” “pixel art,” et cetera. Hyper Light Drifter established its appeal almost entirely on the back of these signifiers. Titan Souls did the same last year, and the upcoming Children of Morta is looking to bring in the same traffic too. But for every new (or, in this case, old) aesthetic enjoying the apex of popularity, there comes the inevitable point of exhaustion. Such as might become the case with No Place for Bravery. It is pitched along the lines of being a 2D roguelike action-RPG…

ultima ratio regum
News

Thank you, Ultima Ratio Regum, for making RPG dialogue less boring

Ultima Ratio Regum, Mark Johnson’s epic 10-year roguelike project, aims to do a lot of things, but first and foremost it aims to reinvent how we approach procedural generation in lore-heavy games. The traditional view of algorithm-based writing is that it hits roadblocks between expansive possibilities and convincing humanity. Though you can program a game to offer hundreds of different choices, many will inevitably end up sounding similar. It leads to criticisms of procedural generation as “soulless,” and many doubt that computers will ever be able to create realistic humanity in such a significant manner. differ speech without ignoring the…

The Final Station
News

The Final Station finds the rare beauty of zombie fiction

If we understand the “zombie movie” as a particular set of plot beats and characters, George A. Romero’s films are what brought that to the mainstream. There’s a mysterious disease, followed by lots of killing and running from zombies, then—in Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), at least—some number of our heroes escape by helicopter. Valve’s Left 4 Dead series ends up making this into a bit of a joke—each campaign is advertised with a movie poster, and ends with the players making their way to a vehicular rescue before they’re dropped into the next…

enyo
News

Indirect combat is all you’ll have to tackle ENYO’s labyrinth monsters

In an industry that likes to stab stuff almost as much as it likes to shoot people, an “indirect combat” game might seem a little out of place. In fact, the concept has more in common with puzzles than fighting games, as the inability to directly attack your opponent means that the player is forced to use the terrain and any abilities they might have to their advantage. It’s the same idea as forcing a spider to fall off a cracked wall in Lara Croft GO (2015): if you can’t approach them directly, lure them to another doom.   drag…

The Only Shadow That The Desert Knows
News

Work this new roguelike out and you can be a time-travelling historian

After wandering around for a few years in the wilderness of The Only Shadow That The Desert Knows, I stumbled into a city. ASCII characters, caves, and poison toads led me to believe that the creator of the game, Jeremiah Reid, had made a fairly traditional roguelike for 7DRL 2016. But when I stepped into Hiast for the first time, I was handed a pile of books—biographies, histories, maps—and a list of lost works. My favorite part of Dwarf Fortress (2006) has always been generating a world to look through its histories, following heroes and their descendants through wars, or famines,…

signal decay
News

It’s you and your friends against mind-control tech in Signal Decay

The stealth strategy game Signal Decay, previously known as Squad of Saviors, has just made its way to Steam Greenlight. The premise is simple: you wake up one day and the rest of the world has come under the sway of some indomitable evil, so it’s up to you (and up to three of your friends!) to save humanity. Simple. But Signal Decay’s not content to just send you into the shadows and have that be that. Instead, Signal Decay takes relatively overdone tropes—cyberpunk world, mind control radio, lots of lurking around—and turns it into a strategic experience not unlike…

undungeon1
News

Undungeon’s pixel art makes the fantasy genre fresh again

A point of honesty: I still have yet to play more than the first hour of The Witcher 3 (2015). Not because the game is bad—in fact, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far—but because at this point, I’m just too exhausted with fantasy to have much interest in delving any further. How many hours have I spent playing as men in armor swinging their swords at lumbering dragons? Or, in the case of science-fiction, playing as a space ranger swinging his light sword at insectoid queens? Granted, there are fantasy stories that work to subvert these tropes, as we’ve…

BELOW
News

Entering Below’s deadly caves is not for the faint of heart

Below is about being small in a large, dangerous world. The game’s looming cave system dwarfs the player to little more than a speck on the screen, and its dark corners house hidden tripwires and pits that can lead to an early demise for those who are not careful. Characters only have a small pool of health which slowly bleeds out after being hit, and every enemy presents a threat. This player fragility is core to the game’s ideas of tension and adventure, but that does not mean that the player is left entirely defenseless. In the latest build of the…

BP2
Feature

The irresistible appeal of roguelike storytelling

A 20-something girl stands in an elevator. There’s an eye patch on her face, a shotgun on her back, and a pistol in her right hand. The door opens, and she hits the ground running into a room full of drones. They hover over her, firing red lasers completely bent on killing her. After all, why wouldn’t they be? Molly Pop is the head of the Zero Sum Gang, and she’s on a mission to topple the Fero corporation by raiding their bunkers one-by-one. She wastes no time, shooting down the flying robots in seconds, then travelling down a hallway…