RPGs and Tactics 2018. Part II: “arrow-time”, a new game for C64 and a lot of promises by newbie developers

The criteria for inclusion of a game in my list is specified in Part I.

All in all, 2018 seems to be an interesting year for RPG and tactic gamers – more so than 2016, and even 2017. What awaits us in the coming months?

Tower of Time, 2018-04-12:

Uhh, “Arrow-Time combat system”? Oh, you mean “bullet-time”, but with arrows, because there are no bullets in this fantasy setting… OK. The game looks like a typical party-based RTwP RPG with a good enough graphic (for an indie title). Some interesting features include the ability to “draw” the area of effect for some skills and gravitation manipulation.

Also, the game features Diablo-like random item generation, crafting, your own city to upgrade and relationships between party members which change depending on the choices you make.

From the description, this looks like a strong competitor to Pillars of Eternity II. However, this is the first title from a completely new developer, which makes me thing that the Polish team might have bitten off more than it can chew, and the end-result might under-deliver on many, if not all promises. According to RPGWatch, we should know the truth very soon: the game is stated to be released on 12 of April. This seem to be confirmed by developers’ messages on Steam.

Worth checking out, at the very least!

BattleTech, 2018-04-24:

Well, this is the biggest release of April, no questions asked. Turn-based giant mech combat was my dream ever since I’ve read the novels in mid-90’s. The developers are the people behind the successful Shadowrun Returns series, so there is a good chance this game will be at least not bad, if not stellar. If you’re interested in BattleTech universe and turn-based games, this is a must-buy.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, 2018-05-08:

Another one of “Big Indies”, Pillars of Eternity II was previewed by many journalists already, and is well supplied with screenshots and trailers. We’ll have to play it, don’t we? It’s not like we have a choice, really.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, May 2018:

According to my notes, this game should have been released the last year, but here it is. At least this time it looks like the release date is really near. I don’t have much to say about it: it looks like a beautiful cross between an adventure game and a RPG. The authors worked on many classic games like Hero’s Quest, Quest for Glory and Shannara, so if you’re a fan of one of those, you probably should check this title out when (if?) it comes out in May.

The Feud: Wild West Tactics, 2018-05-15:

This game already resided in my Wishlist on Steam for a long time. Wild West X-Com with several game modes, including story mode with 32 missions? Count me in! It also includes a saga mode where “you attempt to build your own Wild West empire” in 4X Strategy style, including research tree. How can you combine so different modes in a single game and no make them such is a hard question, which I’m not sure the developers can answer satisfactory, but we will see. RPGWatch states that the game should be released in May, but I could find no confirmations of that, so it might as well be available much later in the year.

Forged of Blood, summer 2018:

Tactical RPG attempting to push the boundaries of the genre by having a complex spell constructor, a choice of “philosophies” and three separate parties that the player will have to control in different parts of the big world.

The project looks overly ambitious for a newbie studio, and the last news from the developers do not inspire confidence in the release timeframe. If it manages to ship, though, it definitely worth a look.

HellSign, Q2 2018:

Isometric horror-RPG where the hero hunts monsters in a small town. How can you even make an isometric horror game where you can see behind you back?! Well, obviously, by not relying on jump scares. Which is good. Jump scares suck. Still, I wonder where a limited visibility due to a narrow cone of light from the headlamp, and ghosts appearing behind your back when you don’t shine the torch at them will be horrifying or annoying.

I dislike any horror games and movies, so I don’t think I could enjoy this title, but it still looks interesting, at least in terms of trying to do something different with the genre. This is a game I would probably not play myself, but one which I’d like someone else to play and tell me all about it 🙂

The developers don’t post much, so it’s hard to say whether the game is close to the summer release.

Rain of Reflections, some time in 2018:

A cyberpunk RPG with turn-based combats and three characters that the player will control in sequence. The graphic looks awesome for an indie effort, but there are very little details about everything else. The developers say they want to streamline the gameplay and remove all cruft from it, concentrating on powerful emotional moments. And the also thought up some system for resolving conflicts without resolving to violence. However, it all seems very vague. the lack of any updates since summer of 2017 also do not bodes well, so I’m afraid the release of this game is questionable.

Slay the Spire, some time in 2018:

Slay the Spire, a collectible card rogue-like already became a hit, and one of the most-played games on Steam even before leaving the Early Access. Deservedly so: this is a really engaging game, with a very thoroughly thought-out gameplay and good balance that keeps getting better due to statistic-driven changes (a rare approach in single-player games without IAPs!).

This is definitely one of the best games of the year, thought it’s not for everyone.

Star Control: Origins, autumn 2018:

To be honest, I was never a big fan of Star Control series, for the simple reason that I suck at it. I never managed to finish either SC2 or SC3, though I made several attempts. However, the trend in remaking/continuing the old series lately is usually to make them easier, so maybe this release will be more accessible and fun for me, who knows? I will try it when it comes out. Maybe you should, too.

Vigilantes, some time in 2018:

A tactical RPG in the city of Reiker which has gone to seed. Crime wave make living in it not very pleasant, and the government can’t do anything. So we’re going to build a team of vigilantes, and fight mafia, cultists and other riff-raff, until we clean the streets!

The game promises tactical combats, interrogation of captured enemies, base building, crafting and adversary system, where the enemies who manage to escape the battlefield come back later with the vengeance.

At the very least, the game features an interesting setting. The question, as is always with tactical RPGs, is whether the developers can deliver an interesting combat system. So far, from the videos on the Steam page, one can only tell the graphics are going to be pretty bad, and also that they’re trying to clone some aspects of X-Com. The later is not encouraging: all attempts to clone the new X-Com so far failed badly, starting with another noir tactic, Omerta: The City of Gangsters.

There is some promise in the game, since it’s not the first project for the developers. However, their previous title was a simplistic top-down shooter, so maybe it’s not very encouraging, too.

Vampyr, summer 2018:

Another of the most awaited games of the year… Which I don’t wait for. It misses me completely: I don’t like vampiric settings, and it certainly doesn’t have turn-based combat. Still, I had to mention it, as people are hyped about it.

Sword Legacy: Omen, summer 2018:

Tactical RPG based on King Arthur myhos. The game’s trailer promises somewhat strange graphics, and is very short on any other details. The project was initially to be released in the beginning of the year, but currently the developers are talking about second quarter date. We shall see.

Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous, summer 2018:

A classic RPG, coming out on PC… and Commodore 64. The developers promise no grind, a lot of exploration, talking to NPC using keywords and interesting mini-games. They also promise modern, non-clunky UI and fast loading times (I have to assume this is more for C64 release than for PC one). Well, this is certainly a project that manages to grab the attention by standing out among others. Whether it’s going to be any fun to play remains to be seen.

Phantom Doctrine, 2018-06-20:

A title from the authors of Hard West – the first attempt at making “Wild West X-Com”. It was a game I had high hopes for, but they were dashed by lack of saves mid-mission and the unfortunate level design.

The new project from the Polish studio offers a chance to dive into Cold War era espionage business. A very timely theme! Anyway, they promise to let the player build a network of spies, order the agents to undertake various missions, gather intelligence, uncover conspiracies and complete tactical levels using either stealth or the brute force.

Sounds good to me, and reminds me of one of my favourite Sid Meier’s game, Covert Action – which is long due for a remake or a spiritual successor. Thought I guess they’re not going to steal the electronic bugging mini-game, which was one of the most fun parts of Covert Action…

I’m going to take a break here – there are much more games to overview, and my fingers are sore already from all the typing.

I'm a video games programmer. I have worked in game industry since 2008 on MMOs and mobile games, but now I work for Owlcat Games on great old-school RPGs. In my free time, I like to play rock'n'roll on my guitar and travel.

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