RPGs and Tactics 2018. Part III: spiritual successors galore, a tale about a stolen sun, and more

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

2018 seems to be a year of spiritual successors. Not exactly sequels – for copyright reasons – but games that draw directly and unashamedly on a single source, rather than the whole corpus of “old-school RPGs”, as was often the case in the previous years. Whether any of those “successors” prove to be of any worth remains to be seen.


Underworld Ascendant, 2018:

A spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld. In my youth, I missed the Ultima boat completely, and when I finally tried playing Underworld, I hated it instantly. One reason was its clunky control scheme (using keyboard to look up or down instead of mouse, which was already normal at the time), but mainly it’s just that first-person RPG is not my thing completely, especially if set in tight, complex labyrinths.

Still, I understand that Ultima Underworld was a ground-breaking game for its time: the first truly 3D RPG. Underworld Ascendant, on the other hand, is not going to break any genre conventions – but maybe it would be able to provide a nice nostalgia trip for those who actually loved the original game, unlike me. But I’m going to skip this release.

The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep, 2018:

Not a spiritual, but a true successor to the classic! And once again, it’s one of the games I never cared about. The original Bard’s Tale games were too old by them time I got my first PC (1995).

On the other hand, PlayStation spin-off was brilliant – at least, story- and music-wise. As far as the gameplay goes, it was actually quite bad, but so are most console RPGs, in my biased opinion. If the new game could inherit at least some of the humor of that unnumbered part of series, then I would buy and play it, even though I’m not a fan of the gameplay. But there are no signs of that, as the developers tout the connection to the original trilogy instead.

And anyway, inXile proved time and time again that they are adept at making playable, but not brilliant games: both Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera fall under that category.

I’ll wait for the reviews before trying that one.

Copper Dreams, 2018:

Isometric cyberpunk horror with turn-based combat. From the developers of relatively interesting, but too old-school even for me Serpent in the Staglands. I failed to finish that game. Hell, I failed to even start it properly, dying in every single starting combat I’ve tried. Still, the new game might hold some promise – I just hope it would be easier to play and control, with a more convenient UI then the first game from this developer.

The game promises to feature “movement in full 3D”, including jumping into windows and from building to building, and grappling hooks. Also you should be able to solve conflicts using different approaches, and use either stealth or brute force when fighting combats.

According to the updates on KickStarter, the game is in alpha-testing phase right now, so a 2018 release date looks possible, but not guaranteed.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker, 2018:

I’m pretty sure you know everything there is to know about this game already – it’s one of the big releases of the year among RPGS, – so I’m not going to describe it.

A friend of mine is working on that game, so I can’t really say anything bad about it, can I? Well, actually, I can: RTwP sucks! Always! But I still backed it on KickStarter, and I’m still going to play it. After all, there are only so many more-or-less interesting games released every year, and this is one of them.

Shadows: Awakening, 2018-09-28:

“Unique isometric role-playing game with tactical combats in real time and a single-player campaign”. The game is a sequel to Kult: Heretic Kingdoms. To be honest, I never felt Kult needed a sequel: it was a fairly boring, run-of-the-mill ARPG with no new ideas. Well, someone felt otherwise, and we’re going to get a sequel. Okay. We’ll see if it’s any good: the videos do not inspire confidence.

Six Ages, 2018:

A spiritual successor to King of the Dragon Pass. I would call this genre a strategy, or a management simulator rather than RPG, but since RPGWatch added it to their list, I’m going to mention it here, especially since it’s no a high-profile release, and some King of the Dragon Pass might have missed it – and I know there are a lot of them.

Mage’s Initiation, 2018:

Yet another spiritual successor to Quest for Glory, an adventure/RPG hybrid. It was successfully funded on KickStarter… All the way back in 2013. Wonder of wonders, the development seems to be still continuing, and there are relatively fresh updates. Though it’s obvious that Hero-U is going to be released sooner, and this game probably going to suffer in comparison.

This game has no developers from the originals working on it, unlike Hero-U, but the team has experience in the development of point-and-click adventures.

Phoenix Point, 2018:

An X-Com clone from the creator of the original X-Com. Pretty much everyone knows about this tactical game, and it’s certainly one of the most awaited releases. I just hope the developers will follow the new X-Com path, and tone down difficulty compared to 90’s games – I never could handle them.

Sacred Fire, 2018:

A “narrative RPG” with emotional combats. I’ve seen such things done a few times already, and poorly. Usually, the developers just re-skin the boring JRPG combat by renaming “wind, fire, earth, air” tetrade to something else, and stop right there. We’ll see if Sacred Fire’s authors can do any better, but I don’t hold high hopes. Still, at least the game is not going to feature the usual for JRPGs running around large empty maps with random combats. Rather, it seems to be structured more like a visual novel, which might make it more playable and unique. Or not.

The lack of updates since the autumn of 2017 raises concerns, but maybe the developers are just too busy with the development.

The Meridian Shard, 2018:

Seemingly isometric seemingly RPG. The kind of combat is evident. Very bad visuals, at least in the KickStarter trailer. The game’s status is also uncertain: the developers posted that they are “almost there” in January, yet the game is still not released, and there are no further updates.

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, 2018:

Post-apocalyptic setting, mutants, “turn-based combat in the style of X-Com”, engaging story, roleplaying system based on a tabletop RPG – the standard list of promises for an indie RPG. But the details are sorely lacking. However, the trailer, at least, shows a very competent picture: Unreal Engine plus a good team of artists equals a modern-looking game, the head above most indie offerings. I think I’m going to watch for that game – though I’m not certain it will make 2018 release.

The Banner Saga 3, лето 2018:

We all know what is The Banner Sage, do we? I don’t need to describe it to you? Well, the third part of the game is my “most awaited The Banner Saga clone”, at least.

Disco Elysium, 2018?:

Last year, this game was called No Truce With The Furies, but it seems the authors came to their senses and saw how easily the ‘r’ in the last word is doubled. So, the name changed. Anyway, the game promises a complex, open-ended police investigation in a crime-ridden city. The thoughts and feelings of our hero are going to have a direct impact on dialogues, and there is even a special Inventory for them.

Sounds original, at least, and the visuals in screenshots are good. But the release in 2018 is not guaranteed.

Dungeons of Aledorn, 2018?:

Hald-dead project, a hardcore isometric RPG with turn-based combats. The last signs of life date from the beginning of 2017, so I think it’s not going to be released.

Fabular: Once upon a Spacetime, 2018:

A medieval space fairytale RPG. Really. The hero is the third son of the local king, who goes on a quest to defeat the League of the Black Knights who stole the sun – in spaceships. This original storyline and unique graphical style earn the game a place on this list. After the end of 2017 the developers stopped posting any updates to avoid spoiling the game, but otherwise they seem to be on track for release this year.

Fabular: Once upon a Spacetime, 2018:

A medieval space fairytale RPG. Really. The hero is the third son of the local king, who goes on a quest to defeat the League of the Black Knights who stole the sun – in spaceships. This original storyline and unique graphical style earn the game a place on this list. After the end of 2017 the developers stopped posting any updates to avoid spoiling the game, but otherwise they seem to be on track for release this year.

Graywalkers: Purgatory, 2018:

Another game that has been in my sights for several years already. It shows very little signs of life, but there are chances it’s not completely dead. It was supposed to enter Early Access in late 2017, but moved the date to early 2018. All in all, it’s another post-apocalyptic turn-based isometric RPG, so it has that going for it.

INSOMNIA: The Ark, 2018:

Insomnia misses the mark for me because of real-time action combat, but it might still be interesting. It’s a good-looking project that promises a lot of interesting exploration and class-less character development.

Popup Dungeon, 2018:

A turn-based roguelike game with advances character, ability and item constructor. The game promises persistent gains between runs, which instantly makes it more appealing to me. It also looks quite good for its genre. I think I’ll keep an eye on it, though the promises of limitless possibilities often result and overall blandness of randomly generated game objects and locations.

And that’s all I could find for 2018! Drop me a line if I missed some interesting title. Did you discover anything new from these series of posts? Share it in comments here on on Reddit, I’ll be glad to hear if my work had any impact!

I'm a video games programmer from Moscow, Russia. I have worked in game industry since 2008 on MMOs and mobile games, but I really want to make niche old-school RPGs instead :) In my free time, I like to play rock'n'roll on my guitar and travel.

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