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Found 10 results

  1. People who frequent my work know that I have a soft spot in my heart for small indie games. As I was browsing through the work of S. Jean, the developer of one of my favorite indie RPGs, Star Stealing Prince, and I happened to see that Lauren Shigihara was releasing a game on May 10th. If her name doesn't ring a bell, chances are that you've heard her work. She's the composer behind Plants vs. Zombies and has contributed music and vocals to games like World of Warcraft, Super Meat Boy, To The Moon, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Band Saga, and Cosmic Star Heroine. She's a big deal and finding out that she was making a game solo? Well, that caught my attention, but then I learned about the subject matter and I absolutely had to share it with all of you. Shigihara's game is called Rakuen and it focuses on telling the story of a young boy who's fallen ill and been indefinitely confined to a hospital. His mom reads him stories to lift his spirits. After some time goes by, the boy asks her to take him to the fantasy world from his favorite story so that he can ask the spirit who lives in that world's forests for one wish. In order to gain his wish, the boy will have to complete a series of quests to prove himself worthy by helping the alter-egos of the hospital's residents who live in that world. These problems aren't of the "go out and kill monsters" variety, though. Rakuen is an adventure game where players will have to solve puzzles and figure out solutions to the problems that plague a crazy cast of colorful characters. Those who live in the hospital all have their own unique problems that range from an old man who guards a broken music box to a little girl who never got to say goodbye to one of her friends after her diagnosis. Solving these problems will send players through dungeons with escape puzzles and mysteries in both the environment and in the character interactions. Over time, the boy begins to discover that the hospital holds more secrets than he ever could have guessed and that unraveling them might make the hospital a better place. As you might imagine, Shigihara composed the soundtrack to Rakuen herself, tying its tracks and vocals to the various denizens of her worlds. While the plot might deal with heavy concepts and situations (one plot line involves a woman in a coma whose husband hasn't left her side in months), Shigihara has done her best to alleviate the tone with whimsy and humor. Rakuen isn't so self-serious that it will play like a funeral dirge. There's hope and laughter and charm all over the screenshots and trailers. Ultimately, the game is about making the world a better place. <a data-cke-saved-href="http://laurashigihara.bandcamp.com/album/rakuen-official-soundtrack" href="http://laurashigihara.bandcamp.com/album/rakuen-official-soundtrack">Rakuen Official Soundtrack by Laura Shigihara</a> Shigihara was inspired to create Rakuen by her work to create a song called "Jump." It was written for the album "Play for Japan" which was put together by Akira Yamaoka, a composer known for his work on the Silent Hill series and recent games like Let It Die and Rime. The album benefited the victims of the Tohoku earthquake disaster in 2011. Shigihara recalls creating the song, saying "While I was writing it, I imagined a story about a boy living in the hospital whose mother invents a grand adventure for them to go on (I think in the beginning, they originally braided bedsheets together to climb out the window and into a fantasy world). Later on, I told my friend Emmy (now the concept artist) about it, and we decided to make a little animated music video for it... However, after thinking more about the story, and being inspired by Emmy's concept art, I said, 'this is too much for just a music video, we should totally make a game!'" Rakuen releases later this week for PC via Steam. View full article
  2. People who frequent my work know that I have a soft spot in my heart for small indie games. As I was browsing through the work of S. Jean, the developer of one of my favorite indie RPGs, Star Stealing Prince, and I happened to see that Lauren Shigihara was releasing a game on May 10th. If her name doesn't ring a bell, chances are that you've heard her work. She's the composer behind Plants vs. Zombies and has contributed music and vocals to games like World of Warcraft, Super Meat Boy, To The Moon, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Band Saga, and Cosmic Star Heroine. She's a big deal and finding out that she was making a game solo? Well, that caught my attention, but then I learned about the subject matter and I absolutely had to share it with all of you. Shigihara's game is called Rakuen and it focuses on telling the story of a young boy who's fallen ill and been indefinitely confined to a hospital. His mom reads him stories to lift his spirits. After some time goes by, the boy asks her to take him to the fantasy world from his favorite story so that he can ask the spirit who lives in that world's forests for one wish. In order to gain his wish, the boy will have to complete a series of quests to prove himself worthy by helping the alter-egos of the hospital's residents who live in that world. These problems aren't of the "go out and kill monsters" variety, though. Rakuen is an adventure game where players will have to solve puzzles and figure out solutions to the problems that plague a crazy cast of colorful characters. Those who live in the hospital all have their own unique problems that range from an old man who guards a broken music box to a little girl who never got to say goodbye to one of her friends after her diagnosis. Solving these problems will send players through dungeons with escape puzzles and mysteries in both the environment and in the character interactions. Over time, the boy begins to discover that the hospital holds more secrets than he ever could have guessed and that unraveling them might make the hospital a better place. As you might imagine, Shigihara composed the soundtrack to Rakuen herself, tying its tracks and vocals to the various denizens of her worlds. While the plot might deal with heavy concepts and situations (one plot line involves a woman in a coma whose husband hasn't left her side in months), Shigihara has done her best to alleviate the tone with whimsy and humor. Rakuen isn't so self-serious that it will play like a funeral dirge. There's hope and laughter and charm all over the screenshots and trailers. Ultimately, the game is about making the world a better place. <a data-cke-saved-href="http://laurashigihara.bandcamp.com/album/rakuen-official-soundtrack" href="http://laurashigihara.bandcamp.com/album/rakuen-official-soundtrack">Rakuen Official Soundtrack by Laura Shigihara</a> Shigihara was inspired to create Rakuen by her work to create a song called "Jump." It was written for the album "Play for Japan" which was put together by Akira Yamaoka, a composer known for his work on the Silent Hill series and recent games like Let It Die and Rime. The album benefited the victims of the Tohoku earthquake disaster in 2011. Shigihara recalls creating the song, saying "While I was writing it, I imagined a story about a boy living in the hospital whose mother invents a grand adventure for them to go on (I think in the beginning, they originally braided bedsheets together to climb out the window and into a fantasy world). Later on, I told my friend Emmy (now the concept artist) about it, and we decided to make a little animated music video for it... However, after thinking more about the story, and being inspired by Emmy's concept art, I said, 'this is too much for just a music video, we should totally make a game!'" Rakuen releases later this week for PC via Steam.
  3. A small, independent game released on Windows PC back in 2012. It was the indiest of indies, a title developed largely by one person using RPG Maker software. Many people outside the RPG Maker development community would never hear of Star Stealing Prince, but the community itself showered it with praise and awards. Years later, Ronove's independent game stands tall among larger turn-based RPGs with gorgeous art, an engaging combat system, and a captivating, unique story. Buckle in and listen to why you should check out a largely unknown, free, indie RPG. You can download Star Stealing Prince for free from its Wordpress site. With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode. Outro music: Wild Arms 'Godspeed' by audio fidelity and Theophany (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02351) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes (consider leaving a review!). A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  4. A small, independent game released on Windows PC back in 2012. It was the indiest of indies, a title developed largely by one person using RPG Maker software. Many people outside the RPG Maker development community would never hear of Star Stealing Prince, but the community itself showered it with praise and awards. Years later, Ronove's independent game stands tall among larger turn-based RPGs with gorgeous art, an engaging combat system, and a captivating, unique story. Buckle in and listen to why you should check out a largely unknown, free, indie RPG. You can download Star Stealing Prince for free from its Wordpress site. With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode. Outro music: Wild Arms 'Godspeed' by audio fidelity and Theophany (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02351) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes (consider leaving a review!). A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  5. Degica Games, the publishers of the well-known RPG Maker franchise, has released a new role-playing creation tool exclusively for iOS called RPG Creator. The app hits the iOS store for free with a premium version available for those who wish to delve deeply into game creation on mobile. Degica touts that the toolset doesn't require any programming skills to operate well and can be used to make engrossing games entirely on your mobile device. RPG Creator seems to feature a number of useful tools, which m a fleshed out map editor for players to create villages, castles, dungeons, and more. Degica claims their game also allows for players to easily create events (which can prove to be a tricky proposition in their RPG Maker series) and will make use of an "extensive database" that allows for the customization of games. While a main selling point for the app appears to be that it can be made without the aid of a computer, development hopefuls will be able to upload their own resources and assets to personalize the games they create with the toolset. Those who use the tool to develop their own games can upload and share their creations via an in-game portal, which can also be used to download and play other games. In theory, this means that those who own the app will be able to play a wide variety of games, depending on what other people create with the tools in RPG Creator. The app has actually been available for about two years, but until now it was only accessible in Japanese. If you are looking to see what kinds of things can be achieved with the tools Degica has published in the past with their RPG Maker series, I'd highly recommend checking out the free game Star Stealing Prince for PC.
  6. Degica Games, the publishers of the well-known RPG Maker franchise, has released a new role-playing creation tool exclusively for iOS called RPG Creator. The app hits the iOS store for free with a premium version available for those who wish to delve deeply into game creation on mobile. Degica touts that the toolset doesn't require any programming skills to operate well and can be used to make engrossing games entirely on your mobile device. RPG Creator seems to feature a number of useful tools, which m a fleshed out map editor for players to create villages, castles, dungeons, and more. Degica claims their game also allows for players to easily create events (which can prove to be a tricky proposition in their RPG Maker series) and will make use of an "extensive database" that allows for the customization of games. While a main selling point for the app appears to be that it can be made without the aid of a computer, development hopefuls will be able to upload their own resources and assets to personalize the games they create with the toolset. Those who use the tool to develop their own games can upload and share their creations via an in-game portal, which can also be used to download and play other games. In theory, this means that those who own the app will be able to play a wide variety of games, depending on what other people create with the tools in RPG Creator. The app has actually been available for about two years, but until now it was only accessible in Japanese. If you are looking to see what kinds of things can be achieved with the tools Degica has published in the past with their RPG Maker series, I'd highly recommend checking out the free game Star Stealing Prince for PC. View full article
  7. It has been a few weeks since holiday gift-giving and Steam sale wallet-pillaging concluded. Bank accounts around the world could use a bit of a break from all of the monetary torment that they've been through. With most games back at full price, I couldn't help but think that a list of some of the best free games around might be appreciated. Even if you still have plenty of video games in your backlog, these ten are certainly worth checking out for the low cost of $0. 10. Dwarf Fortress In development since 2002, Dwarf Fortress is… well, it’s something. Basically, each game randomly generates a world, full of its own history, legends, and civilizations and then tasks the player with guiding a group of dwarves to glory. There are numerous adventures that await those who have the persistence necessary to comprehend Dwarf Fortress. The reason that many of you might have never heard of Dwarf Fortress is that the interface comes across as a bit esoteric. The game world, creatures, terrain, buildings, all are represented by letters and symbols that you won’t readily recognize without putting in a lot of effort. Combine that with having little to no knowledge about how any of the controls work and the first several dozen attempts to create a viable dwarven outpost will result in disaster. If the game is so hard to understand, why is it on this list? When I say that Dwarf Fortress randomly generates history for each game world, I really do mean a history. Every character has its own history that is then built upon by the player’s actions. Players give the dwarves orders and the dwarves do their best to carry out those orders, interacting with the world as they must to accomplish those orders. That means plenty of unexpected events occur and stories emerge from the most unlikely of places. I kid you not, there is an entire website dedicated to Dwarf Fortress stories (my personal favorite is the tale of the Hamlet of Tyranny). If you are intrigued, give it a download! After all, it’s free. 9. Env Stark and pristine, then destroyed and falling apart, the world of Env manages to convey an unnerving sense of loss while also bringing to the surface the instinctive need to survive. The premise is simple: Survive for six minutes. As soon as the game begins, your character’s food meter begins to drop and giant machines in the sky start to rip apart the world. Tiny devices sweep around the map, dropping food canisters that you will need to live longer and technology that enables higher and longer jumps. As the world becomes more and more fragmented, players will have to jump to greater and greater heights to avoid plummeting to their deaths while also obtaining food to avoid starvation. I didn’t go into Env expecting much, but it ends up being a beautiful and abstract game about survival. 8. Ben There, Dan That! Do you like silly adventure games with stick figure cartoon aesthetics? Ben There, Dan That might just be the game for you. A comedic point and click adventure title, Ben There, Dan That is a fun romp through the absurd adventures of Ben and Dan, the two developers of the game. The two lazy nerds wind up aboard an alien spaceship and have to find their way home through a variety of bizarre dimensions. The Adventure Game Studio, the software with which Ben There, Dan That was created, distributes a free version through their website. A newer, slightly better looking version of Ben There, Dan That and the sequel, Time Gentlemen, Please! are also available either here or on Steam for people who wish to support the developers. 7. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall A long time ago, before the days of Skyrim or Morrowind, Bethesda made a game called The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. It was very well received and introduced many of the series’ signature elements like open world exploration, ridiculous numbers of NPCs, and a mind-numbing amount of sidequests. In fact, Daggerfall has the largest game world in Elder Scrolls’ history; approximately 62,394 square miles with around 15,000 towns, cities, and dungeons that are populated by upwards of 750,000 NPCs. Granted, a lot of it was randomly generated, but that is still a staggering amount of content for a game released in 1996. To commemorate their 15th anniversary, Bethesda made Daggerfall available on their website. Definitely worth checking out if you have the time. 6. Age of Conan: Unchained Three years ago, Age of Conan released to the public as a jumbled mess of bugs masquerading as an MMO. It was so bad that entire zones were missing and pivotal encounters were broken. In the years since, Funcom took steps to fix their game. The bugs have been fixed, the graphics received a bit of an overhaul, the music is great, and the game switched to a free-to-play model. Yes, there are in-game transactions and the option to pay for a premium subscription, but a sizable chunk of Age of Conan can be played for free. If you’ve ever had an itch to adventure during the Hyborian Age, the barrier to entry will never be lower. 5. Flight of the Amazon Queen Fun fact: Good Old Games is a small treasure trove of free games. No, really! Just go to their website and search their library for the titles marked free. There are a number of awesome games available, Beneath A Steel Sky and Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar are particularly great, but I recommend Flight of the Amazon Queen. An old school adventure game, Flight of the Amazon Queen puts players in the shoes of aviator Joe Kidd tasked with the deceptively simple task of flying an actress to her next gig. If you played and loved the Space/King’s/Police Quest series, you should give Flight of the Amazon Queen a look. 4. The Very Organized Thief Ever wondered how tense it must be to break into somebody’s house? The Very Organized Thief gives players a brief taste of what that would be like by thrusting players into the middle of a robbery with nothing but a list of items to steal and a flashlight. Steal all the items on the list and escape before you’re caught by the homeowner or the cops. Also, sometimes you get punched out by a kangaroo. It is a great little game that is completely free! To top it off, the developers are attempting to fund an expanded retail game based on the same idea through pre-orders of their game. 3. Quest for Glory II Remember those old adventure/RPG hybrid titles made by Sierra On-Line? Remember how Quest for Glory II was the only game in that entire series that wasn’t remade in a prettier graphics engine? Even though Sierra isn’t the same adventure gaming company it once was, a group of fans decided that they wouldn’t let Quest for Glory II languish in obscurity. AGD Interactive formed specifically to bring back old Sierra adventure titles with better graphics and more intuitive controls. To date, they’ve remade Kings Quest 1-3 and Quest for Glory II. All of these remakes are free and definitely worth checking out, but AGDI’s work on Quest for Glory II impressed me the most. They also have two of their own adventure games that might be worth your time and money, but this list is about free games! 2. Star Stealing Prince I’ve written about Star Stealing Prince before. It is one of my absolute favorite RPGs and no one I know seems to have ever heard of it. Star Stealing Prince is a delightful, storybook journey following the adventures of a young prince named Snowe as he learns about the darker parts of his kingdom’s history and why the land is covered in perpetual snow. I don’t want to go much further into the story’s details because that would ruin part of the joy in playing it. A great throwback to an older era of RPGs, Star Stealing Prince was created primarily by one developer in RPG Maker software. Despite those despite massive limitations, it still manages to be an engaging and interesting work of art. Do yourself a favor and download it as soon as possible. 1. Frog Fractions There are works of genius, there are works that surpass genius, and then there is Frog Fractions. It’s an educational game to teach you about fractions! And frogs! And sometimes bugs? It might seem a little simplistic at first, but trust me, you’ll have only seen a small fraction of what the game has to offer if you immediately dismiss it. Educate yourself on how to fraction! Due to the resounding success in fraction teaching, Frog Fractions 2 successfully reached 10/10 of its Kickstarter funding goal last April. Hooray for fractions!
  8. It has been a few weeks since holiday gift-giving and Steam sale wallet-pillaging concluded. Bank accounts around the world could use a bit of a break from all of the monetary torment that they've been through. With most games back at full price, I couldn't help but think that a list of some of the best free games around might be appreciated. Even if you still have plenty of video games in your backlog, these ten are certainly worth checking out for the low cost of $0. 10. Dwarf Fortress In development since 2002, Dwarf Fortress is… well, it’s something. Basically, each game randomly generates a world, full of its own history, legends, and civilizations and then tasks the player with guiding a group of dwarves to glory. There are numerous adventures that await those who have the persistence necessary to comprehend Dwarf Fortress. The reason that many of you might have never heard of Dwarf Fortress is that the interface comes across as a bit esoteric. The game world, creatures, terrain, buildings, all are represented by letters and symbols that you won’t readily recognize without putting in a lot of effort. Combine that with having little to no knowledge about how any of the controls work and the first several dozen attempts to create a viable dwarven outpost will result in disaster. If the game is so hard to understand, why is it on this list? When I say that Dwarf Fortress randomly generates history for each game world, I really do mean a history. Every character has its own history that is then built upon by the player’s actions. Players give the dwarves orders and the dwarves do their best to carry out those orders, interacting with the world as they must to accomplish those orders. That means plenty of unexpected events occur and stories emerge from the most unlikely of places. I kid you not, there is an entire website dedicated to Dwarf Fortress stories (my personal favorite is the tale of the Hamlet of Tyranny). If you are intrigued, give it a download! After all, it’s free. 9. Env Stark and pristine, then destroyed and falling apart, the world of Env manages to convey an unnerving sense of loss while also bringing to the surface the instinctive need to survive. The premise is simple: Survive for six minutes. As soon as the game begins, your character’s food meter begins to drop and giant machines in the sky start to rip apart the world. Tiny devices sweep around the map, dropping food canisters that you will need to live longer and technology that enables higher and longer jumps. As the world becomes more and more fragmented, players will have to jump to greater and greater heights to avoid plummeting to their deaths while also obtaining food to avoid starvation. I didn’t go into Env expecting much, but it ends up being a beautiful and abstract game about survival. 8. Ben There, Dan That! Do you like silly adventure games with stick figure cartoon aesthetics? Ben There, Dan That might just be the game for you. A comedic point and click adventure title, Ben There, Dan That is a fun romp through the absurd adventures of Ben and Dan, the two developers of the game. The two lazy nerds wind up aboard an alien spaceship and have to find their way home through a variety of bizarre dimensions. The Adventure Game Studio, the software with which Ben There, Dan That was created, distributes a free version through their website. A newer, slightly better looking version of Ben There, Dan That and the sequel, Time Gentlemen, Please! are also available either here or on Steam for people who wish to support the developers. 7. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall A long time ago, before the days of Skyrim or Morrowind, Bethesda made a game called The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. It was very well received and introduced many of the series’ signature elements like open world exploration, ridiculous numbers of NPCs, and a mind-numbing amount of sidequests. In fact, Daggerfall has the largest game world in Elder Scrolls’ history; approximately 62,394 square miles with around 15,000 towns, cities, and dungeons that are populated by upwards of 750,000 NPCs. Granted, a lot of it was randomly generated, but that is still a staggering amount of content for a game released in 1996. To commemorate their 15th anniversary, Bethesda made Daggerfall available on their website. Definitely worth checking out if you have the time. 6. Age of Conan: Unchained Three years ago, Age of Conan released to the public as a jumbled mess of bugs masquerading as an MMO. It was so bad that entire zones were missing and pivotal encounters were broken. In the years since, Funcom took steps to fix their game. The bugs have been fixed, the graphics received a bit of an overhaul, the music is great, and the game switched to a free-to-play model. Yes, there are in-game transactions and the option to pay for a premium subscription, but a sizable chunk of Age of Conan can be played for free. If you’ve ever had an itch to adventure during the Hyborian Age, the barrier to entry will never be lower. 5. Flight of the Amazon Queen Fun fact: Good Old Games is a small treasure trove of free games. No, really! Just go to their website and search their library for the titles marked free. There are a number of awesome games available, Beneath A Steel Sky and Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar are particularly great, but I recommend Flight of the Amazon Queen. An old school adventure game, Flight of the Amazon Queen puts players in the shoes of aviator Joe Kidd tasked with the deceptively simple task of flying an actress to her next gig. If you played and loved the Space/King’s/Police Quest series, you should give Flight of the Amazon Queen a look. 4. The Very Organized Thief Ever wondered how tense it must be to break into somebody’s house? The Very Organized Thief gives players a brief taste of what that would be like by thrusting players into the middle of a robbery with nothing but a list of items to steal and a flashlight. Steal all the items on the list and escape before you’re caught by the homeowner or the cops. Also, sometimes you get punched out by a kangaroo. It is a great little game that is completely free! To top it off, the developers are attempting to fund an expanded retail game based on the same idea through pre-orders of their game. 3. Quest for Glory II Remember those old adventure/RPG hybrid titles made by Sierra On-Line? Remember how Quest for Glory II was the only game in that entire series that wasn’t remade in a prettier graphics engine? Even though Sierra isn’t the same adventure gaming company it once was, a group of fans decided that they wouldn’t let Quest for Glory II languish in obscurity. AGD Interactive formed specifically to bring back old Sierra adventure titles with better graphics and more intuitive controls. To date, they’ve remade Kings Quest 1-3 and Quest for Glory II. All of these remakes are free and definitely worth checking out, but AGDI’s work on Quest for Glory II impressed me the most. They also have two of their own adventure games that might be worth your time and money, but this list is about free games! 2. Star Stealing Prince I’ve written about Star Stealing Prince before. It is one of my absolute favorite RPGs and no one I know seems to have ever heard of it. Star Stealing Prince is a delightful, storybook journey following the adventures of a young prince named Snowe as he learns about the darker parts of his kingdom’s history and why the land is covered in perpetual snow. I don’t want to go much further into the story’s details because that would ruin part of the joy in playing it. A great throwback to an older era of RPGs, Star Stealing Prince was created primarily by one developer in RPG Maker software. Despite those despite massive limitations, it still manages to be an engaging and interesting work of art. Do yourself a favor and download it as soon as possible. 1. Frog Fractions There are works of genius, there are works that surpass genius, and then there is Frog Fractions. It’s an educational game to teach you about fractions! And frogs! And sometimes bugs? It might seem a little simplistic at first, but trust me, you’ll have only seen a small fraction of what the game has to offer if you immediately dismiss it. Educate yourself on how to fraction! Due to the resounding success in fraction teaching, Frog Fractions 2 successfully reached 10/10 of its Kickstarter funding goal last April. Hooray for fractions! View full article
  9. There are two things in this life that I love: Great games and free things. Usually the two don’t coincide with each other. Most great games come with a price tag and those that don’t eventually sucker you into microtransactions or a subscription. It is incredibly rare to find worthwhile games that are completely free that provide a full gaming experience that you can sink hours into and feel satisfied. As a service to those of you who are strapped for cash or just looking for a great game to play, I scoured the corners of the internet for fantastic free games. I sorted through all kinds of shovelware and viruses, but emerged with a precious handful of gems. Here are the unsung wonders that I found, enjoyed, and whole-heartedly recommend. Exit Fate The first of two games on this list that spawned as a result of tinkering with RPG Maker software, Exit Fate, created by Dutch indie game developer SCF, is a gigantic love letter to old-school RPGs like Suikoden II. Random encounters with enemies make up the bulk of this title’s gameplay. Combat takes place in a traditional, turn-based style with the player’s party consisting of up to six characters arranged tactically over a 3x3 grid. To spice up the combat, SCF included a relationship system where characters have certain attitudes toward one another that affect their stats in combat if they are both in the party at the same time. There are 75 recruitable party members each with their own sidequests, personalities, relationships, and abilities. There is more to Exit Fate than grinding through enemies for experience. Occasionally the game will allow players to flex their strategic muscles by presenting them with large-scale battles. These play out over sweeping grids as armies take turns maneuvering troops. The player’s army can be customized depending on which characters have been recruited. There are several different kinds of troop units to master including: infantry, cavalry, scouts, and sorcery. These sequences serve as a welcome interlude between missions and offer a nice challenge for even veteran strategy gamers. However, no RPG can stand on its own without a compelling storyline to keep players interested. On this front, Exit Fate delivers one of the more original RPG stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Players are put in the role of Daniel Vinyard, a Colonel in the Kirkgard Army. Kirkgard and the nearby Zelmony Union, though technically at peace, have been at odds with each other for years over the ownership of Helman Island, a point neatly between the two nations. Kirkgard has assembled an army in secret and plans to take Helman Island and use it to stage an invasion of Zelmony. As the fighting begins, something goes horribly wrong and a twist of fate places Daniel on a course to meet his destiny. The fact that this incredibly solid game was crafted by one person should intrigue anyone interested in game development or indie games. The amount of time and detail that went into creating Exit Fate is staggering. The average runtime of a full playthrough of Exit Fate clocks in at around 40 hours. You are never left without something to do, there is always one more party member to recruit or secret boss to defeat, and the story keeps throwing out enough political intrigue, memorable characters, and plot twists to keep the average player engrossed for its entirety. Exit Fate is truly excellent and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to play a refreshing old-style RPG. You can download Exit Fate for free over on SCF’s personal website. For more information and strategy guides, here is a handy fan-made website dedicated to the game. Note: This is an RPG from a bygone age. Bosses are difficult and there can be long stretches without a save point. If you find that you have gone a significant period of time between saves, go out of your way to save your game and always have a backup save so you don’t get stuck in an impossible area. Wing Commander Saga For people unfamiliar with the Wing Commander series, this will be a bit of a gaming history lesson. The original Wing Commander released in 1990 for the PC and focused on a conflict in the 27th century between the human race and a cat-like alien species known as the Kilrathi. Players took on the role of a starship pilot using a variety of space fighters to engage the Kilrathi in large-scale space wars. It turns out that this kind of thing appealed to gamers (who would have guessed?) and the game was a huge success, eventually getting ports to several other systems. Wing Commander proved incredibly popular from 1990 until 1996 when the series went dormant. The core Wing Commander entries are famous for their extensive use of FMV cutscenes to convey their stories with well-known actors such as Mark Hamill, Christopher Walken, and John Rhys-Davies. Though Wing Commander has been gone for nearly seventeen years, fans of the series have by no means forgotten it. A group of enterprising and talented people who had enjoyed it during its heyday got together in 2001 to begin working on a tribute to the games they loved. After developing Wing Commander Saga for more than a decade, the team finally released their labor of love in 2012. Wing Commander Saga stands as fully-fledged campaign called Darkest Dawn which takes place during the events of Wing Commander III. This amazing product of dedication contains fully voiced dialogue, beautifully rendered cutscenes, and engaging in-game squad chatter. Players take on the role of a fighter pilot, call sign Sandman, stationed on the carrier-class starship Hermes. Gamers will be treated to lengthy missions involving eliminating Kilrathi fighters, bombers, capital ships, enemy carriers, defending human vessels, and general awesome space-shooting-explosions kind of stuff. A word of warning for new Wing Commander Saga players: plug in a controller or joystick and tailor the controls to be a bit more playable. The keyboard control scheme is convoluted at best and extremely unintuitive for newcomers. Mapping the controls to a controller feels much more familiar. You can download Wing Commander Saga from the official website. Doom Roguelike Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a space marine fighting the forces of evil from a top-down perspective with randomly generated levels and turn-based movement? If you answered yes, you’re in luck! Doom Roguelike is a remake of the original Doom, but placing it within the wildly different roguelike genre. Players select one of three initial classes: marine, technician, or scout. Each class has different starting stats and abilities that affect the way players can best approach the challenges that await them. Movement through levels occurs one tile at a time, slowly revealing darkened areas that are out of the character’s line of sight. Monsters that appear within character’s visual range begin attacking, either by closing in for melee attacks or by firing lethal projectiles. With each enemy neutralized, characters receive experience points which go toward unlocking new skills that will help players progress further. Numerous secret arenas are scattered throughout the 25 levels of the game world that push player abilities to the limit, but provide new weapons, upgrades, and healthy chunks of experience. The main hook of Doom Roguelike is the implementation of permadeath; if the player’s character dies, the game restarts at the beginning. Permadeath and the randomized elements in each of the levels result in a unique experience every play session. As a nice treat for fans of the classic Doom, enemies retain their original artwork and sound effects. Overall, Doom Roguelike isn’t a terribly nuanced game. However, it succeeds in providing an original twist on a classic gaming formula. Doom Roguelike feels like a well-designed breath of fresh air. As a free game that can run on practically anything, Doom Roguelike is definitely worth your time. You can download the full game on chaosforge.org. Star Stealing Prince Using RPG Maker VX, a person under the name Ronove created a surprisingly refreshing RPG experience. Clocking in at about ten hours in length, the mechanics, puzzles, beautiful hand-drawn artwork, and most of all the story never once left me bored or unsatisfied. In terms of gameplay, there is more depth than you would expect. Combat occurs in a traditional turn-based fashion, with characters gaining experience and leveling up to increase their stats. New skills are learned by finding magic tomes and determined by the weapons and armor characters have equipped. While magic skills use MP, skills that come from your equipped gear can be accessed when a character has built up enough TP by attacking or being hit by enemies. Outside of combat, exploration is almost always rewarded with a new piece of armor, weapon, or useful item. The crafty and entertaining puzzles that crop up from time to time were an unexpected pleasure. One riddle in particular takes place during a tense boss battle and requires you to brush up a bit on your astrology knowledge. The best way to describe the story of Star Stealing Prince is to equate it with a fairy tale. Like a fairy tale, Star Stealing Prince isn’t overly complex and there isn’t an overabundance of characters, but it doesn’t need those things to tell the story it wants to convey. To sum up the basic premise of this indie gem: On a remote island there is a kingdom shrouded in perpetual winter ruled by a prince named Snowe. The prince’s parents died when he was small, but they left behind a great many pieces of magic. One of their most powerful spells binds all of the citizens of the kingdom to the prince, making them feel what he feels. If he is happy, they are happy. The spell also shields the people from the cold, keeping them warm and dry in a land of harsh winter. After being wracked by a strange nightmare, Snowe discovers his parents trapped a girl within a tower for an unknown purpose… And so begins the gripping adventure of Star Stealing Prince. If I could only recommend one game out of these four, it would be Star Stealing Prince. It is a short, rewarding and game that has a lot to offer if you take the time to download and play it. It feels intensely personal and real. When you play Star Stealing Prince you just know that someone was putting a part of themselves into it, which isn’t a feeling you get from many AAA experiences. Since this game is free, you have no excuse not to play it. Do yourself a favor and download Star Stealing Prince over on the official site. I suggest that you download it with RTP if you want it to function properly on your computer. Honorable Mention: Candy Box I can’t really explain Candy Box without ruining what makes it so great. Just follow this link, leave it open in a tab for a few minutes, forget about it, and come back. Then your descent into obsession epic quest for glory can truly begin.
  10. There are two things in this life that I love: Great games and free things. Usually the two don’t coincide with each other. Most great games come with a price tag and those that don’t eventually sucker you into microtransactions or a subscription. It is incredibly rare to find worthwhile games that are completely free that provide a full gaming experience that you can sink hours into and feel satisfied. As a service to those of you who are strapped for cash or just looking for a great game to play, I scoured the corners of the internet for fantastic free games. I sorted through all kinds of shovelware and viruses, but emerged with a precious handful of gems. Here are the unsung wonders that I found, enjoyed, and whole-heartedly recommend. Exit Fate The first of two games on this list that spawned as a result of tinkering with RPG Maker software, Exit Fate, created by Dutch indie game developer SCF, is a gigantic love letter to old-school RPGs like Suikoden II. Random encounters with enemies make up the bulk of this title’s gameplay. Combat takes place in a traditional, turn-based style with the player’s party consisting of up to six characters arranged tactically over a 3x3 grid. To spice up the combat, SCF included a relationship system where characters have certain attitudes toward one another that affect their stats in combat if they are both in the party at the same time. There are 75 recruitable party members each with their own sidequests, personalities, relationships, and abilities. There is more to Exit Fate than grinding through enemies for experience. Occasionally the game will allow players to flex their strategic muscles by presenting them with large-scale battles. These play out over sweeping grids as armies take turns maneuvering troops. The player’s army can be customized depending on which characters have been recruited. There are several different kinds of troop units to master including: infantry, cavalry, scouts, and sorcery. These sequences serve as a welcome interlude between missions and offer a nice challenge for even veteran strategy gamers. However, no RPG can stand on its own without a compelling storyline to keep players interested. On this front, Exit Fate delivers one of the more original RPG stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Players are put in the role of Daniel Vinyard, a Colonel in the Kirkgard Army. Kirkgard and the nearby Zelmony Union, though technically at peace, have been at odds with each other for years over the ownership of Helman Island, a point neatly between the two nations. Kirkgard has assembled an army in secret and plans to take Helman Island and use it to stage an invasion of Zelmony. As the fighting begins, something goes horribly wrong and a twist of fate places Daniel on a course to meet his destiny. The fact that this incredibly solid game was crafted by one person should intrigue anyone interested in game development or indie games. The amount of time and detail that went into creating Exit Fate is staggering. The average runtime of a full playthrough of Exit Fate clocks in at around 40 hours. You are never left without something to do, there is always one more party member to recruit or secret boss to defeat, and the story keeps throwing out enough political intrigue, memorable characters, and plot twists to keep the average player engrossed for its entirety. Exit Fate is truly excellent and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to play a refreshing old-style RPG. You can download Exit Fate for free over on SCF’s personal website. For more information and strategy guides, here is a handy fan-made website dedicated to the game. Note: This is an RPG from a bygone age. Bosses are difficult and there can be long stretches without a save point. If you find that you have gone a significant period of time between saves, go out of your way to save your game and always have a backup save so you don’t get stuck in an impossible area. Wing Commander Saga For people unfamiliar with the Wing Commander series, this will be a bit of a gaming history lesson. The original Wing Commander released in 1990 for the PC and focused on a conflict in the 27th century between the human race and a cat-like alien species known as the Kilrathi. Players took on the role of a starship pilot using a variety of space fighters to engage the Kilrathi in large-scale space wars. It turns out that this kind of thing appealed to gamers (who would have guessed?) and the game was a huge success, eventually getting ports to several other systems. Wing Commander proved incredibly popular from 1990 until 1996 when the series went dormant. The core Wing Commander entries are famous for their extensive use of FMV cutscenes to convey their stories with well-known actors such as Mark Hamill, Christopher Walken, and John Rhys-Davies. Though Wing Commander has been gone for nearly seventeen years, fans of the series have by no means forgotten it. A group of enterprising and talented people who had enjoyed it during its heyday got together in 2001 to begin working on a tribute to the games they loved. After developing Wing Commander Saga for more than a decade, the team finally released their labor of love in 2012. Wing Commander Saga stands as fully-fledged campaign called Darkest Dawn which takes place during the events of Wing Commander III. This amazing product of dedication contains fully voiced dialogue, beautifully rendered cutscenes, and engaging in-game squad chatter. Players take on the role of a fighter pilot, call sign Sandman, stationed on the carrier-class starship Hermes. Gamers will be treated to lengthy missions involving eliminating Kilrathi fighters, bombers, capital ships, enemy carriers, defending human vessels, and general awesome space-shooting-explosions kind of stuff. A word of warning for new Wing Commander Saga players: plug in a controller or joystick and tailor the controls to be a bit more playable. The keyboard control scheme is convoluted at best and extremely unintuitive for newcomers. Mapping the controls to a controller feels much more familiar. You can download Wing Commander Saga from the official website. Doom Roguelike Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a space marine fighting the forces of evil from a top-down perspective with randomly generated levels and turn-based movement? If you answered yes, you’re in luck! Doom Roguelike is a remake of the original Doom, but placing it within the wildly different roguelike genre. Players select one of three initial classes: marine, technician, or scout. Each class has different starting stats and abilities that affect the way players can best approach the challenges that await them. Movement through levels occurs one tile at a time, slowly revealing darkened areas that are out of the character’s line of sight. Monsters that appear within character’s visual range begin attacking, either by closing in for melee attacks or by firing lethal projectiles. With each enemy neutralized, characters receive experience points which go toward unlocking new skills that will help players progress further. Numerous secret arenas are scattered throughout the 25 levels of the game world that push player abilities to the limit, but provide new weapons, upgrades, and healthy chunks of experience. The main hook of Doom Roguelike is the implementation of permadeath; if the player’s character dies, the game restarts at the beginning. Permadeath and the randomized elements in each of the levels result in a unique experience every play session. As a nice treat for fans of the classic Doom, enemies retain their original artwork and sound effects. Overall, Doom Roguelike isn’t a terribly nuanced game. However, it succeeds in providing an original twist on a classic gaming formula. Doom Roguelike feels like a well-designed breath of fresh air. As a free game that can run on practically anything, Doom Roguelike is definitely worth your time. You can download the full game on chaosforge.org. Star Stealing Prince Using RPG Maker VX, a person under the name Ronove created a surprisingly refreshing RPG experience. Clocking in at about ten hours in length, the mechanics, puzzles, beautiful hand-drawn artwork, and most of all the story never once left me bored or unsatisfied. In terms of gameplay, there is more depth than you would expect. Combat occurs in a traditional turn-based fashion, with characters gaining experience and leveling up to increase their stats. New skills are learned by finding magic tomes and determined by the weapons and armor characters have equipped. While magic skills use MP, skills that come from your equipped gear can be accessed when a character has built up enough TP by attacking or being hit by enemies. Outside of combat, exploration is almost always rewarded with a new piece of armor, weapon, or useful item. The crafty and entertaining puzzles that crop up from time to time were an unexpected pleasure. One riddle in particular takes place during a tense boss battle and requires you to brush up a bit on your astrology knowledge. The best way to describe the story of Star Stealing Prince is to equate it with a fairy tale. Like a fairy tale, Star Stealing Prince isn’t overly complex and there isn’t an overabundance of characters, but it doesn’t need those things to tell the story it wants to convey. To sum up the basic premise of this indie gem: On a remote island there is a kingdom shrouded in perpetual winter ruled by a prince named Snowe. The prince’s parents died when he was small, but they left behind a great many pieces of magic. One of their most powerful spells binds all of the citizens of the kingdom to the prince, making them feel what he feels. If he is happy, they are happy. The spell also shields the people from the cold, keeping them warm and dry in a land of harsh winter. After being wracked by a strange nightmare, Snowe discovers his parents trapped a girl within a tower for an unknown purpose… And so begins the gripping adventure of Star Stealing Prince. If I could only recommend one game out of these four, it would be Star Stealing Prince. It is a short, rewarding and game that has a lot to offer if you take the time to download and play it. It feels intensely personal and real. When you play Star Stealing Prince you just know that someone was putting a part of themselves into it, which isn’t a feeling you get from many AAA experiences. Since this game is free, you have no excuse not to play it. Do yourself a favor and download Star Stealing Prince over on the official site. I suggest that you download it with RTP if you want it to function properly on your computer. Honorable Mention: Candy Box I can’t really explain Candy Box without ruining what makes it so great. Just follow this link, leave it open in a tab for a few minutes, forget about it, and come back. Then your descent into obsession epic quest for glory can truly begin. View full article
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