In most eldritch horror fiction, the heroes’ goal is to prevent the end of the world. In Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, an isometric tactical RPG, the end of the world has already happened.
“We define Stygian as a role-playing game about horror, loss, and madness,” says Can Oral (pronounced Jon Rahl), lead designer and creative director at Cultic Games. “It takes place after the awakening of the great old ones. Your goal isn’t about saving the world, it’s already too late.”
The story takes place in the city of Arkham, which has been torn loose from the ruins of Earth and floats under an alien sky beneath a perpetual lair of gloom and despair. The city has been divided up between pagan cultists and ruthless mobsters, and many of the residents have either gone insane, or are teetering close to the edge.
It’s easy to get jaded about the RPG genre, specifically Japanese RPGs. Every trope has been well-worn, every character archetype has been fully exploited. Dating back to the 1980s the Dragon Quest series is one of the most egregious examples of many tiresome gameplay elements and story beats.
Yet each new Dragon Quest game proves why the series remains beloved and resilient. With an irresistible charm, modern design conveniences, and excellent writing, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a wonderful RPG for newcomers and a delightful return for series veterans.
How well does one of the all-time greatest RPGs hold up nearly two decades later?
Adventuring through my backlog of games, one game at a time.
Publisher: Square Electronic Arts
Release Date: August 15, 2000
Played On: PSP
I have a somewhat complicated history with Chrono Cross. It’s one of my all-time favorite RPGs, hell one of my all-time favorite games. I even named one our cats Lynx, and yeah, he’s kind of a jerk. But my secret shame is that I never actually beat the damn thing.
Now, almost two decades later, I finally did. Chrono Cross is still an amazing game whose early 3D graphics have aged better than most, but it’s not without some major design flaws that somewhat tarnished my teenage memories. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Chrono Cross”
I’m about a dozen hours into Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age and the smile has rarely left my face. Dragon Quest is one of the most resilient RPG franchises in video game history. The latest installment proves why it’s such a winning formula by embracing its classic roots while sprinkling in many welcoming improvements and features.
If you’re a newcomer to the series, Dragon Quest is a bit like Final Fantasy. It’s a classic 50+ hour Japanese RPG with each entry a standalone adventure (save DQ 10, which was an MMO).
Confront nightmare demons, traitorous guards, and a sinister cult in the city of Yanmass in the third adventure for the War for the Crown.
A press review copy of the module was provided. Find more Roll20 Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.
The War for the Crown returns to an urban setting in the third Pathfinder Adventure Path module, The Twilight Child. It’s designed for a party of 7th level heroes who have completed the previous two modules, and they should reach 10th level by the end, making it a solid Tier 2 adventure.
The Twilight Child provides a bounty of interesting side quests within the mercantile city of Yanmass, and more importantly for a Roll20 module, plenty of quality maps to support them.
Continue reading “Roll20 Review: The Twilight Child (War for the Crown 3)”
Many video game genres overlap and blend well together. Shooting and third-person action. Narrative-rich adventure with first-person exploration. RPG elements in just about everything. Yet in the paraphrased words of Dr. Ian Malcolm, just because you can combine genres doesn’t mean you should.
The Swords of Ditto is a cautionary tale. The concept seems solid: combine the basic structure of classic top-down, 2D Zelda within the framework of a challenging roguelike, creating a frustrating experience that relies too much on repetition.
Seven months and 80 hours later my partner and I finally put down our PS4 controllers in triumph to watch the end credits roll on Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition.
We have played many cooperative games together over the years but none have enthralled both of us quite like D:OS. Its rewarding tactical combat system, huge world, and most importantly, a story that weaves together both characters equally kept us invested in one of the best cooperative gaming experiences we’ve ever had.
“Growing up I’d read articles and see pictures in Nintendo Power about behind-the-screen game development,” says Andrew Aversa, lead designer and programmer at Impact Gameworks, who recently released roguelike dungeon crawler Tangledeep. “I thought it was so interesting, but that fell by the wayside.” Though games were his first love, it was music, specifically game music, that captured his attention in his formative years.
Aversa is best known as Zircon, one of the most prolific video game remixers and professional game-focused composers in the industry. “In 2002 a friend introduced me to Music Maker 2000 Deluxe,” he says. “I had taken piano lessons as a kid and liked it, but once I could make music on a computer I got really into it. Being able to adjust knobs and sliders to create different sounds—I couldn’t get enough of it.”
“Neverwinter Nights changed my life,” Tony ‘Andarian’ Donadio tells me. Donadio adapted his college Dungeons & Dragons campaign to create a module for BioWare’s 2002 D&D game, Neverwinter Nights, thanks to its dev kit being made available to players. The Aurora Toolset let players make their own modules, campaigns, and even miniature MMOs called ‘Persistent Worlds’. It’s mainly thanks to these fan-made works that Neverwinter Nights is still fondly remembered.
When Beamdog’s Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition was announced I contacted several prominent community members who all shared a passion for the 15-year-old RPG. I also spoke to Trent Oster, Beamdog CEO and the original game’s designer and producer, who is well aware of Neverwinter Nights’ unique position as a game carried by its fans.
My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
#10 Fire Emblem Heroes
#9 Metroid: Samus Returns
#8 Injustice 2
#7 Hand of Fate 2
#6 Battle Chasers: Nightwar
#5 Thimbleweed Park
#4 Cosmic Star Heroine
#3 Horizon Zero Dawn
#2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
Larian Studios have quietly been crafting RPG classics for years (and I’ve dabbled in a few), yet none really hit the big time until Divinity: Original Sin in 2014. It was my #1 Game of the Year that year. The sequel is better in every way, and it’s only a testament to how amazing #1 is this year that I’m slotting it here. But make no mistake, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is destined to be remembered as one of the best RPGs of its time. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #2”