About choices and consequences
“We are our choices”
– Jean-Paul Sartre
One of the most recurring topic for an aged videogamer/RPG addicted like me is: “Be sure that the story of our game will be heavily influenced by your CHOICES!“. I mean, anyone who has ever played, just for once, a pen & paper RPG is well aware that the beauty and the charm of this particular kind of hobby lies in the unpredictability of the player’s choices and in the consequent impact of them on the story.
To better explain what I want to say, I’m going to tell you about what happened to me the very first time I’ve played to a P&P RPG. We were a group of five or six friends, everyone in their late teens, and we were playing to D&D (don’t ask me which version, I’m not an expert…). There was a great atmosphere: laughter, tension and chips were everywhere, and we were really enjoying our adventure, thanks also to a skilled dungeon master.
At a certain point, our characters were in front of a cave with a very narrow entrance. Everybody knew that the inside the cave was full of strong monsters (if I’m not wrong, they were some kind of lizard fighters…) and the idea of going into the cave one at a time was almost a suicide. We were in a deadlock…
But, suddenly, I had an idea.
I asked every player what kind of items they were carrying, and, among a pile of junk, I found exactly what I was looking for, the DEFINITIVE WEAPON: a…uh… strange herb. Nobody really knew what it was for, but I decided to do something a bit crazy with it. First of all, I started a fire very close to the entrance of the cave and then I decided to burn the herb on it. Not satisfied with all this, I used my cloak with the purpose to direct the smoke into the cave.
Do you want to know what was the result of my crazy idea?
After a few moments many monsters inside the cave were dead, and the few still alive, forced to exit from the cave one by one, were easily slayed.
The most relevant thing of this story was not my brilliant (!) idea, but the fact that my “solution” was not planned by the dungeon master, who, therefore, was forced to take a decision in a matter of seconds. He liked so much my idea that he decided to give to that herb a poisonous effect.
So here we come to the subject of this article: a good dungeon master is someone who can, not only predict the most likely player’s choices, but, also and especially, is someone who is able to “improvise”.
Now, the crux of the matter, is that if “improvise” is not a great problem for a REAL person, the matter is completely different when we consider AI. In a CRPG, even if the game is developed by the best software house out there, you’ll never be able to improvise, but at most you’ll be able to choose between three or fuor predetermined options. Nothing more than that.
This means that if you want to “burn a herb on a fire“, just like me, well maybe you’ll have to wait a little bit. I’m sure that in a near (and, somehow, disturbing) future, programmers will be able to create a very smart AI, capable of taking decision on its own, but, for now, we “must be satisfied” with games like Divinity Original Sin 2 or Wasteland 3…
Now, if you’re wondering why I’m talking about this specific topic, well, the reason is that one of the most interesting games of this month is Tortured Hearts a game that bases most of its charm on dialogues, choices and consequences. Maybe we’re still not ready for a smart AI, but, for sure, we are ready for another good turn-based CRPG!
TORTURED HEARTS – 1st March
A game that defines itself as “a unique and sophisticated role-playing game for independent thinkers, by independent gamers” has necessary all my attention. The vision of the developer(s) is clear: trying to create an atypical RPG where moral and philosophical choices matter more than gratuitous violence. Maybe everything will end up in a big yawn, but I don’t think so.
In its intentions, the game is “some sort of” a sequel of 2 NWN-1 mods by the title of Tortured Hearts I & II, with turn-based combat, conversation driven gameplay, a lot of choices and almost 200 hours of play time!
I don’t know about you, but I’m – at least – very intrigued!
Finally, on Steam at the beginning of the month after …. 12,5 years of development!!!
UNTIL THE LAST PLANE – 4th March
Ok, this one has a special place in my heart mainly for two reasons: first, because it’s very original (a very rare quality nowadays), and, secondly, because it is entirely developed by an Italian guy (allow me a bit of “nationalism”…).
So, what’s this all about? Until The Last Plane tells the story of people who fought in the World War II. Brave pilots who soared through the vast skies, and smart engineers who helped them by managing their planes. In Until The Last Plane you’ll have to manage your airfield, prepare and repair the airplanes and send your pilots out on missions. It’s a very interesting combination of management and turn-based fights.
- 3 playable nations: USA, USSR and Germany
- 3 different campaigns for each nation
- 6 planes for each nation
- fuel and ammunition management
- spare parts crafting system
- decision-making events
SOUL OF GIGA – 5th March
The first thing that catches your eyes, watching the trailer of this game, is the graphic: a colorful and lovely pixel-art style that brings your memory back twenty years.
Soul of Giga is a turn-based battle adventure where you, the chosen student of Giga clan, must explore the land of Giga, fight your way through dungeons, cities and savage lands, in turn-based battle. Your goal? Obvious, defeat the roots of evil!
Be ready for this journey, it will start soon, needless to say, on Steam.
DUNGEON NO DUNGEON – 6th March E.A.
Directly from China, the story of a group of adventurers on an endless journey through a fierce and ruthless world. Yes I know, this description could give you a strong sensation of deja-vu, but it is a fact that THE STORY isn’t the most valued aspect of a roguelike…
Anyway, during their expeditions, our heroes will have to face random events, battles, resting areas, shops, etc. In other words, everything that we have to face every time we go in a shopping mall!
Consider that almost everything is randomly generated to grant the uniqueness of each expedition.
Besides (but I’m not entirely sure of that) even if the game is essentially a single player experience, it will feature also a multiplayer component with PVP battle.
Soon on Steam!
SIRALIM ULTIMATE (E.A.) – 12th March
Siralim Ultimate is a monster catching, dungeon crawling RPG with a ridiculous amount of depth. Summon over 1000 different creatures and travel through randomly generated dungeons to acquire resources, new creatures, and loot.
- 1300+ creatures to collect
- Fuse your creatures together – the offspring inherits its parents’ stats, traits, and even the way they look!
- Randomly generated dungeons spanning 30 tilesets
- Customize your castle with thousands of different decorations
- Engage in strategic 6v6 battles
- Craft Artifacts and Spell Gems for your creatures
- Choose from one of 30 specializations for your character and earn perks that change the way your creatures fight in battle
On Steam E.A.!
SAVIORS OF SAPPHIRE WINGS / STRANGER OF SWORD CITY REVISITED – 16th March
In Saviors of Sapphire Wings, a fallen hero is reincarnated 100 years after being defeated by the Overlord of Darkness. Bond with allies, explore dungeons, and vanquish monsters!
S.S.W. seems (but I cannot say that for sure) the sequel/remake of a very old japanese game named Students of the Round, a sort of grid-based dungeon crawler with some visual novel features.
If it’s your genre, give it a chance.
On Steam in the mid of March!
RED RONIN – 17th March
Not a long time ago, I played and finished a great game (no, not a turn-based game this time…). I really loved it for the setting, the mood, the characters and the pixel-art style.
Its name was Katana Zero (and I’m still waiting for its sequel…).
Red Ronin, at least at a first glance, seems like a sort of turn-based version of Katana Zero, where expressions like “turn-based” and “fast action” are not in conflict, for once. Why? Because Red Ronin, even if it’s a turn-based game, wants to offer a lighting-fast experience, where the equation is: one turn – one kill!
Here are some of its features:
- 5 hours of turn-based combat through several handcrafted levels
- Turn-based but fast paced unique combat system
- Unveil and follow Red’s revenge plot
- Think before every move or slash everything in your way
If you’re curious you can try the demo on Steam.
NEURODECK – 18th March
Neurodeck is a psychological deckbuilding card game to challenge your fears. Build your deck & capacities by answering personality tests, visiting rooms or meditating. Face your phobia and defeat them through the power of life-inspired cards.
- Deckbuilding as you progress through the game (Slay The Spire like)
- Meditate and choose personality traits that alter your gameplay profoundly
- Explore a subconscious maze, full of cards and improvements that will help you defeat the monsters in your mind
- Light RPG mechanics that allow you to customize your character stats & skills
- Characters & places from your past that will tell facts & stories about mental health
- Deep gameplay mechanics that put focus on replayability and gameplay diversity
- Horrific monsters inspired by real-life phobias
ACROSS THE OBELISK – 18th March
Well, it’s almost impossible to have a month without, at least, an RPG deckbuilding game!
Anyway, even if Across the Obelisk looks like the umpteenth RPG deckbuilding roguelite, indeed it has a quite interesting feature that allows you to play it in single player mode or… with your friends!
Exactly, I dunno how it works, but AtO can be played in coop mode, so if you have a friend eager to play a new RPG deckbuilding, maybe this is your chance!
Among its features:
- Dynamic Deckbuilding Roguelite RPG
- Play solo or co-op with up to three friends
- Sixteen unlockable characters to create your party
- +500 cards and items to choose, craft and upgrade
- Procedural generated system intended to be highly replayable
- Events and quests where your decisions affect how the story unfolds
- Face powerful bosses in tactical combat
Soon on Steam!
Dorfromantik (E.A.) – 25th March
Durfromantik is a relaxing and peaceful building strategy and puzzle game where your goal is to create a beautiful and ever-growing village landscape by placing “tiles”. With Dorfromantik, you can immerse yourself in a quiet, peaceful world at any time and take a break from everyday life (oh, man I really need it!). Obviously, this doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t offer a real challenge.
I think Dorfromatik is one of those games that is easier played than explained, but I really like the prospect of playing it at my own pace, without stressing me out.
At the end of the month on Steam.
And for this month that’s all.
I take the opportunity to give a special thanks to TURN-BASED TACTICS for their great database. Without it my work would have been really tough!