In a three part series, our staff writer Carolyn Koh takes a look at some of the many Indie games to be found at PAX. Starting with two very different RPGS, Dragon Fin Soup and Guild of Dungeoneering.
Dragon Fin Soup
Developed by the Grimm Bros indie RPG game studio which comprises veteran game developers working from their homes and collaborating from across the world, Dragon Fin Soup is set in the fairy tale world set on the back of Asura, a giant dragon-turtle god as it swims across the space-time continuum of the multi-verse. The art is gorgeous and reminiscent of the lush illustrations in childrens’ books, but the game departs from there and resembles more the original blood-thirsty stories collected by the brothers Grimm.
Dragon Fin Soup stars Red Robin. A charming bounty hunter who loves her drinks just a little too much. Yes, she wears a red hooded cape, but she’d much rather get into a bar fight than deliver baked goods to Grandma, and there are bar fights galore, including a great one in Snow White’s Tavern. It’s a tactical rogue-like title with turn-based combat. Players can set their own pace and choose to speed-up to progress quickly and fight quick battles or take it easy and deliberate each encounter.
The humor is dark, punny, snarky and there’s tons of groaners as skeletons intone “Oo, I have a boner!” and Jack of the Beanstalk fame is a pole dancer at the Snow White tavern. Fairy tale like it may be but Dragon Fin Soup is not one for the kiddies. Red Robin fuels up and heals up using alcohol, and when the “drunk” meter fills up, she goes into a drunken rage and you lose control of her as she attacks and kills everything around her – this can be a smart tactic when there are plenty of enemies near, but she can also be killed.
Dungeons are procedurally generated so there’s always something different in the landscape you are moving through. Other systems in the game include fishing, treasure hunting and rune tracking. To keep the game fresh, there are also day and night cycles with random weather. Combat is not just hack and slash either, as there are traps that you can set and lure enemies into, trick levers and boss fights. You also collect AI pets which help you in combat, unlock other characters to play and hire mercenaries up to a party of four, and if you get tired of fighting goons, there’s always the crafting system to explore with 500+ recipes to try.
There are several modes to the game. In Story mode, we adventure with Red and unravels the secrets of her bloody past. Survival mode provides you only one life as you explore Asura, and then there’s the Endless Labyrinth where you try to advance as far as you can and beat your own high score.
Dragon Fin Soup will be launched in the Fall of 2015 with a staggered launch for the various platforms, and players will be able to find it on Steam and Humble Bundle for the PC, the PS3, 4 and Vita in seven different languages. It will also be available later on Android, iOS, Mac and Linux.
Guild of Dungeoneering
The Guild of Dungeoneering is a dungeon building RPG with turn based combat that uses cards as a game mechanic to achieve a goal and it’s a little hard to describe but oh so easy to play if you are looking at a game. This game perfectly illustrates “a picture paints a thousand words.” You start with a Dungeoneer and pieces of a disconnected dungeon and a goal which might be to kill a Monster in the dungeon. You then draw 5 cards and you may place three. You don’t actually move your dungeoneer, you influence where it moves by placing cards which might be a map piece for the dungeon, a monster or loot. That is to say, you are building the dungeon around the dungeoneer which is a totally disposable character, by the way.
If you encounter a monster, combat is initiated and both sides draw fight cards and plays three. Each card has a pre-determined result and the only modifier is the enemies attack. The card graphics show the damage and effects but mousing over will also provide tool tips of every card. Some characters have characteristic buffs and weaknesses some may be more susceptible to magic attacks and some like skeletons are brittle and take additional damage from major attacks. Hands are drawn and cards played until your dungeoneer wins and moves on or loses and goes into the graveyard.
So why are you gathering gold? Why to build your guild of course. The Guild is the main engine of progression in Guild of Dungeoneering and you upgrade it by using the gold won by your disposable dungeoneers. There are three main branches of upgrades: Might, Magic and Loot. The former two give you new character classes specializing in the physical and the arcane respectively and Loot unlocks more equipment that your dungeoneers can find in the dungeons. And speaking of the Guild, the graveyard is a special room you have to earn and in it, you can find all the hapless heroes you’ve disposed of.
The game launched for the PC and Mac platforms in July and what developers Gambrinous were showing at PAX was the Pirate expansion with new characters – a Swashbuckler and a Drunken Sailor, and new monsters – Krakens, mermaids, dnd other legendary denizens of the sea. An expansion that was promised very, very, very soon.
Quirky, amusing, fun and just plain nifty, the standard edition of the game is $14.99 and all things dungeoneering can be found here on their website.