After more than two years since the last update, a new version of Dwarf Fortress has been released by developer Tarn Adams. As always, the game is entirely free, despite it being Tarn’s full-time occupation – he is supported by the generous donations of players.
One of the largest and most notable features of this new update is that the in-game world will no longer be static after its initial generation, but will continue to change and evolve on its own in the background. This will include events ranging from civilization-scale events like foundings and conquests, to more individual actions such as births and deaths of historical figures. Additionally, forts that the player has “retired” will continue to operate within the world, rather than simply becoming abandoned, allowing for the player to visit them in Adventurer Mode and interact with the citizens.
Other notable changes with this update will include multi-tile trees, new site designs for several races, and overhauls of various systems including combat, conversation, movement, and AI. A more extensive changelog can be found here.
Image: Forgotten Beast, by Torgeir Fjereide
Following a successful Indiegogo campaign that raised nearly double its $48,000 goal, Thomas Biskup has been working steadily to bring his legendary roguelike ADOM to a generation of players that might be more familiar with “roguelikelikes” and “roguelites” than the genre that inspired them all. First released in 1994, ADOM (full title: Ancient Domains of Mystery) is widely considered to be one of the “Big 4″ defining roguelikes, along with Nethack, Dungeon Crawl, and Angband. An incredibly expansive and challenging game, it’s remained relatively obscure to mainstream game players, due in no small part to its ASCII graphics, closed source, and lack of updates past 2002. With this renewed development, Thomas seeks to remedy that (although as far as anyone knows, the source will remain closed).
A lot is planned for ADOM and a lot has already been done: a lovely graphical tileset, sound, a mouse-driven UI, and new monsters, items, quests, classes, and more. You can experience all of these in the current public version (1.2.0p23), which also includes a new tutorial mode. It’s also on Steam Greenlight, where you can vote for it and help get it released on Steam as a paid, “deluxe” edition alongside the freeware game. The price of ADOM on Steam has not yet been settled on.
It’s great to see the creator of one of THE classic roguelikes throw his hat back in the ring. There are many good reasons why these games have had such a strong and long-lasting influence and hopefully people who missed out on them the first time around will take this opportunity to try one out.
What better way to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart(s) than playing one of the oldest and best freeware local multiplayer deathmatch games, Liero? Released in 1998 by Finnish programmer Joosa Riekkinen, Liero quickly became a cult classic for its slick controls, destructible terrain, and numerous diverse weapons. Although the original source code was lost, fans have released a number of successful clones and remakes, such as NiL and Gusanos.
Last year, however, a new, “official” version of Liero was released, 1.36. Although not developed by Joosa Riekkinen, Liero 1.36 is more or less an exact simulation of the original and has received the creator’s blessing to use the name. This update runs “on almost any OS”, fixes the few bugs that were present in Liero 1.33, and also adds a host of welcome features, such as post-game stats and an enjoyable new mode, called “Hold a Zone”, where players must claim and protect small sections of the map for a specified period of time.
The AI is also significantly improved, making single-player Liero a viable way to play for the first time. So even if you’re your own Valentine today there’s no reason why you can’t also enjoy the sweet sounds of bleeding worms violently grunting amidst hails of Zimms, Mini-Nukes, Banana Bombs, and other classic weapons.
Michael “brog” Brough’s 868-HACK is a hacking-themed roguelike on iOS that eschews exploration for focused, single-screen tactics. In the game, the player must traverse 8 levels, called “sectors”, filled with data – either points, which are used for scoring, or progs, which are used for defense against the enemies that are summoned to stop your intrusion. Enemies come in four types and move in simple patterns that are easy to exploit in small numbers but quickly become deadly in diverse mobs.
There’s a lot to like about 868-HACK, like the fun theme, the obvious risk/reward mechanisms, and the innovative zapping attack that hurts and stuns enemies. Figuring out how to use zapper and prog to clear out large groups of enemies is extremely satisfying. In many ways, 868-HACK distills the roguelike experience down to the parts where you’ve been dropped into a room full of monsters you’re not fully prepared for and each move is potentially life-threatening.
The free, Windows version that was made for 7DRL is called 86856527 and is still available for download, but the changes for iOS are well worth the $5 price tag, in my opinion. A port of 868-HACK to PC is also planned, but there’s no release date yet.
PuzzleScript is a simple, open-source game engine by Stephen “increpare” Lavelle that allows you to easily create turn-based puzzle games using a unique scripting language. The engine is HTML5-based and games can be built and shared (along with their source code) straight from your browser. The graphics, which are composed of 5×5 tiles, are also designed within the editor, in the same manner that levels are defined.
There are already quite a few clever games in the burgeoning PuzzleScript gallery, showing off the flexibility of the engine, as well as its ease-of-use – although some of the developers are seasoned indies (like Terry Cavanagh, Joseph White, and Stephen himself), quite a few of them are from first-time creators (like Jonah Ostroff, who made Heroes of Sokoban, shown above).
The cult classic survival roguelike UnReal World is now donationware as of version 3.16. Creator Sami Maaranen cites faster releases as the reason for the switch, saying “massive AI, end-game and graphics improvements are underway and I’d like to keep releasing new versions whenever substantial new features are up and running”. People who already own a full license to the game are still entitled to free updates should it ever revert back to a paid scheme (a possibility that Maaranen acknowledges).
Although it’s a lesser-known roguelike, UnReal World has garnered a cult following for its complex combat and survival systems, as well as its unique portrayal of Finnish history and mythology. Unlike many dungeon crawlers, UW is extremely open-ended, allowing the player to play a number of non-combat roles such as hunter, hermit, fisherman, or trader. More often than not, the elements are your worst enemy, and understanding how to survive in an Iron Age Finnish wilderness is one of the game’s major challenges.
Robit Studios and Chucklefish are collaborating on Treasure Adventure World: a commercial, HD remake of Treasure Adventure Game (a wonderful, freeware Metroidvania from 2011). Their press release shares some of the main changes to expect from the new version:
- New engine, smoother gameplay, HD widescreen mode
- High-res, hand-drawn art by Christine Crossley
- New music and sound by Robert Ellis
- More treasures and collectibles, remixed puzzles and new equipment
- Improvements to enemy AI, more intense boss fights
- More tightly-focused story, intriguing cutscenes, charming NPCs and new multiple endings
There is also some info in the Indie Statik post on TAW, which helps to expand upon the press release.
Additionally, those curious about experiencing the game’s earlier incarnations can download Karma as an exclusive bonus from the GOG.com release of TAG. The games in Karma aren’t as fully polished as TAG was, but they are great samples of how drastic development can be from one iteration to the next.
There’s no need to beat a dead horse but it should be mentioned – yeah, Diablo 3 was a pretty disappointing experience for me, too. It happens. However, just as the third Godfather movie didn’t mean the end of good gangster flicks, neither does the third Diablo game mean the end of good point-and-click action RPGs.
Path of Exile is one of the newer entries to the genre, and the one I’m most excited about. Unlike Torchlight, the theme and graphics are dark, gritty, and almost oppressive. And unlike Grim Dawn, PoE will be available to play later today, as an open beta. Unlike all the other Diablolikes, the game will always be free-to-play, with cosmetic microtransactions being the only source of the developer’s income from it.
Like Hydorah before it, Locomalito’s Maldita Castilla stays very close to its inspirations, in this case the venerated platformer series Ghosts n’ Goblins. From the overall look to the invariable jump, you’ll feel very much like you’ve stepped into the greaves of Arthur’s Spanish cousin.
So how does it stack up to its forebears? I’ve played through the game once and I think that it’s a mixed bag, although one worth trying if you enjoyed the GnG games. Compared to the best of that series (Ghouls n’ Ghosts, Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, and Ultimate Ghosts n’ Goblins), Maldita Castilla lacks variety and charm. The rather dreary mythological theme doesn’t quite compare to Capcom’s colorful fantasy world, and while many of the levels will have you cursing like you’re playing a Ghosts game, they’re also more one-dimensional.
None of this is to say that Maldita Castilla is a bad game, only that it sticks so closely to its source material and falls a bit short in comparison. As I said, it’s still worth your time… but perhaps more as a highly-polished fan game than something that stands alone. As reminiscent of Gradius as Hydorah was, it was still enough of a mélange as to feel unique (the branching stage design and limited save concept also helped separate it).