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.
Red Hook Studios’s gorgeously gothic RPG Darkest Dungeon went live on Kickstarter just nine hours ago, and is already looking ready to slay its goal of $75,000. Boasting the traditional roguelike staples of procedurally-generated levels, permadeath, and turn-based combat, Darkest Dungeon also promises an “uncompromising, unforgiving, and unconventional” approach to the classic dungeon crawler. Drawing influence from the creeping terror of H.P. Lovecraft’s literary works, Red Hook Studios hopes to implement an “Affliction System,” forcing the player to contend with “paranoia, abusiveness, fear, irrationality, and a host of gameplay-meaningful quirks” as they lead a team of heroes ever deeper into the dungeon.
With the game set to meet its funding goal within the first day, and with a long list of stretch goals promising ever more content and polish, Darkest Dungeon is a project I will certainly be keeping my eye on. To learn more, jump on over to the game’s site, or head straight to the game’s Kickstarter page to get on board.
Desktop Dungeons was finally released on Steam a month ago, after a long beta period. The roguelike-inspired puzzler was first introduced as a freeware game in 2010, when its popularity led South African studio QCF Design to turn it into a larger scope commercial title with numerous improvements, including a fully-realized town and, of course, more dungeons, monsters, character classes, and all that good stuff. The visuals and audio are completely new, as well.
If you never played the original, don’t be thrown off by its name and inspirations: aside from the fantasy theme and randomized levels, Desktop Dungeons bears very little resemblance to a traditional roguelike. The tightly-packed, single-screen levels, static monsters (who only attack when attacked), and transparent rules make the game feel more like a puzzle game than a dungeon crawl. But that’s not a bad thing – the freeware version was so fun that I made my own tileset for it, and this one is better in all respects.
FourbitFriday’s game Catacomb Kids has just under 5 days left for it’s Kickstarter campaign. The game is a platformer roguelike with a heavy emphasis on the roguelike elements when compared to similar games, with random enchantments on equipment, the ability to chop limbs off of your opponents (or have your own cut off), and deep interactions between objects in the game.
Though its reached its goal already, Catacomb Kids is worth checking out if just for the depth shown in the short video above.
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.
TinyKeep is an indie 3D Action RPG title, drawing inspiration from both roguelikes and dungeon-crawler RPGs such as Ultima IV. The player is tasked with escaping the titular keep in which they have been imprisoned by exploring procedurally-generated dungeons and fighting various monsters as they progress. To increase the challenge and create a world that feels alive, the game’s sole programmer, Phi Dinh, has placed heavy focus on the project’s AI system. Dungeon inhabitants and monsters each have needs and desires, and will move about independent of player interaction in an attempt to fulfill those goals – feeding, sleeping, and interacting with each other in interesting ways. Along with the roguelike staple of procedurally-generated dungeons, Dinh hopes that these AI systems will lead to more emergent story opportunities and unique experiences for the player.
TinyKeep is currently on Kickstarter, and hoping to achieve its funding goal of only £22,162. Although it is currently more than halfway there, there are only 4 days left to achieve its goal – but with luck, we will all get the opportunity to explore and escape TinyKeep!
The three-person indie studio, Acid Wizard, has released a gameplay teaser for their current survival-horror project, Darkwood.
Billed as a “top-down, oldschool survival horror set in a procedurally generated open world, with RPG and roguelike elements,” where players must explore the dark forest surrounding their cabin and defend against the terrors of the night, Darkwood sounds like a project to follow. As the trailer shows, Acid Wizard certainly knows how to do atmosphere, and the gameplay itself strikes me as a top-down mix between Project Zomboid and Alan Wake. A great first impression, to be sure, and I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on this project as it goes forward.
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.
Teleglitch is a top-down shooter set in a gloomy military research facility. The game reminds me of Doom in terms of theme and pacing, but has more of a survival horror bent to it, with scarce ammunition and high-damaging, fast-moving monsters. In a lot of ways, it feels like what I wanted Doom 3 to be – a mostly action-based game with less gimmicky horror elements.
Given the game’s tiny graphics, it’s impressive how detailed it looks. Overall, the aesthetics are great, with line-of-sight and sound design playing a huge part in setting a creepy atmosphere. I also like how much punch the guns pack – even a simple pistol distorts the screen and sounds explosive. This is particularly effective given the scarcity of ammo and gun-toting enemies (at least in the early stages). When I encountered my first shotgun enemy it was an exciting battle that ended with me backed pitifully into the corner of a small room – surprising, given how many similar enemies I’ve mowed down in other games!
Teleglitch also features a unique scavenging/crafting system that lets you combine items to make new ones. A nailgun, for example, can be created from a basic pistol if combined with some other items. This can be upgraded to a tri-nailgun with more materials. Armor is also crafted in a similar manner (out of the tin cans left behind when you eat food). It’s a cool idea that makes exploring more fun and gives the player options as they try to overcome the game’s high difficulty.
The influences on Teleglitch are multivarious (it’s also billed as a “roguelike”) but come together as a coherent and enjoyable experience. I haven’t gotten far enough to comment on whether it holds up throughout all ten of its levels, but so far I’m having a great time trying and dying. Action, horror, and roguelike fans should check it out – the full game is $13, but there is a four-level demo available.