Telepath Psy Arena 2

By: Paul Eres

On: February 11th, 2010

Telepath Psy Arena 2 is a basic strategy RPG by Craig Stern / Sinister Design. The genre is kind of underrepresented among indie games (although perhaps it appears more than we’d expect), and as it’s one of my favorite genres I’m just happy to play a new one, even if it doesn’t do anything particularly special and felt a bit unpolished for its price to me.

The way it works is you buy a party from the slave market (there’s a variety of classes), and fight a series of coliseum battles. You gain more money, which you can use to train your characters to make them stronger, or buy orbs to make your hero stronger, or buy new characters. If you lose a character in battle, they’re usually gone for good (like Fire Emblem). There isn’t very much story (although there’s a little), most of the game is just battle after battle. There’s no equipment or class changing or other bells and whistles, it’s just a bare essentials strategy RPG, although occasionally there are alternate win conditions to add some variety (such as capture a square, or protect one). I’d guess the game will probably last about 6-8 hours for a single playthrough.

By unpolished earlier, I mean things like many actions (such as GUI actions or walking) not having associated sound effects, a GUI made largely of round rectangles and text which often gets in the way and has to be moved around manually, very few pieces of music, difficulty in telling your team and the enemy team apart (they don’t even have separate colors), the inability to place your characters where you want at the start of a battle, and so on.

And of course the graphics. I know that Craig wrote an article called The Obsession With Aesthetics in the Indie Scene, but I kind of think there’s a difference between being put off by bad graphics and being obsessed by good graphics. To be fair though, the flip animation of the assassin was top notch, I loved watching it every time it happened. And of course it’s hard to make pretty graphics in a completely top-down perspective, regardless of how skilled you are.

But as I said, I’m just happy to see more strategy RPGs, and while it’s not excellent, it’s at least a solid entry to that genre that got me addicted to it for a small time (which is also how I feel about the latest Vandal Hearts game).

  • Tim James

    I too noticed a lack of games done in the SRPG style anywhere on the PC. Like the link you included, they seem to be popular as online games but not much for single player.

  • hmm

    Talk about an unenthusiastic review.

  • paul eres

    first you guys complain about fuzz’s reviews being too enthusiastic, and now you complain about mine not being enthusiastic enough? :D

    talk about unenthusiastic commenters

  • Derek

    @Paul: It should be called “Internet Goldilocks Syndrome”.

  • Jad

    I think it could also be called ‘people with different opinions expressing said opinions in different points in time’ also ‘ u ‘

  • alastair

    @hmm. Hilarious!

  • judgespear

    Seems kinda contradictory to promote a game on this site if you’re going to bash it.

  • judgespear

    I think it works best when you are neutral and leave it to the viewer to decide if the game is worth their time.

  • AGuy

    Man, the reviewers can never win! Too negative / unenthusiastic or too positive / enthusiastic. It’d be a nice change if people actually talked about the *games being reviewed* for once instead of reviewing the reviews.

  • Irrelevant


    He wasn’t bashing it, at all. He was simply giving an honest, neutral review. If he’d found the game to be spectacular, he most likely would have said as much, just as if the game were terrible, he would have pointed out all of the flaws and claimed that it didn’t hold his interest at all.

    Tell me: How much would you trust a site that promotes games if every review was a glowing one? It would obviously be a slew of false reviews, set for the sole purpose of promotion, therefore making everything out of every reviewer’s mouth here obsolete.

  • Craig Stern

    Hi! First of all, Paul, thank you for reviewing Telepath Psy Arena 2!

    Second of all, while the review did pick a few nits, the upshot was actually pretty complimentary: “a solid entry” to the strategy RPG genre “that got me addicted to it for a small time.” (I mean, if he found it addicting, he must have had at least some fun playing it, polished or not.)

    For anybody looking to give this game a try for themselves, I encourage you have a go with the downloadable demo of your choice. :)

  • paul eres

    yeah, i definitely didn’t mean to bash it. i think fans of srpgs will probably enjoy the game, but it’s not such a good srpg that i’d recommend it to people who don’t like srpgs. i think the best indie srpgs i’ve ever played are dofus and wesnoth, and this one would be a distant third, but still above the others i’ve tried.

  • judgespear

    I neither want a glowing one nor do I want the opposite end of the extreme. I said something in the middle.

    But saying it’s not worth the price, is akin to what people said about VVVVVV. It seems kinda flamebaitish even if the game isn’t as popular.

  • Derek

    I take back what I said above – Goldilocks was less choosy about her porridge.

  • paul eres

    i didn’t say it wasn’t worth the price, i said the game felt much less polished than i’ve come to expect from commercial indie games. i think it’s worth the price if you enjoy it, absolutely, i just don’t think it’d sell well unless the polish level were brought up. in particular my impression is that it seems like it’d be relatively easy for him to have used an artist and a musician, and come out with a much more polished game, instead of doing all the code, art, and music himself. but that’s his call.

  • Dustin

    Hey Paul, you said SRPG’s are one of your favorite genres. Outside of the usual suspects, what are some of your favorite SRPG’s? Just wondering.

  • The Monster King

    If it doesn’t have equipment or class changing or bells and whistles, it doesn’t really fit the RPG part does it? It’s just a turn-based strategy game

  • Derek Yoohoo

    You should have mentioned it requires AIR or whatever. So should his website, but fuck. Waste my time.

  • hmm

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to bash the review or anything–I just meant that from how unenthusiastic the review seemed (and how little it told me about the game being different from the typical SRPG–or why precisely you got “addicted for a small time”) it really didn’t give me any incentive to try the game out. Which maybe is what this game deserves, I dunno.

    I mean you hardly say anything positive about the game at all besides the vague it’s “solid”–what makes it solid, exactly? Don’t get me wrong, I respect that you’re willing to be critical, but I’m just hoping there’s a reason you wanted to post this game other than “I like SRPG’s and this one’s okay”

  • paul eres

    @dustin: my favorites are (in order) vanguard bandits, kartia, vandal hearts 1 and 2, ogre battle

    @monsterking: arguably yea. i still think of it as a rpg though because you create a character at the start of a game, choose a class, and (most importantly) level up your characters. to me the defining feature of the rpg is the level up (stat improvement, gaining new abilities), and this does have stat improvement and gaining new abilities.

    @hmm: that basically was my reason for posting it, that indie games need more rpgs and srpgs and any new ones that are released and aren’t horrible are worth mentioning just because those genres are so dry.

  • mako

    You should call them Tactical RPGs. More specific term.

    It’s funny you’d mention a shortage, I’m working on one at the moment. But I’m nothing, so I guess you shouldn’t expect anything within the year.

  • starsrift

    In Review Today: Rinkuhero’s review of Telepathy Psy Arena 2.

    In this review, Eres starts out strong by dropping the name of the game, developer, and genre, immediately indicating to the reader whether or not they’ll be interested in reading more. His conversational tone for the whole of his piece lends a certain appealing homey air to the review.

    Eres certainly doesn’t go out of his way to say no evil! Instead, he gently points out a few of the flaws with the game as he sees it, suggesting that the graphics could be better, sound effects could be added, there was a notable lack of story – and thus, perhaps the price is a bit much for the content.

    His noted lack of enthusiasm for the game notwithstanding, he points out that it is a new entry in a small genre, calls it ‘solid’, and even addicting.

    Rinkuhero’s lack of praise easily outmatches the praise he does offer, but the praise he offers is significantly powerful. Furthermore, because of that tone and his willingness to call out specific parts of the game, he really seems to know what he’s talking about when he implies that it’s a game for you if you like the genre.

    I’d give his review a 72%.

  • GZ

    I’m glad this was posted, even though there isn’t a ton of praise for it. As mentioned, this is a neglected genre and I am really interested to see what people are doing in the genre.

  • Dzzk

    Nice one starsrift.

  • ryusei

    mako: Tactical RPGs are a subset of Strategy RPGs. They have different rules and usually involve an isometric viewpoint, ala Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre.

  • DYH

    I like neutral and concrete reviews, because they relatively often tell truth. Props for that.

    And probably this review promotes the game more than silence does (silence a.k.a. forum noise).

  • Phasma Felis

    Derek Yoohoo: So…what’s the problem? You’re too lazy to run the extra install, or what?

  • Derek

    Craig, the game’s creator, replied as #11. It got caught in our spam filter, sorry!

  • jrjellybeans

    Did this game come out recently or has it been out for a while?
    In any case, congrats to craig. I’ve noticed this game on your sig and it must feel great to finish it.

  • paul eres

    it’s been out for a while, it’s just that i tend to be late with reviews. i think it’s more important to finish a game than to review a game i don’t know anything about just so it’s posted as soon as possible, so i never review a game now until i’ve finished it and feel i know its intricacies well.

  • anon FOREVER

    Judging from the trailer I think the graphics are pretty good.

  • DYH

    Yeah the graphics work well, seeing from the demo. From a personal viewpoint, I think I’d prefer more overview in the HUD, even if it feels a bit cozy’n exciting to sneak-peek on opponents with the cursor.

    Although I am not a tactics fan, I do like that attack power is so consistent (in many other games it’s slightly random) so I feel the battles are fair.

  • p

    review didn’t come off as bashing to me, i’m definitely going to try the demo.

  • Craig Stern

    Thanks for the positive comments, guys! :) I appreciate the support.