D20: Some of the most promising Indie RPGs coming up

Van Helsins

By on April 22, 2013 at 8:38 am

Following on from my last column, in which I looked at some of the most interesting looking RPGs on Kickstarter at the time, I thought I’d take a look at some of the most interesting Indie RPGs that are either in development or have been recently released. I’m a huge fan of the epic AAA-RPG and all the attendant production values and sense of scale that are usually attached to them, but there’s a special something that a small and dedicated team of true believers can bring to the table.

Indie RPGs might lack the polish of some of their higher budgeted brethren, but many of them are packed with some unique style, substance and character that would often be deemed too risky for a big budget title.

Card Hunter

Jon Chey may be a name familiar to some of you — you see, along with Ken Levine and Robert Fermier, Chey was one of the co-founders of Irrational Games. After leaving Irrational, Chey set up a new studio called Blue Manchu, and Card Hunter is their first game. Card Hunter is a hybrid of CCG (Collectible Card Game) and old school tabletop RPG, with cards taking the place of both gear and dice rolls.

What gear a character in the player’s party can equip determines what cards they have in their hand, and what cards they have determines what attacks and moves they can make. It’s honestly one of my most anticipated games of the year -  I can’t wait to get some hands on time.

MORE INFO: Official Site

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

I’d never heard of this game until I received an email from the devs the very day I started writing this column and I’m more than a little disappointed in my ignorance. Van Helsing has been getting some great press for its fast paced ARPG combat and lovely art, but what interests me most is the clever sounding combat system. Each skill in the Van Helsing skill tree has three “PowerUps” – skill modifiers that can be used to add special effects to a skill when they are charged with Rage, one of the resources in the game.

A full rage bar can charge all three PowerUps, ensuring that the next time the skill is used it has all the additional effects, but players can also choose where the rage goes, so players could choose to charge a single PowerUp three times (for triple the effectiveness) or charge one PowerUp twice (to make it doubly effective) and another PowerUp once. It all sounds a little fiddly but if the controls are well designed it could well make for a very robust and challenging combat system.

MORE INFO: Official Site

Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle

I love roguelikes. There’s something very primal about making your way through a procedurally-generated dungeon, knowing that any mistake can be your last thanks to the ever-present spectre of permanent death. Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle is a graphical roguelike by Indie Forge with a rather sweet sounding set of features. There’s the random generation as you would expect from such a title, but Claustrophobia also boasts crafting, multiple levels of difficulty and a combat system that gives every character six abilities bound to the QWERTY keys for easy and quick access.

The Q and W skills are determined by your chosen weapon, E and R by your character and T and Y by your chosen profession. There’s no word of a plot, but honestly, who really needs a plot when you’re killing your way through infinitely replayable dungeons?

MORE INFO: Official Site

Sully: A Very Serious RPG

Ben McGraw, AKA “Ben Grue” describes his new Final Fantasy-inspired RPG rather succinctly.  “Sully: A Very Serious RPG is the 80′s summer romcom of RPGs.  I’m not saying I have John Cusack in my game, but if John Cusack were going to be in any RPG, it’d be mine. It’s mainly focused around two teenagers, Crystal and Darin, and what happens the last summer they have together before Crystal goes to college at the prestigious Magi Tech.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally down for John Hughes Movie: The Game, but then again I’m old enough to have seen The Breakfast Club at the cinema. Anyway, mechanically, Sully is described as a mix of Valkyrie Profile, Final Fantasy and Super Mario RPG, combining the full frame animation and real time battle interaction as being similar to Valkyrie Profile and Super Mario RPG respectively, and the general combat being a Final Fantasy inspired turn based and menu driven affair.

MORE INFO: Official Site

3 comments (Leave your own)

Van Helsing looks really good, I might have to have a crack.


Card Hunter. Yeah I remember that (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdW8dGEEWfA) Looks great, will be looking forward to it.

Van Helsing. AKA Diablo, AKA Torchlight, AKA Grim Dawn AKA Path Of exile AKA….you could go on and on here. Could be good for all I know, but we have enough of these third person action hack ‘n slash games.

Claustrophobia. Dungeons of Dredmor: the early years?

Sully. I do enjoy a tongue-in-cheek classic jrpg, reminds me of Precipice of Darkness 3 or Doom & Destiny

Shame about no new news or a release date on Chaos Chronicles.


Love the look of Van Helsing but as Stoibs says, there’s a lot of 3rd person hack n slash ARPGs around. I still have Dungeon Siege 3, Torchlight 2 and even Marvel Ultimate Alliance to finish. My bro’s on Path of Exile right now so I’m bound to join him when I get sick of Diablo 3.

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