It's #loveindies time, which means that TechRaptor is going all in on indie game coverage! That means previews, reviews and a bunch of new Coverage Club entries from our review team all week. Keep checking the site for a slew of articles talking about smaller releases that need more attention.
Great Things Come From Small Beginnings in Small Saga
I have been trying for quite a while to get back into turn-based RPGs. It requires that special something to really keep me attached to it. Be it fun combat systems, thrilling stories, or beautiful art, I just need something. When I first saw Small Saga I realized it had all of those things I was looking for. Now that I finally got a chance to try it out, I confirmed that it is indeed exactly what I needed.
The short demo, which only takes about 20 minutes tops, has you playing as Vern and his brother Lance. The two are traveling through the sewers to get to Heaven to collect seeds for their village. Also, they're both mice and Heaven is just a supermarket. Small Saga jumps into some fantastic world building from its first moments. The mice refer to Humans as gods. Each of their tools and traps has unique nicknames. Right away, Small Sage sets up a unique world, one that feels way different than any typical RPG I've seen. It helps that there's some great writing to go with it. Vern and Lance are both easy to relate to right from the start, and each character they encounter is a real treat to talk to. While there are only a few in the demo, I was eager to see more.
Even more surprisingly, Small Saga manages to hit a better emotional note than many fully complete AAA games. The last few minutes of the demo aren't entirely unexpected. Still, they work really well thanks to a combination of beautiful graphics, fantastic animations, a creepy soundtrack, and a clever final moment. It sunk its claws into me, and I know it'll be tough waiting to see the continuation of Small Saga's story.
I'm also interested in seeing Small Saga's combat system expand in a full game. This is a true turn-based RPG, meaning everyone gets one turn in order. Each character has stamina that they can spend on moves, such as Lance being able to either use one stamina for a quick shot, or two for a strong one. Each turn you also gain one stamina point and can skip your turn to gather a few. It's a simple system that keeps the battles moving fast without losing too many tactics. However, with only two fights in the demo, I feel like I didn't get to see much of the system. It all looks good, but I'm still wondering how it'll perform in the long run.
Yet what little I played was more than enough to totally sell me on Small Saga. There's something really special about the game, and it feels like a ton of love has been put into every pixel. I absolutely can not wait for the full release and for the full saga to be told.
TechRaptor played a demo of Small Saga on PC using a copy freely downloaded by the player. The game is now on Kickstarter and has a planned release date of Summer 2021.
The Greater Good is Great and Good
Okay, so while Small Saga is shaping up like it'll be fantastic when it comes out in a couple of years, I also wanted something I can sink my teeth into right now. So I moved from one one-man turn-based RPG project to another. This time I tried out The Greater Good, a game I've had an eye on for a while. It seems like the greatest good is the good I got from The Greater Good.
You play as Flint, a soldier in an army trying to remove magic from the world. When the king of said army summons a demon that outs Flint as a magic user, he's promptly shot and throw into a river. Found by a resistance force, Flint joins up and makes it his goal to right his wrongs and help stop the king. While this is a simple setup, there's more to Flint's story than meets the eyes. Fans of classic jRPGs should find plenty to like in this tale.
Of course, this involves much fighting. The Greater Good uses a system not much unlike Final Fantasy's classic ATB. Each character has a bar that fills in real time and can act as soon as the bar is full. In addition to this, they have MP and can spend it to cast magic. The biggest change comes from skills. There's a shared skill bar that fills up with one point every time a character successfully performs a regular attack, or two if they hit a critical. You can then spend these skills points on special abilities, such as stronger attacks or stealing from enemies. This isn't a complicated system, but it does serve to change things up from your usual turn-based fare. It means even weak regular attacks serve a purpose as you gain more skill points from them.
Interestingly, whether you're fighting or just wandering around the environment, The Greater Good has a unique art style that really stands out. Using both papercraft 2D characters and 3D environments, the camera swings between subject during cutscenes. Attack animations help sell each hit or action, adding to the distinctive vibe. It was always fun getting to see how the weird character designs and camera would complement each other, such as when the camera slowly rotates with a demon's tilting head.
But the real star of The Greater Good, to the point where it needs an entire paragraph of its own? The soundtrack. One of the most impressive I've seen in a game, each song can rival the works of greats such as Nobuo Uematsu. However, it never feels like it slips to the super easy realm of generic fantasy. Instead, each track is weird, making use of strange instruments that I couldn't really identify. It's fantastic to listen to, and easily something I will be keeping on my playlist.
So if you need a new, indie, look on turn-based RPGs right now, then I highly suggest giving The Greater Good a shot. It's fun to play, the story is interesting, and the world is lovely to look at. On top of everything, it easily contains one of the best soundtracks I've heard recently. It seems like I've totally reignited my joy for the genre.
TechRaptor played The Greater Good on PC using a copy provided by the developer.