Town of Fears
Detective Marco is having a week full of horror. There's a serial killer on the loose, the professor he wished to consult has run off to the spooky village of Kraig Rock, and there's all these friggin' dire wolves on the prowl. Even as a typically hard-boiled visual novel adventure-RPG protagonist, he'll need all of his skills and the support of a team of Kraig Rock's mysterious inhabitants if he hopes to unravel all the mysteries of the Town of Fears, a release new from MuHa Games.
Generally, Town of Fears is played by reading through the story until an enemy is encountered. You'll choose a member of your party to lead the battle, then enter a quick timed event-based combat screen. After using the mouse to chose an attack or special move, an arrow will travel along a bar at the bottom the screen. Clicking at the right time means more damage. Enough victories grant Ability Points for upgrading stats and attacks. An innovative battle engine wrapped in an somewhat-cliched story, Town of Fears is quite reminiscent of Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy book series. Remember those? They were like Choose Your Own Adventures' cooler older sibling where, if you made a bad decision, you'd have to get out the dice and fight a manticore. Yeah, they were great. Anyway, Town of Fears is much more linear, but it definitely retains the sense of unpredictable menace. It also has some really nice portraiture, even if the attack wounds are strangely MS-Painty. Granted, the timing of the combat engine feels slightly off, and the game's prose could've been improved by a spell-check, but Town of Fears length and uniqueness does much to balance its flaws. Fans of Horror RPGs should find its atmosphere effectively eerie.
Update: Some of the problems mentioned are fixed in the latest build that MuHa Games just sent to us, mostly improvements to text and interface responsiveness.