RPG! What comes to your mind when you think of one? It's not as easy to pin down as it once was. After all, are you thinking of Western RPGs? JRPGs? Or to you does that mean any game that lets you level up and tack on perks and attributes? Does just thinking about someone calling a game like that last one an RPG make you want to go and get into a big sweaty nergument )that's a nerd argument) on a gaming message board somewhere? Well, chill out, bro! As this week's Vault proves, there are all kinds of different ways a game can approach or even just slightly cozy up to the genre, and there's a reason why these are just a few of the best.
- Sonny - Krin Juangbhanich has made a lot of successful games over the years, but few of them can hold a candle to the firestorm he created with this tactical RPG about a zombie. In this case... you! Sonny combines an intriguing plot with satisfyingly complex combat. It's the sort of thing you can slip right into and become adept at within a few turns, neither too deep to turn off newcomers or too simplistic to be boring. It's a cinematic experience, one that starts with you waking up, freshly dead, aboard a ship where you and someone who claims to be your friend are forced to fight for your lives. It's easy to see why Sonny was, and still is, heralded as one of the finest Flash RPGs ever made, especially when you consider that the action continues in Sonny 2.
- Monsters' Den: Book of Dread - Like dungeons and the crawling around within thereof? Then you're missing out if you haven't played this strategic RPG from Biclops Games. The emphasis here is decidedly more on the lovely combat mechanics than it is on the story, with the game centering more on character creation, fighting, and thinly veiled excuses to go to places and stomp the ever-loving mud out of monsters. Think Icewind Dale meets the Wizardry series... kind of. Choose from several different campaigns, design your party of heroes down to portraits (including the option to make your own), and head out to rid the world of some nastiness with the swords and de magicks. The slow, thoughtful combat that makes up the meat, potatoes, and dessert of the game might put off some players, but those that stick with it know that Monsters' Den offers up a robust and engaging tactical experience that will keep you coming back for more.
- Caravaneer - Strategy? Simulation? The apocalypse? Awwwww yeah, now it's a party! Dmitry Zheltobriukhov's turn-based game of economics lets you take on the somewhat unheroic seeming mantle of trader and travel from town to settlement across this strange new land, dealing with all the hazards of the unfriendly wastes as you try to stay alive and make a name (and some money) for yourself in the process. The writing isn't exactly much more than serviceable, prone to dropping clunky bits of exposition woodenly in your lap, but if you give Caravaneer a chance to draw you in chances are you won't look back. It definitely requires a commitment, and players looking for a more simplistic experience could be put off by the inventory and stat management on top of a mildly intimidating difficulty curve. Spend a little time cuddling up with it and learning the tricks of the trade, however, and you'll soon realise why Caravaneer is such an engaging, engrossing experience.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!