Those of you who listen to the Lost Decade Games podcast (and if you don’t, do so!) will know what a long, and somewhat painful gestation period Lava Blade has had. Thankfully they didn’t give up and it has finally been released. You can buy a Windows, Mac OS X or Chome Web Store version and there’s a free demo to play on the web site as well.
Lava Blade bills itself as a ‘tactical strategy RPG’. Think early Final Fantasy, with overworld maps to explore and lots of monsters to battle. The battles are the main focus of the game and are fully turn-based. You cycle through your party members, taking advantage of their skills and weapons, giving them movement and attack orders, to dispatch the variety of baddies you encounter. Winning battles rewards you with gold to spend in the shops, where you can buy ever more powerful weapons.
Different party members have different skills. For example quite early on in the game you gain a member who can heal you during the battles, which is vital beyond the first few almost tutorial-like encounters. You can also heal-up at camps during adventuring.
Graphically it’s simple but clear. There are three environments to explore and plenty of monsters to fight. All of the characters use their in-house bones system, so they animate nicely without being full of sprite sheets. This allows them to put new weapons into the sprites hands for example, and it’s always fun to see them visually level up. The only minor point I have is that the map feels very confined – there’s no “world” to explore as such, and progress is very linear as a result. There’s also no real story, or at least not one you would feel guilty about skipping. As is usual for Lost Decade the soundtrack is provided by Joshua Morse, which is suitably 90s JRPG in tone and available on Bandcamp.
I’ve no idea how well the game will sell for them. It’s priced keenly enough and you’d get a good solid amount of gaming fun for your money. It’s also another shining example of a quality html5 game, made by a team who really don’t care so much about the ‘html5’ side of it at all, they just want to make great games and use the technology they are comfortable with. Which at the end of the day is what we should all be doing really.