Cut out for you: RPG Paper Sorcerer is completely hand-made

By Owen Faraday 22 Apr 2013 0
Gorgeous. Getting ink done.

Retro pixel art is so cliched and over-used now that you can't even tell what's meant to be ironically retro and what's genuinely post-peak. Maybe 2013 hasn't been a banner year for mobile games (yet) but we've seen some mold-breaking visual design, at least: the stark primitives of Richard Perrin's Kairo, the eerie cut-out world of Badland.

The forthcoming Paper Sorcerer is much more ambitious than any of those, at least in terms of labour: it's completely hand-drawn with pencil and ink by developer/illustrator Jesse Gallagher. Surely no video game will have killed as many trees as Paper Sorcerer -- but it sure looks beautiful.

I emailed with Gallagher over the weekend, who told me that his iOS and Android first-person turn-based RPG is inspired by Wizardry and Etrian Odyssey. "It features hand-made dungeons with unique encounters, the majority of which are hand-crafted and designed, and the few levels with random encounters are a conscious design decision. The idea was to emphasize strategy over grinding."

Getting away from repetitive grinding by emphasizing quality of content over quantity. I can get behind that. Paper Sorcerer plans to break free from RPG conventions in more ways than that. "It also features adventure game style puzzle solving," Gallagher says, "but without the esoteric item puzzles or killer traps. Instead of a traditional party, you choose a set of minions to aid you, creating a 4-member fighting party out of the six you acquire over the game. There's a pool of 13 unique summons to choose from, all with their own assortment of special skills and abilities -- over 300 unique skills in all."

Goblin bluegrass. Bet that goblin plays a mean banjo.

Add that heady brew of gameplay to the Herculean task of drawing the entire game by hand and you have to wonder if Gallagher is trying to atone for some grievous past sin. "All the graphics are hand-drawn high resolution sprites and textures. The game doesn't use any cel-shading, all the visuals are manually done. I started by drawing them all traditionally on paper with pencil, pen, and ink."

It sounds like a huge amount of work because it clearly is. After being successfully Kickstarted last summer, Paper Sorcerer has blown by its projected release date of last August but recent updates suggest that Gallagher is getting close. He plans to release for iOS and Android soon, with PC and Mac versions to follow.

A gameplay video is below, is you can follow Gallagher's Ultra Runaway Games on his blog. There's a playable demo over there, too.
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