Witchmarsh Is A Baldur’s Gate-Inspired RPG In The 1920s

By Nathan Grayson on May 19th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

1920s America was, however, especially well-known for its towering obsidian obelisks of dubious origin, which would sprout from the ground and cast their runic gazes toward the sky like children looking up to a parent older than time itself. We don't want to say it was definitely a demonic worldeater, but it was probably a demonic worldeater.

And not just any 1920s – the occult 1920s, to be precise. In America these were not roaring ’20s so much as they were snarling ’20s, ’20s stained by shadow and fear – not of what was known, but what was unknowable. Usually it just ended up being your run-of-the-mill Cthulhu End of Days scenario, but sometimes… other things. Witchmarsh is an action-RPG set in said time of menace, but it’s also thrumming with the music and culture of the era. I always hoped the end of the world would be set to jaunty jazz. Oh, and the game’s primary influences? Baldur’s Gate and Wizardry, of all things. It looks brilliant. Trailer below.

Quite a thing, right? Witchmarsh takes place in the “darkest corners of rural America.” You play as a big, potentially bickering party attempting to find the “Witchmarsh 12″ who vanished for reasons. Here are the many, exceedingly enticing things you will be able to do:

Witchmarsh puts a fresh, accessible spin on classic RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Wizardry, without compromising on depth. The game features online multiplayer, extensive character creation, countless ability and item combinations, and rewarding boss encounters.

Features

  • A refreshing mix of modern and classic RPGs, with branching dialogue and responsive, tactical combat.
  • Play singleplayer or with friends in 2-4 player Co-op.
  • Dripping with Jazz Age style, featuring music by Francisco Cerda, composer on Gunpoint and Jamestown.
  • A massive character creation sandbox with over 50 unlockable abilities* across five spellbooks. Mix and match attributes, perks, items and weapons to create a unique team of adventurers. Or simply use one of the many templates to dive straight into the action.
  • A game for seasoned RPG fans as well as players new to the genre. Optional bosses and challenges for those brave enough to seek them out.
  • Over ten* playable characters. Watch your choice in personalities result in conflict, friendships, wisecracks… romance?
  • A dynamic hidden item system ensures no two trips to Witchmarsh are the same.

Witchmarsh is currently on Kickstarter, and it’s holding itself ransom in exchange for a fairly handsome sum of £50,000. Developer Inglenook also has Starbound creator Chucklefish helping out with business and marketing, which is great for the game and also because who wouldn’t want to refer all business associates to the desk of William QT Chucklefish Esq The Fourth.

If the Kickstarter succeeds, Inglenook is hoping to have Witchmarsh out by December 2015. It already looks quite nice, but putting the “sprawl” in “sprawling RPG” takes time, especially when you’re working with a smaller indie team.

Between the concept and the influences, this one definitely has its Eldritch horror tentacles wrapped firmly around my wallet and also my rapidly cracking ribs. Think you’ll back it?

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62 Comments »

  1. RedViv says:

    [sounds of money being thrown]

  2. Lexx87 says:

    I guess my only want is that it is designed around the SP experience, rather than the co-op.

  3. Wulfram says:

    Looks interesting, though I’m not really seeing where Baldur’s Gate comes in

    • pullthewires says:

      Me neither. If you’re going to reference BG, you’d better be offering a pause-and-play strategy RPG. I’m going to badmouth this game now just to be difficult. It’s shit.

      • Vinraith says:

        This was basically my exact reaction as well. Great excitement right until I looked at the screenshots, then irritation at being jerked around. In fairness to the devs, the RPS article makes a much bigger deal out of the comparison than the Kickstarter seems to.

        It’d be one thing if it had huge potential in its own right, but I’m trying to think if there’s ever been a 2D side-scrolling pixelart RPG that didn’t suck. It’s very pretty pixelart, mind, but I don’t see how you wedge any real strategy or depth into that format.

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          The obvious thing to me would be a FFXII/XIII/etc. type game with a degree of automation. Set up your party routines, wind them up and watch them go. The real challenge is creating enemies that break things up. It would be easy to have enemies just get stopped by your front-runner–making things boring–or just ignore party order and walk around them–making it frustrating. Throw in flying creatures, agile creatures, etc. that can play around with it, and you’ve got something potentially very cool.

        • SuddenSight says:

          Aren’t we a might cynical.

          Pokemon is arguably an RPG. To the Moon (which I just played recently and is fantastic) calls itself an RPG, but it’s not. Shouldn’t have brought it up really. It is a good game though. Hmmm….

          Moving on, the Avernum Series isn’t high-res by any means, though it isn’t really pixel art. Chrono Trigger is nice, though I must admit I think I would like it just as much if it dropped the RPG aspect as was a straight up action game. Never did much care for real time turn based stuff. Hmm… Not really making my point. I’ll stop here.

          Pixel art is nice though. Anodyne is my favorite game wot has that aesthetic. Prettiness. I’m done here.

          • jrodman says:

            All the To The Moon promo stuff I read / watched talked about incorporating elements of console RPGs and adventure games. None of it was misleading IMO.

          • Vinraith says:

            By “2D” I really meant “sidescrolling,” which, in retrospect, isn’t at all clear from what I wrote. Edited.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Yeah Pokemon is terrible too.

    • Lemming says:

      Same here. I got all excited at the headline and then was immediately disappointed when it wasn’t isometric with pre rendered backgrounds

    • JFS says:

      I hate it when the names of great games get thrown around just to create hype. Like Baldur’s Gate, like Dwarf Fortress, like X-COM… come on. About 5 per cent of the games actually deliver in the end. Shenanigans.

    • Ace Rimmer says:

      Yah, I’ve been looking for something to scratch that BG/NWN itch since finishing Shadowrun. This doesn’t seem to be it.

      • NathanH says:

        On this subject, does anyone actually know any good BGalikes games or series (apart from things made by Black Isle and Bioware)?

        • Ace Rimmer says:

          The Dragonfall campaign for Shadowrun Returns is pretty good, if you can stomach some cyberpunk in your fantasy. Dead Man’s Switch (the campaign included with the base game) is rather more lacklustre, sadly.

          But I, too, would appreciate recommendations along these lines.

          • RedViv says:

            I’d recommend both the Avernum re-imagination and the Avadon games by Spiderweb, as they are by far the most accessible of Vogel’s games yet, and don’t scratch on your eyeballs with bright pixelated fingernails any more.

          • Ace Rimmer says:

            Good pick. I played most of the first Avadon game before getting distracted by something or other. Might be time to give that another shot. Thanks!

          • mr.black says:

            I’d also recommend Avernum series. Splendid writing, worldbuilding and openness, considering it’s mostly a one-man-show. I’d recommend starting with the latest updated Avernum game available. You actually don’t need to play them in order cause many of things from earlier games are referenced in later ones, and, for my money, the overall quality was getting better and better with every game. Currently the most fresh game is Avernum II (HD), but the best of all – the third one – is surely along the line relatively shortly.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          The Avadon games felt more like Fallout, or even Ultima VI (or VII) to me. Definitely recommended to fans of those games. They’re perhaps a little unforgiving though and they take a fair bit of investment to get the most out of.

    • Wonderboy2402 says:

      Yea not seeing any baldurs gate similarities. Sounds to me like they are just name dropping for the hope of drawing attention.

    • Flakfizer says:

      They lied. There is no Baldur’s Gate in that sidescroller.

      Is there somewhere i can pay money for it to *not* get made? Kickstopper?

    • sinister agent says:

      A massive character creation sandbox with over 50 unlockable abilities* across five spellbooks.

      Over ten* playable characters. Watch your choice in personalities result in conflict, friendships, wisecracks… romance?

      Seriously, people. Games are allowed to have more than one defining quality.

      • Wulfram says:

        The descriptions you quote don’t really make it sound like Baldur’s Gate except in the broadest terms.

        I mean, it’s an RPG, yeah

  4. Berserkben says:

    “Inglewood is hoping to have Witchmarsh out by December 2015″

    That’s nice but is it Inglewood or Inglenook?

  5. Strangerator says:

    Looks nice, they just better let me pause and issue commands to the party. Here’s hoping they didn’t show it just to make a flashy trailer.

  6. Aerothorn says:

    Did someone say WIZARDRY?

    *blows the summoning horn*

  7. JFS says:

    Looks more like a parody in the vein of Broforce to me. Not very serious at all. Disappointing.

  8. SillyWizard says:

    Hopefully it’s not too inspired by BG. I never got particularly far in either BG1 or 2, so I recently tried reading some ostensibly humorous LPs of them, and even those were too tedious to bear with. (And I’m not particularly deficient of attention.)

  9. rexx.sabotage says:

    Saw this mentioned on Chucklefish’s haunt a few days ago and outright dismissed it off hand.

    What kind of blathering ignoramus am I?

  10. Noviere says:

    Damn it. I can’t even go one month without backing something on Kickstarter.

  11. SillyWizard says:

    Nothing says HP Lovecraft like Action RPG.

    :/

  12. thekelvingreen says:

    No Alan Titchmarsh puns yet? Tsk.

  13. GameCat says:

    Dat jazz.

    • mugsgame says:

      Am I the only one who thought the swing soundtrack is way too urban for this setting? I would’ve gone for some haunting blues or hillbilly music.

  14. Cryptoshrimp says:

    I dunno, it looks really nice – like most of Chucklefish’s ventures. I do wonder why there is shooting and action RPG party mechanics at all, really. It doesn’t feel like it fits, somehow. How about something nonviolent?

  15. JamesTheNumberless says:

    The lead screenshot looks like it could be a scene from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I continued to think of it during the first part of the video…

    And by the end I had a strange and confusing urge to play Bonanza Bros. ??

    I thought I’d forgotten that game. I thought I’d buried it in the past. Oh folly, oh hubris. This can only mean one thing.

    Now I find it almost funny, writing this post having seen what I have seen, things that were meant for no man’s sight. This will be my last post, RPS. Do not come looking for me! Do not follow in my footsteps! He will come for me again tonight, I know it this time I will not have the wits left to withstand.

    Do not be fooled, should anyone post in my name again. Don’t listen to what it says, delete the post and destroy its remains with acid, do not burn them. Remember, acid, not fire! Or you could be the one who He comes for next.

    If only I had bought a cat.

  16. animlboogy says:

    Name-dropping both Baldur’s Gate AND Wizardry is a surefire sign that these guys are going for buzzwords over substance. Talk about throwing darts at a board to figure out which two completely different RPG franchises will get the attention of hardcore gamers.

  17. PegasusOrgans says:

    Wizardry? Really? Y’know, referencing Wizardry is only useful in getting fans of Wizardry and any fan would laugh at this being compared to it. As for Baldur’s Gate, sure, RTwP but c’mon!

  18. jrodman says:

    “Witchmarsh puts a fresh, accessible spin on classic RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Wizardry, without compromising on depth.”

    I find this statement so distasteful that I’m going to have to forget they ever said this in order to give them money.

    It disrespects the games they mention, it disrespects the real differences between action and turn based (or realtime with pause) style gameplay, and it disrespects the potential players by implying that no one can tell the difference or is capable of seeing this claim as false.

  19. Jonfon says:

    Looks more like that old Heroes of the Lance game I had for the Speccy back in distant eons really. Not sure where the Wizardy or BG references come in.

  20. ZephyrSB says:

    Getting a definite The Spirit Engine vibe from this. That is a good thing.

  21. leokhorn says:

    This looks rather gorgeous… Now I wish awesome pixel art would be used for non-action/real-time games. Same for the setting actually.

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