Try the first few hours of Stoneshard, a medieval RPG about building a caravan

Stoneshard is an isometric RPG inspired by Diablo and Darkest Dungeon. It caught my attention last year because, on top of permadeath, it has a profoundly punishing injury system. You don't just drink a potion in Stoneshard. You put splints on broken bones and poultices on open wounds, and there's no guarantee your injuries won't get worse or infected. You also have to take care of your mental health to fend off phobias and magic-induced insanity. 

It sounded like a cool idea in a Bear Grills sort of way, and the rest of the game didn't seem half-bad either. Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought so, as Stoneshard recently passed its Kickstarter funding target. At the time of writing it's earned $34,848, nearly $5,000 more than its target, with 23 days left in its campaign. So, developer Ink Stains Games has moved onto stretch goals like more environments, dungeons, classes and races. Ink Stains also released a free demo which covers the game's prologue, which you can download on Itch.io.

As Ink Stains explained in a comment on Itch, the demo's finicky controls are a temporary solution and will be improved in the final build as well as the Kickstarter betas. Which is nice to hear, because while the meat of the demo feels pretty good, playing it on a keyboard is a little rough. Naturally, you won't be locked to the demo character in the full game, either. You can choose from three races (humans, dwarves and elves) and four classes (warrior, rogue, ranger and mage) to make your hero, and whenever one character dies, you start a new run as their heir. 

It's a bit of a Rogue Legacy situation, but Stoneshard plays more like Dungeons of Dredmor. For one, it's got old-school turn-based combat: whenever you move a space or take an action, so do the enemies. There's a whole host of skills to master, from weapons and magics to alchemy, whatever the hell astromancy is, and of course the all-important medicine and survival skills. 

That said, improving your character and exploring dungeons is only half the battle. You've also got to recruit allies so you can build up your caravan, which follows you around as you explore the world of Aldor. You start off as a simple mercenary, but as you gain followers and influence, you build up a tidy little party, the members of which determine the bonuses and side stories you have access to. 

Stoneshard sounds almost dangerously ambitious, so it's nice to see it hit its Kickstarter mark and to have something playable to evaluate. And while the prologue is definitely skeletal, it's also pretty darn promising. 

Judging from its Kickstarter delivery dates, Stoneshard is scheduled to release this winter. You can find more information on its Steam page