After 17 years in development, the ridiculously old-school RPG Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar is coming in May whether you like it or not.

Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar bills itself as “the ultimate retro old-school computer fantasy roleplaying game,” and while I can’t say if that’s actually true, the name certainly hints at serious old-time chops. In development since the days “when people pushed their cars around with their feet like the Flintstones” – the first beta test took place in 1998 – the famously vaporous Grimoire is (almost) finally ready to go.

Grimoire promises up to 600 hours of play in a single game (and no, that’s not a typo, that’s six hundred hours), 14 races, 15 professions, 50 skills, 144 spells and 240 monsters spread across more than 244 maps. Automapping with a global atlas, an integrated quest journal and hint system, puzzles, 12 savegame positions and more, all rendered in glorious 1024×768 XGA! Hey, I told you this is old-school.

An Indiegogo “Flexible Funding” campaign to support the game is now underway with a goal of $25,000, but it will launch in May regardless of how much money is raised. (Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo’s “Flexible Funding” option allows projects to keep whatever funds are raised regardless of whether or not its goal is achieved.) The lengthy campaign pitch, a playthrough of the demo narrated by creator Cleve Blakemore, is one of the most hilariously deadpan presentations I’ve ever witnessed – I sat through the entire 20 minutes of the thing and not once did my attention waver.

“It’s a particularly nasty beast, the Kraken,” Blakemore says in the video. “These guys don’t stand a chance. They don’t realize they’re just part of the demo, I didn’t actually give them enough weapons to defeat this creature. They’re lunch.”

And yes, as you might has sussed out, there is in fact a full-on, real-life demo for this thing that shows it off in all its pixellated glory. I tried it last night and led my party to humiliating doom almost immediately, but before I did I enjoyed a moment of unabashedly retro RPGing – complex, obtuse and potentially brilliant.

Blakemore says Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar is 98 percent complete, and that the Indiegogo campaign is strictly to fund “enhancements” like a new intro and cut scenes, additional animations and other visual improvements. With or without them, the game will launch in May, after a staggering 17 years in development. “It had to end sometime,” Blakemore said. “Maybe now my wife will change the locks on the house and let me sleep indoors again.”

Source: Indiegogo, Golden Era Games

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