Niche Spotlight – Stone Story: Dark, Insanely-Animated ASCII Action RPG

This is Niche Spotlight. In this column, we regularly introduce new games to our fans, so please leave feedback and let us know if there’s a game you want us to cover!

Stone Story is an action RPG set within a vile, dark world, and it has some visuals that are sure to impress old grognards and retro-hipsters alike.

Developed solely by one insane developer, Gabriel Santos, the game has painstakingly animated ASCII art, and it’s currently in closed alpha.

The game is currently in development for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. With eight locations to explore, eight boss fights, lots of loot to collect, players will have a lot to experience as they guide the protagonist through various perils. Featured above, you can view the latest trailer for the game.

That’s right – you don’t directly control the player character, you tell it what to equip, what items to wield, and where to explore. From there the artificial intelligence takes over the combat and the looting. You’ll have to still be mindful of potions and special abilities, which are reliant on good timing. Boss fights naturally require quick thinking, as well.

Here are the game’s key features:

  • 8 unique locations to explore.
  • 8 epic boss fights.
  • An expansive loot system with crafting.
  • Mind-blowing cinematics.
  • All animated in plain text ASCII style.

A release date isn’t confirmed, however the game will initially support languages including: English, Portuguese, Chinese, and more. As the game reaches beta, lots of other content is planned, however Santos hasn’t revealed what that will include just yet. For now, head on over to tigsource and peep more of the game’s ASCII art in action.

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Brandon Orselli


Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • Heresy Hammer

    Damn thats pretty impressive. Games like this and dwarf fortress are good examples that show that graphics dont really matter.

  • mega jew

    Very cool

  • RichardGristle

    Not gonna lie, that’s badass.

  • Himegami Aisa

    If anything, the huge constraints of using ASCII characters for everything forced the devs to make assets to a certain standard just so you know what the fuck’s going on. Games don’t necessarily need graphics at all (see text adventures), but a shit presentation will always be to the detriment of a game.

  • catazxy

    Yeah, graphics don’t really matter, but the quality of the image and the smoothness of the animations (fps in most games) is what really bugs people.

  • Crizzyeyes

    Lo-fi graphics tend to have high contrast by nature, which is inherently a good thing for games because clear communication is vital in any game where timing matters. This is why retro style graphics have endured so well.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    pretty cool, reminds me of Ultima

  • fnd

    They are the exception to the rule at best, and people still begs for a graphics and ui update for Dwarf Fortress. Play text adventures from now on if you think graphics doesn’t matter.

  • fnd

    Shit games don’t need graphics but who cares about those games?

  • fnd

    retro style graphics endures because they are cheap to make

  • Fenrir007

    Interesting concept, but I’m not gonna lie – I don’t see the point in going ASCII art beyond trying to forcefully differentiate your game’s presentation from the flock. Change the art style, and I’m sure it’s a run of the mill game like any other, and since I don’t particularly like the art, I feel it’s kinda pointless. This is just my personal opinion, by the way.

  • Himegami Aisa

    Differentiating your game is pretty important for any completely unknown indie dev and I’m sure you can at least appreciate there’s a level of effort and talent put into the art. Better having a gimmick than your game being lost in a sea of mediocrity.

  • Fenrir007

    My criticism is that the dev spent a shit load of effort on something so superficial just for the sake of making it “look different” than on polishing core aspects of the game (at least, that is the impression I get – this video is a showcase for the game, but there is nothing noteworthy being shown aside from the art). Worst of all – it doesn’t even look good, just different.

    I’m not saying having a unique art direction is bad, mind you. Vanillaware makes some pretty distinct looking games, but it’s also gorgeous enough to not make it just a gimmick. Their games feel like you are playing on a painting, and help with the fantasy atmosphere. ASCII art, on the other hand, is a downgrade from the usual art direction featured in games like that. People mentioned here Dorf Fortress and all, but I doubt that anyone would say the game looks better with ASCII than it would with, I don’t know, some 16 bit era graphics that more clearly define what you are seeing (hell, even the “8 bit” graphic packs are pretty famous for it). Dorf Fortress, however, has a reason for that – they don’t wanna spend / can’t time and effort on the art of the game because their ambition is huge and an entire life might not be enough to code everything they want in it. It’s a compromise. But here? What was the compromise?