“Epic Battle Fantasy” is a small flash game designed by independent animator Matt Roszak. What started as a simple homage to classic RPGs has since evolved into an internet-famous game franchise cherished for its unique style and execution, as well as its beloved references to popular media and cheery, but still impressive design.
The series began as a short RPG where you control two characters as they fought through hordes of enemies and bosses with no real direction other than personal enjoyment. The characters – Matt, the knight-like pirate who only really cares about his weapons and food, and Natalie the mage/cleric type character who has since become the main voice of reason in the game – are not even mentioned by name in-game. While it was short, it remains pleasantly challenging, and as a completely free game it is a pleasant experience for anyone with knowledge of the genre. “Epic Battle Fantasy 2” followed shortly afterwards, and provides a simple but interesting story to the game, as well as a new main character. Lance, the gun-loving power hungry megalomaniac; and is the final boss you encounter.
At this point, the franchise has generated a sizable following of devout fans, allowing Roszak ample support to release the pivotal game in the series, EBF3. While 1 and 2 weren’t much more than fighting through wave after wave of iconic to outlandish enemy, 3 really came into its own. There is now gameplay beyond fighting, as players could control their party as they move across multiple large maps, collect items, help NPCs with quests, and fought every type of enemy imaginable. Classic tropes unique to the games emerge, throwbacks to popular enemies, weapons, and attacks in previous games generate the game’s individuality and fans claim now that many recurring aspects of the game make it what it is. The story is also further developed, adding in lore and immersion beyond what the first two games offered. Overall it is a momentous feat for a free browser game to offer such a professional, but also characteristically down-to-earth feel.
The latest game, “EBF4”, only made things better. More story and lore was developed, features and mechanics were modified and added, all while keeping the popular cameos and references the games were so praised for. Another character was added, Anna the village-born huntress who often has to keep the other party members in line. It also continued evolving into a very distinct RPG which offered a gameplay experience of genuine enjoyment. Roszak being the sole developer of the free games had only one goal throughout the creation of the series, and that was to make a comfortably relatable and undeniably fun game. The most important change, however, was the new purchasable DLC, as well as its eventual listing on Steam. This offered Roszak a way for his work to sustain him. The game was still free, but players were allowed to purchase extra content which would help fund the creation of higher-budget games.
Roszak, and his independent studio Kupo Games, have developed a number of spin-off games. The most popular of these being a bullet-hell style game appropriately names “Bullet Heaven” which features many popular characters from the EBF series in a different setting. Bullet Heaven has even inspired a sequel “Bullet Heaven 2” which has become the second game marketed on Steam by Kupo Games. Recently Roszak confirmed he was also working on development of EBF5 alongside other projects. No expected release date for the game has been announced, but many fans of the series cannot wait to experience more delightfully thrilling gameplay, and nostalgic interactions with characters and the world. Playing Epic Battle Fantasy is a unique experience that anyone with a decent interest in old-school RPGs or independent games should check out.