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Monday, November 23, 2020

Interesting games on itch.io: November 23


List by Matt S
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I'm a big fan of itch.io for the freedom and open platform that it allows for developers to be creative, experimental, and directly canvas the audience for feedback for games that are not yet ready for primetime on Steam and its ilk. In addition, itch.io allows you to be transgressive, subversive, and downright dangerous. It's a true "art gallery" for game ideas and creative developers, and it should be celebrated for that.

What makes itch.io a little difficult at times is finding things that are interesting to play. Discovery is a real issue when great ideas are buried among high school projects and nasty little efforts to scam a quick buck from players. With that in mind, I thought what might be helpful to readers would be if I did a brief write-up of interesting games that I've come across on itch.io each week. In many cases these games will be unfinished or "in development," but I'm highlighting them because they promise something special and are well worth keeping on the radar.

Note: I also haven't played these games. I highlight them as interesting based on the itch.io description and concept. Where I find the time to do actual reviews or other coverage, I will compose separate articles on the game in question. These aren't so much an endorsement (or piece of criticism) as they are a head's up.

Naturally, if you want to pick up a couple of the Dee Dee visual novels while you're there on itch.io to support our work here, I would be eternally grateful... we just released a demo for the next VN, too! Totally free!

Doctor Bunny

Did you know that rabbits are the best animals? No, well, they are. So any game that makes them the star of the show has my attention. Immediately. Doctor Bunny looks cute, charming, a little bit amusing and good for all ages. 


In Doctor Bunny, your goal is to cure sick bunnies by mixing up the right prescription medicine to treat their ailment. Do a good job and your reputation will soar, and you'll be able to then open new hospitals. Do badly and you'll find yourself working in the mine to earn crystals that will restore your damaged reputation. Doctor and part-time miner... that is one talented bunny! It does look like this game will be launching in a fairly early state, but the vision is there already, so hopefully, the developer finds the support to continue working on it.

Space Raft NES

As far as I can tell, Space Raft is a real band. Which just makes this game all the more interesting. It's a genuine NES game (you can even buy a physical cartridge) designed to celebrate the band, and allows you to play as your favourite band member while chiptuned music from their CD plays in the background. 


Why this wasn't a conventional mobile or PC game is beyond me (that's where you'd assume games-as-marketing would go), but as a fan of NES titles, this one caught my attention despite knowing nothing about the band. Then the trailer sold it. What a brilliant bit of work it is. I miss the 80's. Anyhow, if you buy the game you also get MP3s of the music, and it really does look like a lot of effort has been put into this, so give it a whirl.

We've covered more than a few visual novels that have popped up on Itch.io over our time doing this column. Fallstreak might just be the most striking of them, and it promises a challenging, emotionally engaging narrative. You play as a child soldier in a land that has been ravaged by war. The world is doomed. You're watching its final moments, and the content warning tells us that it's not going to hold back in the depiction of "death, violence, and war atrocities."


Thankfully, something that could be pretty harrowing is only going to take you an hour or two to play through (too much longer and a game like this would get bleak), and it really is accompanied by some gorgeous art. Don't overlook this one - short games are too easy to pass on by these days, but this one looks like it shouldn't be missed.

The Count of Monte Carlo

To finish this week's column on (what seems like) a bright note, The Count of Monte Carlo looks like a delight. It's a Blackjack game AND a homage to the classic Dumas novel, The Count of Monte Christo. There's a cute little hamster enemy, and that Blackjack game is actually a RPG combat system (win hands to damage the enemy). What a brilliant concept all round!


You're tasked with "delving deep into a corrupt society, growing stronger with each fight." You get greedy though, and you'll lose everything (fascinating concept given that the game you're playing is built entirely around greed). Also, don't worry if the default colour palette isn't for you. The developer wants this to be retro, not painful, and you can change the colours to suit.


That's it for this week! If there are any new itch.io games that you'd like to bring to my attention, don't hesitate to drop me a note! I'm very keen on celebrating the creativity and energy of this truly wonderful platform for games-as-art.

- Matt S. 
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb


Interesting games on itch.io: November 23
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