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Monday, February 1, 2021

Interesting games on itch.io: February 1


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! There's a new one that is just out this week, Sade!

Rogue Sentry

I'm not a massive fan of twin-stick shooters. On the other hand, I am a big fan of the 1-bit art style of Rogue Sentry. This game bills itself as a "difficulty adventure about a sentry droid who turns rogue to save humanity." What this game does really well is that visual style; there's so much happening on screen, and it could have been uncomfortable to look at thanks to that high-contrast black-and-white aesthetic. Instead, though, it just looks mesmerising. 


Don't worry if you do find it challenging - it's only about two hours long in total, so with perseverance, most people will be able to dig their way through it, and with multiple endings and alternate game modes, it's clear that the developer has thought about their game a great deal. It's doing very nicely on itch so far, so it might well become one of the darlings of the platform.

Gertie The Rat In Circus Escape

This is free-to-play, pay-what-you-want little game made for the Global Game Jam 2021. You play as a cute little mouse who needs to escape a wagon that she's been locked up in by finding clues and solving puzzles. It's one of those escape room games, in other words, but with a really lovely grayscale pencil aesthetic and a lot of detail and effort having gone into it.


There's not too much else to this game, but Gertie here really speaks to the appeal and value of itch.io. It's about being creative and experimental, and then being able to put your work out there and get feedback, which may well result in further opportunities down the line. Gertie shows a lot of promise, and I'd like to see this expanded out into something larger in scale from here.

"Plot with porn!" Continuing on from what I wrote in the previous entry, the other great thing about itch.io is that it really doesn't limit creators; you can very much make adult games without needing to worry about the platform pulling your work. And that's good, because while a lot of adults-only games are nothing but worthless smut, there are some that genuinely try and be something elevated, and Love Bakudan does look like one of those. It's an erotic yuri about a girl that inherits her family's erotic bookstore, and the patrons of the book store that she'll meet and get to woo.


The game has 640,000 words in it (that's pretty big), with seven unique routes through the story, 20 erotic mini-stories to unlock, and enough CGs to fill a game that big. There's even a streamer mode, so people can play the game on those services without getting their account suspended. 


Last up this week is the third angle that itch is so good for; homages! When game properties are dead or publishers have taken them in the wrong direction, you can always rely on fans to come up with homages. These are often of dubious legality (and if they get too big the rights owners will shut them down), but in the meantime, these homages can often be very authentic.


I have hope for Alone in the Dark House. I really loved the original Alone in the Dark games, and even The New Nightmare on PlayStation 1/2 (though nothing since then). The game's description says that there's going to be a lot of jump scares which is... off for the series, but otherwise, it's clearly an amateurish fan project, but looking at the footage, a lot of heart has gone into it.

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


Interesting games on itch.io: February 1
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