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Monday, March 15, 2021

Interesting games on itch.io: March 15


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 just came out, Sade!

Jester/King

This week we'll kick things off with a visual novel that looks suitably dark and interesting: Jester/King. It comes from the author of Demonheart, which has been a minor hit on Steam, and looks like it will give fans of that game more of the same. As per the game's description: The court jester, Madion, wakes up by the king's lifeless body. A demonic curse has struck down every true citizen, and driven others to madness. Madion is torn between seeking the truth, helping the survivors, and a desire to escape. 


The game has around 100,000 words, making it a reasonably-lengthy visual novel that will take a few hours to play through. There are five characters, the game's got a lovely art style, and with themes ranging the gamut from murder and love, trust and deceit, there is the potential here for this game to weave a riveting tale. It also has a demo that you can try out to figure out if it's for you first.

Dragon Hunters PC

If you like dice and board games and fantasy than Dragon Hunters PC may well appeal to you. It's very much an indie game and it's just entering Early Access on itch.io, but there's some real potential for this thing to grow and become something detailed and special.


Putting aside just how silly that trailer is, there's already plenty to look forward to in playing this, with 30 different monsters to fight on the way to the end boss dragon, and four different character classes to choose between, which is reminiscent of old board games like Hero Quest. What I really like about this one though is that it has been built around the multiplayer experience from the get-go, for up to four players. This kind of game is best experienced when adventuring with a friend, and it will be interesting to see what future updates bring.


When it comes to horror I actually prefer lo-fi visual design. Horror, at its best, is gritty and grainy, and modern horror games are often too "clean" for that. The Yellow Rose Motel looks like it came off the PlayStation 1 - it's even recommended that you play in 4:3 aspect ratio. Just like the old days. It's exactly the kind of horror I like to see.


From the game's description: After a long day of work and stress John (player) arrives in a place called Yellow Rose Motel, which at first seems like a family-friendly loving place turns into a nightmare in less than a day. Between that and the screenshots and snippets of animation it looks like it just might be inspired by the original Silent Hill, too, which is exciting, to say the least. Silent Hill 1 was a cracking game with terrible gameplay. All this developer needs to do is capture the aesthetics and atmosphere while making it playable and I will be right on board.


We're finishing up this week with an adult game (so be aware of that before clicking the link above), but it's one that looks like it might have some potential. In addition to its R18+ bits it's billing itself as a "horror-adventure" game, and that "horror" bit is especially interesting given that the screenshots and the like suggest nothing of the sort.


The game's a story as old as storytelling itself; boy meets girl and boy's formerly mundane, boring life is completely upended. The problem is that while the girl has a cute smile and doe-like eyes, underneath there lurks "a hidden darkness." Now, of course, as with any adult game there's every likelihood that the storytelling's not that interesting and is just there to link together the sex scenes. On the other hand... when these kinds of games get it right, they really do get it right (Saya no Uta, anyone?), and at $7 it's a low-risk gamble to give this a go.

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


Interesting games on itch.io: March 15
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