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Monday, September 13, 2021

Interesting games on itch.io: September 13


List by Matt S.
  
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 recently came out, Sade!

The Well

It's incredible to think about just how much impact Lovecraft has had over video games. So much of the horror we play is directly inspired by Lovecraft's writing, aesthetics, and cosmic horror, despite most other media being relatively mute on him. How many horror films do you see that bill themselves as "Lovecraftian"? Exactly. Anyhow, The Well is a brief little horror game with an amazing art style that is based on a Lovecraft poem.


This is the first in what will be a series of small games released both to Patreons of the developer (Yames' Secret Games). All games will eventually be released to the public, but if you find this little 20-minute horror experience compelling you might want to back the overall project, as it does seem that they'll all be linked. The Well is a body horror experience, and on the Patreon page, the developer talks about having previously done a project called "Discover Our Bodies," a "Science Horror Edutainment" game. It seems that body horror is very much his thing. If you're into that, The Well seems like it'll be great.

I can't travel to Japan right now. Despite having family there (and therefore actual, genuine human rights reasons to travel), the Australian government and population are more interested in indefinite border closures that will allow them to feel safe while going on their pub crawls and hanging out at the football. Who cares about the dual passport holders, immigrants and people with obligations and commitments overseas, right? The rights and well-being of those people is a sacrifice the rest of Australia is willing to make. Anyhow, the point here is Yamadera looks like a gorgeous chance to take photos in landscapes that the rest of my nation is currently denying to me.


The full project will feature ten environments from across the world, including New Zealand, Iceland, Italy, Japan and Australia. The developer (an Aussie themselves) really is doing a good thing for those that are feeling the ache of not being able to travel with this project. We talk up how great photo modes are in games - giving people that kind of functionality for real-world locations is an excellent initiative.

Milo and the Magpies

This seems like an incredibly sweet and charming little game. In Milo and the Magpies, you play as Milo, the cat, who has a wayward encounter with some magpies, and now needs to find his way back home. This takes the form of a point-and-click adventure game, with plenty of puzzles and nine separate gardens to navigate Milo through on his way to safety.



What really caught my attention with this game was the aesthetics. The painterly quality of each scene of this game gives it a true art gallery look, and along with the promise of "relaxing" gameplay and a modest playtime of 1.5 hours, this does look like the kind of charming, graceful, pretty and wholesome experience that is a nice relief from so much else that goes on in this industry.

Untangle

We'll finish up this week's wrap with some more horror, since it is the season for it. Untangle is a school-themed horror game. You play as some hapless sod who was dragged off into an otherworldly school by the vengeful spirit of Alisha; a top-performing student who was bullied and murdered, and your only way to escape is to discover the "chilling" truth about her murder.
  

It seems like the developer went into this game with noble, rather than exploitative goals. It's not a true story, but the developer mentions in the game's description that they hope that this game will help raise awareness about all forms of schoolyard violence. As a game, you'll also get plenty of "interesting puzzles" to solve. It certainly looks like this game will have its healthy dose of content warnings, but for an indie horror project, it does seem robust and thought about at some length.

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


Interesting games on itch.io: September 13
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