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Monday, January 10, 2022

Interesting games on itch.io: January 10


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!

Indiepocalypse #24

It's this month's Indiepocalypse! The very best project going on itch.io. If you like your hyper-indie and hyper-artful games that you would never have seen, let alone played were it not for itch.io, then you can't go wrong with supporting Indiepocalypse. This month's Indiepocalypse includes (but is not limited to) diorama adventure game, Archiver, pixel art visual novel, Lonely Kids Around the Cul-de-sac, a "chill game about a rat exploring a haunted city in space" experience called Kill Crow, a demo for first-person mystery game, Project Anomaly: Urban Supernatural Investigator, and 4th Time's The Charm, a text-based horror game about moving from one haunted house to another. That final one is a game commissioned specifically for the bundle.


As always, in addition to the ten games from the most indie of indie developers, you get a Zine Maker software package, and a zine featuring cartoons, features, and in-depth pieces on both the games in the bundle, and games from outside of it. These packages are consistently great, giving you the opportunity to play the really creative end of video game design, and helping the developers of these games get a little bit of financial support, because Miku knows there's no way these games would make money in any other way.

Hexagourds

As someone who deeply loves board games, there's something so aesthetically pleasing about hexagons that I'm inherently drawn towards them. That's what got me clicking on Hexagrounds, but after looking more deeply into it, it very much looks like my kind of thing, even if it wasn't a hex-based board game-like experience. This is a "casual, relaxing builder and puzzle game," with a wonderfully-simple objective: you want to make your own pumpkin patch, which you do by rotating and dropping the aforementioned hex tiles into a board-like grid.



This game has no win or lose states (something that I know will turn a certain section of the gaming public off before they even see it in action). As the developer says in the description, they really wanted to make something very relaxing that you would play on a Sunday morning with a coffee as a way of unwinding. With that being said, you can give yourself the challenge of accumulating points by placing the tiles around the board well, and there is a scoreboard that you can use to show off your best score if a relaxing and goal-less game isn't enough for you. As a final note, the game has the most gorgeous autumn aesthetics - it comes across as quite the mature and refined project.

Jane of the Jungle

One of the things I absolutely love about itch.io is that it's the one and only place where you can go to find a "demake" of a nearly forgotten MS-DOS game, designed for the Game Boy, a console that has been out of print for decades now. This is what Jane of the Jungle is: a "demake" of the very niche Jill of the Jungle. It has been built in GB Studio, so you can play it on your Game Boy emulators/ emulation consoles, and you can also play it in your browser, simply by clicking the link above to go to the itch.io page.


The developer has worked hard to capture the basic mechanics that people will remember from the DOS game (if there are any of those left besides the developer). In its current state, it's just a demo with two levels, so hopefully, the developer does decide to continue to work on it, because the more "new" Game Boy games we get, the better.


Polymorphous Perversity is actually quite an old game. Here's an article that was published on Kotaku a full decade ago. But despite what you might think when you hear a description of "RPG but combat with enemies is replaced by sex with them", Polymorphous Perversity isn't a game about titillation or eroticism. Indeed, it seems to be a highly intelligent and worthwhile look into just about everything - from the impact of RPG mechanics to the use of sex in games, and more generally, social and intellectual attitudes towards the subject. 



The title is a psychological concept, for one thing, that those that have studied Freud will probably recognise. The game also aims to very quickly desensitise people to the use of sex in games, and it's really interesting how, mechanically, the "combat" system here works like the combat system in more typical JRPGs, but the different framing changes the tone entirely. If you haven't heard about this game before, it's not surprising: Steam isn't about to host something like this, after all. But on itch.io... that is a good home for this game.

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

Interesting games on itch.io: January 10
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