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 descriptor. Where I find the time to do actual reviews or other coverage, I will compose separate articles on the game in question.
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…
I like stalker horror. It’s a genre that has fallen out of vogue in mainstream development (because big action, jump scares and ugly monsters sell better), but there’s an intensity to stalker horror that I find so much more appealing. Saiko No Sutoka looks like the kind of stalker horror I get a kick out of, as you play as a “yandere that loves to play with you before she has a chance to kill you.”
For people that enjoy the PlayStation 1 aesthetic, this little game will be appealing. Moe’s Body Shop was created for a little game jam, and it’ll get the oldies among us nostalgic just from the art style. Based on the comments it’s quite short (which makes sense, given that it’s a game jam project), and very much on the simple side, but given that it’s entirely free, there’s nothing to complain about there for an classic little horror experience.
This is an artsy little 3D platformer with a strong premise. From the game’s page: “Everyone dreams, but we only think about it a few moments after waking up, or reflect lightly on the contents of our dreams throughout the day. But what if you were stuck in a dream, where everything is lifeless, colorless, and endless…”
Another game that has released in just the last day, Tunnel of Dread’s appeal should be immediately obvious – this game has a stunning black-and-white sketch aesthetic. It’s another that you can play direct in your browser, and this one is clearly inspired by the likes of Shadowgate and choose-your-own-adventure novels.
As a nice extra touch, the development team is going to release the asset pack, giving other developers the chance to play around with some pretty high-quality art, and giving the developers some additional support. This game is very much in its early stages, but it could become something quite interesting.
New, interesting games are released on itch.io each week, so I’ll make a weekly feature of this to help keep you updated with what will be, in many cases, the genesis of some indie darlings and favourite games.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb