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Monday, October 19, 2020

Interesting games on itch.io: October 19


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... we just released a demo for the next VN, too! Totally free!

10mg Collection

I want to start this week by highlighting not one game, but a collection of them. Every so often (actually, quite frequently), the community on itch.io run little events, game jams and themed challenges to encourage developers to come up with something creative and different. 10mg Collection is an excellent example of this, with the challenge being to come up with a game that's just 10 minutes in length. The total collection is 10 games long, and the creativity on display in it is both varied and impressive. 


From the horror narrative of Cover Me In Leaves, through to Locked In - a two-player visual novel that "simulates the breakdown of a marriage during lockdown" and, for lighter fare "soft and fluffy" simulator, You Are Such A Soft And Round Kitten, there's plenty of variety in what these ten developers have come up with, making this a great little, highly experimental, package of games.

Petal Crash

If you like your arcade puzzlers from the 90's - the likes of Mr Driller, Puzzle Bobble, Super Puzzle Fighter, Puyo Puyo, and so on, then Petal Crash will probably grab your attention. This clean little puzzle game doesn't hide its inspiration by any means, but it looks like it has done something really interesting with it.


This is a fully-featured puzzle game, with a range of different play modes, including solo Puzzle Mode, and a versus competitive mode. It's even possible to make your own puzzles to challenge friends with. As you can see, the art style is charming and a throwback to the pixel-ly goodness of yesteryear, and there seem to be plenty of delightful characters and care put into this one. The game launched simultaneously on Steam, and so far the response seems to have been very positive indeed.

I'm cheating a little in listing Imperiums: Greek Wars, as it has been available on Steam for a few months now. However, we don't see too many indie 4X strategy games (and with good reason, they are enormously complex games to conceptualise and craft), and Greek Wars has a better chance to stand out on itch.io than it does where it needs to compete against Paradox Interactive and Firaxis. 


Greek Wars looks like the real deal, too. 4X strategy, as a genre, can look modest, and that's fine - people come for the quality depiction of history, the deep, nuanced strategy, and the scope of the experience. Bringing myth and history together as this game does, in the context of ancient Europe/Persia, is certainly something that has inspired artists and storytellers for generations now, so hopefully this game delivers. 

Wrath of the Violent Vicar

Finally for this week is a game that could, potentially, be something so perfectly "me." Wrath of the Violent Vicar is based on the 2012 film of the same name, and is a great homage to the grindhouse exploitation films of the 70's and 80's - those ultra-low budget films with terrible production values that have ended up being an aesthetic that is getting a renewed look-in in the modern era. 


This is a FMV game and that... well, that could go any direction with video games. With that being said, the B-Grade sensibilities of the source material should let the game get away with a lot and as long as it's breathtakingly over-the-top with the violence as the grindhouse genre demands, this could become the very definition of a cult hit. And, I mean, one of the choices is "normal kill" and "super kill" so... you know, I have faith that this game will nail it.


That's it for this week! If there are any new itch.io games that you'd like to bring to my attention, don't hesitate to drop me a note! I'm very keen on celebrating the creativity and energy of this truly wonderful platform for games-as-art.

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



Interesting games on itch.io: October 19
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