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Monday, February 8, 2021

Interesting games on itch.io: February 8


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!

Nuts

Nuts is a wide-scale release (it's even on the Switch and PlayStation!), but what the game is fits so beautifully with the itch.io platform that it's worth supporting it on this one if you can. Nuts is pure voyeurism only you're not spying on people... it's about looking at squirrels!


Yes, that's right. Nuts is a wildlife-spotting simulation where you and your handy camera needs to track and capture squirrels going about being squirrels. Your long term goal is to figure out where the nest of native squirrels is, but this isn't a game with any insidious meaning behind it; it's a simple celebration of nature. Backed with a really gorgeous, distinctive art style, this is an art game of the highest order.

Eyra, the Crow Maiden

The NES, or Famicom, as one of the oldest mainstream consoles, will forever evoke a strong nostalgia in the hearts and minds of older players. For some game developers, the console represents a unique challenge; working out how to make an enjoyable game despite its severe limitations. That's what the developer of Eyra has done, and in the process they've produced a "new" NES game for anyone with an emulator (or emulation console).


Eyra is a platformer in the vein of the original Castlevania and similar. You play as the titular warrior princess, and are accompanied by a "brave crow trained for combat". The pair need to make their way through a standard gauntlet of enemies and navigate over deadly pits and other traps. As an added bonus to the nostalgic, it does look like the developer has held back nothing with regards to difficulty.


If there has been a more influential demo in the history of video games than PT, I don't know what it might be. Perhaps it's because PT was never turned into a full game, but that little snippet of Kojima gameplay continues to inspire game developers to this day. Those game developers turn around and make things like Unhinged.



Unhinged may or may not be a good game - indie horror games are always a big roll of the dice, but this one does have an intriguing premise. You play as a grieving father that he haunted (literally) within a giant mansion, and need to explore (and survive) to unravel the mysteries of the house and come to terms with who you are.


Here's an irony for you: back in the early era of PC gaming - DOS and early Windows - there were a lot of strip card games produced. Usually poker, but also blackjack. However, as the ability for graphics to display higher detailed character models has increased, and therefore the ability for developers to create a strip card game that delivers a superior experience has improved, the number of strip card games has declined. Go figure.



Strip Blackjack 3310 was created as part of a game jam that challenged developers to make something for the Nokia 3310 phone. As such, it looks incredibly primitive and, oddly, nostalgic, for all those strip games of yesteryear that, at the time, seemed so naughty, but are positively hilarious today.

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


Interesting games on itch.io: February 8
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