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Monday, March 29, 2021

Interesting games on itch.io: March 29


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 just came out, Sade!

Last Stop: Station 66

I've been a fan of found footage horror ever since the original Blair Witch Project. In fact, as embarrassing as it is to admit now, I and a bunch of friends were so inspired by that film back in high school that we made our own found footage film and uploaded it to what passed as the Internet back then. I really hope that has been purged from existence in the decades since. Anyhow. I digress. Last Stop: Station 66 is a new found footage horror game, and it looks really quite neat.


After falling asleep on a train ride, you wake up to discover that the train has stopped at "Station 66", which is odd, since there are only meant to be 25 stations. As you can probably guess, this station isn't in danger of becoming a tourist trap anytime soon. Inspired by films of the 90's this game has two different endings and a non-linear path through the journey. 

Nevolian

Next up we have a colourful, vibrant little RPG-like thing. Created during a game jam, Nevolian has an "item retrieval quest system," relationship trackers for the two main questions, and villagers that are quick with a charming quip. It takes place mostly in a small village, where all the various characters like to spread rumours, and hints at something grander beyond the village.  


As with any game jam effort, you should expect it to have better ideas than refinement in systems, but it's free to download, and this is the point of itch.io anyway; game developers can throw concepts out there to see how potential players might respond. People seem to be happily making videos of this one, so who knows, we may well see it expanded into something more ambitious.


One of the quirks of Dark Souls is that those games are particularly challenging to make, so as popular as they are, there aren't too many efforts by indies to replicate them. Dark Castle is one, blending the top-down perspective of a Diablo with Dark Souls-inspired combat. You've got to admire the developer for simply having the gumption to even try.


As you can see from the footage, the game is a little minimalist in scope, but it does look like the developer has focused his attention on the core combat, which seems to manage the methodical pacing and intensity of the genre it aspires to. The game's still in active development and the developer is looking for ideas and suggestions, so be sure to let them know what your thoughts are if you do give this a spin.


I have no idea if this is a properly licensed addition to Friday Night Funkin', but I'd be surprised if it is. I'd also be very surprised if a combination of Crypton and/or SEGA don't get their lawyers to come down on this, because an unofficial Hatsune Miku in a rhythm game is bad business for the license's value to the official rhythm games. I'm saying you should download this as quickly as you can, in other words.



FNF has been turning heads for offering challenging but well-crafted rhythm game action with a lot of personality. It's as simple as rhythm games come - simply press the right arrow key in time with the music, but the energy and funky music combine nicely to make it one of the better free examples of the rhythm game genre.

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


Interesting games on itch.io: March 29
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