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Monday, May 24, 2021

Interesting games on itch.io: May 24


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!

Terroir

We'll start this week off with a game that is very much "me." Terroir is a tycoon game that focuses on building up a vineyard and making a successful wine business. You'll be building up the farm by placing new hex tiles down (with some types of tiles affecting those around them), and then choosing from different grape varieties to grow. Then there are four stages of the wine-making process that you need to control (crushing, fermentation, pressing and ageing). All of that to try to get the perfect drop.


Random events and missions mean that no two play-throughs will be the same, and you'll have 60 in-game years to build up a thriving business before trying to beat your score with a second play. Terroir is the kind of simulation that is too narrow and niche for a standard game development project, but it's perfect for itch.io, and a gorgeous game to boot.

Impressionista Renoir Le Seine

One of the great, untapped opportunities for video games is the ability to make paintings interactive. There have been a couple of "jump into a painting" games, from Mario 64 to various Castlevania and Atelier titles, but very few efforts to make real paintings interactive. This one, Le Seine, makes the great impressionist, Renoir, interactive, by letting you wander around inside the painting itself.


This game was specifically designed to encourage an interest in art and educate, and so don't go in expecting a traditional "game", as such. It's really more of an interactive space to explore, but I hope it's a success, because these kinds of things could go down so well in art galleries as a way to further contextualise exhibitions and the like. We just need more developers that specialise in these kinds of experiences.

A Duck's Odyssey

As a big fan of ducks, I am inclined to play any game that features ducks in a starring role. A Duck's Odyssey, as the name suggests, does indeed involve that. In the game, you are tasked with guiding rubber ducklings through courses and puzzles. It's not violent, nor is it stressful. It's not complex, but rather it's charming. A Duck's Odyssey is designed purely to be a joy to play. 


There is a mild environmental theme in there too, as you need to collect and throw away the trash that is spoiling the natural environment. An environment that is minimalist in construction, but really pleasant on the eyes. This is a game that is being offered completely free to players, but has been made by developers that really understand what they're doing. It's joyfully whimsical.

Succubus Connect

One thing that you can always be sure of is that any game on itch.io that has "succubus" in the title is going to be most definitely rated for adults only. This one's got a lot of charm going for it, though, looking both very light-hearted and like it will have a quality combat system under that surface. See, Succubus Connect is not a visual novel, nor an RPG Maker project, as games on itch.io with "succubus" in the title tend to be. this one is an original RPG with a card-based system for its turn-based battles.


It has a quirky premise, too. A girl's woken up in a mysterious forest, with no way of getting back to her home. So she sets off on a Wizard of Oz journey, only to form an alliance with a succubus that has lost her body and memories. The two of them are to work together to solve each other's problems... and yes, there are some naughty scenes in there, but this game seems surprisingly uninterested in selling itself on that basis. It's much more focused on its qualities as a game, which is usually a good sign for these things.

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


Interesting games on itch.io: May 24
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