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Monday, July 12, 2021

Interesting games on itch.io: July 12


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!

Trapped

I do like me a good dungeon crawler, and Trapped looks like it has been inspired by the classics of the genre. I'm not sure what engine this was developed in (the enemy sprites and interface look like they were drawn from RPG Maker, though RPG Maker, to the best of my knowledge, isn't capable of rendering 3D dungeon crawlers), but the game itself looks smooth and complete - there are even lock picking minigames to go with the exploration.


This is especially impressive since the game was originally a game jam project. There are ten different enemy types to combat, puzzles to solve within the giant maze, plenty of secrets and more to discover. Looking at the state that it's in now, you've got to hope that the developer continues to work on it and eventually turns it into a commercial project, because there's a lot of potential in here and the developer is clearly a student of the genre.

3 Minute Walk

This is the kind of game that highlights he potential of the art game movement. 3 Minute Walk has a simple premise - what is it like moving from the apartment to the car during a pandemic for someone at great risk should they catch the disease? It is an anxiety that many have felt over the past 18 months, and capturing that moment, and emotion, is exactly the role of the arts in our society.


As the developer writes in the description: "This project was my attempt to put into a game the feelings that I and likely many others experienced in this time. It is a work of compassion, and empathy, and hopefully will allow others to feel seen or to understand what some of us went through." The game itself is entirely free, and you can play it in your browser if you'd like to.

Scarred Stars

This is a horror game that uses an RPG Maker engine for the graphics. Under normal circumstances you would assume that there's no way such a thing could be tuned to good horror... but then you'll remember that Corpse Party already proved that it was more than possible. Scarred Stars is a "survival hide-and-seek" experience set in an abandoned amusement park, and it sounds like it could be excellent.


The game bills itself as being "puzzle-focused" and a love letter to the 90's era of horror, when the likes of Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark and Clock Tower were thrillin' and chillin' us. The enemies that stalk your character appear randomly, and the game features multiple endings, to encourage replay value. More than anything else, though, big bold text says that THIS GAME CONTAINS SCENES OF VIOLENCE AND DISTURBING IMAGERY. Now I'm intrigued to see what that might be.

The Cats of Ulthar

Lovecraftian hell cats. Well, if that ain't quite the concept for a game, I don't know what is. The Cats of Ulthar is only in its prototype stage, but the concept is so strong and I can't wait to see how this one develops. In The Cats of Ulthar, you've found yourself in the town of Ulthar, and then you discover that it has a curious law - it is forbidden to kill a cat. And you can be sure the cats take full advantage of that.

The game might only be in prototype form, but there's a lot to like about it already. The graphics are colourfully bright (though also creepy), and the developer does seem to have a good grasp of the story, even if it is truncated at this stage. Who knows if this is going to spin out into a full project, but it's off to a good start, and if the itch.io comments are anything to do by, a lot of people would very much like to see it expanded on.

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


Interesting games on itch.io: July 12
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