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!
Let’s start this week’s coverage with some culture, shall we! Bobok is a visual novel adaptation of one of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s better-known short stories. As one of the greats of literature, everyone should be familiar with Dostoyevsky’s work, and perhaps a visual novel is the most accessible way to do so for some. Especially one that is presented this nicely. Bobok won’t take you too long to work through, and is a darkly satirical bit of fun so, paired up with the art as it is, you should find this one enormously enjoyable.
Let’s go from an old Russian story to a new one. I doubt that Echo of Woe will be remembered in the same leagues as Bobok is, but it does look like a decent visual novel in its own right. Echo of Woe is a dark fantasy drama, with detective and horror elements. You play as a detective type that is in town to hunt down and defeat supernatural threats. That’s a well-trodden story hook, of course, but there’s no reason to think it won’t be compelling… especially with the quality of the art that we’re seeing here. Clearly, the developers have put a lot of work into it.
The download on itch.io right now is just a demo, but it will give you a full prologue to the protagonist’s story and prepare you for the full game once it lands. By the developer’s own admission you’re going to have to deal with some poor English translations, but they promise that that will be improved by the time the full game releases too. If nothing else, if this game catches your eye, be sure to send the developer some feedback, so they can continue to refine something that looks like it has a lot of potential.
I’ll admit that this game entry caught my eye because I and a fan of a Japanese film of the same name, but once I actually looked at It Follows, I am all kinds of intrigued. There’s absolutely no description to this minimalist, micro-horror game, but it seems like a clever little atmospheric experiment.