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!
Please, Touch The Artwork
I want to start this week by highlighting what might just be the most colourful puzzle game I’ve ever seen. Please, Touch The Artwork is, as the name suggests, inspired by the world of art, but behind that is a zen-style puzzle experience with a slick jazzy soundtrack and around 160 puzzles of colourful delight.
As the game’s description reads, those 160 levels are split up across three separate, narrative-driven games. One tells the origin story of abstract art and challenges you to add colours and lines to recreate paintings. One is the story of Boogie & Woogie – two squares that just want to be together in a rapidly growing and alienating world. The third is about moving to the big city and being overwhelmed by the experience. In that one you’ll be collecting letters to form a poem. It’s an eclectic mix, to be sure, but one that looks different, dynamic, and interesting.
Luckitown is one of those concepts that, in hindsight, seems so obvious that you’re amazed that you haven’t played a dozen examples of it yet. This is a dice game, mixed with turn-based tower defence strategy. In the game your goal is to build structures that will produce more dice, and those dice can then be used to defend your town from incoming hordes of enemies. The game looks humble (in an aesthetically appealing way), and seems fully featured, with 13 different resource types to collect, four different boss battles, and 40 different buildings or actions available to you.
We have a lot of hyper-indie JRPG and RPG projects. Thanks to the likes of RPG Maker, it has become quite easy for people that don’t necessarily have much experience with coding and creating a game from scratch to build those kinds of experiences. Tactics JRPGs are more difficult, however, so we don’t get too many of them. This is why Conviction is so interesting. It does very much come across as an “RPG Maker, but tactics” project, and I mean that in the most positive way. It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun.