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!
The Seventh Sign -Mr. Sister-
We’ll start with a game that you’re going to need to pick up on itch.io (or one of the other niche game stores), because Steam itself, in its infinite wisdom, appears to have decided that it needs to be banned. I’m genuinely not sure why, since it doesn’t look anything like a pornographic game… or even one that has much by way of fan service. Given that the main character is a blonde with twintails I assuredly wouldn’t have minded if that came to be, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any of that in here, which makes the banning odd in the extreme.
Knight’s TryThere is something undeniably appealing about 64-bit platforming. For those of us that grew up with Mario 64 and its ilk, there’s a strong hit of nostalgia that comes from those blocky graphics and highly-focused level design. These days 3D platformers aren’t so focused on the platforming, but back then, your skills at leaping around with precision were absolutely tested. Knight’s Try aims to tap into that aesthetic and challenge, and it looks really quite good at it.
A really neat feature in this one is that you’re apparently able to implement your own custom soundtrack by importing your own MIDI files. You know what that means… right? Knights leaping around to The Hustle. That there is the definition of fine art. This one also launched on Steam in the last week, and while it’s very early days yet, it does have a 100 per cent user score rating. From the trailer, it’s easy to understand why – this game might only target a small niche, but the developers clearly understood that niche to a “T”.
This game has the most spectacular art style, and that’s made all the more impressive when you realise how quickly it was pulled together. It was made in just 48 hours for a game jam. Clearly, the developer of this one had this idea stewing around for a while. It is a visual novel, and with a particularly dark and potentially provocative theme, this (totally free) game is almost certainly going to be worth the 5-15 minutes that it’s asking of you.