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!
Blood On The Snow
You get the feeling that the developer is being very modest and hedging against a pushback with Blood On The Snow. “Sloppy art and bad spelling,” as the game’s description promises, is the kind of self-deprecating humour you throw in to protect yourself against criticism when you’re not confident about a project. But the developer should indeed be confident about Blood On The Snow, because this game jam submission and early release version, looks excellent.
Garden of Seif: Curse of Gravehollow Peaks
Entry #2 to the 2021 Winter VN Jam, Garden of Seif: Curse of Gravehollow Peaks is asking for a couple of dollars from players, for a visual novel that is short and sweet (about an hour’s play), but with three different endings and production values that include cinematic cut scenes. It looks to me like the developers are hoping for some sales to help support the “main game,” Garden of Seif, with this being a side story, and given the production values, I’m quite keen to support it.
I absolutely love the concept of this game. Poetry will be one of those things that is a sad loss to culture if it disappears (and certainly with publishers less interested than ever and the reading audience for poetry aging rapidly it seems like it’s on its way out). Good poetry is pure artistry, combining rhythm, tone, aesthetics and literary techniques in such a way, and to such great density, that it can inspire and compel like no other. Poetry’s a bit “high art” for video games, though, so the rare game that actually engages with the form is noteworthy and inherently interesting.