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!
This is one of the more expensive itch.io games that we’ve seen, at $US25, but The Curse of Mantras is a Winter Wolves game, and for many years now Winter Wolves has been plugging away at games featuring beautiful characters, spanning a broad range of genres, from the traditional visual novel, to JRPG, dating sim and more. We were reviewing Winter Wolves games as far back as 2012 ourselves, and we were late to the party. So I think that this developer has earned its right to charge a premium for its games. Especially when they look as impressive as The Curse of Mantras.
Just as the Game Boy continues to attract developers that love working within limitations to come up with creative ideas, so too does the Nokia. Yes, that iconic “brick” mobile phone we all used to play Snake on obsessively. There was recently a game jam on itch.io to create Nokia-style video games, and Nok Out is one of the most impressive of those. This game wouldn’t actually run on a Nokia (at least, I don’t think so), but it looks the part and seems like a genuinely creative little brawler.