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!
If you thought 12 endings was a lot, get a whiff of this: Mysteria of the World has 25 (!) endings, challenging you to make the right decisions and play out a series of mini-games in order to try and uncover the secrets of the dead forest… and also just survive it. It seems to be tapping into the Grimm Brothers aesthetic, with a narrative that promises “many references to various mythologies” and three main routes to work through. Backed up with a darkly whimsical aesthetic, much like you might expect to see from a Grimm story, the Forest of Death has a real sense of both intrigue and classical elegance behind it.
Further reinforcing the impression that this is a game of dark whimsy is the game’s description. According to the page: Probably everyone has experienced this state after sleep. The moment when your mind has not yet emerged from the embrace of Morpheus, but is already approaching the surface to take a breath of air. Yes, the phrasing is a little concerning since, as a visual novel, you’d hope that the writing was tight, but still, the game’s name-dropping the likes of Cu Chulainn. It intrigues, and is only a couple of dollars to buy into.
I never knew this game existed in the first place, so the remaster is the opportunity to discover it for the first time. I’m glad it happened though, because How to Sing to Open Your Heart seems like a delight. This game tells the story of a “cat-eared princess” with a song that might just be able to “rescue her people” and “help her find true love.” See, the cat people – luccretias – and humans have never got on well, but perhaps our princess’ beautiful song might be able to break through the anger and hate and unite them…