By Jade Entien
If you’re looking for a new favorite game but with little cash to spare, Itch.io is always updating with new indie games daily, each unique in its own way. From horror, visual novels, platformers – many games on Itch have the potential to become more than bottom of the bin gems. They might be talk of the town legends. With websites like Itch.io, it’s conceivably easier for game developers to reach a massive audience as soon as they upload. As a player, you can choose your genre, PC platform, and price range to find the right game for you. Some games are free with the option of donating to the creator and some are paid but are so worth it. For this review, I found five games from Itch.io to share with you: all felt unusual and compelling.
For people who enjoy multiple minigames in one huge game like Warioware (obviously) or Dumb Ways to Die, Spookware by Papercookies is the horror-filled twist on that genre. With a unique pixelized, eerie aesthetic, Spookware is a great single-player or pass-the-controls multiplayer experience that everyone is sure to enjoy. We open up to a skelebro trio watching “horror movies” (in this case, horror minigames) on their TV. However, they realize there’s more to life than watching spooky movies and set off to live the rest of their lives trying new things like going to school, solving mysteries, and serving customers! Although it was mainly a minigame experience, the road trip storyline was very entertaining since there were multiple activities to keep you focused during the dialogue portions. Activities such as going to school, taking a cruise, or. running a restaurant.
There are multiple versions of Spookware on this domain, some of which are free. But if you’re looking for a long-term time-waster I’d highly recommend the Spookware Full Version for $10! There’s more story, more minigames, and more to love white you’re scared.
We’ve come to a point in our society where toilet humor just doesn’t cut it anymore. But what about toilet horror? Strange Toilet by TheThil is strange. Really strange. You play as Nathan, a dude living with his friend Sarah but there’s something weird about the toilet in your bathroom. After a few radio broadcasts, we figure out someone called the Toilet Killer hasn’t been caught after a recent murder, and that only fuels our toilet phobia. Suddenly, mysterious occurrences take place around your apartment, leading you to take action and figure out what’s going on in your home.
Strange Toilet is a super short game (around five minutes) and even though it was horror, it also had a comedic spin. With random phrases showing up on mirrors and notes like “Don’t shit anymore,” and “I’m just saying,” you’re left wondering if the bad guy is really a threat or just someone to jeer. Strange Toilet is free with the option of donation!
Growing up, I never had the privilege of playing a PS1 or PS2 game. So imagine my fear when as soon as I opened the door Resident Evil style, I was rushed by a man in a pig mask causing me to nearly toss my laptop in horror (just kidding, of course, but it was scary). Blood Camp by 616 Games is an awesome but also short horror game (40 minutes) where you play as Brad, a kid trying to enjoy an outdoor trip with his parents. But, when someone unexpected comes out of the woods and the trip is cut tragically short, Brad is left to live with the traumatic event that befell him on that day. Years pass and now you plan on returning to the same woods where your mother was murdered. However, you’re once again met with Pig Mask. No one is safe as you and your friends try to survive the woods with this man on the loose.
As a fan of horror games, I could definitely say that I enjoyed Blood Camp. However, I wasn’t used to the idea of a fixed camera, and I struggled a lot trying to make sure I could move in case I was being chased. There was the voice acting throughout the game which was really cool. Tip: As you listen to the characters speak, you must remember there’s no time to chill in a horror game! Blood Camp costs $4 but it’s worth the price!
Emily is Away
Emily is Away by kyleseeley23 is a narrative game that takes us back to the chatrooms of Windows XP. You name your own character before entering a chatroom with your friend Emily. You’re faced with multiple decisions, each with a significant effect on the story that’ll lead you to one of five endings. As a person who likes happy endings, I tried to make sure to stay on Emily’s good side and answer how I thought was most positive. I felt as if I was having a genuine conversation with an old friend and I wanted to remain friends with that person. But there were some moments during the game where I was torn about the friendship. That feeling allowed me to remind myself to ask, “Are all friendships worth keeping?” You’re met with multiple options to either keep friendships going between multiple characters, trying your best to make sure all parties are satisfied (or you could always play the good ol’ devil’s advocate.)
Emily is Away has two other versions featuring more stories to the first game. But as can be said with other game series, you have to start with the first one. (I only say because Emily is Away Too continues the story from the first game with Emily and Evelyn!) I thought Emily is Away was a quick read and really enjoyable. It could also double as a typing simulator since the text pops up as you type. Emily is Away is free with the option of donating on Itch.io.
Get in the Car, Loser
As a queer person of color, I do enjoy playing LGBTQ+ characters in video games. Especially badass fighting games! Get in the Car, Loser was developed by Love Conquers All Games and features a colorful cast of four amazing characters named Sam, Grace, Angela, and (my personal favorite) Valentin! This group of friends has to fight the evil Machine Devil while on an exciting road trip filled with battles, flirting, and tons of equipment. Though it is a fighting game, there are also aspects of a point and click allowing you to choose responses where you play as a character trying to find love on the road!
I really liked the art style, soundtrack, and story. As a package, these make the game truly unforgettable and I honestly feel it’s worth your time. Get in the Car, Loser is free but the additional DLC (which I do plan to get) is $10.
If you’re ever looking for a compelling or bone-chilling game to pass the time I would definitely recommend the ones mentioned in this review. However, there are tons more incredible games on Itch.io. So the possibilities are nearly endless. You never know what you’ll come upon! Thanks to the countless genres I can promise you that with Itch.io your new favorite game is just a few clicks away.
Jade Entien is the Critic Circle’s newest Senior Intern. You can find them on their Twitter at @eggburtho.