Scratching that Itch…io: Butterfly Soup... soon


#1

Hello! I’m Glorgu! You may know me from my smug side-eyeing avatar, loving StEEP too much, being The Only Good Mafia Player In The History Of Forum Users, or for posting pretentious garbage all over the forums! But today I’m only tapping into that last talent, and introducing a let’s play/games criticism exercise I’ve wanted to do for a while now :grimacing:

Scratching that Itch…io

A journey in finding those good, good games on Itch


Many threads on the Waypoint forums including the one about the potential indie culling weeks ago and the recent God of War review thread have me thinking about how we talk about games. There are two things in particular that cling to my mind:

  • Indie games rarely get into the mainstream games discourse unless there’s established reputation behind them (kickstarter or other funding, previous games, known developers, an e3 trailer etc.).
  • I’ve heard almost every mainstream game podcast talk about how weird and cool itch is, but rarely see that enthusiasm translated into writing or video on games found on the platform. That isn’t the case as much for Waypoint, but I still feel it elsewhere.

With these two things in mind, I see an opportunity to create the change I want.

I want to dig deeper into… video games? Beneath the AAA crust and the establishment-indie mantle… I want to delve further… find the indie asthenosphere!

I desire to scratch the itch…io!

Inspired by some of the other workshop posts - specifically the excellent Five Souls One Fox: A Souls Series Playthrough and 120 Games, 1 Goal - Pile of Shame: 0 threads - I decided to make a thread to document my adventures in playing games I find on Itch (or other platforms that aren’t Steam/GOG). My plans are the following:

  • Every fortnight (or month, not sure of the timeline yet) find a game to play on itch. The only criteria is that I didn’t know about the game until finding it on itch (example: while Celeste is on itch, having it be the subject of a post feels against the spirit of this thread)
  • Play the game (seems like a good idea for a sorta let’s play thread)
  • Write some thoughts about the game here! I’m not sure what the format will be just yet. One largish post per game? Multiple smaller posts per game over the two weeks I give myself to play? Who knows, come find out with me :smiley:
  • Answer questions others have about a game. Anyone else is free to join in on the flavor of the week and discuss the game with me or anyone else on the thread!

Maybe this will go nowhere? I don’t know, but I don’t think that’ll be the case. Just my cursory searching of itch has led to discovering some potentially interesting games that I’d like to play and dig into. I’m optimistic!

So the current list of games I’m considering looking at follows:

  • All Walls Must Fall
  • Pato Box
  • Sand and Stars
  • Mewnbase
  • Lieve Oma
  • EVERTHING IS GOING TO BE OK!
  • Masteroid
  • Don’t Sink
  • Glass Masquerade
  • Roguelight
  • Nine till Void
  • Overland feels against the spirit of this experiment… but I want to play more Overland.

Please let me know if there are other games you think I should check out (especially any VN’s as I’m not at all familiar with the genre)! I haven’t dug too deep into the depths of itch so I’m definitely missing things!

The first game I’m going to play:
EVERTHING IS GOING TO BE OK!

I look to play it sometime over the weekend and write a post about it on Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, I’m open to suggestions for other games to play or for things to look out for in EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK!


Links to all pieces I’ve written:
EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK! - Thoughts | Follow-up
The Black Room - Thoughts | Follow-up


Five Souls One Fox: A Souls Series Playthrough (Bloodborne spoliers abound!)
#2

I’m into this! Looking forward to seeing what you come across. I’ve only really dabbled in itch, though there are some great gems in there. I always love those games that are <30 minutes, basically don’t have all that much in them but have something to say. Definitely will be checking in! Good luck dude :slight_smile:


#3

This thread seems like it could be wonderful. Big fan of the threads mentioned and Itch is something that seems weird and impenetrable. Hope I can become less afraid.


#4

Goddamn you, @Glorgu. You took my joke! :cry:

EDIT: In seriousness, I’ve been trying to use itch.io more! I’d rather directly support indies than feed into the hellscape that is Steam, and I need to be more willing to part with my money when going on there. I actually have a whole list of games I should purchase on that platform, which I can share if you’d all like. Celeste was the first game I bought there. I definitely wanna pick up Overland sometime. I’ll definitely be watching this thread. :slight_smile:

A good VN that’s really unique is LOCALHOST which I got in a bundle a while back. And PLEASE play Butterfly Soup if you haven’t already!


#5

I love hearing about stuff that flies under the radar and itch.io seems to surface far more interesting projects than Steam ever does. Looking forward to learning about all sorts of weird and wonderful.


#6

I’ve yet to play it but I hear a lot of good stuff about The Black Room


#7

That looks awesome! Thanks for the recommendation!


#8

Oh, I’m definitely bookmarking this thread, right up my alley :slight_smile:

Vengeance is pretty cool, and I’d also recommend Faith even though it did get a tiny bit of mainstream coverage at the time.


#9

For a really good horror game, I highly recommend Kitty Horrorshow’s Anatomy. If you want to play it, don’t read anything about it - just go for it. It’s cheap and fairly short.


#10

Because I value savings, I’m going to respond to everyone here. You see that? Multiple responses for the price of one, what a steal! (I probably won’t do this bulk response frequently as it can get annoying but I’m excited right now)

@Lawnch Thank you! Your thread was a huge reason I started thinking about this and I want to see that pile of shame keep crumbling down, hope life finds a way soon :blush:

@Concrete thank you. I’m afraid too, maybe this endeavor will help us both!

@vehemently Kanye West told me it was okay to steal other people’s ideas, so I’m sorry but that’s my joke now.
(If you actually posted it elsewhere on the forums I’m sorry :grimacing:)
I don’t think I’ll be doing localhost because I’ve heard about it on Polygon first, but I will add Butterfly Soup to the list!

@Supa_Kappa Thank you! I was thinking along the same lines concerning itch vs other platforms. I don’t want to limit only to itch, pretty much as long as I didn’t see it on steam or gog or read about it on another site, I’m going to check it out.

@siegarettes this looks dope, thank you for the recommendation!

@shawne Thanks for the recommendations and enthusiasm! Will add Vengeance for sure and possibly faith!

@BigNoNo already seen plenty of footage and writing about it all over the internet so it feels against the spirit of the rules I’ve set. But maybe I should take this game, localhost, and faith and sidebar them for times I need a real interesting game to get me back on track? We’ll see

Once again, I’m happy to see this enthusiasm, so thanks y’all :blush:


#11

Kobold Garden has been getting some traction in my social circle. It’s extremely cute.

t9KHN_ GBC8KD


#12

A few recommendations from my limited experience with Itch, that I haven’t seen posted yet: David Lynch Teaches Typing, All Our Asias, The Domovoi.


#13

I’ve got some suggestions, if your list isn’t already too long:

Paid games: Long Live the Axe, Magic Wand, WitchWay, Oquonie.

Free games: Hanano Puzzle 2, The League of Lonely Geologists, Liberation Circuit, Possession: Escape from the Nether Regions.


#14

I have become weirdly influential on this forum. This can only end poorly


#15

This sounds real cool. I love finding small little fun things on itch. Lots of good recommendations in the thread already. So I might as well post a few.

Short (5-30 min), free/name-your-own-price experiences:

Everything Strangethink has made. Weird, colorful, trippy, procedural stuff. https://strangethink.itch.io/
yV2Wpw

Regular Human Basketball https://powerhoof.itch.io/regular-human-basketball. It’s buckwild local multiplayer mecha/platformer physics basketball.

Everything by Robert Yang https://radiatoryang.itch.io/. Silly games that explore gay culture. Some of them are too explicit to post images here. These games are not for everyone, but I can’t get enough of them. Cobra Club and The Tearoom are some of my favorites.

Oases https://armelgibson.itch.io/oases. Beautiful and emotional plane game.
WecijO

Sacramento https://dziff.itch.io/sacramento Chill hand-drawn wander game. Feels like wandering through a 3d watercolor painting.

Orchids To Dusk https://polclarissou.itch.io/orchids-to-dusk Another chill wandering game about dying on a strange planet.

q_dork’s games https://q_dork.itch.io/ Cute silly games about everyday things. Morning Makeup Madness and Hungry Buddy are some of my favorites.

Small paid games:

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor https://tinybuild.itch.io/diaries-of-a-spaceport-janitor. Cute game about being broke and wandering around a spaceport. Danielle has talked about it a bunch on the podcast IIRC.

Witchball https://eselsi.itch.io/witchball A reality-bending 2-player racing/pong game.

Mu Cartographer https://titouanmillet.itch.io/mu-cartographer Lovely abstract game about exploring cool proc-gen terrain.

Strawberry Cubes https://lorenschmidt.itch.io/strawberrycubes creepy glitch platformer thing.

Also, +1 to League of Lonely Geologists, All Our Asias, WitchWay, and Butteryfly Soup!

Oh, and I’ll sneak in a plug for one of my own free games, A Very Pretty Pipe dream: https://blushine.itch.io/a-very-pretty-pipe-dream. It’s a short little abstract photography sim inspired by Pokemon Snap and a certain Windows screensaver.


#16

Please give WORLD OF HORROR money so it can be finished. There’s an insane amount of promise and the art is so amazing.

1616


#17

Thank you all for the recommendations! I’ll keep looking at everything and readjusting the list soon!

I played EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY last night and I think I have an idea of the the format I want to approach this project with. I’m going to first write my general thoughts on the game. The second post will be more related to a subject directly related to whatever game I’m playing, but with a scope outside of just the game itself and introduce some discussion questions maybe? I don’t know, I haven’t been this excited about talking about a game in a while!

Anyways, I’ll probably have the first thing up tomorrow or Sunday, see y’all then!


#18
Content Warning (click on the arrow to expand)

This game deals with heavy subjects such as suicide, mental illness, and sexual assault and all matters of trauma. They are presented in both direct and indirect ways. In my piece below I talk a little bit about mental issues but tried to avoid talking about suicide or sexual assault as I do not feel I’m strong enough a writer to properly discuss these subjects in a thoughtful enough manner. I tried to be delicate with how I wrote about trauma in this piece, and if I made a mistake anywhere, please let me know by posting here or a PM or however you’d feel comfortable.

Thoughts on EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK!


Alternate Headline: This One Itch Game Made Me A Believer In The Auteur Theory


They would not stop crying.

I thought I had done everything I could, but no one approach produced positive results. “Alright, I thought. This time I will give them a hug.” I went in for the embrace. Their breathing stuttered, as it does when one tries to contain a sob and attempt at a smile. They seemed to lighten up a bit.

Three more choices. This time I could either cheer them on, give them a handshake, or discuss their failed life choices. Cheering seemed like the option to pick, even if its chances of working were little to none (about 10% it looked like). A handshake would be particularly weird after a hug, and there was no way I’d ever pick bottom choice. Now is not the time. I cheer them on, they slink towards the ground and let out an upset wail. I can hear the foul murmurings from within their body consume them. I have failed.

The window closes. I take a minute to breathe, and click on page 8.


Whenever someone mentions “all those cool weird games on itch,” the image that forms in your head probably looks quite a bit like EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK. Hell, even going to the game’s store page is an experience all its own. The neon dreamscape of color, font, rabbits, and a touch of gore makes you feel like you’ve unearthed something profound. The aesthetic brings back long lost memories of geocities and myspace pages, or even an old ytmnd meme, but none of it feels like an ironic dig at the past - before web design was sanded down to the flat surfaces and muted blues and greys - this is much more an enthusiastic embrace of a more expressive world. Where such wild displays of person are not mocked, but bring a smile to your face.

You probably wonder why I spent so long describing a game’s storefront? Me too honestly, but it stuck with me. It was the first impression the game left on me, what made me interested in the first place. It’s also where the designer, Alienmelon, first introduces the theme of the game: power is realized in struggle, not in the capability to oppress another.

The actual game is set up like a computer desktop. Icons are thrown about for you to click, often cluttered up on top of one another. The background constantly morphs, it’s imagery directed by a pulsing but meandering rhythm. At no point are you given any direction or order of what to do, but each program - which the game refers to as pages - is numbered; suggesting an order in which to view them. That’s exactly what I did.

Clicking on each page opens up a self-contained game or interactive program. Most of these pages task you with doing very real, relatable things, but portray it in an absurd setting or manner. One of the game’s has you walking around the world talking to your crushes, getting rejected one after another until you find love. One tasks you with making friends, with the caveat that a rejection from one person has the chance of causing you to lose some friends you made along the way. Another similar game has you talking about your personal struggles on social media only to find you gaining or losing followers while strangers chide you in your mentions. If there is one common thread in most of the programs, it’s that they often put you through some sort of failure or trauma repeatedly until you eventually escape from it or succumb to it.

There are also secrets to find. Executables are hidden in many of the pages and clicking on them opens new windows on your desktop. I found videos of birds, pixel art skulls with messages, a calendar with a series of poems, among other things. I’d be lying if I said I understood everything I found but these secrets always provided a chuckle, or further insight into who Alienmelon is.

There wasn’t much anything in this game that didn’t provoke a reaction in me, but I NEED to talk about page seven. Page seven was particularly notable in its impact on me. On page seven there is a rather large, very upset beast with a parasite in its body constantly saying negative thoughts to the beast (I interpreted this parasite as a metaphor for anxiety and depression, for what it’s worth). Three prompts appear at the bottom of your screen, the first being a positive thought to tell the beast, the second being a friendly action, and the third being a definitely rude, but possibly constructive criticism. Depending on your choices the beast will feel better or sink further into sorrow. As you might have figured out already, this was the game I described up above at the very beginning. While that passage might have made the experience feel alien, it had a strong impact on me emotionally. I’ve been on both sides of this situation. I’ve been the beast with the foul inner voice, unable to listen to another person’s condolences over my own mental thoughts. I’ve also been the player, having another person confide in me, unable to provide a satisfying answer. I found myself thinking “this game needs a ‘that’s fucked up…’ choice.” That’s the only thing that could have made the experience any more accurate honestly.

Both sides of this situation are often considered moments of weakness. We are always looking back on past moments like this in shame, regretful of our inability to help, or to be helped ourselves. But this game also made me consider that just as significantly: we move forward; we may not move on exactly, but we keep existing. We may struggle, but in the struggle, we are made stronger.

That notion glues the entire game together. Every page you open may introduce you to some somber, macabre ideas, but you will make it through them, maybe even with a smile sometimes. Alienmelon has done an amazing job of presenting this fresh take on a power fantasy, while at the same time creating a wonderfully strange, vibrant, fun experience. If you are at all interested in seeing a great example of how a game can express it’s developer and delver strong message in clever, unique ways, you should play this game.

Capture010


The State of Failure States in Video Games
#19

I’ve been wanting to play this game for a while, so i’m going to try to do that before reading your thoughts.

This is a really cool project btw. Been wanting to do something like this with my own itch.io backlog/wishlist for a while, but kids and life keep getting in the way.

Looking forward to more!


#20

Hey, first of all, I love this idea and I enjoyed your first writeup! I’ve been thinking about indie games like this too and I think it’s great that you’re looking into the itch scene like this.

I recommend highly the work of Steven Miller, who specializes in small puzzle games each with their own fascinating and pleasantly challenging mechanics. All of his games are free and can eat up hours at a time, leaving the player satisfied when a really tough puzzle gets solved.