Selections and Highlights from the Itch.io Racial Justice and Equality Bundle

You just stood up for racial justice and equality (hell yeah!) and now find yourself in possession of 900 games/books/things. Here’s an attempt to highlight some (~140, Updated 6/11) of the amazing things you now own.

First, buy the bundle if you haven’t already:

I broke up this article into thematic/genre categories so it’s a bit easier to parse. It’s still a big ole list of stuff, and in no way is meant to be the guide on what to play, but I wanted to build a list that’s at least a subsection of the full list so you can have an idea of where to start looking for something to play.

Also! I haven’t played all the games in the bundle! I did look at the store page of almost everything though and have played a lot of what’s below, but this list is by no means meant to be a “best of the best”. I encourage everyone to look through the full list themselves as well! This is just a list of stuff that stood out to me.

It’s also worth saying that, due to the sheer size of the core list, there are a diversity of creators represented, but this bundle is not one that is directly meant to highlight diverse creators. To directly support more diverse creators, I encourage you to support the creators in this list of black game developers (hire them/buy their work) and follow organizations like I Need Diverse Games, Game Devs of Color Expo, and Gamedev.world.

Narrative Adventure Games

One of the best games from last year. Play as a bird and walk, jump, and fly through a bucolic park.

One of the only games to truly capture the feeling of that post-college (or college break) suburban malaise, where both everything feels possible and nothing feels possible at the same time.

Similar vibes to both Night in the Woods and A Short Hike, but set against the backdrop of a roadtrip and camping.

Hybrid Visual Novel/Narrative game where you sort of “direct” a camera as two people talk to each other.

If you’re looking for some “Kids on Bikes” genre games (think Stranger Things, Super 8, Tales from the Loop), this is it. Kids exploring their small world and discovering big secrets.

One of the few videogames to ever deal with death as a concept in western society vs. having your character be an instrument of death. The game is also especially prescient, as end-of-life care in the west is notoriously exploitative. In A Mortician’s Tale, you “take on the role of recent funeral direction graduate Charlie as she learns the ropes of the business and industry. Prepare the bodies of the deceased, attend their funerals and listen to their loved ones’ stories, and interact with Charlie’s coworkers, clients, and bosses.”

The game description says it best: “Wheels of Aurelia is a narrative road trip game set in the roaring Italian 70s. Half racing game, half interactive fiction, it tells the story of Lella, a restless woman driving on the roads of the western coast of Italy, the famous Via Aurelia.”

Dujanah, on it’s face, sounds simple. An open-world exploration game where you talk to people. But below that the complexity of its vision reveals itself to you. “Among the themes I hope to explore are: pluralism, motivations, ethics regarding intervention and libertarianism. An important aspect of the narrative is a certain quality of magical realism where fantasy elements are present in a real-world setting.”

For fans of Animal Crossing that want something a little less intense and with a bit more of a narrative thrust. In The Stillness of the Wind, you play as one of the last people still holding out in village that most everyone else left. Tend your small plot of land, receive letters from friends and family, milk your cows, and in general think about what it means to live.

Woefully underplayed (and immensely relevant), Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor “ is an anti-adventure game about picking up trash in an alien bazaar. Play as the Janitor, an Alaensee girlbeast with a municipally-subsidized trash incineration job and dreams of leaving the planet of Xabran’s Rock far behind her.” What would it mean to be the person who picks up the trash of adventures?

Puppet Combo is one of the leading figures in the Haunted PS1-style games movement, and Babysitter Bloodbath is their attempt at making a Halloween-style game. Babysitters, creepy stalkers, etc.

Sun Dogs remains one of my favorite pieces of transhumanist literature that I’ve read, and given that it’s now part of the bundle it’s time for you to enjoy it as well! “In a future where humanity alters itself without a second thought, you must do the same. Skim along the Sun’s corona, float in the Venusian clouds, travel the Martian plains. When your body dies, your mind will be given a new one, and you will keep going.”

A gentle ode (in videogame form) to the creator’s grandmother.

For fans of Freddie Fish and Put-Put, “Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank is a [beautifully illustrated!] mischievous, charming and character-driven adventure.”

Visual Novels

The game description says it all: “A serial visual novel/mech brawler about four gay disasters beating up neonazis in giant robots made of meat. Get ready for the worst road trip of all time.”

“This is a series of works that came out of a residency carried out in early 2018 in Tokyo, with the Creator Ikusei project, which is supported by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs. I adopted research techniques from ethnography and history, such as open-ended interviews and participant observation, and developed a method of representing the results of this research in a playful and interactive form that draws heavily from familiar interaction design patterns such as the tamagotchi-style virtual pet and role-playing game multiple-choice dialogue systems.”

Boa Retina is a game that dives deep into messy gender uncertainty. It is an uncomfortable blend of abstract golden-age arcade design, retro computer aesthetic, the unhealthy ways my gender feelings manifested before coming out, and external conflicts from things trying to keep life in order.”

Falling somewhere between a visual novel and a sports sim, “Train players, choose your own narrative, survive the drama, and play turn-based football matches via tactical cards and hard choices.”.

There’s a rich history in books and films of creators imagining themselves talking to famous people of the past, but few videogames have ever walked into this realm. Conversations With Emma is one of the first I’ve seen. It’s “a small Twine game in which I have a conversation with Emma Goldman about gentrification, buying things in Amazon and my obsession with getting subscription boxes.”

Walking Sims

One of my favorite games of all time brought to you by the team that made one of my least favorite games of all time. It’s a walking sim about a heist… sort of. A wonderful exercise in restraint and tone and setting.

“Cosmic Horror Walking Sim” is a bit of of its own genre, but this one actually takes place in space. Great aesthetic and great weird.

Walking sim set in a compound of an apocalypse cult.

Fugue in Void is in part about exploring abandoned, abstract mysterious architecture. It’s also about about what life means in those spaces.

Vibe-y neon set of walking sims that try to elevate the ordinary into something more sublime.

Amazing VR mediation on the history of Vila Itororó. Makes heavy use of Lidar/Photogrammetry to great effect, giving it a verisimilitude of reality that many indie games don’t try to approach.

Haunted PS1-style game about two people that meet in an under-construction theater and watch as reality starts to slip away. Big Borges vibes.

Horror game that focuses on the experience of being scared vs. being one that tries to scare you.

Walden, a game is both as corny as its premise (make a game adaptation of Thoreau’s Walden) and yet equally as introspective and meditative as its source material. It’s obscene in some ways, and transcendent in others.

More traditional horror walking sim about exploring a pyramid. Expect creepy noises.

“Rooftop Cop is a collection of five endless vignette games and a 7-track album. The games are set on a loose metaphysical timeline in which the Cops slowly lose their way.” Given the impetus for this bundle, it’s also one of the few games in the bundle that critically looks at the role of cops in society. The question “what are they policing” resonates throughout the whole experience.

Weird, non-linear cosmic-horror mystery game with characters and dialog options (which is non-conventional for a walking sim!). Also interesting premise and great aesthetic. “A giant cathedral of flesh has appeared in the middle of the ocean on a dying world. A small group of scientists are secretly investigating it when a mysterious woman appears, facing an impossible task.”

“Abandoned MMORPG” is an emerging sub-genre of walking sim that I really like, and PAGAN: Autogeny is currently the best example. Explore a world long abandoned by its players.

Tabletop RPG Sourcebooks/Supplements

This is one of the standouts of this bundle. Created by a lot of the same team that makes the incredible comic KILL SIX BILLION DEMONS, Lancer “imagines a future where a survivor humanity has spread to the stars after weathering terrible ecological collapse on Earth — the end of the Anthropocene as a consequence of unrestrained consumption and poor stewardship.”

For fans of Mouse Guard, this is a sort of OSR-ificiation of Mouse Guard to make it a bit more gritty and less finnicky. There’s a great video overview of the book here. Basically, if you want to play Mouse Dark Souls, this is it in TTRPG form.

Another standout TTRPG. Blades in the Dark is the originator of the Forged in the Dark ruleset that has been used for lots of other games. The current season of Friends at the Table (Partizan) is using Beam Saber, a Forged in the Dark game.

A major highlight of the bundle and a great entry point for people looking to get more out of TTRPGs than just Dungeons and Dragons. “Visigoths vs. Mall Goths is a tabletop roleplaying game and dating sim about the conflicts and romances among the warriors who sacked ancient Rome and 20th century spooky teens, set in a suburban Los Angeles shopping mall during 1996. There are a lot of bisexuals.

One of my favorite TTRPG books I’ve ever read. Quoting Cannibal Halfling, “Imagine, if you will, that Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett have returned from the dead. They both pile into a Ford Cortina and take a long drive across the American Southwest, pondering the nature of the fantasy genre. Once they arrive in California, they legally acquire several ounces of the finest cannabis sativa and hotbox the Cortina. Then they write an RPG. This, roughly speaking, seems to be what produced Troika, a delightfully simple and delightfully absurd game.”

Troika! adventure supplement, that is as weird and wild as Troika! itself.

A bit like Unknown Armies but updated for the 2010s, “Agents of the O.D.D. is a [full] tabletop roleplaying game of conscripted cryptids, shaky psychics, burned spies, and other investigators of the paranormal.”

Just a little more Troika!. This supplement provides weird sci-fi backgrounds (kind of like classes in Troika!) that can be used as a starting point for your own space-faring campaign.

Full Sci-fi TTRPG setting about exploring an abandoned Earth and all the weird things you encounter there.

Just a fun TTRPG supplement with some spells , plants, creatures, etc. “The Tome of Rites and Rituals is a roleplay aid designed to help spice up tabletop settings, grant inspiration to creatives, and provide an entertaining window into a fantasy world. The tome contains descriptions of 8 spells in the form of instructions, as well as a glossary for fictional plants, elements, drinks, and creatures mentioned therein.”

Full sourcebook for some lighthearted sandbox fantasy adventuring! “If you’re ready for a lighthearted fantasy romp that gives you the freedom to do as you please in an original world of wonder filled with the love of a community, then give Journey Away a try!”

Sleepaway is a full TTRPG campaign setting where “you play as a camp counselor at a not-so-ordinary summer camp besieged by a Strange and ominous cryptid. In the outside world, people grow increasingly alienated from their own identities, trapped in a miasma of advertising and corporate branding. Isolated from civilization, this summer camp is a beacon of safety, a refuge for misfit kids defined by their marginalization. As time pushes past and the world grows older, this camp also shelters the survivors of the Lindworm.”

TTRPG that channels Tarkovksy and Jeff Vandermeer as you explore a world with many mysteries and few answers.

Fun, weird, TTRPG about playing as a trickster character in a small village who wants to impart A Lesson to the community. “Become a trickster charged with protecting a small village. Teach the villagers lessons and chase after your worldly desires. Then see what sordid tales these mortals tell of your bizarre interventions.”

The Forking Paths zines are a great dossier on ideas in the TTRPG space, with examples and muses and speculations, as well as full settings and adventures.

For all you stuck alone at home, Dungeon Hero is a solitaire TTRPG! Plays somewhere between a print-and-play game and Fighting Fantasy.

Another great solitaire TTRPG, played mostly with a single deck of standard playing cards. Similar in vibe to Mothership, but something you can play by your lonesome and craft your own story about “human resilience in the face of overwhelming odds and almost certain death. It is a game about isolation, fear, and perseverance.”

“Pocket Dungeon” that can be easily run as part of any other TTRPG campaign. “The town of Phylinecra has suffered a terrible fate at the hands of a torrential flood, but as the townsfolk try to rebuild and restart in the aftermath, they find their home invaded and their loved ones encased by ghostly crystalline forms of the houses they lost.”

A super fun strange adventure for use in any TTRPG campaign. “In Demon Chef Bakto’s dungeon, a fresh party of adventurers is ready to make him a dangerously delicious dish, or die trying. Have you the creativity and skills to please this legendary chef or will you find a way to end his evil cuisine?”

It’s a solo tabletop RPG where you adventure in Catacombs! You build out the map of the catacombs based on rules in the zine, and can then choose to play a setting in them after you’ve generated your map! Similar in spirit to The Stygian Library or The Gardens of Ynn.

Michtim is a really interesting TTRPG sourcebook that uses emotions (Joy, Grief, Love,etc.) to describe characters and their ambitions vs. things like Strength and Dexterity. “Michtims want to protect nature; and they want to set humans back on the path to a better life. It can be a heartwarming experience; but it also has tight mechanics and can handle fights.”

A great collection of funnels and other materials for Dungeon World, centered around the location Hogtown.

It’s a bit like Crazy Taxi, but imagined instead as a tabletop game set in the Philippines. “Pilot a kind-hearted cabbie who does their round in Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Have some of your friends play your familiars — spirits or monsters that you helped in the past, and are now trying to pay it forward. This is a city where there are just as many spirits as there are people, and they need help too. Take that wheel, hang some sampaguita on your rearview mirror, fire up Waze. Your passengers are waiting.”

Imagine a game like Fiasco, but instead meant to be played with only 2 people and in a shorter amount of time. “Do you have a moral code, a grander goal, or are you here to rob the rich blind and teach them a lesson? That’s up to you, and the GM can design a heist to meet anyone’s needs — along with a whole lot of fun.”

As someone from the deep south, I’m always happy to see things that address the daily paradoxical nature of living there. Lowcountry Crawl does that wonderfully. It’s “chock full of tables, house rules, monsters, and other resources acting together as a toolbox for generating a deep coastal South-inspired atmosphere.”

A robust TTRPG supplement for 5e centered around the quest to “to gather several tributes, all of which are parts from the world-creating giant Pán-gǔ”. “After the village oracle foretold a disastrous weather change that would destroy the upcoming harvest, the party must set out to procure a number of offerings for the gods. Hopefully, with the appropriate tributes and ritual, the village can avert disaster, or at least avoid having to make a human sacrifice instead.”

Probably the only TTRPG supplement focused exclusively on creating a nearly infinite variety of strange food vendors in 4th dimensional food park. “ONE MILLION Food Vendors and Menus! — Never eat the same thing twice! Generate from 8,000 possible unique food vendors and LITERALLY ONE MILLION possible dishes; ranging from Soft-shelled Crabman Sandwiches with Tzatziki sauce and Egg Coffee, to Myconid Zapiekanka in Pesto with a shot of Absinthe!

Non-TTRPG Tabletop “Games”

A submission for the Belonging Outside Belonging jam (hosted by Avery Adler, creator of The Quiet Year), The Glass Dream Game is “A playset inspired by Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game. Play as academics, students, bureaucrats, and people, working together to build a better world through understanding beauty and games. Overcome the scars of war and apocalypse. Grapple with the shortcomings of academic and well-intentioned communities. Teach classes and go to your friends’ lectures. Build a utopia together, for everyone, if you can.”

Based on the Belonging Outside Belonging framework (but not part of the jam), “Far From Home is a game about immigrants and outsiders. It’s about exploring what it means to live and thrive in a culture that is not fully your own. It’s about how you piece together an identity drawing from multiple cultures, yet never wholly belonging to either.”

Tabletop storygame about building the history of a world. “Focusing on place- one specific place, chosen by the group — The Ground Itself unfolds over radically disparate time periods that may range from 4 days to 18,000 years. By casting wildly into time, it considers how places both change and remember themselves. Fundamentally, The Ground Itself is about the echoes and traces we leave for others after we are gone.”

I love this thing. “i’m sorry did you say street magic is a GMless city-building story game for two to six players. Discover and imagine a city filled with life and vivid detail, packed with a myriad of neighborhoods, landmarks, and residents. Discover their true names, and the ways that they intersect — then set events in motion that will change or alter their relationships.”

Similar in play to the above, As the World Ends… is a game about the discussion and negotiation and reckoning that happens as the world is ending around you. What do you do? What do you say? Who do you talk to?

Diceless roleplaying that is about conflict resolution instead of fighting? I’m in. “Rosette Diceless is an approach to roleplaying that focuses on collaborative storytelling and consent-based conflict resolution. You can roleplay everything from complex combat to intricate political debate with the same set of simple, quick-playing rules that work equally well for a tabletop game as they do for a LARP.”

Incredibly beautiful storytelling game based on Don Quixote. “Players take turns revealing the steps of an epic journey: everything from angry innkeepers to virtuous love interests. To overcome each challenge, players use Chivalry cards in their hand (based on books that Don Quixote read in the novel) to tell stories of their deeds, with the best storyteller winning strength-enhancing Treasure cards.”

Simple and easy to “play” tool-thing to create a world/setting for you to use as inspiration for… a book? A game? A movie?

“Every year the citizens of Edmund Valley are witness to the Procession, a march of fantastic and monstrous beings that pass through the town, and as they do, they perform miracles. Discover the miracles of the Procession and decide how they change your version of Edmund Valley.”

In Ex Novo you’re given the tools to build a city around a narrative you create. “Meet with your friends and collaboratively draw the map of your city as you explore the conditions that led to its founding and the events that shape its development.” Very similar in spirit to The Quiet Year, but a bit easier and less time-consuming.

It’s a tabletop storygame built for play during quarantine! You mail your friends back and forth cards that help to tell the story of a world you’re building together.

The world wasn’t asking for a House Hunters style tabletop RPG, but Surreal Estate really delivers. “Surreal Estate is a storytelling role-playing game about generating and exploring weird houses, in the style of a House Hunters-like reality TV show. Players will create wishful buyers and an antagonistic realtor, collaboratively build a sequence of strange houses, and develop their latent PSYCHIC POWERS as they explore the weird and the supernatural.”

Roguelikes

AESTHETIC roguelike, with some really interesting mechanics to boot. “Haque (/hak/) is a glitch fantasy roguelike adventure about cute monsters, low-bit hauntings, and a suspiciously talkative narrator. Choose your character and battle through forests, deserts and dungeons to defeat a mysterious evil. Die often. Try again!”

Tactics/Strategy/RPGs

One of the best mico-strategy games from the past few years (think Into the Breach, Bad North) about trying to survive on a roadtrip through the apocalypse.

Falling somewhere between a roguelike and text adventure, Noise1 is “a hacker-typing stealth game where you guide a desperate stranger through a mysterious station performing dark experiments.”

Heavily underplayed spaceship game with crew management, space/planet exploration, and more. For anyone that enjoys Terraria and wanted a bit more space than Starbound.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before “In a dystopia where wealthy capitalists control elections, media, and the lives of working people, we’re faced with two choices — accept it or fight for something better.” Maybe the most relevant game on the whole list. It’s also a great side-scrolling beat-em-up with a strategic management layer.

Odd Realm is one of the most promising Dwarf Fortress/Rimworld-like games that manages to find itself a space between the two. It’s more centered around individual characters’ actions, but also has a robust building system that means you can create insane super structures like in Dwarf Fortress.

No Delivery is a procedurally generated CRPG, pizzeria simulator where you are the newest in a long line of employees for a local decrepit pizza parlor. Despite the rumors, shady history, and missing persons cases, you sign up for the night shift because it pays slightly more and all the kids’ birthday parties should have ended by then… Luckily, it’ll just be a boring job in an empty pizzeria… right?”

A really inventive RPG where you play as a fortune teller in a magical resources department.

Puzzle Adventure Games

The postmodern platformer (where everything is made of playdough) that makes you question what is actually a platformer and who’s actually doing the platforming.

Celeste is one of the best platformers ever. If you like testing yourself against tough as nails platforming sections that require you to perfectly nail a pixel-perfect jump with perfect timing, this is for you.

Imagine if you played the original Zelda in only 60-second increments, and at the end of that time, you die. What would that mean for the adventure? What does that mean for the world? Minit tries to answer this!

Hybrid of a card-driven battle system and grid-based movement game that plays out across a psychedelic planet. Play it for the incredible art, and stay for the fun of combing weird loot to build even weirder powers!

Lenna’s Inception is a sort of post-modern Zelda. The code of the world is literally falling apart around you, and it’s up to you to save the day before the game completely falls apart!

Totally gorgeous puzzle adventure game about an old man journeying across land and sea. If you want something like Pixar’s UP in game form, this is for you!

For anyone who loved Hotel Dusk or 999, this is for you! “It’s up to you to guide Jam through eight rooms of point-and-click puzzles, gather evidence, and deduce what really happened in the Mystery of the Mysteriously Spooky Mansion.” A detective game played in reverse.

Pure Puzzle Games

A “dungeon crawler” where you control the flow of the dungeon you move through. Similar in spirit/aesthetic to Card of Darkness, with mechanics that echo a lot of what Boss Monster did in physical form.

Great Match-3 game with a twist (and a much needed facelift). “In a pastel world of networks where nobody truly knows what they’re doing, hacking is a magical art and the notorious Glitch Witch is the most premium archmagi of the net. By random circumstance, YOU are her new apprentice. You must use your wits and cunning to unravel the mechanisms of an alien computer and survive amongst a veritable web of clowns, leftclickers, and filedraggers.”

It’s a “puzzle” game but it’s also a more surreal exploration game you play by inspecting and interacting with various baubles and trinkets. As you play, you “wander through a kaleidoscope of different moods and settings. It is an accessible, colorful experience for all to enjoy, filled with playful interactions and hidden secrets.”

There’s a few other games on this list about “exploring toys”, but GNOG really takes it to the next level. “GNOG is a playful puzzle game about exploring monstrous virtual toys. Press, pull, slide, grab, click, and rotate every GNOG head to uncover its secrets!” It also works in VR!

One of the strongest game idea hybrids I’ve seen in a long time that manages to transcend it’s premise, Lizzi Crossing is “Minesweeper meets Nonogram in this randomly generated, logic puzzle game. Find the exit and don’t step on the mines.”

Michael Brough is a game designer’s designer, and Cinco Paus may be their magnum opus. The whole game is in Portuguese, but don’t let that dissuade you if you don’t speak English. It’s a game about moving around on a map and picking up magic wands with secret abilities. It’s inspired the game below this, 9 Till Void, as well as a stated inspiration for TinyTouchTales Maze Machina.

9 Till Void is a turn-based deckbuilding roguelike that features neither deck nor cards. As the newly-appointed Spellsword of these lands, you must fight your way through the corruption, with an arsenal of carefully chosen spells, to reach the source of darkness and destroy it from within.”

Fate Tectonics is a really interesting puzzle game that sees you placing tiles according to the rules of a given scenario in order to build a world that appeals to the god of the scenario you chose. Definitely one for fans of Terra Mystica, as well as anyone that enjoys sumptuous 16-bit pixel art.

Game Creation Tools

The internet’s favorite fantasy console! “PICO-8 is a fantasy console for making, sharing and playing tiny games and other computer programs. When you turn it on, the machine greets you with a commandline and simple built-in tools for creating your own cartridges and exploring the PICO-8 cartverse.”

Another big highlight of the bundle (tool is normally ~$45). DragonRuby is a small, quick game creation framework invented by the person who made SDL, aka the backbone of most modern game engines and frameworks.

This is normally free, but worth highlighting as it’s part of the bundle! It’s a great guide and resource to the current state of the Games Industry. It lists out publishers, awards, funds, etc. all in an easy to parse format. You can also view the live trello board here.

For anyone looking to break into the game industry and aren’t sure what the roles people have are, this is a great little guide (formatted like a TTRPG character sheet”) that tells you about each role.

Hex Kit is an amazing hex-map builder for all your TTRPG hex-crawl needs. It’s made by Cecil Howe, the same person currently working on The Forest Hymn and Picnic.

In addition to picking up HexKit above, a few people are also offering their HexKit tiles so you can use them in your own maps!

First-Person Shooters

Anything Blendo Games does is worth playing, but Quadrilateral Cowboy was their biggest project to date as well as their most ambitious. It’s a walking sim mixed with a Deus Ex type hacking and infiltration puzzles.

Great retro FPS that moves beyond just being an arena shooter and instead finds a really interesting structure in channeling the design ideas behind Metroidvanias.

Keep stocking shelves in suburban hell as consumers beat on your windows, becoming nearly ravenous so they can get their… pretzels. Welcome to hell.

It’s a bit like killer7 filtered through a “a neon-dripped, pixelated nightmare” and made way more shooty. “In the American Southwest, a lone witch hunter travels across the desert, seeking to wipe out cultists of all sorts. Fight a variety of goons and ghouls, through small towns to dimension-spanning motels.”

Arcade/Arena Games

By the same developer as Rooftop Cop, Witchball is “a post-reality racing game played by children in the year 2601. Massive environmental change has made much of the world inaccessible, and long-distance travel impossible. Communities are isolated, but communication has advanced to the point where short distances between people barely exist at all. Two players compete in a high speed foot-race while simultaneously playing a 2D pong-like ball game on the surface of the screen. Points are gained in both aspects and tallied per lap, so it’s important — and tricky — to manage the space better than the opponent.”

A straightforward “minimal action game” about making sure your cursor doesn’t collide with a hexagon!

It’s not complicated. You’re a ship, and you’ve got a trail of particles behind you that you can swing around to destroy other ships. And yet it’s now been two hours, and you keep trying to get a better score. For anyone that loved Geometry Wars.

EXTREME HIDE AND SEEK with an amazing art style. “BADBLOOD is a local split-screen hide & seek between two players, with a deadly consequence. Find your unique style of murder in this intimate and visceral local multiplayer, and outwit your neighbor.”

Great “action-roguelike” where you choose a character and blast your way through procedurally generated levels, picking up weird mutations along the way that can both enhance and hinder your character.

It’s like F-ZERO x GBA version of Star Wars Podracer x Tokyo Drift. What more could you want?

The BIT.TRIP series has been running for a decade(!) now and it’s easy to see why. The rhythm-music game is endlessly fun and easy to play, with each entry in the series being a total audiovisual delight. Runner3 is no exception.

I mentioned genre-hybrids above with Lizzi Crossing, and Breaker is another one that really gets it right with it’s blend of Breakout, Space Invaders, and Ikaruga.

Books

A great, and long overdue, collection of essays on Metal Gear Solid that tries “to pin down precisely what makes Metal Gear Solid Metal Gear Solid; to identify the inspirations behind its bizarre sci-fi design, untangle its fraught relationships with sex and gender, and hone in on its ideas about the modern world.”

This is a zine set in the the world of the Soothsayer board game, but full with enough interesting ideas and illustrations that you don’t really need to have any familiarity with the source material to enjoy it.

Hardcoregaming101 is an exceptional site silently doing a ton of archival/curatorial work around videogame history, but is often overlooked due to it’s (admittedly silly) name. However, the books they put out are all goldmines of info, and their Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures is no exception.

Interactive Things/Toys

Turn your computer into a meadow!

It’s a really fun/strange/weird “geometric exploration tool,” narrativized as exploring a planet and going on a treasure hunt.

“KIDS is a short interactive animation drawn by Michael Frei and coded by Mario von Rickenbach, their second collaboration after the award-winning project PLUG & PLAY.”

Similar to “interactive animation” spirit in the above KIDS, Metamorphabet is “a playful, interactive alphabet. Poke, prod, drag, and spin the letters of the alphabet to reveal surprising and luminous transformations.”

Peaceful 2D game where you swim around like a fish!

This is partly a puzzle game, but also Hidden Folks is an interactive toy happy to have you just take in its sights and poke at it every once in a while. For anyone who’s ever wanted a Where’s Waldo? game, this is for you!

Throw bricks at a big tower and watch it collapse in beautiful form.

In a Class of their Own

From the same studio that brought you Wattam, Luna is “an interactive fable about learning by the light of unexpected mistakes.”

I think about Oikospiel often It’s unlike any other game I’ve ever played, and is one of the best examples I think I could gesture at when trying to describe the potential range of things a videogame can be about. It’s nominally about “a German Shepherd named Pluto and exploring the enchanted climates of planet Earth and the asteroid 433 Eros.” But it’s also an opera. It’s also a mediation on capital and game creation itself.

Vilimonic is an insanely ambitious game about trying to regrow life itself after a major extinction event. But starting at the genetic level. I highly recommend reading this piece in RPS about it to give you a sense of the scope and scale this game operates at.

Secret Little Haven is great game that’s part of the “games about exploring a fake operating system” movement/style. “Secret Little Haven is a game about old computers, community, creativity, fandom, gender, and the internet. Alex Cole is a teenage trans girl in 1999 who has yet to figure herself out…Join her on her story of self-discovery through friendship and media as she explores her computer for the treasures and curiosities of the early internet.”

Similar to the above game Secret Little Haven, A Normal Lost Phone is a game about exploring a phone they found that doesn’t belong to them. “Digging through secrets scattered among apps, text messages and photo galleries, the player-voyeur starts witnessing the emotions of Sam, and behind the apparent light-heartedness of a teenage story, their questioning on coming of age, homophobia, depression or the search of oneself.”

“Play as Doctor Simon Forman — unlicensed medical professional and astrologer — and help him win a medical license. Astrologaster is a narrative-based comedy game.” It’s hard to describe this game, so I suggest instead if you like the idea of “narrative comedy,” play this!

Even in Arcadia imagines a world in which capitalism and consumerism are so rampant, that planets are treated as a commodity. A planet “opens” in the same way a new Supreme drop hits. “You are a guest at the launch party for the most recently developed planet: Arcadia. Over the course of the evening you will wander the Arcadia Botanical Gardens’ various rooms and eavesdrop on the other distinguished guests whose stories and dramas play out in a repeating cycle.”

A hybrid rhythm game inside a more traditional point-and-click adventure set in 1920s Argentina. “Unveils an epic story of love and melodrama in the time of Tango as never seen before!”

Another woefully underplayed game that hopefully has more people playing it now, The Real Texas is a surreal “action adventure game that plays like a mashup of Zelda: Link to the Past and Ultima VI.” But in Texas. With German wizards?

This game is 10000% more than what meets the eye. I’ll spoil it for you now that it’s Frog Fractions 2. If you don’t know what that means, play Frog Fractions 1 now. Then play this.

The description undersells how beautiful and poignant this game is. If you’re into semi-abstract storytelling and mixed-media game creation, definitly check this one out. “Kingdom Ka is a retelling of the world’s oldest stories. Enter an abstract world built from pattern and collage, filled with wonderful characters all looking to share their tales.” I also really recommend checking out the other games by carrotcake.

Starseed Pilgrim is a game about tending a symphonic garden, exploring space, and embracing fate.”

“In the middle of the summer, a pack of evil bird-thought attacked a peaceful village of emotional fruit people. They have been separated, each sent into a different season, focused on their own loneliness and internal landscape of troubles. If you wish, help Karambola on his quest to rescue his friends from the power of evil thoughts.”

I’m a big fan of the work AAA Collective does, and Utopias is no different. It’s a “videogame network of nine worlds — each one a personal utopia developed by a member of AAA collective.” Similar vibes to Oikospiel above.

“Unobelisk is a solo turn based, exploration game focused on resource management and puzzle solving” where you journey to the top of an Obelisk but are “blocked by a number of riddles, passwords, keys and the mysterious threat of the primordial ghosts, along with your own Subject brothers and even the 4 scientists themselves.”

“Local multiplayer word game” is not a phrase I see tossed around often, so Word After Word caught my eye immediatly. “Word After Word is a fast-paced local multiplayer word game that uses a massive natural language dataset to reward players for thinking naturally about common word usage and context.” It’s a bit like the game from Family Feud, but played with a less-specific ruleset and more based around free-association.

This is a single player real-world ARG where you try to discover a code to a safe where you stored your earnings from the infamous One Last Job. “Starting with the clues you’ve been sent, you’ll need to solve codes, send emails, decipher voice notes, and hack websites to find the information you need.”

playing/making games/movies

playing/making games/movies