Futile Effort by Selfish Dream – https://selfishdream.itch.io/futile-effort
Another chapter in Selfish Dream cryptic interactive malaise. While I do miss his singular 3D labyrinths, his recent focus on saturation and encoded messages underline SD exceptional talent for visual composition and effects.
Liminal Gallery by KenForest – https://kenforest.itch.io/liminal-gallery
While inspired by Viewfinder, Kenforest appropriates the unique game mechanic in a fantastic haunting experience. Highly recommended.
Tear-Shaped Door by pickpanpuck – https://pickpanpuck.itch.io/tear-shaped-door
Interactive military footwear fetishism. The less you know, the better.
Echoes of Consciousness by LunarLightInteractive – https://lunarlightinteractive.itch.io/echoes-of-consciousness
A quirky sci-fi logic/platform puzzler with an exquisite sense of style. The game slowly creeps towards a nihilistic tone, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Flesh Prison by SUPER HUNT – https://superhans433.itch.io/flesh-prison
When you get Armored Core 6 on Wish.
Dehumanisation by AppleTheCode – https://apple95.itch.io/dehumanisation
Sometimes, you only need a simple putrid concept and a jank garden of flesh. This game maximizes the simple joy of trying everything. Also, look up Tomvolio.
We Don’t Talk About It by Michael Bonardi – https://smashing-games.itch.io/we-dont-talk-about-it
I spent hours looking up this title on my old disk drives, reminiscing of the golden years of Itch.io (2018-2020) when every new title questioned the concept of “video games” as a product. I needed this one specifically for an article I finished writing on art gallery transposition in game spaces, but I ended up playing it thrice. It is an absolute tour de force of self-reflexive game design, with a narrative evoking Thomas Moore and Dennis Cooper. The slow descent in cruelty transcends the medium, potentials that still need to be explored and developed.
Isle o Little Men by kakoon – https://kakoon.itch.io/isle-o-little-men
Created for the recent 1-Bit Jam, this self-declared best game of 2023 is the funniest one up to now. It reminds me of Critters for Sale but with more cosmic self-depreciation and a unique UX.
La Obscura by Duke_of_Null – https://duke-of-null.itch.io/la-obscura
Another entry of the 1-Bit Jam, this one is riding the trend of oceanic horror. It proposes a very efficient use of framing within a frame to generate a dreadful sense of loneliness and ocular deprivation.
Uncle On Ketamine by Sticchee – https://stickhaha.itch.io/uncle-on-ketamine
I am not a fan of FFAF mechanics, but here we have a fine example of delicate balancing between menace, dankness, and dumbness.
Catch Your Sacrifice by ghost – https://bloodmachine.itch.io/catch-your-sacrifice
This is an otherworldly blasphemy of an FPS where putrefaction oozes out of neon solar wounds. The audio design shines with an intimidating voiceover (think Shodan), delivering insane gnostic prose over buzzing loops of static and synth.
Chirality by KyraEigon – https://kyraegon.itch.io/quiralidad
Abstract sci-fi horror of threatening architecture, colliding dimensions, and eroding sanity. The game makes little attempt to explain its nightmarish setting, and it’s for the best, leaving a paranoid impression of collapsing reality.
Tommy Gun Witches by CosmicVoid – https://cosmicvoid.itch.io/tommy-gun-witches
A masterclass in worldbuilding, this short point-and-click adventure creates a world with a few characters and discussions where hard-boiled detectives hunt conspiring ballistic witches. Everything from the artwork to the sound design transpires with care and imagination.
I Promise by INFINITE TEARS – https://infinitetears.itch.io/i-promise
If it weren’t for WFG clue, I would have never discovered what’s hidden on this black road. Harsh noise poetry of cosmic revelation from the team behind city:ephemera. A beautiful, concise experience.
The Loneliness Gallery by JichenCui – https://jichencui.itch.io/the-lonliness-gallery
An assortment of haunting installations about solitude, isolation, and the instability of reality – don’t be deceived by its soothing appearances. This Gallery will stay with you for a while.
Ineffable Glossolalia by Tabitha Nikolai – https://tabithanikolai.itch.io/ineffable-glossolalia
I recently discovered the work of Tabitha Nikolai, and I intend to spend several hours in her digital environments—a thoroughly mesmerizing exploration of dysphoria through an arena of failing words and images.
It’s Not Your Fault by Boz of Aesth – https://boz-float.itch.io/its-not-your-fault
Come for the maximalist game description on Itch.io, and stay for a broken experience of fixed camera angle and brutal sound design. While I was unable to finish it as I got jammed with no sense of direction, I will closely follow Boz of Aesth’s future releases.
OTHER GAMES PLAYED
Rollerdrome (PC) – Tony Hawk Pro Skater and Max Payne grafted on a Rollerball (1975) poster. The gameplay is furiously fun, pushing you through brutal deaths to master its straightforward but intricate mechanic. It slows down a little at the midpoint, but it starts to deliver when it clicks. I also really enjoyed the amoral stance the game takes towards its plot.
Alice Madness Returns (PC) – While this game suffers from the 2011 syndrome of spreading a 4-hour game on a mandatory 10-hour duration, AMR offers some of the most grueling, perverse storyline I ever witnessed in a AAA game. It’s exceptionally well delivered through excellent writing and character design, especially the monstrous biomechanic takes of the inhabitants of Wonderland. It’s enough to keep playing even though the combat and platforming are lackluster, with repetitive enemies and uninteresting puzzles.
Space Guns (Arcade) – Gory, over-the-top lightgun space horror with targetable limbs. I’m convinced the dismemberment action here is more satisfying than the Dead Space remake.
Alien vs. Predator (Arcade) – I spent entire weekly allowances on this game at the arcade back in the day, and it still holds up now. It’s one of the finest beat ‘em up I ever played.
Vampire Survivors (iOS) – Well, I fell back into the trap, and this time, the retinal imprint of gems didn’t dissuade me from pushing forward. It’s one of the most addictive games I played since Binding of Isaac, especially when you get the Yellow Sign. I also got fascinated by the lore emerging from the subtext, offering disquieting snippets of cosmic violent indifference.
Anglerfish (PC) – What a hilarious, bonker title. The central gameplay loop is based on a singular mix of failure, usually through brutal, unfair death and randomness. It may seem technically frustrating, but the grotesque and tongue-in-cheekness pushes you to discover what insanity will come next. Fantastic pixel art and soundtrack to boo; I give five stars to this weird nightclub.