In case you don't know what this is...
Back in June 2020, itch.io hosted a bundle called the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. This bundle was inspired to provide financial support for legal defense and bail funds for those involved in the protests working to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other Black lives that met their ends at the hands of police brutality.
As the bundle grew in popularity, more contributors opted to include their works into the bundle. By the end, more than 1,700 works by almost 1,400 Creators were included. The initial goal of $100,000 was met exceptionally fast (within a day) so they opted to increase it (multiple times) to see how much money could be raised.
The last goal set was $5 million. The final total raised? Just under $8.152 million.
This series is a look into the various games included in said bundle. They include a brief overview of the game, followed my my initial impressions!
Campfire Cooking is an endearing puzzle game that brings the coziness of a fire in the great outdoors to your computer. The goal of this game: toast your marshmallow! Your game play revolves around moving your campfire sticks to toast both sides of all the marshmallows on the grid. There will be no double toasting on this outdoor flame tonight!
Combining the various types of roasting sticks with other grid obstacles provides a nice, steady increase in difficulty. If you're a puzzle game player, you'll know that sometimes walking away for a bit is the best thing you can do, but these handcrafted levels do a great job at pushing you to think outside the box without wanting to set the box on fire and throw it out the window. The mechanics used within the levels feel unique and specific to the narrative premise of the game, tying the whole experience together wonderfully.
Usually puzzle games have timers and a restriction on the number of moves you can make during a level, or even having a 'perfect' way of completing it. Campfire Cooking really embraces that laid back and stress-free atmosphere you feel when sitting at night around a campfire and does away with all elements of gamification. No timed pressure, unlimited moves you can undo and also reset to start from scratch. It all helps cultivate an atmosphere that wants you to sit back, relax, and figure out how to create the perfect marshmallow.
One Night Stand
One Night Stand is a compact sized visual novel, set in the bedroom of an unknown woman that you drunkenly spend the night with. An interesting, unfolding narrative, coupled with beautiful drawn visuals makes for a fairly unique experience you'll want to play through again and again to figure out what really did happen.
ONS is what I like to call a 'try-again' visual novel. That is a VN with a much smaller narrative scope, for the explicit purpose of trying to gain different endings. Yes you could play this title once and be done, but you learn quickly that there is significantly more knowledge for you to gain about Her, and the night itself. This game is designed for you to play again and again, to see how it all could have played out differently. Due to my terrible attention span, I'm not usually a VN person but the smaller scope of ONS kept me intrigued enough to end up getting all the possible endings. I just wanted to learn more about You as the player and Her. If you want to dip your toes in the VN genre, or are looking for something that is less of a time commitment, ONS would be the perfect game to scratch that itch.
Signs of Sojourner
Signs of Sojourner is an intriguing narrative based game that uses a unique, mini deck building puzzle mechanic to determine the outcome of conversations. You are playing as a child of an esteemed caravanner who has passed away and are charged with keeping your mother's shop open and thriving. With the help of your childhood friend Elias keeping an eye on things at home, you travel with your mother's caravan to various towns and with a bit of persuasion and puzzle solving, gather wares to bring back with you.
You essentially have a deck of cards, with symbols on the left and right hand side. Dialogue proceeds as you place these cards down, either matching the symbols with the previous card or not (similar premise to Dominos). You have a certain number of positive and negative dialogues per conversation that you can achieve. A positive dialogue is a result of a full sequence of cards fully matched, whereas a negative dialogue is the result of placing an unmatched card at any time. The conversation is fully over once either all positive or negative dialogues have been achieved.
What I really like about SoS is it feels very "simple to learn, hard to master". As you progress through the game, you get abilities and specialty cards that can really change the way a conversation turns out. Completing conversations with people grants you new cards you can add to your deck, but at the cost of replacing an existing one in the already small-ish pool. It's nice that you don't have a massive deck that you need to maintain and organize, but still have that layer of complexity to make further conversations more challenging.
Overall, I highly recommend checking this game out. The scope of each game mechanic makes it easy to dip your feet into even if you don't normally play them. With a replayable story that allows you to explore various narrative choices, it can keep you busy for a good long while.
Looking for more itch.io games from the bundle to check out? Take a look at the Showcase Tag for more!