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!
Beglitched is a game about insecurity, in our computers and ourselves. 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.
- Hexecutable's description of Beglitched
Starting out with what feels like an ode to a Minesweeper puzzle, you have to figure out what are in each of the computer nodes by using the visual indicators on the nodes around it. Eventually, exploring said nodes can lead you into a match-3 style battle that has some pretty unique mechanics that I haven't really seen before.
This game is absolutely adorable and has so much personality. The design and colour of the pixel art combined with the simulation of the inner-workings of a computer add such an enjoyable layer to the already delightful gameplay. I'm a sucker for interpretations of the older Windows aesthetic so I am right at home in here.
As for the game progression, it's one of those titles that teaches you as you go, and purposefully gives you little context and direction. This allows for a nice, satisfying level of progression, leaving you confused for only so long before gradually introducing all the interlocking game mechanics.
ETHEREAL is a profound experience [...] where you have to find your way within an intricate and abstract series of levels, using different kinds of mechanics that allows you to modify the environment or the direction of your character movement...
Each corner of its world has been carefully designed to communicate without any text and expose a novel puzzle to solve without time pressure, evoking an introspective state of mind...
If visually distinct games tend to draw you in, Ethereal is definitely worth checking out. The onboarding for me was a little too light I think; the game uses a visual-based, text-less route to establish mechanics. I can be somewhat dense and get frustrated quickly so those type of tutorials don't always click with me. Minus my few hiccups however, I enjoyed the time I had with it! If you want something simple and quick to boot up, with no narrative bells and whistles, then Ethereal is a great choice to pick up and jump into action.
Thou Shalt Be Brave
Thou Shalt Be Brave is a mini role-playing game played in 64x64 resolution. You choose a class (Knight, Rogue, Wizard or Bard) with a starting stat bonus and explore the forest. You may run into a good encounter such as forest elves who could heal you or an old spell scroll that will increase your intelligence or a bad encounter such as a monster or a cursed potion that will decrease your strength!
Thou Shalt Be Brave was an interesting game to tinker with as I'm not much of a D&D player. Heavily reliant on that table top influence, this type of gameplay isn't my exact forte but I appreciate the small scale and scope of simplicity that allows this title to be a stepping stone for the genre. My biggest recommendation, I'd almost say requirement even, for checking out this title is treating it like an actual TTRPG and read the instructions. This game is very basic and simple (again, not a bad thing) but the tighter resolution doesn't allow for an extended amount of text so a lot of important information is left to occupy space on the game's itch.io page. It's not a long page and won't take much time to review, but it was only after I went over it did the game start to make sense.
After that, it's a lot of fun! A cute title for more veteran TTRPG players, and a nice bite-sized, manageable experience for newer players to the genre who might just want to dip their toes in the water and see what it's about.
Looking for more itch.io games from the bundle to check out? Take a look at the Showcase Tag for more! Have you played any of these games before? Let me know what you think over on twitter at @atlaspolara!