If I’ve done my math right, by the time this is published there should be a little over three days left for you get 1637 games for five dollars. Not five dollars each. Five dollars. Right now, itch.io is offering a Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, with half of the proceeds going to NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and half going to Community Bail Fund. They asked developers to donate their games to the bundle and received one hell of a response. One-thousand three hundred and four creators have offered their content for a total of 1637 items worth $9083.
I tell you this because one, it’s a good cause, and two, I was raised with an eye for a bargain. I’m one of those “oh that’s cute” *checks price tag* “no it isn’t” people. I head straight to clearance sections and I’m a sucker for a good thrift store or yard sale. It’s not just because I like to save money (though that is certainly a plus), it’s the thrill of discovering hidden treasures, of finding something you wouldn’t have gone looking for and seeing the potential you might have missed in its original context. It’s exciting, and I want to share that excitement with you.
Now, full disclosure, not all of the items are PC games, some of them are tools for developing your own games and building your own worlds. There are asset packs, hex kits for making your own cartography, Game Development Cheatsheets to help you put together your own development team, project management tools, and game engines such as DragonRuby. The bundle also includes several visual novels and a whole host of PDFs for tabletop role-playing games.
I’m sure there are other things included that I’ve missed, too. When I first browsed through the pack there were only (only) a little over seven hundred items, and I’ve yet to investigate all the new additions. There are a few games that I am excited to get into right off the bat though, some because I’ve heard of them before and have long wanted to try them and some simply because the aesthetics appeal to me.
Going to be honest: I haven’t played these yet. I’ve started one. Because I am a single person with limited time and there are ONE THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVEN ITEMS in this bundle. So here are the three I’m going to look at first:
Oneshot is one of those games I’ve heard the name of quite a bit and am excited to play just out of familiarity. It was released in 2016 and appears to be about a small cat-child carrying a lightbulb through a dark world. Look at this cutie:
It’s a puzzle/adventure game that usually sells on Steam for $9.99 (oh yeah, point of note: the games in the bundle don’t come with Steam keys, just so you’re aware.) The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and the description sticks in my brain:
“The world knows you exist. The consequences are real. Saving the world may be impossible. You only have one shot.”
What does that mean? Based on the way people talk about this game, I’m intrigued to find out and wary of looking up anything that might spoil the ending. Honestly I’m lucky I don’t already know seeing as it’s four years old.
Okay this is the one that caught my eye purely on aesthetics.
I’ve always thought the funeral industry was fascinating. It can be difficult to talk about what happens to us after death on a physical level: it’s not pretty, or romantically tragic, or poetic. It just is, and it’s a reality that others face for us on a daily basis so we can see our loved ones all dressed up one last time, or see them in a pretty urn, or… well actually that’s the two main options in the western funeral industry, isn’t it? Though there are different routes to choose from if you look for them. If you’re interested I recommend the book “Stiff” by Mary Roach or the “Ask A Mortician” YouTube channel is always a fun watch.
Okay so maybe it isn’t purely aesthetics that draws me to this game. I have a passion for the general topic. That doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy the game, but I’m eager to give it a shot.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods was released in 2017, and it usually sells on Steam for $19.99, so this game alone should be worth the bundle purchase. I do already know a bit about Night in the Woods. I’ve been wanting to play it for myself ever since I watched some of it on YouTube, and I finally got the chance a few days ago. It follows Mae and her return home after dropping out of college. Everything has changed, and as you explore the small, dying town and lead Mae through her days there’s a lingering sense of unbelonging. Spell check is telling me that’s not a word but I stand by it. It’s more than feeling out of place. It’s a very specific feeling to know that you should belong somewhere, but that you don’t anymore and really, you know that you never did. The place isn’t what you thought it was. You’re not what you thought you were.
It’s a melancholy game that’s already very close to my heart, and it’s something you have to experience for yourself.
There are dozens of others I’ve marked to check out when I finish the ones above: The Fall of Lazarus, Pendula Swing, Celeste, Oxenfree, Changeling. As this post is being written, the bundle just hit its stretch goal of five million dollars. There are still a few days left for that number to grow, a few days left to take advantage of this opportunity to find something you’ll love among the chaos of 1637 games (and other things) clamoring for your attention.
Are there any games from the bundle you recommend checking out first? Let me know in the comments below!
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