Anybody dug into the Racial Justice & Inequality Bundle? July 20, 2020 7:50 AM   Subscribe

It’s been more than a month since simmering octagon posted about itch.io’s Bundle for Racial Justice and Inequality. It seemed like a number of folks were considering picking up the bundle. I’m curious if anyone has had a chance to dig in and find some interesting gems.
posted by Going To Maine to MetaFilter-Related at 7:50 AM (43 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

I went through several Twitter threads and sites looking for recommendations. Some picks (sorry for the directory dump, but they are so many! Extra interesting titles in bold):

A Mortician's Tale - Windows x64.zip
Airships_1.0.16.3_Windows.zip
ART SQOOL.zip
AShortHike_Windows_v14.zip
AstrologasterWindows.zip
Beacon_Itch.zip
boomtown-windows0-3.zip
campfire-windows.zip
Catlateral Damage v1.0.8 Windows.zip
celeste-win.zip
chipmonk-windows-64.zip
CSD2_Win_v2_60m1_1.zip
deeper-into-space-win.zip
DesktopGoose v0.3 Extractor.exe
Erth v5 beta 4.1.zip
FootballDramaItch300.zip
FossilHunters_windows_2018-06-04.zip
Fugue in Void (Windows).rar
GhostGrab3000_1-3_Windows64_PCStandalone.zip
gutwhale_release_build.zip
Haque1-0-0-4win_itch.zip
HeadlinerNoviNews_1_3_4ns_win.7z
HEAVYBULLETS_105_WIN.zip
helium-rain-windows.zip
HeroGenerations_Win_v1.21_io.zip
Install Sandcastles.exe
InstallOctodadDadliestCatch.exe
Islands_Win.zip
julia-among-the-stars-win.zip
LastKnight-RRE-2.05-PC.zip
Lifter Asset Pack.rar
MasterSpy-win-1.0.6.zip
mendel-windows.zip
midnight-ultra-win.zip
minit.zip
Mobius v1.1.zip
Mu Cartographer - Windows.zip
Mutiny Island 1.4.3.zip
night-in-the-woods-win64.zip
NIGHTOFTHECONSUMERS0.04.rar
No Delivery_v1.01.zip
NOISE1.exe
nullpointer_release_patch_4_windows_x64.7z
oddrealm_v0_9_0_10_win.zip
overland-win64-fa.zip
oxenfree-release-win64.zip
PathOut_PC.zip
peak-bleak-blues-and-other-moods-win64.zip
quadrilateralcowboy-windows.zip
quench-win.zip
Runner3WIN.zip
SalvageSolitude8140v0.6 - Windows.zip
sky-rogue-win32.zip
stardrop-win-64.zip
SuperRadRaygun_Windows.zip
taskforcekampas-win.zip
The Floor is Jelly.zip
The Sword and the Slime.zip
TonightWeRiot_PC.zip
Unfair Jousting Fair.zip
unobelisk-win-complete.zip
Veiled_v1.6.zip
vilmonic-windows64.zip
volo_airsport_3.7.4_win_64bit.zip
voyageur-win.zip
Wakamarina Valley, NZ.zip
walden-windows-pc.zip
wearedoomed-v1-10-win.zip
WITCHBALL.zip
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:05 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


A short selection of previouslies:
ART SQOOL.zip: U r a froshmin at ARTSQOOL
celeste-win.zip: PLATFORMERS! SIDESCROLLERS! METROIDVANIA!, GOTY2018
InstallOctodadDadliestCatch.exe: Octodad! The game! (well, the sequel thereof)
night-in-the-woods-win64.zip: AT THE END OF EVERYTHING HOLD ONTO ANYTHING
TonightWeRiot_PC.zip: “We have nothing to lose but our leashes and the whole world to gain.”
walden-windows-pc.zip: “The universe is wider than our views of it.”
posted by zamboni at 8:31 AM on July 20 [5 favorites]


Yes! Some of my faves so far:
- A Short Hike - this is not a long game, but it actually has a surprising amount of depth. It is also incredibly peaceful and beautiful, both welcome qualities at this moment. I am currently working on completing the fishing side quest (I am a sucker for any game with a fishing side quest).
- Night in the Woods - great story and design, still learning how to play the bass.
- RYB - a logic puzzle game by FLEB, who I know from his awesome YouTube channel where he solves all kinds of puzzles.
- reky - a minimalist logic puzzle, very chill and stylish.
- Celeste - awesome platformer, great music, challenging enough to create a nice flow state.
- Overland - turn-based strategy game in which you and your companion(s) take a nice road trip try to escape increasingly creepy aliens in a procedurally generated landscape. Great atmosphere.

There are some great tabletop RPGs and resources in there, too. Someone put together a spreadsheet that lists the games by categories which has been really helpful as I've been sorting through. Of the ones I've had a chance to explore, I have really liked...
- One Page Dungeons - what it says on the tin. Each dungeon is system-agnostic and ready to pop into any campaign. Part of the annual One Page Dungeon Contest.
- The Ground Itself, Ex Novo, and The Steadfast & the Rebellious, all place-making games that allow players to tell the story of a city or region over time. They've also been working for me as solo generators / writing prompts.
- Alone in the Ancient City, an adaptation of the solo journaling RPG Alone Among the Stars (previously on the blue).
- Blades in the Dark - a popular game, semi-Powered by the Apocalypse. I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but it looks great.
- I am also really looking forward to trying By the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan, a roleplaying game about the terrible no-good very bad opening night of a theatrical production. Given that actual theatre has been in short supply for me this summer, I'm thinking this will really fill a core need for me.
posted by ourobouros at 8:33 AM on July 20 [5 favorites]


Minit is great (although I had bought it before the bundle) Basically it's like a little NES Zelda type game with the gimmick that your character always dies at the 1 minute mark. As you solve puzzles you open paths or get new tools that make it faster to get around the island. It's a pretty short game too, long enough to be satisfying without outstaying its welcome (my Steam stats say I played for about 3 hours)

One Night Stand is an interesting visual where you wake up in a strangers bed with no memory of how you got there. It's about exploring an awkward social interaction.

Democratic Socialism Simulator is a lot like the iPhone game Reigns, where you are presented with a bunch of choices and have to either swipe left or right to choose between policies. Your goal is to build a just society without getting booted out of office. It's fun!

Cook Serve Delicious 2 didn't quite scratch the itch for me, but it's a game about frantically getting food put together for a diner, Gita Jackson has a very positive review of it
posted by JDHarper at 8:45 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


I totally agree on Minit -- it's fabulous. I'd already bought/played long before the bundle, so it didn't occur to me to list it, but if it's new to you, give it a try!
posted by ourobouros at 8:55 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


I really liked A Mortician's Tale -- not so much a game as a short story in the medium. It can be played through over a lunch hour; short and sweet.

It get called out in the original thread with good reason: Catlateral Damage makes me laugh every time I play it for a bit. First-person cat-trashing-the-joint game.

In the tabletop RPG stuff in the bundle, Blades In the Dark is pretty great. Some friends and I had a fairly long weekly(ish) online campaign of it and the system itself is well-suited at being rules-light but doing what it needs to extremely well. It's about mostly-desperate criminals and outlaws pulling off (or attempting to!) heists, and the system solves several mechanical problems with that kind of thing beautifully: I was particularly impressed by the way it completely solves inventory-planning paralysis. Instead of every player feeling the need to painstakingly identify they're carrying a ten-foot pole, fifty meters of hemp rope but ten meters of high-grade deep sea fishing line and exactly 1.3 kilograms of wyvern whiskers and 3 servings of hardtack with 2 packets of hot sauce etcetera etGETONWITHIT, players just decide what level of inventory load they're going into the heist with--light, medium, heavy, which affects what you'd expect it to here and there in terms of stealthy or not and movement, as a tradeoff to heavier carries giving more options. As the characters (attempt to) address obstacles, they cross off points of Load that were retroactively that thing that just got used. (Need to scale that wall, it turns out? 2 points get crossed off for the climbing gear which trivialized that obstacle--but now you don't have those 2 points for the next one.)
posted by Drastic at 9:04 AM on July 20 [3 favorites]


I've been enjoying Sidewords, a scrambled letters word puzzle game. It has a nice amount of puzzles of varying difficulty, with new sets daily.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:46 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


My roommate's been going through these. I keep stopping to ask what game is that, because it looks interesting. I haven't had the time or energy to dig in yet, myself, and the sheer volume is overwhelming, but a few things I'd recommend:

Shrug Island - played this one before, it's extraordinarily beautiful and imaginative.

Kingdom Ka - this one's new to me, but the art direction and atmosphere look very pretty and dreamlike, if potentially a little creepy.

There are others that appeal to me but I haven't really seen enough of them to comment. I will say the premise of Beacon is very promising.
posted by Lonnrot at 9:55 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


As the person who started this thread, I’ll say that I’ve been enjoying Signs of the Sojourner, which combines deck-building and conversation in a way that really stresses me out and makes me want to start over as soon as I have a bad conversation with some NPC.

Ethereal seems like a good puzzle game, though I’ve only begun poking around with it. It’s enjoyable to move within its world, which is very important to me in spatial puzzles. Even if I'm getting nowhere, I can still have fun.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


+1 for Ethereal; push through the initial "what on earth is happening" disorientation, the rules become obvious fairly quickly. I find it best in short doses.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:23 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I missed this! Will they do it again? I can't see any way to pay for it now? Thanks though, what a cool idea!
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:35 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


Yes! I went through all the included games and ended up bookmarking just a few dozen. I realized I don’t like action or puzzle games, so I’ve been trying the more role-playing story ones.

Mortician’s tale was very good! I still think about it and what I learned.
One Night Stand was short but interesting. A New Life is similar.
The Stillness of the Wind was sad and made me a little panicky, but it’s good too.
Bonbon and the novelist are next on my list.
posted by umwhat at 1:10 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


I've barely touched mine, but I had picked up Islands: Non-Places some time back and really liked it as a wind-down activity before bed. It's not really a game, just a series of environments that you explore. There's a real dreamlike quality to the experience.
posted by suetanvil at 2:40 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


Catlateral Damage made me laugh like crazy.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:28 PM on July 20 [3 favorites]


Going to Maine, thanks for calling out Signs of the Sojourner, I'm really enjoying it now! Never before has removing a card from my deck had emotional impact; it's simple but effective and I'm blown away.

I was pretty quickly taken with EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER. The combat is really straightforward but in a way that makes it fun and intense and a little desperate which goes nicely with the kind of story being told.
posted by doubleozaphod at 5:31 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is rad and unique.
posted by rodlymight at 6:06 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


I also liked Islands: Non-places a lot as kind of a series of calm, peculiar environments with some very limited interactivity.

In a similar vein, Spring Falls is a mellow, peaceful little puzzle game about erosion and plants and running water which I've enjoyed.

I didn't get very far in it, and it's not the easiest game on the eyes, but I like what Crest is going for, it's a god game where all you can really do is write scriptural commandments for your worshippers.

I like Hive Time a lot as a little bee hive simulator, it's comparatively polished and seems fun so far.

So far Astrologaster is the gem of the bundle for me, it has great voice acting and genuinely funny jokes about Elizabethan England. The only weak spot for me is that the actual game part of it can be a little limited, but I'm treating it more as a visual novel.

I installed a bunch of stinkers, too. Virtua Blinds seemed to have controls of some kind but they were incomprehensible to me. Bear-ly There seemed to mostly be a joke but was also impossible to control. Sandcastles was kind of a neat little toy for about 2 minutes and then I got very bored with it. Please was going for atmospheric but just wound up seeming muddled.

I'd also suggest Random Bundle Game as being a decent interface to exploring and installing stuff from the bundle (you can save your itch ID in the browser and get a link that will let you add stuff into your itch library from the bundle with one click, and it has lots of filters).
posted by whir at 6:10 PM on July 20 [6 favorites]


I spent some time playing Pyre, which is a sort of weird-fantasy sports thing from the makers of Bastion. And my mom and I had a friendly competition to find things in Hidden Folks which is fantastic if you like finding things. I also like how the sound effects are just mouth noises. The deepest cut that I have enjoyed is probably Dorfromantik which is a neat little tile-laying thing that kind of reminds me of Carcassonne, but without the stress of trying to screw over your friends. (I think it's free, in case you missed the bundle...)
posted by surlyben at 7:34 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Arcade Sprits is a delightful queer and inclusive visual novel with a lot of romance (if you want it).
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:52 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Man, I was excited to try Minit and WitchWay, but they both failed to run for me on two different (Windows) computers. Dunno why, I'm not clever enough to make use of the error messages they throw up.

Otherwise, here's my brief review of the ones I've tried (I'm only on like page 7):

A Short Hike - fantastic, recommend for everyone. 3-d, angled top down view, low res, isomorphic controls. Chill, wholesome, low stakes (no death!) but with just enough challenge to be a game rather than just an exploration of a cute little world (though exploring is still the best part).

Pikuniku - I recommend this one too, if you're looking for a shortish diversion. A cute little 2-D sidescrolling platformer with somewhat loose controls, but that fits stylistically. A few "boss" fights, but mostly more about solving (largely maze-based) puzzles and mostly you are interacting with folks, not fighting them.

Metamorphabet - super cute; not really a game. Probably great for kids?

Halloween Forever - 2-D sidescrolling platformer, 8-bit graphics, frustrating controls, and death kicks you back pretty far. I gave up pretty quickly; might be fun for harder-core gamers than I.

The Search - Easy on the eyes for sure. First person exploration. Lovely art, cool concept, not my favorite writing (unless you are really excited about reading a thesaurus of Jung's work, I guess. Yes, I am using the word "thesaurus" correctly.). The puzzles are so far pretty repetitive (find some things, find where to place them, move on), but I'm going to keep playing for now.

Mable and the Wood - 2-d sidescroller; don't bother playing if you don't have an xbox controller. One of the key functions uses a second joystick and does not appear to map to any combination of keyboard/mouse. Too bad, I was very excited by the concept in which you are a spirit brought to clear the forest of monsters, but you can choose not to.

Ethereal - glad y'all enjoyed it. I couldn't make head nor tails of it, and peaced out after about 15 minutes. Maybe I will try again given the advice above.

Shrug Island - semi 2-d side view, single-screen levels, point and click. I am still trying to figuring out how interacting with the world changes it, but in the meantime it's lovely world.

Fossil Hunters - cute idea, not sure how engaging it will be for longer play. 3-d, angled top-down view. A main component of gameplay is pushing and pulling fossil tiles around to link them into skeletons, and while you can intentionally control movement to be either lateral or rotational only, unless you press those extra buttons, it's both, which is not so challenging as to be unusable but is a bit frustrating. I'm going to go down a few more levels to see if the skeletons get interesting enough to be worth it, but so far I'm just connecting spines to heads and tails, and the only room for creativity is how long the spine is and whether there's a head at both ends.

Village Monsters - I've only just started this game, but it's cute as shit, and I'm excited to explore more of the world/characters.
posted by solotoro at 8:01 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Does anyone have a spare code they'd be willing to Memail me? I meant to get this but confused it with the Humble Bundle and thought it would be available for a month. I can add a 5x donation to the original charity (or one of your choice) in exchange.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:33 PM on July 21


Visual Out is a pretty nice Metroidvania. It's very much a "drop you in and tell you nothing" experience. Unfortunately I'm stuck just before what I suspect is the final boss, but I enjoyed what I was able to complete.

Chess Mix, by MeFi's own Keith Burgun, is a Lisa Frank-colored cute but challenging puzzle game based on chess pieces. It bills itself as "the TRUE untold story of chess," and, spoiler-but-not-really, the true untold story of chess is that the pieces just like to hang out and party.
posted by valrus at 6:24 PM on July 21


Signs of the Sojourner is very cool. The way the mechanics of acquiring cards work is very cool. My only complaint is that it seems very difficult to "win" some conversations. I suppose that's the point, but I feel like I'm missing out of some of the story.
posted by demiurge at 7:47 PM on July 21


O - I have not played it yet, but it seemed to go unmentioned in the original thread (and this one). The bundle comes with Glittermitten Grove, a.k.a. Frog Fractions 2.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:39 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Had a gas with Planet Diver. Having some difficulty on my Windows 10 laptop getting the itch app and many of these games installed and running. Something to do with permissions / certifications / signatures of some kind?I've generally been a Steam normie PC gaming wise up until now, so I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but I'm going to give it another crack because I really want to play more of these weird games.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:12 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Metamorphabet is great for kids!
posted by Catblack at 9:40 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Oh, one or two I forgot to mention: Dr. Langeskov, the Tiger, and the Terribly Cursed Emerald is maybe my favorite game from the bundle so far, it's a funny little 15-minute game with a sense of humor similar to Portal.

I'm enjoying Golem Creation Kit for its extremely wonky mechanics and coloring-book art style, I find it pretty charming though I could easily imagine someone else disliking it for the same reasons. I also liked Code 7, an adventure game with kind of a CLI-like interface, for having a wonky but interesting UI.

And I'd already played Oxenfree before it was included in the bundle, but it's a good little adventure game with some spooky angles and overall good characterization. Overland seems like the kind of game I'd like, it's kind of an FTL strategic map with an X-Com tactical map, but it's still never quite clicked for me.
posted by whir at 10:36 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I just dug into Silicon Zeroes last night, a build-your-own-computer-device puzzler. It's definitely scratching my puzzler itch.
posted by hanov3r at 10:40 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Most of the games run on macs and quite a few run on linux, if that's relevant to folks.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 5:21 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


WitchWay is a surprisingly good puzzle platformer that doesn't outstay its welcome but gets more difficult than I'd have expected with the limited set of pieces. Same goes for cityglitch without the platformer element. I've played a number of other things too, but those are the surprise standouts so far besides the obvious well-known fantastic games like Celeste and Bleed.
posted by one for the books at 10:16 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I found this collection of mini reviews in the comments of hanov3r's Silicon Zeroes link, which I suspect I will be returning to as I figure out what's beyond the helpful suggestions above.
posted by Sparx at 1:28 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Only tried a handful of them so far, agree on the Minit recommendations. Only other one that is getting repeat play from me is Lizzi Crossing. It's a mashup of Minesweeper and Nonograms with a Maze element thrown in as well.
posted by lloyder at 6:22 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Oh, seconding the recommendation of Dr. Langeskov; if you are a fan of the podcast Friends at the Table, you'll recognize the game's writer Jack de Quidt
posted by JDHarper at 12:58 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I’ve spent the most time with DragonRuby, which is a little game dev environment in the bundle that handles all the rendering for you in an intuitive way so you can just be creative. I think a lot of the games in the bundle were made with it.
posted by michaelh at 9:36 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I am quite enjoying The King's Bird -- it reminds me of Journey which is one of my all time top favorite games.

it's really nice so far. really nice art, rad music. 2d platformer with fun jumping mechanics. i haven't gotten very far yet but it doesn't seem....punishing. it teaches you how to play it in a cool way.
posted by capnsue at 3:35 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Secret Little Haven: It's 1999, you're using something that is the MacOS from an alternate reality, you're escaping your horrible father and high school life on the internet, and you are just about to find out what trans women are and that you're one. Emotionally rough but also sweet and powerful.

Hot Pot Panic: You've just sat down to dinner with your friend at a hot pot place and she wants to talk and you're starving. Can you split your focus between your dinner and the conversation well enough to get a good meal without alienating your friend?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:56 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Gunhouse. It's a tower defense and puzzle game hybrid. Not mind-blowing, but once you get the hang of the puzzling mechanic it's pretty easy to lose a bunch of time to it.
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:32 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Signs of the Sojourner: for when you would like your chill-out relax time to be about how you fuck up every conversation and can never say the right thing!

I get what it's saying about "don't please everyone" - clearly you want to figure out a few locations you want to visit, and then get those cards, because you need to blow some conversations just to get what you need to progress in them - but boy howdy is that not what I need right now.
posted by curious nu at 10:47 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


about how you fuck up every conversation and can never say the right thing

Ha, I had the same experience with Sojourner. Now you can do it even in your pandemic-induced total isolation from other human beings! I got an ending I didn't like, too, I wound up shipping off with the yuppie art usurper. Every time I got back from a trip I was so tired I couldn't have a decent conversation with my best friend. I will probably try to replay this now that I understand the game systems better, but I'm going to leave it alone for a while I think.
posted by whir at 8:29 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


I started downloading everything that said Mac compatible. However only a few of them were 64-bit and I ran into a lot of dead ends. I found several games that I like but I don’t spend much time playing games. I’m just glad I could throw a bit of money into the pot.
posted by bendy at 11:55 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


I have complete analysis-paralysis...

Managed to play Octodad 2 at least. It was a fun game, hilarious concept with good (frustrating) mechanics. Short and did not overstay it's welcome.

Am currently playing Long Gone Days. Feels promising with old-school graphics and mechanics, with a deeper story. However, so far it does not actually seem that my choices make any difference in the story line.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 1:45 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


they both failed to run for me on two different (Windows) computers. Dunno why, I'm not clever enough to make use of the error messages they throw up

Update in case anyone else had similar difficulties: someone else WAS clever enough to make use of the error messages. This discussion, on a game I haven't tried yet, solved my problem for both Minit and WitchWay - the problem was that I needed to update my MicroSoft DirectX Library.

So now I can agree Minit and WitchWay are both great :)
posted by solotoro at 5:47 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Has anybody tried messing around with the Troika! tabletop RPG?
posted by Going To Maine at 12:09 PM on August 1


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