It may be GDC week, and a good portion of the itch.io team has descended on San Francisco but that didn’t stop me from playing some games to recommend to you. Included this week are a sublime horror adventure, a game with a decidedly unique tone, and a digital sticker adventure. There’s something for everyone. Dive in to our recommendations below.
Someone recommended Paratopic to me as “30 Flights of Loving but super spooky.” Games don’t often get compared to Blendo Games’ masterpiece despite how good it is. Fortunately for all of us Paratopic is just as good as its spy themed cousin.
If you’re unfamiliar with the comparisons to 30 Flights of Loving know this: Paratopic is a short, atmospheric game that is more interested in conveying tone than a traditional “video game-y” experience. However where Paratopic strikes out on its own is its choice of subject and presentation. Throughout the game’s half hour runtime you’ll be treated to PS1-era atmospheric scares alongside a really striking faux-retro style. Paratopic is one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of recommending on this blog and one that you should take great pains not to miss.
In the Hollow of the Valley has a special place in my heart. As someone who was born and raised in Northern California, and lived in San Francisco for nearly a decade I have had to watch the city I love get transformed into a soulless wasteland of tech startups and venture capital. As a part of this change we’ve seen the narratives of the city change from native folks, settlers, and hippies to tales of coders building things in their garages. In the Hollow of the Valley takes a look at one of the more famous versions of this story -- the founding of Salesforce-- and looks not only at the story that people in the Bay Area have reinforced, but what that says about the people telling the story.
In the Hollow of the Valley feels like you’re playing a piece of investigative journalism and while the game is very clear that it’s speculative fiction it’s a unique tone that I don’t see very often in gaming. If you have any interest in tech origin stories or are just curious to see what speculative fiction in games looks like, there is a lot going on inside of The Valley.
Alright let’s venture onto something a little lighter: sticker books. Barles Charkley’s Shut up and Paint is the definitely-not-licensed take on sticker books that you didn’t know you needed. Contained within Barles’ design are things like: digital paper, digital pens, sound effects, and digital stickers. Yep, all of the things you need to relax and listen to goofy sounds while drawing things that deserve to end up on the fridge. The only limits here are your creativity. Well, your creativity and IP law.
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