Sunday, June 21, 2020

Highlights from the Itch Bundle for Racial Justice

With over 1500 games involved this can't even be close to remotely comprehensive. I will be limiting it to games that have left a noteworthy positive impression on me.

Tabletop Games


World Builder (Michael Elliot)

A card-based game focused on creating a setting through fleshing out character backgrounds. Very easy to hack (as it's really all a bunch of random tables) if you want to adjust outcomes.

Ex Novo (Konstantinos Dimopolous)

A citybuilding, mapmaking game. Developments are rolled off a d666, dictating the rise and fall of factions, the growth of the city, new constructions, conflicts, resources, and so on. A great deal of fun, though if you're meaning to play it, remember that faction power gain loss can be any number (I was under the impression that they only gained 1 point at a time, which made the early game more difficult than it needed to be.

Following it with World Builder would, obviously, be a great idea.

Anomaly (+ Anomaly: Containment Breach) (Carter Richmond)

I was not expecting an SCP-themed Quiet Year hack in this bundle, but that's 2020 for you. The core is the same - draw card, answer prompts, start projects, keep on trucking. Anomaly on its own is about investigating and containing the Weird Thing, while Containment Breach is about what happens while you've got it locked up.

Our Pantheon (D.W. O'Boyle)

A hack of the venerable Dawn of Worlds, providing a little bit more chance and structure with the addition of PBtA-style actions

Following it with Ex Novo and then World Builder would be, if very extra, probably a good idea.

Yokai Hunters Society (Chema Gonzalez)

A hack of Nate Treme's Tunnel Goons, where you play as members of the titular organization and do the thing on the title. It overflows with flavor and focus (in just 36 pages!) and uses its brevity to maximum efficiency - You have the pieces you need to get started, and a direction to travel. The core conceit is a brilliant choice, because it shifts the game away from "here is a monster, kill it" to "try and find out why the monster is here, see if you can fix the problem", and that sort of de-emphasized violence in a horror investigation game is, as one might guess from certain projects of mine, very much my jam.

There are a great deal of other games worth mention here: So You Got Thrown Down a Well, the Penicillin zines, The Wretched, The Sealed Library, and so on and so forth.

Video Games



You know how some video games just feel good to play? You press the button and the person on the screen does the thing and it feels right, in ways that can't be adequately expressed? That's Celeste.

It is a super tough game - I can't recall any other that gets my hands to sweat that copiously - but it is rewarding in equal measure. More praise than I can fit here should be heaped upon the way they approach Assist mode (you can customize exactly what kind of assistance you want!) and the friendly load-screen reminders that there's nothing locked behind strawberries and don't be ashamed of your death count.


It's a visual novel / rpg / sports game / religious ritual simulator made by Supergiant and it is gorgeous. It's a work that I can truly call fantastic, not only for how it looks and how it sounds, but in how it creates and establishes something that is unlike anything else around it, and does not lose sight of what gives it power. Every single screenshot in this game would make a good desktop background. All the characters are great. They made a conlang just for extra flavor and then made dialects to reflect different characters' backgrounds.


A walking simulator about exploring an abandoned cult compound. It is presented with a grounded empathy that I rarely see (but greatly appreciate). It's a horror game in a sense, but without a direct threat, or music cues, or any of the trappings of genre.

Also when I made a comment about a bug with the sound, the dev had put up a fixed version within an hour of responding to me. That's always a kudo.

Death and Taxes

A short game in the vein of Papers Please. Not particularly challenging (at least gameplay wise), but it is much faster to play than its spiritual predecessor, which is good at encouraging taking multiple routes. Very charming aesthetics & music. VA work is good.


Reviews of this game are superfluous. All one needs to do is watch and listen, and they will know.


Simple space exploration game with randomly generated planets. You can only ever move forward on your quest, so you can never return to a location.

The Floor is Jelly

Platformer where everything is jelly. A bit tricky to control at times but then you pull off some amazing air time or slip through the depressions in the walls and then everything clicks.

Heavy Bullets

A simple lunchbreak-length roguelite shooter.


Bonus: Dissident Whispers

Not part of the bundle directly, but aimed towards the same end. This book deserves to go down as a gold standard - 58 adventures for 12 different systems, assembled in a matter of days, all proceeds to bail funds. There is potency in this book. I can't wait to run something from it.

What are your favorites? Post 'em in the comments!


  1. Man, I am kicking myself for sleeping on Tunnel Goons and Wretched & Alone.

    1. Isn't Tunnel Goons free?

      Yokai Hunters on the other hand...

  2. Agents of O.D.D, an Into the Odd hack where you play as agents of a mysterious Beureu, that lands somewhere in the the same thoughtspaces as Delta Green and Esoteric Enterprises.

    The majority of the PDF is weird starting backgrounds and magic items you can nab or 'requisition' and it's pretty solid and inventive. Good conceptual density.

    Also: LANCER
    You did a review on it before, but it's in the bundle and is def worth at least a mention

    1. Oh yeah Agents of the ODD gave me some good Hellboy vibes.

      My opinion on lancer remains mostly the same, though someone on the Mothership discord suggested hacking it into a skirmish game and I am much more interesting in the game in that light.

  3. Golf Peaks
    A nice, relaxing, satisfying puzzler. Just enough challenge to keep me engaged, but not so much to get frustrated and want to quit.

    Wonderful, adorable, and extremely well written ITO hack. Finally got to run it recently, and it's just as fun as I thought it would be. The first adventure location, Honey on the Rafters, is also included.

    Also I wrote two of the adventures for Dissident Whispers! Thanks for the shout out, it was an incredible thing to be a part of and I'm thrilled with the reception it's getting.

  4. Good lord, I'm trying Celeste and you're damn right, my hands get *so sweaty* ???

  5. Am having a little trouble finding the first one. Do you mean World Maker by Michael Elliott?

  6. Extreme Meat Punks Forever is an *excellent* beat-em up/visual novel about found family, piloting a meat mech across a desert and punching fascists.