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The Itch – Dem Bones

Perry Ruhland / September 3, 2015 at 10:00 AM / Gaming, Opinions

The Steam storefront is thoroughly charted territory. Every day, loads of gamers explore Valve’s digital shop, finding all sorts of curiosities tucked away behind Triple A releases and indie rockstars. But what if I told you there was another digital store, one with even wilder indie games and the ability to name the price of a game? Enter itch.io, a haven of strange flash games and even stranger freeware ones. The point of this new series will be to search high and low across the store and take a look at a few games connected by theme. This week’s theme?

Why, only the spookiest (and most helpful) part of your body, the skeleton! So, without further ado, lets dive into the wonderful world of itch.io!

 

GRAVE

itch.io skeletons 1

Grave is a game that wastes no time. The second you run the exe, you’re thrust into the game. With a very simple control scheme and an even simpler premise—you play as a skeleton in a graveyard who must fight off heroic paladins and crows—Grave is an easily accessible title. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily an easy title to master.

While you’ll start Grave only fighting one or maybe two heroes at a time, it won’t take long for the screen to be swarmed by your normal paladins, crows, and the dreaded giant paladins. As you defeat each enemy, you gain experience points to increase your levels—which does nothing, to my knowledge—and the opportunity arises to slay even more.

Something that must be mentioned is how fluid the game’s animations are. Sword swings and dodge rolls have a sense of weight to them, giving me some real nice Dark Souls flashbacks. It neatly ties the package together, which all adds up to a really fun, if simple, time wasting game.

 

DEAD KNIGHT – POCKET EDITION

itch.io skeletons

To my knowledge, Dead Knight is a game currently in development, while Dead Knight – Pocket Edition was one made for a game jam. Dead Knight Pocket Edition is a game about a headless, armless knight who rises from the grave. You start the game with one hit point, but as you collect body parts such as your sword arm, shield arm, and head, you can take more punishment.

Dead Knight Pocket Edition is a hard game and not always for all the right reasons. Hitboxes are a bit wonky, and it takes a while to get the feel for the jumps, so be prepared to die a lot to the very first set of spikes. On top of that, once you die, it’s back to the start of the game with you! Thankfully, it’s not very long, but it still managed to get on my nerves.

With all that said, despite the difficulty, I quite like the game. Your skeletal warrior’s quest takes you through a pretty interesting cave with tons of secret passages, which is really surprising for a game developed for a ten day jam. All in all, Dead Knight Pocket Edition is probably the strongest game of the three covered today, and I seriously recommend you give it a look.

 

SKULLSHOT

Itch.io skeletons 2

While not quite as visually appealing as Grave or Dead Knight Pocket Edition, Skullshot is still a fun game in its own right. In Skullshot you play as a skeleton in jeans who must fight off varied Halloween-themed enemies like jack-o-lanterns and bats. How do you fight them? Not with a sword, like in the other games, but by throwing your own skull at them!

After aiming the skull and throwing it at an enemy, if other foes are close enough it will travel to them and destroy them as well. At least in theory. Sometimes my skull would obliterate a chain of baddies, and sometimes it wouldn’t. Either way, once you’ve thrown the skull, it will fly right back to you. On the occasion that it does miss, you need to pick it back up to re-attach it to your head.

While Skullshot may not be the most mechanically impressive game of the three, I certainly managed to have fun with it, and it’s certainly refreshing to see a skeleton game that isn’t only dark fantasy. So while it was my least favorite of the three, it’s still an enjoyable title.

What do you think? Are there any spooky hidden gems on itch.io I missed? Let me know in the comments!


Perry Ruhland

Staff Writer

Aspiring author. FPS connoisseur. Tactical games journalist. Digger of giant robots. Professional hater of fun. No matter what role Perry's currently playing, it's a safe bet to assume that he's doing it fairly poorly - but still managing to turn it into some sort of article.