Last month I started a new series in which I introduce you, the reader, to some very interesting Japanese indie or niche games you may have never heard of but are worth playing. The first game I discussed was The Witch’s House, a horror game made with RPG Maker about a young girl trapped in a mysterious and evil house.
This week’s game is also a horror title made with RPG Maker with a similar premise of being trapped in a horrible place, but completely different playstyle.
Careful–there may be some spoilers below, so read at your own risk.
Ib (pronounced Eeb) is about a nine year old girl who goes to a strange art gallery with her mother but soon find herself lost, alone and trapped in a world where art comes to life. She encounters two other people, Garry and Mary, who are also trapped and together they attempt to find a way out.
You control little Ib as you explore the surreal world and solve puzzles to proceed. Careful though, because her life and that of her comrades are tied to roses they found early on. If their own rose completely wilts or is destroyed, they die.
Ib is a much simpler game in that is made for players of all skill levels, with no battles and no demand for quick reflexes. Unlike many other horror games, this one doesn’t rely on constant jump scares but instead maintains a continuously terrifying atmosphere through unsettling environments, characters and the often strange and creepy artwork that adorns the art world.
Ib also uses a very unique type of progression that determines endings based on how close the protagonist is to her other two companions and in the case of Garry, how high his “Doom Counter” is. Just as a note, there are seven endings in total and only two of them are considered “good.” There’s also a Bonus Dungeon if you obtain certain endings under certain conditions.
What I enjoy the most about this game is the slow and methodical exploration coupled with genuinely horrifying imagery. The kind of subtle insidiousness found here reminds me of an excellent horror movie that uses mood and implications, rather that cheap scares and gore, to truly frighten the audience. The characters themselves are really interesting and well-developed, which made me sympathize with them and feel even more invested in the story.
Another interesting aspect of this game is the fact that it actually remembers Ib is only nine and can’t understand certain words and ideas. If she’s traveling with Garry, however, he’ll explain to her what the difficult word means. If she’s alone, a difficult word will appear as “???” instead, which is kind of hilarious when Ib can’t understand a ??? so the ??? will read like ???.
You can download Ib through the link here–it also contains a guide to acquiring all the unique endings, if you’re having trouble.