Be a bird! Defend your tower! Solve some really interesting puzzles...
The more time I spend on itch.io, the more great things I find. So I’ve started a little series where I rave about these discoveries to you!
Since it was created in 2013, itch.io has been an important space for developers and players alike. There are so many games available for free, donation, or a small cost, and they are almost all made by independent developers who are telling their stories, pushing boundaries, and doing something innovative. But there are so many games on itch.io now that it can be difficult to know where to start! So let me help you. Here are three free games I recommend this month!
Duke of Defense
Currently a free demo, Duke of Defense is a polished retro tower defence game. As someone who is used to tower defence flash games that I used to play sneakily in class during high school, Duke of Defense is a fresh take. Although there are set places where you can build assorted towers and other defences, these are denoted by trees and rocks in the environment, rather than an obvious grid system. Your player-character roams around freely, upgrading objects by standing near them for a set time, while also trying to attack and dodge the assorted waves of creatures.
Have you ever wanted to be an adorable bird with a magical bell around their neck and an awesome little tuft of feathers on their head? Well, dream no more! Shattered follows the short journey of a little feathered cutie as they jump their way through platform puzzles and destroy strange ‘Nightmares’ with their magical bell powers, which are reminiscent of a rhythm game (but without the music).
Meet the player-character’s grandfather and neighbours in an adorable bird town, and climb a mountain while they go off in search of their brother. What happened to their brother? Are they okay? Well, there’s only one way to find out.
I’m astounded that this polished point-and-click adventure came from a game jam. It’s short, but it’s sweet, and incredibly well made. Sojourn’s soundtrack makes your heart swell from the start, and the simple story is crafted with a deft hand.
The game has a jarring mixture of inspiring women (like a grandmother who is the protagonist’s role model) and strangely disempowering subject matter (like bookshelves stacked with a guide to being a housewife or ten easy step to perfect make up). The latter reads like a social comment, but with limited dialogue it’s difficult to determine exactly what that comment is.
But overall, the simple puzzles and the joy of discovering new items makes this point-and-click well worth enjoying.