When you think about it, art galleries can be pretty creepy places. They're quiet, they're filled with unusual visions, and after all, one person's art is another person's nightmare. In Ib, a free horror adventure made by Kouri and translated by vgperson, a little girl out on a day trip with her parents suddenly finds herself trapped in the gallery after dark. Which might be spooky enough, if not for the fact that it's a most unusual darkness, and it happened all at once and seemed to take all the other people away with the light. With no choice but to follow a strange message begging her to come come come, Ib ventures deep into the gallery and tumbles into a surreal world where art, humanity, and safety are largely open to interpretation.
Though Ib was made with RPG Maker 2000, you won't find any battles here. Use the [arrow] keys to move around, [Z] to interact with things, and [X] to open your inventory. You can save your game at writing desks, which you should do frequently since it turns out art galleries are unfriendly places when the lights go out. Shortly after the game begins, Ib finds a red rose that represents her health and is always displayed in the upper-left corner of the screen. As Ib takes damage, petals fall away and the rose begins to wilt. Luckily, you can restore your rose (... or anyone else's... ) by placing them in water vases found throughout the game. Just stop and think a little about the decisions you can make and the responses you can give... Ib may need to forge a bond if you want the best ending, and, well, let's just say the gallery reacts poorly to people who break the rules.
Analysis: Ib is kind of an odd duck. Though the visuals can occasionally make it hard to tell what you're looking at, the game still packs some surprisingly scary moments for its visual style. Jump scares? Sure, but some really effective subtle creep-outs like a ball slowly bouncing down the stairs towards you or increasingly irate messages scrawled on the wall as you go do wonders for the mood. There's also one extremely tense scene with a room full of dolls that... ugh! What makes Ib stand out is this decision to go for the more surreal scares and strangeness rather than relying on gore or ultra violence. There are a lot of unsettling scenes that creep you out far more than a lot of other games manage with a lot more blood and guts, and Ib manages to be more memorable as a result.
There are good endings and bad endings to get depending on your choices throughout the game and Ib's bond with the people she meets, and a playthrough will probably take a few hours if you take your time. Ib isn't a particularly difficult game, apart from a few "chase" sequences, since the developer intended it to be able to be finished by players of any skill level, and most of the puzzles are actually pretty solid. Weird, but solid. Since you're always moving forward, backtracking is kept to a bare minimum over each new area, and figuring out what you need to do is just a matter of remembering to investigate everything... multiple times. Ib has her flaws, but with a fantastically freaky sense of fright and design combined with likable characters an unreal environments, this is one great little free horror adventure that is far and away creepier and more effective at times than its big budget peers. Highly recommended.
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Thanks to Noodle for sending this one in!