Where do you start with the $5 Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality?
At time of writing, Itch.io’s Bundle for Racial Equality and Justice allows you to buy more than 1600 games for just $5, with all the proceeds going to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund. That’s a hell of a deal, but there’s just one problem. Where the heck do you start!? Having 1600 games might be more than you can play in a lifetime!
Well, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite games from this bundle, from the big hits to the lesser-known indie darlings. Any of these would be a fantastic place to start, and if you find a neat little unknown title that’s worth checking out, leave your suggestions in the comments!
2064: Read Only Memories
Read Only Memories is a brilliant cyberpunk murder mystery set in a near future that deals with the concept of identity in a world where A.I. is just starting to obtain its own sapience. It also features the voice talents of some pretty well-known faces, including everyone’s favorite angry YouTube gaming celebrity, Jim Sterling.
A Normal Lost Phone
Granted, phone mystery games play out a lot better on Android or iOS where the whole interface can take up your phone’s screen. Still, this is one of the best and it doesn’t lose too much for being played on a PC. It tackles queer issues and has some really fantastic sections that break the fourth wall, two things that are catnip to the indie crowd.
On the surface, Anodyne looks like a Zelda-like in the vein of Link’s Awakening. When you go deeper, you end up encountering a game that genuinely asks you to break it from the inside out just to complete it. It’s a bit of a mind trip, especially if you enjoy games that get self-referential with their identity as a piece of software.
You all know Celeste! It was an indie platformer that almost won Game of the Year in some publications. If you haven’t played Celeste by now, experienced it’s incredibly hard precision platforming and inspiring tale of depression and anxiety… well what are you waiting for! Go play it! Now!
Codemancer is a medieval strategy game with an interesting spellcasting system. In short, to cast spells you have to code! It’s a great way to learn the basics of programming if you have an interest in it and a love of hex based games.
Death and Taxes
Imagine Papers Please, but instead of a border control officer you play the Grim Reaper, choosing who gets to die and who gets to live. The story of this game evolves as you make decisions over life and death and it’s enjoyable to see how simply stamping someone’s death certificate has rippling effects on the real world.
You know those children’s tinker toys where you push buttons and pull levers just to make lights and sounds happen. GNOG is kind of like that, but for adults. You fiddle around with controls until something happens, which gives you more controls to fiddle with, which makes more things happen. It’s like a psychedelic puzzle game.
Hidden Folks is a new and updated take on Where’s Waldo. That might sound boring, but the illustrations in this game are so incredibly intricate with so many things to spot, and unlike the picture books of your youth, these active worlds are interactive and animated, allowing you to peek around pieces of scenery to find your targets.
Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass
If there is any game on this list that I think you absolutely need to play, it’s Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. When it came out, I called it one of the best indie RPGs ever, easily competing with AAA projects. It’s an 80-hour RPG in the vein of Earthbound which will scare the bejeezus out of you and make you cry, all at the same time. If you are an RPG fan and you still haven’t played JATPM, PLAY IT NOW!
Kids is a weird experimental game which is largely about… well to be honest I don’t know what it’s about. But there are kids, and they do get birthed through weird holes. This game is largely on this list because it made the YouTube rounds a while back because of how weird it is.
Another Zelda-like, Lenna’s Inception is basically what happens when you take a Link to the Past randomizer and make that the whole game. This is a game built from the ground up to be random. That means procedurally generated overworlds, dungeons, items, and much more. Plus it’s got that good fourth wall breaking metaplot which is just really in for indie games right now.
Yet another Zelda-like, with an interesting twist. Minit only allows you to stay alive for 60 seconds. Guess you better think twice about picking up random cursed swords. You’ll die… a lot… but you can get a lot done in 60 seconds, including save the world!
Night of the Consumers
A survival horror game based on the world’s greatest nightmare: working retail. Can you get through your work day without interacting with anyone or anything? If you’ve ever worked in a grocery store, you know these feels.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Another game you absolutely should have played already. Octodad is about fighting against a bad control scheme in an attempt to hide your dark secret: you are actually an octopus masquerading as a human. Avoid killer sushi chefs and retain the love of your wife and kids all while causing wanton destruction.
One Night Stand
This is a tiny one, but it’s worth checking out. It’s a social game that does what it says on the tin. What do you do after you wake up in bed with someone who you only just met? It’s a fairly unexplored subject matter which is addressed in an interesting way.
Here’s the idea. You are god. The gameworld only exists when you will it to. Close the game and you doom everyone inside to hollow blackness until you come back. You need to help the denizens of this world find their peace, but how can you do that? Perhaps, the solution lies in the strange device you are using to interface with this world… your computer.
Another one of those “why the heck haven’t you played this yet” games, Oxenfree is a point and click supernatural adventure with a 1980s aesthetic. It was one of 2016’s indie darlings, getting perfect 10s from a lot of outlets. It might seem a little simple compared to today’s indie games, but sometimes simple games with a good story are the best.
Signs of the Sojourner
A contender for indie game of the month this month, Signs of the Sojourner is a deckbuilder in the vein of Slay the Spire, but instead of using your cards to battle monsters, you use your cards to have conversations. What’s particularly interesting is that you aren’t really told how to play this game. Instead, you have to figure it out on your own, a ludic way to portray what it’s like to talk to people you don’t know from cultures you don’t understand.
Social Justice Warriors
Sick and tired of arguing on social media? Well, now you can take all those skills you’ve learned and translate them into gaming skills! Social Justice Warriors is a satire of the exhausting debates we have with people online. What’s your class? Are you a Social Justice Rogue? Maybe a Social Justice Paladin? If you are addicted to the fast finger menuing of games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII then this is the game for you.
Super Hexagon is a brilliant piece of simplicity. You are a shape inside another shape. Walls close in from the outside to the inside of the shape while techno blares in the background. All you have to do is not die. Of course, this becomes more complicated as the music speeds up and the shapes start to change. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it’s a great way to melt away the minutes if you have some time to kill.
Super Rad Raygun
Shovel Knight was an indie platformer that attempted to adhere to the limitations of the original NES. Super Rad Raygun takes it a step further, working within the constraints of the original GameBoy. But if only we had games this cool on our original lime green handhelds. Super Rad Raygun has an in-depth upgrade system, a hilarious story, and 20 great platforming levels to conquer.
Super Win the Game
Super Win the Game is a game about secrets. It’s a 2D platformer action adventure like Adventure Island or Zelda 2. However, everything about this game is a secret to uncover. False walls, secret doors, even hidden mechanics all wait for you to uncover. There’s even a bit of Breath of the Wild here, in that you can take on the whole world right after the tutorial.
This exploration of genre comes from the developer of Pony Island and it is just as creepy. It takes you through the story of a game developer from the perspective of that developer’s creations. It is a pretty scathing commentary on the pressures of being a game developer, all while putting you, the player, through a number of different games in a number of different genres.
Tonight We Riot
Capitalism has taken over the world and oppressed the people. It’s up to you to take the world back from the rich and hedonistic. How do you do this? Riots. You start with a very small force, but as you defeat police forces and liberate workers your forces grow more and more. It’s like a 2D brawler meets Lemmings, a really weird mashup that is also unapologetically political. So if you want to keep politics out of games, you probably don’t want to pick this one up… but let’s face it, if you wanted to keep politics out of games you wouldn’t have bought this bundle.
Wheels of Aurelia
Wheels of Aurelia is a narrative driven game… sorry let me correct that. Wheels of Aurelia is a narrative DRIVING game. You are driving through Italy in the 1970s during a turning point in your life. Your choices are made both via dialogue and through what paths you decide to take literally on the road. Many times narrative games can’t keep up their pacing because they are too light on gameplay, so it’s really neat to see an indie game attach narrative focused gameplay to a simple mechanic like driving to keep you immersed.
…. And that’s only 25 of the 1,637 games you can get for only $5 in this bundle, at time of writing. It’s the best deal in gaming ever and you would be foolish to pass it up.