It’s Sunday, and that means we’re in for a treat with some Horror Hoedown Showdown! Today I bring to you a super quick VN-like RPG called “Ib” (pronounced “Eeb” or “Eve”) that sent some shivers down my nerves of steel. And if you haven’t noticed, I listed this game under visual novel since, personally, I found that it felt more like a visual novel than an RPG. But anyways, without further ado, let’s dive in, itadakimasu!
We’ll start with a plot-and-stuff run through. You are a young girl named Ib, and your parents took you to an art museum for the first time. The art museum is showcasing the works of Weiss Guertena (fictional…), and while browsing his works you get sucked into the fantasy world of his art. All you have to fend for yourself is your wits and a red rose, aka your health bar. The plot on the surface is very straightforward, although as you play the game, you’ll learn tidbits of other information that add a lot of implicit plot points. But, in any case, your main goal after this is to escape back into reality, eventually with the help of your party members, Garry and Mary.
The gameplay here is very simple, but also very fun. You solve not-so-hard but not-so-easy puzzles to get through the many rooms in the fantasy museum. There is only one path that will lead you to the end, and you’ll see that it’s not hard to follow this path. There are no “side quests” or things that get you side tracked. You will find that every puzzle you solve serves a purpose in furthering you in your path to freedom. But I say freedom assuming you get the good ending. Heheheh.
Ib doesn’t have that much blood or violence like in traditional horror video games, but what it does rely on is the atmosphere and element of surprise. A lot of factors contribute to the element of surprise, but what got me was the sound; the music in this game is minimal, and for the most part the bgm is very calming. So when there is no bgm playing and all you hear is footsteps echoing around you, the game’s atmosphere seriously frays away at your nerves and builds up your paranoia. Not to mention, any sudden loud noises you hear while playing this game will be enough to have you jump out of your skin. But, after a certain point, you get used to the atmosphere, so the game does get less scary as you play.
Strangely enough, even though you, as the player, are busy getting scared shitless (in the beginning) and trying to navigate through the game, the actual character of Ib seems eerily calm. Ib doesn’t have any lines other than the ones that you choose for her, so other than to have you answer questions, she doesn’t speak at all. This is pretty standard for VN’s, I think, but her lack of personality just adds to the creepiness of the everything. Nevertheless, Ib gets much more human once she finds Garry, another person who got sucked into Guertena’s world through the art museum. Garry plays the older brother figure, though, sometimes it seems Ib is the more competent one. Nonetheless, after meeting Garry, Ib eventually manages to let herself go and show some emotion.
Then we have Mary, who isn’t real. Then what is she? Well, go play the game. Or guess. In any case, she gets pretty freaky later on, but when you first meet her, she introduces herself as someone who is in the same situation as Ib and Garry. Once she finds out that Ib and Garry are human (like her…?) she immediately becomes friends with Ib and seems to forget her worries. In contrast to Ib, Mary is bright and friendly. Her character design even looks cheerier, since Mary’s design has much more vibrant colors.
Speaking of colors, the only thing left to write about is the art. Oh gosh, the art. Well, the character drawings aren’t half bad, and the backgrounds serve their purposes. But that’s the thing. Compared to the other aspects of the game, which are stellar, the quality of the art is that much more lacking. Especially in that of the last chapter in the game (called sketchbook), the map switches from standard to children’s scribbles. Literal scribbles in crayons. It made navigating hard through scary bad graphics.
And that’s a wrap. Let’s end on a slightly better note than the game’s crappy art with my saying that this game was really fun, and perfect for a one-time deal for killing a couple of hours. It really was a good couple hours spent, so here’s some thanks for the grub.