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Almost!

  • Roden
  • 04/25/2015 10:40 PM
  • 1601 views
Ib is a Horror/Puzzle game for RPG Maker 2k3, and a rather famous one at that. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say this stands with Yume Nikki as the chief reason that the RPG Maker community sees so many trippy/horror games starring young girls.

Gameplay

Like many RM games with a focus on atmosphere and horror, the gameplay in Ib is a bit dull and probably its weakest aspect. While many of the puzzles are well put together, they only serve to slowly detract from what started as great horror atmosphere and completely kill the mood by the end of the game. A couple of the puzzles gave me a great deal of trouble, but thankfully Ib is famous enough to have some walkthroughs so it wasn't a bit deal.

Besides puzzling, the game features some chase scenes which run the scale from minor annoyance to being actually thrilling. I can't really elaborate more than that- some are badly placed, but some (like the blue flower girl) have neat elements that make them interesting.

Worldbuilding (Setting, Atmosphere, Writing & Characters)

Ib has the honour of being quite literally the only horror game to date that spooked me a bit with some of its scares. The game starts off by laying on the horror thick, and it really works because you aren't expecting it to get so heavy right off the bat.

The hand banging on the window near the beginning was superbly done. I only caught a quick glimpse of a shadow moving past, and while walking away the sudden banging actually made me jump a little. If only these sorts of scares were more well placed throughout, the horror element would have come off a lot stronger.


Unfortunately, as the game progresses it begins to focus more on the puzzle elements and loses the horror elements that made the first parts so great. By the end of the journey you're so used to the never changing horror elements that they don't really mean anything anymore. The game manages to save itself from coming off as too boring by interspersing a few legitimately creepy things every now and then, like the "red eyes" thing.

The writing is well translated, and while not horrible isn't anything too special. I couldn't have really cared less about the characters because Ib never speaks, Garry is just shy of being a generic dude (but is saved thanks to the fact that he at least shows some emotional reactions to the horrors inside the gallery), and Mary starts off flat and only becomes more and more of a stock horror cliche as the story moves along. The "spirit" in the gallery, for lack of a better term, is a pretty stock horror cliche, with the writing in blood and "ARE YOU HAVING FUN???" bits.

Aesthetics (Graphics and Music)

Ib features 100% original graphics and music, a big plus for a 2k3 game. The graphics are well put together but nothing to really write home about, but the music is quite well composed and lends a lot to the atmosphere of the game. From what I heard, I think there are only two main tracks in the game, but you never get tired of listening to them.

Overall

Ib has received tons of glowing praise and has been recommended to me more than a couple of times, but I don't think it fully lives up to the hype and I certainly don't think its a "masterpiece". In the end, I'd say it's pretty average. I really wish the great horror vibes kept up throughout the game, but sadly they didn't.

Posts

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I actually found Ib to be pretty solid. It goes into relatively cliche territory, but the setting is pretty damn cool, and the game held a lot of tension for me (especially the scene with all the "red eyes"). I understand how the puzzles could have killed the tension, though. Really building a "true horror" game is hard to do. I don't know if any horror game has been totally successful in that regard. I do a weird compartmentalization thing where I separate gameplay and narrative with horror games. I mean, I still like the interplay between them, but when I think back to Ib I think, "man, I remember that moment, that part actually freaked me out, etc." and I also think, "that puzzle was kind of clever and I enjoyed solving it," but I don't think, "I spent so long on that puzzle that it made the moments that freaked me out less enjoyable." Like, I just think that both aspects of the game were enjoyable so I enjoyed the game. I do similar things with jRPGs; it's easy to make a case that FF7's battles take away from the momentum of the narrative, but I enjoy the narrative itself and I enjoy watching my characters slowly grow stronger.

In both cases, gameplay is linked with narrative (Cloud gets stronger in order to overcome his personal failings and the player gets their party stronger in order to defeat the obstacle of the big bad; in Ib, the puzzles work with the mystery already present in the mysterious situation that the player finds themselves in), but, at the same time, pacing is what's really being sacrificed in both. I don't know if this is just an inherent issue with game design or if we're just not designing games well enough, but, for me, I've always found this kind of thing forgivable. Interesting perspective, though.
Without a puzzle, without a fight, it won't be a game.
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