Ib: An immersion into an artist’s madhouse

Screenshot by Sarach Yin/The Skyline View

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This is the year where I realized my interest in popular independent games. One of which is Ib; a fantastic freeware horror game for PC developed in Japanese by independent creator kouri and translated into English by vgperson.

You play as a girl named Ib, (who has the strangest name, but it should be noted that her name is pronounced “Eeb” or “Eve”) a 9-year-old visitor to an art gallery showing the works of an artist by the name of Guertena.

The game starts out extremely normal, but after looking at a painting, the museum’s power goes out and suddenly you are alone. That mysterious painting beckons you and soon you find yourself in a twisted world of animated portraits.

The game play is easy and instinctive; anyone can figure out how to play in a matter of seconds. You explore the odd dimension of the art gallery and your single goal is to find your way back to reality. You must work through relatively simple puzzles in order to advance your pace in the game.

It would be boring to do this game alone in silence. So, even if you don’t have anyone in real life to play with, the game provides you with two characters by the name of Garry and Mary for company. The reason behind their presence is ultimately for the option of having five endings to the game. When either Garry or Mary speaks to you or gives you room to reply you must make a tactful decision in your dialogue or action. You must be very mindful of what options you pick in the game because they determine the endings that you will receive.

Although Ib has a typical escape/survival goal, you learn about the characters and the sacrifices that they must make along the story. Given the time you have to know these characters they end up developing quite well and you are able to get a good grasp of their plights and intentions.

If you dislike games that scare the wits out of you such as Slender or Amnesia (at least they scare the wits out of me) don’t be put off by the fact that it has “horror” in the title. I’m easily scared by a numerous amount of things and typically won’t touch the genre at all. However, with Ib, I am able to play and function properly. This game is brought into creation with RpgMaker 2000/2003 a pixel-based game creator, so even if it may have some unsettling themes it’s not terrifying at all. After all, how bad could pixels be?

Ib is appreciated by a niche following on the Internet and a lot of art is inspired and illustrated based on the game. The concept is interesting and refreshing and many find the characters endearing. The graphics and art presented in the game are both nothing to gawk at– even the game play seems to be overly simplified but obviously people like it for a reason. Hopefully you will find the same interest I have in the concept and the development and thoroughly enjoy the game.

I would recommend this game to anyone with the slightest interest. It only takes about two hours to do a full game play run. It provides you with a simple setting, a twisted art gallery where creations are literally brought to life. The characters are engaging and the game play is simple enough so you can focus on the detail of the plot and story. Above all, it’s paced well and it ends before it gets mundane and boring– leaving you with a good impression. If anything, it’s great to do as a pastime if you want to attempt something short and new. You can download the game in English from the first link given when you Google “ib english download”).

Be warned, when you are in one of the early rooms, Ib will pick up a “storybook drawn in crayon,” and it will crash your game under normal circumstances. Don’t be frustrated– there is a simple solution. Before you read it, press F4 on your keyboard to minimize your window and the game will be able to process the animated storybook that follows. Press F4 afterwards to return your window to full screen and there you are! You can enjoy the rest of your adventure in Guertena’s world.

The horror themes are portrayed very effectively with the simple graphics, subtle sound effects, and eerie music box backing track. It’s perfect for people like me who have a masochistic, morbid curiosity in horror concepts but aren’t desiring any nightmare fuel. Ib is a short and satisfying game that even the most anxious people can play and can be appreciated by the bravest.