Your parents are downstairs among other posh art lovers in a small, busy and bright contemporary art gallery, so you’re off to examine the intriguing yet mysterious pieces by the obscure genius Guertena by yourself. Some of the words are too hard for you – you are only nine years old, but you try to read each cryptic title anyway. Up stairs, there’s another painting with a title you can’t fully understand. ??? World, an unrefined scribble that’s as peculiar and eerie as all of his works.
Blue drips down from it suddenly. The light disappears, and “C O M E I B” appears out of no where. The brightness, the visitors, your parents are all gone; you are all alone, just a small and unarmed girl named Ib, now trapped in the macabre and haunting world of a mad artist.
Time: ~2 hours
Horror Level: ★★☆☆☆
Ib (pronounced like “Eve”) is a short but satisfying horror game made by kouri and translated into English by vgperson. I’ll start off right away by saying that, despite being a horror game, Ib isn’t scary at all. Even the scarediest of scaredy-cats can handle it–if he has a friend with him to start the game with him! After the first five or ten minutes it’s smooth sailing. But it has clever little “puzzles” and creepy monsters and five different endings, based on what you choose to say and do in the game; what it lacks in scare-factor it makes up for in story and atmosphere.
Starting off the game in dark silence, the anxiety and fear will immediately build up in you as unknown footsteps kill the empty silence. Your heart will jump as inexplicable things happen suddenly. But as you go further into the inhumane gallery, the fear is replaced with curiosity towards the strange art world and determination to complete the not-so-difficult, somewhat thought-provoking tasks that enable you to go further; that anxiety, however, remains within you as the eerie music-box/piano, melancholic guitar, or unsettling silence plays in the background and disturbing objects decorate the scenes.
What helps ward off the anxiety somewhat is having another person in your party. Although you start off alone you eventually meet Garry & Mary, a young man who “talks like a lady” and a happy-go-lucky little girl, who help bring about the story and are the reasons for five different endings. I played about four different times – even though the game relied more on the mind rather than video game skills which means mindlessly repeating the motions – in order to get all the endings, because I’m a completionist and I quite liked the characters, despite the short amount of time/opportunities given to get to know them.
Though the synopsis is simply “get out of there alive,” the characters and the world they’re thrown into create an intriguing and touching story, subtly exploring the themes of friendship and loneliness. I think it’s safe without spoiling the game to say that it’s not possible to have all characters happy, regardless of which ending you get. But still, even having to replay some tedious puzzles you’ve done twice or thrice already, getting every ending was very satisfying, and didn’t take long at all. (Playing through the whole game only takes about 2 hours the first time around.) Although it’s not an exceptional piece of work like Yume Nikki, because of the ease and time of the game, the compelling and darkly illustrated world, and the characters you want to fulfill promises with, I would recommend Ib to everyone, even scaredy-cats like Tofu!
- Save frequently and make use of the multiple save slots. Saving in different slots at different points of the game will help you avoid having to play the game again from the very beginning when you’re trying to get different endings.
- Write things down. It’ll help for knowing which slot you saved where or what action you did, and will also help you with some of the tasks.
- Check everything. I don’t need to tell you this because there will probably be times when you feel like you’re stuck.
- Check things two, three, four times. Just a precaution, but you never know…
- Wear earphones/headphones. It helps with the atmosphere and makes it feel scarier!
Thanks for reading!