Ib by Kouri is a Japanese indie game that challenges you to escape the madness of an art museum. The classic RPG Maker title comes with semi-pixelated graphics, hand-drawn character art and a top-down perspective. The English translation maintains the original quality of writing, putting the story at the forefront.
Art gallery adventure
You play as Ib, a young girl visiting a museum with her parents who wanders away from her parents.
After a while, the lights go off, and she finds herself entirely alone and unable to leave. She goes off to explore the now uncanny location, solving puzzles, making friends and trying to elude strange monsters in the paintings.
Like in The Witch’s House, Bio Evil and OneShot, the narrative takes precedence over the gameplay mechanics. The worldbuilding is engaging and immersive, drawing you into this frightening, surreal journey.
The developer kept the gameplay, controls and graphics mostly simple. You’ll look at the world from a top-down view and progress the plot by interacting with various objects.
The museum is eerie and full of puzzles, deadly traps and hostile creatures who will come after you. There aren’t any combat mechanics — you can only run and hide from the enemies to avoid death.
This game comes with seven distinct endings that depend on your actions. You’ll also meet two companions along the way, which is when the friendship mechanics kick into gear.
The writing and pacing are stellar, with well-spread horror elements and endings to hammer in the game’s message.
Colourful character cast
The meat of the story lies in its characters, all of whom feel definite and unique. Except for the titular Ib, you’ll get closely acquainted with the members of her party, especially Garry and Mary.
You also discover bits and pieces about Guertena Weiss. He’s the man who created the art gallery; his history uncovers the powers that lie beneath the everyday exterior.
Interactions between characters, and their respective backstories, add a lot of depth to the gameplay.
An immersive experience
All in all, Ib deserves all the attention and praise it received. While it’s mechanically and graphically simple, the writing packs quite a punch. Additionally, the various endings you can get keep you coming back for another playthrough. It’s a must-play title for indie game fans, especially if you’re into Japanese horror.