A bit of an oldie-but-a-goodie, Ib is a freeware horror adventure game made by kouri that I was a big fan of during highschool. With multiple endings, cool pixel art, and plenty of hidden secrets, the game is definitely a good free game to consider checking out if you haven’t heard of it before. If I haven’t mentioned it already, it’s free, but there’s also a number of fan translations available and it conveys fascinating themes of art and reality. So while this isn’t exactly an official review, let’s consider it a highlight of some of the art and story of Ib and why you should check it out.
For some history, Ib (pronounced like ‘Eeb’, the same way you may say ‘Eve’) was made by user kouri and released in February of 2012, with translations available courtesy of vgperson (who’s actually done a variety of good free game translations). You play as a little girl named ‘Ib,’ visiting an art gallery with her parents. The gallery itself features the artwork of the famous artist Guertena, who does a variety of work in both paintings and sculptures, which you can initially wander around and observe. However, Ib is soon drawn into the painted world itself, where she is chased by portraits of mad ladies and ominous statues as she must solve a variety of puzzles to find her way out. The puzzles can be quite tricky, but with numerous paintings to see and collect, it rarely gets frustrating.
Luckily, Ib is not doomed to wander this haunting gallery alone. Depending on how you interact with the other two patrons trapped inside, different endings and dialogue can arise. The main parameters of endings are actually dependent on these interactions, with the variables being called “Garry Bond,” “Mary Affection,” and most concerningly, the “Doom Counter.” With 4 NPC-specific endings and a handful of generic endings, this game has a lot of replayability, with a bonus gallery and puzzle area after the first playthrough with unlockable art dependent on what art Ib has seen throughout her playthroughs. If Ib doesn’t look at the art, it won’t appear, and if there is a word she doesn’t know in the title of the piece, it will just appear as “?????” unless you see it with Garry, who will explain the meaning, unlocking the full title.
Overall, Ib is an enjoyable puzzle-horror game which doesn’t rely too much on fast reflexes or quicktime events to unlock its various endings. I would highly recommend it for people looking for a retro experience, and the price of “free” is always appreciated. Without spoiling it, the characters are interesting, and their connections and interactions have real consequences and weight to them, so I would advise first-time players to play the game blind to discover its endings on their own for the best experience. I hope you enjoy the gallery.