Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
(If I was going to write something about a game, I probably should have done so when Skullgirls came out. Especially because I actually did have stuff to say about the discussions people were apparently still having about the game being sexist. However, the time for that has come and gone and now here we have Ib (and a little Yume Nikki), a horror adventure game.)
Ib (pronounced like Eve but I refuse to say it in anyway other than how it looks) is a very simple horror game created in RPG Maker 2000 by someone named Kouri. It’s not particularly long. Once you’ve played it, you can probably breeze through it in ten or fifteen minutes. The first time I played it I did get stuck the labyrinth and in Sketchbook though so if you’re terrible at any game ever like I am then you might run into the same problems.
Anyways, Ib is about a girl named… Ib. She goes to an art gallery with her parents where they are displaying the works of an artist named Guertena. Ib looks around but something weird happens and you end up inside one of the paintings. From there you are forced to try and escape and survive the musuem and the twisted works of art. You know, the same old, same old when visiting art galleries.
During my playthrough I heard there were different endings and upon looking at an ending guide I realized I was triggering the bad endings. So I restarted the game when Ib, Mary and Garry split up. Playing up to that point only took a few minutes though. I eventually ended up with the Promise of a Reunion ending which is the best ending in the game. I’d like to replay and get the rest myself but I’ve seen the rest of them already. However, I’ll talk about them after.
Initially, I saw Ib compared to Yume Nikki and billed as a Yume Nikki fan game. This is incredibly incorrect. I haven’t actually played .flow or Yume 2kki so I don’t know if the Yume Nikki spinoff fan games actually have the exact same game mechanics as Yume Nikki? Or did Kouri say something mentioning that game? In anycase, they’re very different. The atmosphere in both games is very similar though so I can see where people got the comparison from. Yume Nikki is exploration and nothing can really kill you. Ib is exploration. Madotsuki has a knife and can kill enemies but those enemies are harmless by default except for Toriningen who you can’t really kill with the knife anyways and if she catches you, doesn’t kill you but sends you to a place that forces to wake up and start that world (or any world) over.
However, I’m glad Ib was defenseless. Your life is measured by your rose which allows you to be hit five times before you die (10 times for the short segment you play as Garry). Being defenseless puts an emphasis on survival, protecting those five lives (represented as petals in game) and looking for the scattered vases that refuel you.
On that note, I loved the very end of the game, if you got the Promise of Reunion end. The titular character and her companion, Garry, are thrown into the final stage of the game. This causes you to lose all but one life. You need to retrieve a couple things (your rose, your Garry) and then find a key. As soon as you find the key, the previously still dolls, mannequin and mannequin heads (which always looked and shattered like porcelain doll head so I always thought of them as that instead) start to roam around and trying to reach you.
Since you only have one life you have to beeline for the exit since being touched by one thing is a game over. Which means you have to fetch your things and grab the key again and that takes all of about a minute. From there you leave to face the ‘final boss’ of the game, yandere Mary. She chases you and, again, if she catches up to you (by either heading toward the door or standing there) then it is another game over. Except by this point I believe you save so you don’t have to do the previous Toybox room over again. It made the final stretch seem so important. Previously you might need to take a few hits when you were trapped by enemies but at this point you had to survive no matter what. I really appreciated that.
Of course if you were getting a different ending, Mary shows up in the Toybox when you are looking for your rose. She offers to trade back your rose for Garry’s. You accept and she plucks each petal from Garry’s rose so he dies. You also have more petals then if you don’t meet Mary so it’s a lot less exciting.
The Together, Forever ending is another bad ending where you trade Garry’s rose for your own with yandere Mary. If you chose to not destroy Mary’s portrait, she follows you back to the real world where she is now your sister. It’s creepy and Mary definitely deserves her yandere title.
I saw some people, adamant lovers of *~bishie~* Garry, who hated Mary though. I can see where they’re coming from but I don’t think that’s the point. I mean she isn’t entirely a sympathetic character and I was a little mad at her in the Together, Forever ending but she just looked so happy being with Ib that my heart went out to her. She was trapped and scared and wanted to be with us and escape to the real world. I do side with Garry but I still feel bad for her.
It’s a horror game though. How scary is it? Well, like Yume Nikki it’s mostly creepy more than anything. There were a couple times when it did scare me and during that second play through I actually fell for the same thing that nearly gave me a heart attack twice. I compared the atmopshere of YN and Ib earlier but in YN even if something shows up, you know it’s not going to hurt you so it loses some of it’s edge. In Ib, you don’t know for sure if that’s just an inanimate mannequin or if it will be chasing you and trying to kill you as soon as you turn your back. I suppose Uboa had some scare in Yume Nikki but if you manage to see Uboa, then you know it’s coming. It might make you jump but it potentially takes a lot to get it to show up. Your patience might wane by the time you’re supposed to be scared.
(Also, what was the deal with the Careless Carrie book? Were there others like it or was it just in there randomly? Did it tie into the plot in some way I missed?)
The art in Ib is cute, too. Garry and Mary have portrait art in their text boxes with different expressions. There are a few parts such as looking in a mirror with Garry or the end scenes that tell you what ending you got that have different art. I thought the sprite for Ib looked odd at first but I think that was only because I was sued to Madotsuki’s sprite. (I still haven’t finished YN though)
If you have some spare time, I’d recommend giving Ib a shot. It’s translated and available for download by vgperson on tumblr (who also has the ending guides as well).
Also there is TONS of Ib fanart on pixiv (if this post wasn’t any indication). You can check it out by searcing Ib or this tag