Steam Next Fest has rolled around and my love for all things indie has once again been rejuvenated. From platformers to puzzlers, the lineup of demos on offer is astounding. So, as I found myself scrolling through the monolithic library of mesmerising games, I tried to narrow my search. While my efforts were mostly futile, it did allow me to concentrate on a few enticingly intriguing demos. One of those was the beautiful Itorah, a platformer bubbling with charm, excitement and promise.
“From its vibrant colours that pop on screen to its slick animations, Itorah never stops looking incredible.”
From the offset, it is clear where Itorah’s strengths lie. I don’t say that to diminish its many qualities, all of which are practically perfect. Rather, it’s to highlight Itorah’s stunning visual style that cements a lore-rich world that’s begging to be explored. From its vibrant colours that pop on screen to its slick animations that ground fantastical characters and immerse you into this picturesque world, Itorah never stops looking incredible.
Itorah’s world is so packed with detail and colour that its watercolour backdrops and flourishing foreground had me completely immersed. Despite rain hitting against my backdoor, a cat stalking around in my back garden and the lush Hylian fields from Breath of the Wild playing on loop on my TV screen, I simply couldn’t tear myself away from Itorah.
“From winding paths to hidden secrets, the vast and varied world of Itorah is overflowing with things to do.”
But as I said, while Itorah’s primary strength lies in its phenomenal visuals, its many other qualities are still incredibly polished. For the most part, Itorah’s gameplay consists of exploration and combat. You’ll explore stunning locations from vast and densely packed forests full of prickly creepers, dastardly foes and picturesque sunsets to underground caverns filled with fantastical flora and crumbling ruins all washed in a dreamlike blue light.
Exploration is made increasingly more enjoyable the more the large maps open up. While the very early sections are linear in nature and guide the player toward the double jump upgrade, once the game opens up you’ll find there’s a lot to explore. From winding paths to hidden secrets, the vast and varied world of Itorah is overflowing with things to do.
“While combat never extends beyond the familiar in the demo, its level of polish and slick animations make it frantically fun.”
Combat is equally as enjoyable thanks to the unique and varied enemy types. While a lot of them are familiar in mechanical design, from a visual standpoint they are outstanding. There are floating enemies that drift toward the player, bouncing enemies that are best avoided altogether, small critters that line the forest floor and gnaw at your feet as you pass and bat-like creatures that shoot sharp objects as you run on by.
Itorah uses a talking axe as her weapon. She can do basic light attacks with it as well as charge it up for heavier ones. While combat never extends beyond the familiar in the demo, its level of polish and slick animations make it frantically fun. The sheer amount of variety in enemies combined with the smooth combat makes Itorah an incredibly enjoyable experience.
“Itorah is a game absolutely worth checking out, especially if you’re into beautiful worlds, interesting characters and perfect platformers.”
While I was playing Itorah I felt a distinct sense of warmth and comfort commonly associated with nostalgia or familiarity. For the majority of my time with it, I couldn’t place my finger on why. However, after digging deep into its incredibly enjoyable demo, I realised that Itorah reminds me of the platformers of my youth. Fortunately, it doesn’t feel or even play like one as it benefits from the seminal works that have come before it and all the modernisation the genre has experienced. Instead, it simply reminds me of that era of gaming in a way that is simultaneously sweet and comforting.
Itorah is an incredible indie and one that I cannot wait to try when it launches sometime this year. It never failed to impress, from its fluid animations and combat to its lavishly hand-crafted visuals. This is a game absolutely worth checking out, especially if you’re into beautiful worlds, interesting characters and perfect platformers.
Be sure to head on over to Itorah’s Steam store page to try the demo out for yourself. You can also wishlist it on Steam to be notified of any future updates.