Review: Ib (Nintendo Switch)

Ib is one of those few games that captures the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” On the surface, Ib looks like your run-of-the-mill pixel-art game. Yet Ib does a great job of taking that expectation and surprising you. While the experience is extremely short and feels made for a specific kind of audience, Ib is an interestingly creepy game people might want to check out.

Review: Ib (Nintendo Switch)

Ib focuses on the titular protagonist as she and her parents visit an art gallery housing the works of the prominent Guertena. After being granted permission by her mother and father to explore the area at her leisure, things start to change after reaching the highest floor and inspecting an especially grand painting. Everyone in the art gallery, including the receptionist and her parents, seemingly vanishes into thin air and an ominous dread permeates the gallery. 

Really it’s this level of creepiness that Ib does quite well. Ib is by no means a horror game it does a really great job of making you feel uncomfortable at all times. The environment is taken advantage of to varying extents, with the most evident collective example being paintings that shoot out projectiles or occasionally even contain creatures that break out from the portraits. Every step in a new room must be taken with extreme caution since you never know which wall is actually hiding an otherworldly threat.

On the other hand, Ib is pretty much your standard adventure game. You can interact with objects by pressing A, access your inventory by pressing B, and have conversations with any partners you have at the time. As you explore you’ll find various items that can be used to solve puzzles throughout the world, a strength of Ib. The puzzles are brain teasers and the solutions are often extremely clever. There are a few puzzles that feel just a little too trial and error and lack that clever “Oh, I see the solution.” 

One of my main issues with Ib is how short it is. I managed to beat the game in two hours, although it didn’t feel that long. It felt like I had been playing for an hour, finally got into a groove, and then it was over. Granted, I don’t need everything I play to be extremely long, 30-hour experiences. Still, Ib is an experience you can get done so quickly that you feel like it never truly started. There are multiple endings, although replaying the same puzzles again loses its fun. After all, you’ve already figured out the solutions. 

My other issue with Ib is, well, the whole game itself. Its feels like it’s made for a specific audience, focusing on people who loved RPG Maker (which let people make their own RPGs) and the custom “horror-like” games people would make within it. It’s not something I would recommend to a lot of people because, while a fairly decent game, its pixel-art presentation and horror-like puzzle gameplay really narrows down who would enjoy it. 

In the end, Ib is a surprising experience people should check out if they want a pixel-art title with an extremely creepy atmosphere. Ib makes you feel uncomfortable around every corner and builds tension whenever you go near any painting. The puzzles, the main “meat and potatoes” of Ib are also quite clever, even if a few of them lose the cleverness for a trial-and-error approach. That said, Ib is an extremely short game that feels like it was made for a specific audience. If you hear pixel-art, horror-like titles and are excited by the sound of Ib, you may enjoy Ib. If those words don’t immediately get you intrigued, then you might be best to look somewhere else for your next game.

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