Welcome to another edition of “The Casual Gaymer!” This is a bimonthly column from AiPT! Gaming in which I’ll share my thoughts, questions, and concerns about video games and the gaming industry as a queer person with limited free time. Missed the last edition where I explained why Breath of the Wild is–sit down for this one–not even close to my favorite Zelda game? Play the Wind’s Requiem and point your sails this way!
This week, I’ve got another queer indie developer spotlight for you with another game you can play for free right now! Okay, it’s a demo, not a full game, but I was so thoroughly taken by the demo that I had to spotlight this dev as one to keep an eye on like I am!
Spider Lily Studios has a demo out for their upcoming 2d, narrative driven, puzzle-filled adventure game, Retrace. The game’s twitter bio cites inspirations including Undertale, Zero Escape, and Umineko no Naku Koro ni–in other words, extremely my brand of anime murder mystery horror. The demo I played (available on Steam and itch.io) perfectly captures the vibe of those games, presenting both an escape room puzzle and murder mystery within moments of each other.
The demo features four friends meeting for a bus ride to a haunted house tour when an earthquake strikes, and the group suddenly wakes up in a macabre environment which sports a mausoleum, library, and dungeon plus whatever’s to come in the game’s full launch. Freya, the game’s main protagonist, must solve puzzles to travel from room to room as they piece together where they are and why. These rooms are deadly and one wrong move can lead to Freya’s untimely death, forcing the player to think critically about the information at hand and puzzle their way out of each room. The developers even work in the idea of repetition present in games like Umineko and 999, but I won’t spoil how. Play the demo and find out!
The demo only goes so far, but the game’s description on their itch.io page highlights “Queer Romance in Dangerous Places,” as Freya not only has a “long-standing crush on her best friend, Mia,” but meets another young lady in the game who “admires Freya as her saviour.” How do you get me even more excited about a supernatural murder mystery? Make it gay!
Okay, I’m not saying anything else about Retrace because if you’re reading this, go download the free demo and play it! On Spider Lily Studios’ itch.io page, you can also find their interactive fiction game, To the Wolves, which is not only also free, but playable within the browser! No download needed!