Welcome to the very first Itch.io Spotlight! Think of this feature as a companion to the Bandcamp Roulette pieces; here, I’ll be taking a look at weird, fantastical, and under-the-radar releases on itch.io, the premier creator-centric video game marketplace. Of course, video games are a lot harder to write about in a timely fashion than music, so, to save my sanity, this series will focus on just one release at a time. Today, I’ll be profiling QT by HappySnakeGames.
QT isn’t a very easy game to describe; or, at least, nothing you can say about it on paper feels particularly communicative of its essence, its essential vibe-liness. A screenshot will get you halfway there; a video will get you even closer:
But, you’ll only really understand when you’re playing the game for yourself. Put simply, QT is a small walking-sim charmbox where you can roam around and meet a bunch of friends. Sometimes, you can pet the friends; sometimes, the friends can be fed; what’s always consistent, though, is that every friend smiles at you. Constantly. Every single item and sprite in the game besides the walls, floors, and ceilings has the same soft, unerring grin, like this: · ◡ ·
Here, look at the object to your immediate right. Project a · ◡ · onto it. That’s what QT is like, OK? It takes some getting used to, and it’s an aesthetic that could easily read as cloying and obnoxious if you’re a more cynical consumer than I; at times it can feel almost dystopian, like you’ve had a set of VR goggles clamped onto your head that force you to perceive everything around you in as cute and inoffensive a manner as possible (and, hey, that’s kind of fun, too, isn’t it?). Ultimately, I found myself quite enjoying the overarching visual style; but, its distinctness and uniformity won’t be for everyone.
QT offers three unique little diorama worlds for you to peruse at your discretion: QT, the title game, a quirky spoof of the legendary horror demo P.T. by Kojima Productions, Museum, an area where you can smash priceless pottery with your bare hands and collect bronze Etruscan horses (all branded with a placid · ◡ · stare, of course), and, finally, Kouen, a pleasant Japanese mountain town full of smiling animals and infinitely stocked vending machines. Each world features strange, yelpy background music that I can only describe as a good-natured, occasionally grating cross between the Hypnospace Outlaw and Animal Crossing OSTs.
Of these worlds, Kouen is certainly the most elaborate: it’s almost intimidatingly dense and huge, and even after wandering around its map a few times, I still don’t feel like I’ve seen more than half of what’s available to me. This amount of sheer detail is an example of the care and sincerity that elevates QT over being just another cute, virtual-dust-collecting distraction to stare at for half an hour and then abandon; its creators were clearly invested in cramming it chock-full of secrets, quirky in-jokes, and fun scavenger hunts. There are hundreds upon hundreds of unique, · ◡ · – faced sprites to find, and dozens more odd easter eggs scattered about each world. It’s not a perfectly made game – indeed, it can get pretty damn rough at times with sudden, inexplicable framerate drops – but it is a painstakingly made one, and I think that counts for quite a lot. If you’re even the slightest bit curious, it’s worth checking out.
Pair with: Gray’s Peak cola; the gaze of Braco; vewn animations
QT is available now for purchase and download here:
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Secat is a musician and writer based in Houston, Texas. To see more of their work, you can follow them on Twitter (@secatsecat) or check out their personal blog at secatsecat.home.blog.