Welcome to Budget Bytes, a new series on VN Game Den where I recommend games for those on a tight budget. I’ll admit, as someone who is a college student and a game developer, my wallet is on the light side. I’m paying off my bills and commissioning multiple talented people to help make my games a reality, so there are times where I struggle to find the cash to get a $20 title. I know I’m not the only one either. With games increasing in price, the idea of finding games that fit your budget may seem impossible. However, there are so many wonderful indie titles that are affordable, or even free! Let’s get to the games, shall we?
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (itch.io)
You play as Dulce, a young woman who is getting into the newest fad: an augmented reality game called Dragon Connection, or DraCo for short. In this game, players can train and collect hundreds of dragons. (Huh, I wonder where I’ve heard that one before?) Anyway, when Dulce enters the world of DraCo, she begins to find her place in the friendly community of players. As she sinks more hours into the game, she begins forming new friendships and maybe even a romantic relationship…
The game features three girls who you can either befriend or romance, whatever flows your boat! There are 12 CGs and 13 endings.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (itch.io)
In Mycorrhiza, you’re presented with three doors. Behind each door is its own story based on a single concept: you’re trying to make your way home when reality seems to become distorted. Much like how Junji Ito’s work slowly unsettles its readers, this game does much of the same; as you progress, things start to get weird and creepy. Then, the horror begins.
There aren’t any jumpscares in this game, which is a nice change of pace for a horror game. The game relies heavily on the atmosphere, the writing, the art, and the music to make you feel unsettled. For a title that’s heavily inspired by horror mangaka Junji Ito, I think the team really nailed what makes his works so fantastic.
As of right now, only door one is playable. Doors two and three are currently under development, but I’m excited to see those stories completed!
Never Give Up!
Price: $1 (itch.io), $2.99 (Steam)
Someone is killing half-bloods, those who are half-elf and half-human. The police chalk it up to a racist maniac. However, there are those who believe there’s more to the case than meets the eye. Mia Silverlight, a half-blood herself, finds herself stuck in the middle of the ongoing case. Will she be able to find out who the murderer is, or will she become a victim herself?
The game includes three bachelors who you can smooch, 12 endings, and a separate story where you experience the course of events from the antagonist’s point of view.
Platforms: Windows (Steam)
Tiny Bunny is a fantastic horror game whose demo I had the pleasure of streaming sometime last year. I was impressed with its story and how great the game looked. From what I can tell, this is the developer’s first game, and if it is, then they have a promising future ahead of them.
In Tiny Bunny, you play as Anton, a young boy who had to move to a home in the middle of a Siberian forest. Like many places that are in the middle of nowhere, bad things happen there. Children are going missing; at night, Anton feels the presence of something evil right outside his window, and his sister is haunted by a large figure that represents an owl. The police aren’t doing much, and Anton’s parents don’t believe Anton’s claims about monsters. As time passes, items such as gloves and torn clothing are left behind in the very forest that the missing children were last seen in. Is something messing with Anton, or are they leaving him clues?
Platforms: Windows, Mac (itch.io)
#influenced follows the life of Dolly Pearson, a young woman with a small presence on Instapix. Her dream is to become the next big influencer, but stardom doesn’t come easy or quickly. She’s getting tired of waiting for the followers to pour in. So, when Instapix star Vanessa John moves in next door, Dolly befriends her. Will this friendship be exactly what Dolly needs to reach her dream, or will it be her downfall?
As someone who used to be a YouTuber, I will be the first to say that trying to get recognized isn’t easy. Personally, I wouldn’t do anything outside of my comfort zone in order to get attention. However, that doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t go to those lengths to become famous. With countless stories coming out about the things people have done for fame, #influenced‘s story tells a scary reality of the obsession of becoming an influencer.