Back when Playism announced that the 2D horror exploration game Ib from developer kouri would get a remake with English support, I was interested in checking it out based on recommendations from friends. Since then, Playism has released the Ib remake on Nintendo Switch worldwide. Before playing it on Switch, I played it on my Steam Deck and laptop. Having now experienced Ib on PC and Switch, I’m glad I didn’t look into it much prior to launch. It is incredible. For my Ib Switch review, I will avoid spoilers, but will cover some aspects of the gameplay and how it feels on both Switch and Steam Deck.
If you’ve not heard of Ib, it is a 2D exploration adventure game with horror elements set in a mysterious art gallery. Speaking of the art gallery, the works of art used in Ib are great. A lot of creativity is on display here across the statues, paintings, and animations. Ib begins with you controlling a young girl of the same name. As Ib, you are visiting an art gallery with your parents. While walking around, things start to change, and suddenly there’s no one around you. This is where the real game begins. You eventually find yourself wanting to get back to reality. When I started playing Ib on Steam, I was hooked. I didn’t even realize that I played for almost an hour. It reminded me of Paranormasight from Square Enix which is a game I recommend to everyone, but one that is hard to talk about.
Ib has a lot going for it despite its simple exploration gameplay. You interact with works of art, solve puzzles, and have some chase sequences in Ib. The puzzles are very smart, but one of them had me looking up a guide and some were a bit too vague with their requirements. There are two specific puzzles that were brilliantly executed with how they handled the characters and mechanics.
With the narrative the main draw of Ib, instead of talking about any twists or plot points that hit hard, Ib does a fantastic job of making even its basic gameplay feel more interesting with a regular serving of interaction, puzzles, and forcing you to explore. There are even a few endings that I didn’t know were possible until I completed the game for the first time.
I had never played the original free release, but the remake is superb. It looks excellent on the Switch in handheld mode on my OLED model. It controls well and makes good use of rumble during specific moments. The only problem I had with the Switch version was some frame pacing issues during movement and scrolling. It is worth noting that the PC version on my laptop and Steam Deck isn’t perfect either thanks to some frame pacing issues that are more prominent on Steam Deck.
Ib’s atmosphere is definitely the best aspect of it alongside the story and visuals. The atmosphere complemented by music or lack thereof manages to remain unsettling, creepy, and ensure you never feel like things are going your way. The music itself is very good. I’m not sure why there isn’t a way to buy the soundtrack or stream it, but I hope it does show up at some point.
Alongside last week’s Ib Switch launch, the PC version was updated with new language options. Once the constant barrage of new game releases slows down, I want to experience the original Ib and see how much changed between versions. A single playthrough of the remake took me about two hours. The asking price is more than justified with the multiple endings and the quality of the experience that has no padding.
Just like Paranormasight, my recommendation for Ib is to just buy it and play it if you’re interested in it. Avoid reading too much so you get the best possible experience and don’t get spoiled on any in-game mechanics and narrative twists. I trusted my friend and ordered the Ib Switch limited edition from Japan a few weeks ago. I’m glad I did, because I can’t imagine Ib won’t be in my top Switch games of the year list for 2023.