Freeware Garden: It Moves

It's pretty static in screenshots, but, yes, it does indeed move.

It Moves is a horror game made in RPG Maker and hence comes with some traditionally cute character sprites and a top-down perspective. Yes, I’m quite aware of the fact that this doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but please do trust me when I say that It Moves is one of the few games to understand how atmospheric horror works.

It is, if you will, In The Mouth Of Madness to gaming’s more usual The Grudge, or, to clear things up, it’s one of those rare games that manage to scare, not startle. A game that carefully builds its atmosphere using great writing, otherwordly graphics and some very interesting game mechanics and never resorts to cheap jump scares.

Apparently having a really good plot involving a kid and his realistically scary nightmares also helps, as does the fact that each of the game’s chapters gets progressively weirder and more disturbing with everyday horrors eventually blending into supernatural ones. It’s all very smart and very creepy and amazingly varied.

As spoiler free and bland as possible this piccie, but I'd rather you discovered It Moves' visual wonders on your own.

You’ll get to visit all sorts of not particularly nice locations from cellars and schools to church-like establishments and basements. Also, a lovely sacrificial chamber and an, uhm, demonic fish tank? Or is that an underwater base? Regardless, it’s an incredibly melancholy and actually beautiful place filled with odd inhabitants, speaking of which, one really has to mention the excellent pixel art of It Moves. Especially when it comes to its many, weird, non-human characters.

They all look lovely and strange enough so that you can never really know what it is you are looking at. Undead babies, cow-like monstrosities, cultists, jellyfish mixed with Byzantine iconography and even something resembling Zoidberg make their appearance and you’ll love them all. It Moves, you see, is uniquely successful in picturing the unnameable.

As for what you do, well, the mechanics simply support the atmosphere, pace and plot and are thus simplistic. You solve a few puzzles here and there and navigate some frustrating mazes, but it’s the play experience maintains the game’s pace.

10 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    “A game that carefully builds its atmosphere using great writing, otherwordly graphics and some very interesting game mechanics and never resorts to cheap jump scares.”
    Oh god, yes. So many horror games seem to rely on jump scares, which makes me sad because I like horror, but I hate jump scares.

  2. Sorhin says:

    Isn’t it kind of weird to say that they understand horror atmosphere when they use cute FF graphics? For me horror atmosphere is all about the look and feel.

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      Please do play it and you’ll see what I mean :)

  3. Bernardo says:

    Jump scares are actually the one thing that I don’t like about Horror games (and films). And this looks beautiful. Concerning the art style: Lone Survivor used a similar style, and managed to produce an oppressive atmosphere.

    By the way, Konstantinos, thank you so much for this great column! Most of the games I’ve tried are real gems, and I love these little games, they are like good short stories to me (not necessarily in terms of pure length).

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      Why, thank you so much for the kind words Bernando; glad you’ve been enjoying the games sir!

  4. brotherthree says:

    Pixel Horror?
    Will try.

  5. Shumone4 says:

    Neat game. I actually believe I read the story it is based off of online somewhere. But feel free to correct me if I’m wrong RPSers
    Edit: Made it to the end. I am chastened.

  6. rcguitarist says:

    Just Played this game because of this article. It is a great game. It really freaks you out and grips you the entire time. Still can’t believe this is free. I’d easily pay a few bucks for this. Imagine to the moon, but shorter and scarier.