Bitsy (opens in new tab) is a free game-making tool created by Adam Le Doux. It runs in your browser and is incredibly easy to use, letting pretty much anyone create short, simple narrative games without knowing a line of code. You can't use it to build deep, complex game systems, but its limitations are what makes it special. With only a small pixel canvas and a limited colour palette to work with, you have to be extra creative to bring your ideas to life.
Bitsy games are often focused, abstract, and minimalist, distilling their stories and themes down to their most vital essence. Poetry, not prose. Search the ever-growing Bitsy tag (opens in new tab) on Itch and you'll find thousands of games to play in your browser. Some of them are moving, some of them are scary, some of them are funny. Some are charming, some are disturbing, and some are just plain weird. It's a bottomless well of wild, unbounded creativity, and experimentation with the medium that you really can't find anywhere else.
The following games are great examples of what can be done with Bitsy, and how with just a handful of pixels and a few lines of text you can create a memorable experience that will resonate with people long after they've finished it. If these games inspire you to create your own Bitsy project, this superb tutorial (opens in new tab) by Claire Morwood explains the basics. But if you'd rather just play, new games are being added to Itch every day—and there are some great curated lists out there, like this one (opens in new tab) by Lorenzo Pilia.
Created by Breogán Hackett / PLAY (opens in new tab)
This underwater horror game is an example of how atmospheric Bitsy games can be. The eerie music and disturbing imagery create a deliciously unsettling atmosphere as you dive deeper into its dark, unknowable ocean abyss. Its creator also made the excellent Bleakshore.
Created by Ed Key / PLAY (opens in new tab)
This game from the creator of Proteus (opens in new tab) takes you on a short walk through a stretch of rugged English countryside inspired by the Howgill Fells in Cumbria. As you hike across its evocative, abstract landscape, atmospheric rain begins to pour and the story ends on a strangely enigmatic note.
Created by Rémi Le Gallo-Le Manach / PLAY (opens in new tab)
I love it when creators use Bitsy as a way of reflecting on something in their lives. Small Steps is a game about productivity and inspiration—specifically the lack of them. It gets deep, then catches you off guard with a cute punchline.
Created by Valerie Weilheim / PLAY (opens in new tab)
Vertigo is a beautiful, understated game about introspection and overthinking. We move through a house stuffed with memories, becoming overwhelmed by nostalgia, before breaking free in a magnificently dramatic way.
Created by Edward Atkin / PLAY (opens in new tab)
Bitsy games can be a window into the souls of their creators. Beer is a candid personal story about alcoholism and how it can spiral out of control. A complex issue presented with touching simplicity, a Bitsy hallmark.
Under a Star Called Sun
Created by Cecile Richard / PLAY (opens in new tab)
This gorgeous sci-fi game is elevated by rich, detailed art and evocative writing—and packs an emotional punch too. It's a story about grief and clinging to fading memories, told in a wonderfully imaginative and surprising way.
Created by Martha Hipley / PLAY (opens in new tab)
I love how this game tells a personal story as you browse the exhibits in a museum. The transitions to detailed close-ups of each artifact as you interact with them are an elegant solution to Bitsy's limited visuals too.
If you like the games above, and want to delve deeper into the wonderful world of Bitsy, here are some others to explore.
· In the Pines, in the Pines, Where the Sun Never Shines (opens in new tab)
· Continental Drift (opens in new tab)
· The Midnight Bakery (opens in new tab)
· A Vision of the Sublime (opens in new tab)
· Moss as Texture as Space Folding onto Itself (opens in new tab)
· Super Bitsy Land (opens in new tab)
· The House of the Living (opens in new tab)
· A Wizard Visits the Deep (opens in new tab)
· The Old City of High Walls (opens in new tab)
· Cauli's Night (opens in new tab)
· Realm of the Dread Sorceress (opens in new tab)
· A Woman Goes to a Private Games Industry Party (opens in new tab)
· Running Late (opens in new tab)
· Tooth fairy (opens in new tab)
· You and I and the Long, Long Drive (opens in new tab)
· A Captain's Lonely 60 Days (opens in new tab)
· The Incredibly Soft Adventures of Toothie (opens in new tab)