This is the one hundred fortieth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Our next random selection from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has leapt into view with a dramatic cabriole. It’s Un Pas Fragile, by DocGeraud, and its tagline in the bundle reads:

Follow the journey of Camille, a frog who dreams of becoming a ballet danc…

Brush off your pointe shoes and practice your turnout, it’s time to dance.

DocGeraud describes Un Pas Fragile as a “short interactive experience”, and this description is apt. It takes about ten minutes to play through, consisting of a sequence of small vignettes that wordlessly tell Camille’s story. Camille is a young frog who, as the tagline says, dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. Using a few mouse clicks or swipes, players guide her as she gets up in the mornings, rides the bus to school, meets new people, and takes ballet lessons. It is completely adorable and lovely.

Each scene features an illustrated backdrop in a pencil art style, with added grey shading. But Camille and the other characters, as well as particularly important objects, are shown in full color, with the distinctive patterning of watercolor paint. More than that, characters are wonderfully dynamic, making use of squigglevision (or something like it) to lend motion and energy to each scene. By rapidly cycling through slightly different images, DocGeraud imbues Camille and the other students at her school with so much life, even when they are just sitting still. But they move too: in many scenes players must click and drag to have Camille walk across a courtyard, or practice plié at her ballet lesson. Other scenes involve more exploratory clicking, poking around at various things to turn on the radio, answer the door, or eat breakfast.

Google tells me that Un Pas Fragile translates to “A Fragile Step”, which is a perfect title. It refers not only to the ballet steps that Camille learns, but also her first hesitant attempts to make new friends. Similar scenes recur as time passes and Camille establishes her daily routine, like choosing where to sit on the school bus or running into a menacing crocodile on the way home. Each time she grows more confident and is able to connect more with others. She gets better at waking up on time. She gets over her fear of the stern chipmunk lady at the bus stop. And she gets better at ballet, bit by bit, every day. Seasons change as the school year moves onward, and Camille finally prepares for her big ballet performance.

I have nothing but praise for this one. It’s short and sweet, beautiful to behold, and is sure to delight players of all ages. It’s no surprise at all that it won the award for Best Student Game at the 2017 Independent Games Festival. Go play it! If you missed it in the bundle, Un Pas Fragile is sold for a minimum price of $2.60.

That’s 140 down, and only 1601 to go!