Live Free, Play Hard: The Week In Free Indie Games

By Porpentine on August 26th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Porpentine of Free Indie Games returns with another selection of the web’s weirdest and wonderfullest indie fare from across the last few days. What have you got for us this time, Porpentine?

Enter a well-oiled dungeon death machine. Hallucinatory multiplayer Olympics with cats and horse-men. If you like HAM, you’ll love LIPS. Grand Theft Memorization Auto. Your phone is mutating. Inhale weed, exhale stories.

Ruin Diver III

Ruin Diver III is hard. Lasting longer than eight seconds is a big deal. Something like Spelunky in fast forward. You control one of eight characters, letting you approach the game from a variety of playing styles. The Guru has lots of health and can make traps, The Knowledge Fairie can fly, The Ninjette can walljump, Dude with Bombs can…I’ll let you figure that out.

Each level begins with a tombstone marking the number of your deaths. Death is always with you. The number crawls higher and higher as you feed your blood to this dungeon machine. The death summary is fun–”Claimed by the swamp – 200pts”, “ENTERED GRINDER – 250pts”, “CURIOUS / Entered Fae ruins – 300 pts”. I like this little story of my adventure, much nicer than soulless numeric tallies.

The levels are procedurally generated, descending down two screens. The second screen is a constant, in that it’s always a shaft of spike-encrusted platforms whirling with razor disks, something resembling the esophagus of a monstrous metal hell-worm. This is called the Grinder. Merely entering the Grinder is worth 250 points. Getting to the bottom is a zero-forgiveness proposition–nearly every inch of every platform is covered in spikes. And if you get to the bottom…*horrifying laughter*

Playing a MegaZeux game is painless: just download MegaZeux, open it up, and point it at the game. This is a fast-paced, full-featured platforming dungeon run, another fun little world full of gems and death.

Olympdics

Olympdics is a garishly, fantastically hand-drawn mini-game compilation for two players. Imagine the Olympics designed by drugs and horses from hell. The games run the gamut from simple enough to hellishly unforgiving, from something as ordinary as ping pong all the way to soaring through the sky grabbing candy and avoiding the cats that live in the clouds.

A sport where you outrun a train through a tunnel filled with ravenous rats and burning barrels. Round up equestrians as a giant horse-headed man. Do a sprint where you try to collect as many drugs as possible while avoiding all the vegetables (an eerily voyeuristic gaze into my own life). I reached peak appreciation of this game when I discovered on a hunch that you can hit your opponent with your javelin during the sharp stick tossing contest and make them lose points in a spray of blood. Or you can just hurl your stick at all the blind-folded people acting as targets. Welcome to Olympdics.

A Game By Its Cover

A Game By Its Cover finished this week, with entries based on the following idea: pick one of the made-up Famicom cartridge covers from the Famicase exhibitions and make it into an actual game. Here are some highlights:

Argument Champion

Argument Champion already got extensive coverage here and elsewhere, so this is for the one person out there who hasn’t played it already: go play this funny debate simulator powered by MIT’s ConceptNet that pits ridiculous random concepts together and lets you argue that loving HAM means you must love LIPS.

Getaway to Nowhere

Getaway to Nowhere is Simon reinvented as a bank robbery getaway racing game. Instead of a little electronic gadget smugly chortling (or so I imagine) when you fail to memorize its sequence of colors, you get hunted down by cop cars. Follow conveniently posted signs down a series of roads in a sun-bleached desert town. With each circuit the signs break, another road is added to the pattern, and you must race on memory alone. The creator outsources the soundtrack to Juno Reactor’s Pistolero, a perfect fit.

FAM-PHONE

In FAM-PHONE you’ve been dosed with Cryptwyrm, the most powerful hallucinogen ever devised. At the bottom of a cliff, bones broken, you gaze at your phone as it begs you to live and begins warping through drug-haze and pain referred to as “iridescent, incandescent, and ultraviolet”. This is essentially a visualizer toy with thousands of possible combinations. Stare into the phone and it stares back. If by “stares” you mean mutates, melts, and sings.

Sister’s Little Helper

Super Friendship Club’s Ritual Pageant is one of the more interesting comps I’ve seen, with enough incredibly diverse talent and intriguing inventions to fill another article. Sister’s Little Helper was one of the few games to avoid the mystical or religious definition of the ritual theme and go for the mundane.This is a graphical interactive fiction slice of life starring disaffected punk girl Chloe who can’t sleep without rolling up a spliff and telling herself bedtime stories. Naturally you help her do both.

Every time she stops telling the story, you prompt her from a set of options, making each play a fresh drift through freeform storytelling–jokes, horror stories, adventures, parables, self-analysis. Made me think about friends I had growing up, kids who got so they couldn’t fall asleep or function without smoking because their environment was so dull, empty, and poisonous, burning out in the suburbs while their parents sleepwalked through life at their children’s expense. This game is a lot lighter than that, but it still reminded me of something real.

Sister’s Little Helper captures the teen feel of being unable to imagine becoming anything other than what you are at that point in time. I like how every night I got better at rolling joints. I grew to enjoy the ritual. This is a cozy game to curl up with.

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25 Comments »

  1. Joe W-A says:

    My free indie game Vroom came out for the noble PC this week, too. Previous it was an iOS thing.
    http://www.indiedb.com/games/vroom

    • Desmont says:

      The steering in Vroom reminded me of driving mako in ME1 ;)

      • emertonom says:

        I tend to remember those bits of ME1 as being “grand QWOP auto.” I’m not sure that comparison is an endorsement.

        • Henke says:

          Judging by the video on the website it looks more like Carmageddon 2 but with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater physics.

    • SuperDuperStormTrooper says:

      I remember seeing your game on thejazzman’s channel. Glad you released it on PC.

    • perruci says:

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  2. iamwhosiam says:

    It’s hard not to get REALLY excited about video games when you look at those famicases; there beautiful.

    • Porpentine says:

      yes, the art is incredible! I can’t wait until the next competition!

  3. helpleo says:

    I hope the bear image stays pretty much forever on this column. I can’t possibly tell you how much it brightens my usually gloomy sundays.

  4. KKairos says:

    Hey y’all, wanted to say thanks again for the kind words; I knew Porpentine had also put this on Freeindiegam.es and that they found it fun, but now there’s a bigger review I can use to stroke my ego or cite as proof of awesomeness, and also it’s another source of downloads added. I’m more than okay with that. Again, quite thankful.

    I kind of wanna play Olympdics now, it looks intriguing.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Just wanted to say that I really dug your game, dude! Thanks for making it!

      It took me 98 tries, but I finally beat it with a vaguely-acceptable score of 29370. You really nailed the Spelunky feel-factor, but the game has its own distinct, slightly more Spartan vibe. I’m not surprised the likes of Anna Anthropy have been praising it.

      Gotta laugh when you dive under a laser bolt, skip just in time over the rope stealthing along a few pixels below it, only to slip in and out of the path of a falling spike trap, avoided by sheer luck (and inertia), landing on a timed spike trap that shoots up just as you as leap away from it, before the animal part of your brain (the only part doing anything close to keeping up at this point) tells your fingers to fast-drop down again as the rope comes bouncing back the other way, leaving you clear to land… on a chain snare, which pulls you all the way back up to where you first descended from, holding you fast to the ceiling. As you exhale in relief, you realise what that nagging feeling you’re getting is; you’re staring right into the face of the death knight who fired that first laser bolt at you. Your finger darts for the x key just in time for your poor delver to get blasted into oblivion, joining the dozens of others who’ve met as many unhappy fates. Yeah… that’s it.. laugh…

      I can’t imagine why (or how!) anyone could play as anything other than the faerie, though.

    • KKairos says:

      Actually, the first release of the game (even outside the prototype) only had Red, Blue, Spaceman and Guru as characters. The initial prototype only had Red and Blue. If you’re having trouble outside of Faerie, start with Valkyrie, who in some ways plays kind of like Dixie Kong from DKC2, if her hair killed things.

      It may not be much surprise that, though I had played Spelunky for a bit before making RD3, I was also heavily hooked on N in college. I can’t prove it of course but I think that’s maybe where the more dodge! dodge! don’t die! dodge! vibe came from. I know it’s not a proper review but the comment’s substantial enough; do you mind being quoted in the responses page for RD3?

      • BooleanBob says:

        Not at all. It’s funny you should mention it; I started on Valkyrie earlier this evening and got a 37k clear within 10 goes – I really enjoyed using her. I can definitely see the other characters being where The Challenge is, having had a go with them. The game shifts from ‘I can survive this if I just concentrate‘ to proper, mad, butterfly-effect fun – especially the bomber who is a certified danger to everything within a mile of that dungeon, not least himself! Spaceman and the Guru seem to offer a shade more hope of fruitful exploration, if not survival..

        The comment about N is really interesting, I was a bit obsessed with it myself at one time. It was single screen, of course, and not randomised, and the visual design was a touch cleaner, so at any given moment you had a clearer idea of what was going on, maybe? But I agree, both games manage to create that same mad chaos, that hopelessly fragile improvisation of momentum, go, dodge, skip, miss, correct, over-correct, flail, STOP – albeit from different ingredients.

        • Porpentine says:

          great commentary, Boolean, “hopeless fragile improvisation” captures it perfectly

      • KKairos says:

        Yeah, N has a very good, clean design. Which is good because the sheer amount of stuff flying at you could be overwhelming otherwise.

  5. Matzerath says:

    I really enjoyed Getaway to Nowhere — I don’t think I’ve ever seen the concept of ‘Simon’ expanded in such a way, and it really works.

  6. Skabooga says:

    Ooo, Ruin Diver III looks like it would tickle my fancy. Getting it now!

  7. Classicgamer says:

    LOL! What IS this game? It seems like some kind of perverse Mario Party!

  8. davidgohome says:

    test

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  10. beema says:

    Grey just came out on Moddb. Having played about an hour and a half so far, I really can’t recommend it. It trots out the same old stuff that’s in every horror mod ever. Mostly jump scares from mediocre monsters in a decrepit abandoned setting. Yawn.