Live Free, Play Hard: The Week’s Finest Free Indie Games

By Porpentine on March 3rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

THIS WEEK: The piano is a weapon. Satanic ritual simulator. Obsidian ruin explorations. “a visceral-hateful method of destroying things”. Sepe…

Césure by Orihaus

FIELD REPORT FROM EXPLORING SCARY DARK PLACE

Obsidian structure with spiraling metal walkways.

The way you jump is mechanical, like the sudden leap of a hovering drone. I felt like a probe exploring a bleak plane where no humans can survive, physically or mentally.

The structure blurs if you stare directly, choosing to sharpen in your periphery. Unsettling when something can’t be looked at directly.

Colossal dark rocks and orange radiation interrupt the structure’s circular paths. Any order that once existed is no longer in place. You’re free to go wherever you want.

The landscape is not divided into zones of safety<–>unsafety, but rather between bleak and bleaker. The structure is luminous and concrete compared to the uncertain darkness of the outer regions, but the light does not comfort you and the form is twisted and unsheltering and the only sounds are the ominous bubbling of fluid, the reverberation of heavy bells.

Césure’s central hub drives you outward by starving your mind of comfort, not with threats of physical harm.

Joel Goodwin wrote a great piece about the boundless nature of one of Orihaus’s games, Obsolete. Césure eliminates even the unobtrusive mechanics of Obsolete in favor of what Goodwin calls “Places that just are.”

No invisible barriers, only a willingness to trust players with infinity. Orihaus is an architect of the void.

 

At the Bonfire by Finny

At the Bonfire is about a party that really happened, just reimagined.

It borrows from those sleepless nights staring at the ceiling thinking about words you said/wish you said/wonder what would happen if you said them.

There are several paths based on who you choose to spend your time with. There is the knowledge that even a seemingly laid-back gathering is tense with unspoken dynamics of gender and performance.

Finny’s games charge directly at thoughts instead of abstracting them to the capital letters of Big Emotions. This is hyper-introspection, the kind of writing that stops me repeatedly with its lucidity, with its explicit naming of things we bury in the dark, hoping they’ll suffocate. They never do.

 

Castle of the Red Prince by CEJ Pacian

After two years CEJ Pacian (author of Gun Mute and Rogue of the Multiverse, if you follow parser stuff) quietly releases another perfect little piece that pushes intfic forward. What to praise? The hint system that works while you sleep? The hidden interactions?  How about the dreamlike approach to movement.

“x”/”examine” is the traditional parser command for looking at something closely, but here it works omnipresently and as movement. Examine something, and there you are. What you examine doesn’t have to be visible, just known to you.  Knowledge is teleportation.

Radiator says it best: The player / reader already knows more than their character, so why subject the player to the same constraints as their character? and invokes Thirty Flights of Loving’s use of jump cuts.

CotRP does for parser what Thirty Flights did for FPS, which is push back against the idea that video games are somehow above (or below) the editing that goes into film, books, and music.

Not that encountering spatial resistance isn’t an important part of many games, but like every design decision, it deserves thoughtfulness. Because I definitely don’t play epic scifi adventures for the long elevator rides.

 

 

 

Mother Fucker Galaxy by dangerneck

Soar through a fluorescent colorscape of pulsating nipples and rapidly flashing bullets, punctuated by the sudden appearance of murderous mega-heads in

MOTHER FUCKER GALAXY

which is incredibly merciless but also a SHMUP based on PTSD so that’s to be expected.

You can spray pellets, charge up to do a crowd-clearing laser beam, or reflect enemy shots with an energy field for a “visceral-hateful method of destroying things”. I quote from this excellent post-mortem, which talks about mental illness and the use of temporal friction in game design:

In MFG the temporal reward comes when more than one ship is destroyed by a single shot.  This reduces the framerate to 15fps for 4 frames, which means for about 266 milliseconds the action updates once every 66 milliseconds.  This feels really good.  I am amazed at how a small temporal reward can transform the way an action feels.

 

SABBAT by oh no problems

The most flexible satanic ritual simulator I’ve ever played, a punk witch power ride that escalates with every click.

But let me gush over SABBAT’s node map.

Look at that majestic arrangement of passages, that eldritch-transformation weaving machine, and is that katakana at the bottom?

Game making that extends to the surrounding process–art as a by-product of art.

 

Stygia II – The Sisters of Stygia by Kitty Horrorshow

Stygia is one of Twine’s earliest major works, a rainswept necropunk CYOA. Kitty’s craft has grown since then–in Stygia II, text is shorter, more digestible, more confident, while retaining the ghoulish world-building that brings us a city of giant mechanical spiders, blindfolded angels, and horseheaded cops.

This installment reveals the existence of a place called Lonesome Town, which you naturally have to visit even though it sounds very scary and unpleasant. However, I’m most interested in the number tattooed on everyone’s arm that counts down in real time, one of several intriguing hooks in this episodic text adventure.

 

 

 

Drop a Beat, Giuseppe! by Major Bueno

A disgruntled pianist plays for his life against a trash-hurling mob. The controls: random keyboard mashing and hitting Space to slap garbage back into the audience with your trusty piano lid. How genius to make the controls as exuberant as the game.

All of which is fun enough, but *MYSTERIOUS FACE APPEARS* THERE MAY BE MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

 

Sepe’s Cumshot by Anonymous

Sepe’s Cumshot is NSFW and contains scenes of an explicit nature. Please be advised.

[SPOILERS]

The year is 2013. I have been rubbing for 5 minutes.

Sepe stares at me with dead eyes. He does not care if I succeed. The mountain does not love the climber.

My rubbing does nothing.

I consult Twitter for tips. Does anything actually come of this rubbing? Or is this a dead end? I see someone talking about medium strokes. Makes sense. Sepe is the Goldilock’s of handjobs, the Everycock on the street.

I keep rubbing.

Suddenly his dick engorges to the size of a big fish and slaps fatly against his belly. He looks down, simultaneously terrified and amazed. My disembodied hand hovers uncertainly.

Have I murdered Sepe? Is he going to cum out a muscular ghost version of himself that mournfully departs his body through his urethra?

I keep rubbing. This lumbering hand cursor is the only way I can express my concern, as clumsy an instrument as it is. I am the avatar of handjobs and I am here to jack this dick into oblivion, in the name of ethics in journalism. I’m tired of all those handjob simulator reviews where the reviewer clearly hasn’t played the game.

I hit another penile milestone and his vacant gaze instantly flips to cowlike joy. He turns his gaze to the right. He flexes his arm. He smiles. “I’m fuckin’ huge.”

I rub faster.

His entire body swells, a mere extension of his erectile tissue. He flies off the chair and onto the floor like an enormous muscle-baby. His cock thrashes periodically like a unit portrait animation of some rejected Zerg unit (“This isn’t warlike enough, plus it looks like a giant dick…”).

My fingers dig into the mouse, swinging the cursor back and forth as sweat pours down my eyes. Time is slowing down, each stroke lasting for eternities. Sound becomes distorted, the hum of my computer fan deepening to a subterranean roar–

[transmission terminates abruptly]

, .

26 Comments »

  1. Voxel_Music_Man says:

    That last description was so hilarious that I checked the link.

    I wish I hadn’t.

    • Triplanetary says:

      I’m not sure what you were expecting if not a penis.

    • sirdavies says:

      Well, this section IS called “Live free, play HARD” so I don’t know what you expected.

  2. Eclipse says:

    I remember a time when freeware games were posted regularly on tigs, hotu and gamehippo and it was all about fun and clever gameplay mechanics…
    This space should be renamed as “Live Free, Play Kinky” or something :P

    • LionsPhil says:

      ‘Tis all a bit Lula 3D around here these days. :/

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        It’s one out of seven games mentioned…

        • LionsPhil says:

          And that’s been the trend for weeks now.

          Most of them have been text, mind, so I should have said Softporn Adventure.

    • Jesse L says:

      Yeah, these selections aren’t the best of all free indie games, they’re definitely a…more narrow selection than that. And that’s cool and all but the title is less and less descriptive of what this column seems to be.

      • Tacroy says:

        Yeah, these selections aren’t the best of all free indie games, they’re definitely a…more narrow selection than that.

        I see this said a lot in the comments, but nobody ever mentions a better free indie game from recently than what was in the article.

      • webwielder says:

        Just go to http://www.freeindiegam.es for a more holistic roundup of games. Porpentine’s selections are a subset of the games on there, and she especially likes interactive fiction and games about sexuality.

  3. Risingson says:

    Sepe’s Cumshot needs a bit more work to be the parody of xtube videos it is obviously aimed to be.

    Or not. That was confusing.

    • Risingson says:

      “His entire body swells, a mere extension of his erectile tissue”. I forgot: CLAP CLAP CLAP for your perfect imitation of porn, er, erotic literature and its clumpsy metaphores.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        I only wish the wanking hand wasn’t quite so butch

  4. Premium User Badge

    uzihead says:

    Césure by Orihaus needs to be played with 3D glasses to be felt even “deeper”.

  5. onomatomania says:

    In exactly one year, John Walker will post an article asking why we didn’t all play King Dongs of Sepe-lur : Jackening

    • onomatomania says:

      Also I was deeply annoyed that you said Sepe’s dick was “the size of a big fish”!!! His cock was clearly more akin to a juvenile horneyhead chub – a medium-size fish, AT BEST – and not the girthy, pouting, blindly beautiful African lungfish of my dreams, a fish of overwhelming length and substance

      WORDS have MEANINGS, you know!!! Only say a dick is the size of a big fish WHEN IT ACTUALLY IS!!!!!

  6. SkittleDiddler says:

    I can see why the creator of Sepe’s Cumshot wishes to remain anonymous.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Ooooh, a sequel to Stygia! I was waiting for that.

  8. The Random One says:

    I played SABBAT during the week. It’s incredibly well written. I immediately played it twice over.

  9. zaphos says:

    Castle of the Red Prince was really lovely work; great to see more from CEJ Pacian.

  10. Servizio says:

    Looking forward to the completion of Fleshcult. *Thumbs up*