HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEEN. From showing your demons the middle finger to backflipping your way past pumpkins and vampire bats, we have lots of skin-crawling, Halloween-themed free games for you this week. But also some normal games so that you do not become too frightened. I know how sensitive you are.
The Night That Speaks by Adam R and Guy T
This has been out for a while but it is HALLOWEEEEN, so here it is again. A first-person horror walk through a shadowy catacomb, the only way to force back the ghostly monsters that stalk the corridors is to courageously and resolutely flip them the bird. How the game still manages to be creepy and jump-scary when it includes this feature is beyond me. But somehow, it does. Part of me thinks it contains some surprisingly good advice to give to any children (or adults for that matter) plagued by fears of ghouls and creatures. Just stick up your middle finger and MONSTERS BE GONE.
Skelemania by Benal
Premier skeleton-based platformer. Explore the underworld in this sequel to Super Skeleman. Collect elite new skele-skills like ‘backflip’, ‘dive’ and ‘detach your head to roll it through tight spaces’. Use these to make your way through the bright Metroidvania Spectrumscape. Lots of skill and practice involved in this one because you’ve got to learn to combine your abilities to make your way around. Backflip into a divebomb while underwater, for example, and you will go flying. Lots of checkpoints and game saving rabbits mean it’s never unduly punitive. Also features many advisory frogs. A++.
You Wake Up Every Morning And See The Footsteps by Zarkonnen
Micro-horror about an isolated cabin-dweller in a snowy forest clearing. Every morning you wake up and see footprints coming out of the woods. Collecting firewood and setting fires seems to ward ‘it’ off. But the sun will set soon, and the trees are far away…
Dotsnake by Franklin P. Dyer
Cheek-chewing puzzle game about taking the correct route. This game feels like the Nokia snake navigating an obstacle course in slow motion. Collect all the rings and leave the level without crossing your own tail. Press Z to undo moves and rethink your approach. The opening stage is a piece of piss, bestowing a sense of mental superiority. Stage 2 makes you stop for a moment. Still, you think you are intelligent. Stage 3 you begin to gurn with confusion. Stage four? I have not seen stage four.
black_hat by edgley
Hi-score hacking sim set on a 80s command-line computer. Very much my cup of tea, this game sees you clacking away at your keyboard to copy files from servers and upload them for cash. A suspicion meter ticks up while you are intruding and can be lowered by using your ‘change_proxy’ command. Enough cash will also let you add more proxies and networks to your machine, hopefully staving off the game over screen. Becomes a bit of a pain to type the filenames and passwords out since they are mostly just random strings of letters and numbers. But damn, dat 4 kb/s connection.
Note: requires Love2D framework installed first, which you can get here.
Neon Haze by Porpentine
Eerie jaunt through a lonely futurescape. It recreates the feeling of being alone in an isolated train station late at night pretty well, with only the beckoning hum of some automated vending machines to keep you from thinking too much. Porp’s way with words continues to impress. The music on your hotel pod’s screen is “dissociationwave”, the doorway to the outside is a “docking sphincter”, rain is “heavy kinetic water” and information on a screen is “scrolling datagraphics.” But my favourite line comes when you order a pizza and lean back in your seat with “post-coital revery.” There’s a bit of The Machine Stops by EM Forster to the story (where is everybody?) as well as a darkly hilarious moment involving a computer cable. Solid wordstuffs.
Super disclosuretron: the creator, Porpentine, used to be the free games czar here at RPS, before Konstantinos usurped her and I, in turn, overthrew him.
I Think The Waves Are Watching Me by Bob McCabe
Murder mystery set on a deteriorating island, which has become split from the rest of the world in a dense fog. There’s a creepy, otherworldly Stephen King vibe to this story. You move from place to place on the island, from the beach, to the dunes, to the docks, to the bars, to the lighthouse – all the while meeting the dozens of inhabitants and observing them. There is something odd happening. An ever-present countdown only adds to the foreboding, and all the islanders, including yourself, seem to be obsessed with finding and collecting ‘MacGuffins’ – small shiny wedges. Then, there are the murders. Like a massive game of Cluedo, you are tasked with finding out who is killing off the citizens of the island. But you also have to watch out for number one. “You found a wooden 2×2,” the game informs you. “This will do nicely.”
Helping you along is a hallucinatory rabbit, and your trusty notebook, which you scribble things into when you notice a trait about someone (“Carter is wearing a light coat”, “Andrea has dark hair.”) One of the more unsettling moments for me came when I was sitting by the lighthouse, just watching people as they came and went, when one of the other characters peered at me. “Leah looks at you for a moment,” it said, “then writes something into a notepad.” A story of paranoia, mystery and a bizarre improvised currency.