Free Loaders: It’s Been Emojional

You awake to the gentle motion of rocking. The train carriage is empty. How did you get here? Behind you, a thump. You spin around but there is only a large trunk in the aisle – it must have fallen from the rack above. After a while staring at the box, your curiousity takes hold. You click open the first latch. Did the box just twitch? You click open the second. You peel open the trunk and — Oh god! Get it off! A free game has leapt from the luggage and is devouring your pectoral muscle like a lamprey eel and you tear at it in horror but more free games are slithering out of the trunk, they’re latching onto your ankles, your shins, your belly, oh god, you feel light-headed, oh god, how did it come to this. What maniac let these games on board!?

Emotica Online by Anna Anthropy, Leon Arnott and Liz Ryerson

'You're not the only one / with mixed emojis'

Vast adventure playground of emojis that you can edit and export for friends to explore. You can walk around as a little cat emoji and see the sights of the introductory world, or change your player icon and customise the entire emojiverse. Make a sunflower that says: “I’m a sunflower. BITE ME.” Then program it to make a “crunch” sound effect. Or reforest a blank map with palm trees, cacti and pizza. Then program the pizza to turn into CROCODILES. A lot of the fun for me came from checking out what the emojifolk of the default world had to say. “Sup” says the Were-koala. “I’m the DJ!” says an iPhone. “I’m a regular non-talking fir tree,” says the fir tree.

Guppers by tnerb games

Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Gupper

Tamagotchi world of little green people who require your constant tree-planting attention. It’s like a miniature Populous with a super basic drag ‘n’ drop feel. The Guppers need fruit and sometimes meat-animals to live. They are also prone to sudden bursts of population, leaving you scrambling to plop down trees and rain clouds just to keep them alive. At one point my Guppers seemed to all start wearing hats and I think one of them mutated into a giant stomping beast-Gupper made of crystal or something. Their buildings change with their brain size and soon skyscrapers start taking over the orchards. Armageddon is inevitable. You can type commands like “I love you” or take little screenshots so you can treasure your new Gupper pals forever. Then hit the eraser button to burn everything to the ground.

Oases by Armel Gibson and Dziff

Relaxing aeroplane saunter through dreamy, kaleidoscopic vistas. Dedicated to the creator’s grandfather, whose plane was reported lost during the Algerian War of Indepedence in 1960. (“This is what I like to think happened to him,” the game says). Control your plane with the arrow keys and give it a quick boost with space. Apart from that: just enjoy the sights. It returns to the start screen after every “level” but randomly loads a new one each time. Flying between two towering waterfalls, something that in any other game would be passed off as a high-octane stunt, is here made refreshingly tranquil.

Right Click To Necromance by Juicy Beast

'Never start a fight you can't win (without reserrecting your enemy's pale broken cadaver)' - Sun Tzu

Micro-military management game with a dash of necromancy. Lead your warriors around the field with the left mouse button and conscript the resurrected bodies of your vanquished foes with a right click. The enemy forces wander around in bigger and smaller groups and you have to size each squadron up before a fight. But you also need to beat the entire group before you can resurrect them, meaning if you are interrupted by a bunch of enemy reinforcements you have to make a split-second decision: flee or fight on in the hope that you’ll beat the members of the first group and be able to necromance them mid-fight to finish off their back-up. Simple, subtle, clever. I like it. As a lot of the itch.io commenters point out, it feels like a neat twist on free game legend Agar.io. It’s still single player for now, but the splash screen says it is “totally unfinished” so watch out for more.

Reality by Sam Wronski and Sam Seltzer-Johnston

*vomits*

Asylum Jam 2015 has finished and this is one of the products. A first-person puzzlehorror where everything is seen in pulses of sonar-like waves. It gave me full-on motion sickness and was thoroughly unpleasant to look at for any extended amount of time. The whole environment feels like it’s shifting all the time and things aren’t helped by the presence of creepy skeletal creatures skulking around, making unsettling jibber-jabber noises. Couldn’t play this one to completion but as far as the aims of Asylum Jam goes, it’s probably a perfect (if abstract) example.

IF CORNER!

PHILĂ–MEOUS by banach-tarski

My favourite bit of this is when you live through the heat death of the universe.

A short, bewildered exploration of a dark 3D map. The whole place is a mess of girders, struts, flickering screens, ventilation tunnels and bottomless pits. To me it felt like work had begun on a 50,000 seat arena or amphitheatre, then abandoned halfway through construction because some unfathomable abyss had been discovered underneath the foundations. Reminded me of both the maps explored in the Beginner’s Guide and (for some reason) thecatamites’ Crime Zone. Makes my brain go “whuuuhhhh”.

Need more free games? Check our list of 50 best free games on PC.

7 Comments

  1. GWOP says:

    Love the look of Oases and PHILĂ–MEOUS. Two sides of the retro 3D look – flat surface shader and brutal jaggy low res textures.

  2. DevilishEggs says:

    Gotta love the ZZT shades of Emotica.

    • LogicalDash says:

      I held out hope that the export format would be JavaScript so that you could write custom behaviors but no, it’s JSON :(

    • wu wei says:

      Given Anna Anthropy has written a book on ZZT, I’d say it’s definitely a descendant.

  3. JimmyG says:

    I’ve never actually played a game with plane controls like those of Oases. I guess that’s probably how it really works. It’s cool! I wish the music was a little more chill, though. It’s a cool track — just kind of manically aggressive for the calm, slow flying.

    • SuddenSight says:

      The Oasis controls are most certainly not how planes really work. For a real plane, tilting even a little bit will make it turn.

      That said, I quite enjoy the Oasis controls and wouldn’t mind playing another game with them. I was actually kind of disappointed by both the length of Oasis and the fact that steering around the obstacles doesn’t actually matter. The randomly generated worlds are pretty neat, though.

      I also want to say that I quite liked Reality. Unlike Brendan up there, I actually did beat it. It isn’t too long (~20 minutes for me) and the basic idea is pretty easy. However, while the moving lines seemed fine at first (I do not get car sick) they definitely get to you after a while. I found myself struggling to be methodical in my movements so I didn’t get disoriented. Absolutely a neat horror concept, though I’m not sure it actually fits the genre considering I was able top complete it. I don’t do well with the more typical horror games.

  4. April March says:

    Oh man, Crime Zone is the best!
    CRIME ZONE
    YOU ARE ALL OF THE COPS