Dear free loader, if you are reading this it means I am either dead or safe in an undisclosed location in the Central American countryside. Either way, I am unable to communicate. Please find enclosed several free games for your clandestine purposes. I know that we have not always seen eye to eye, free loader, but I offer you these digital goods as a gesture of good faith. If used correctly they will inspire millions. Soon we will be free from tyranny. Free from the yolk of the dollar and the Great British pound. Soon, ALL games shall be free.
Except the ones on PSN. Those will still be £59.99.
Left Leaning by Alexander Taylor
Crash-happy car gauntlet with a tiny red vehicle that constantly accelerates and can only turn left. Swivel around the single-screen race courses as best you can with a malfunctioning car whose only real flaw is being too quick for this cruel world. Not only does the car fly ahead when you least expect it, but the ground will also affect how sharp it turns. You’ll take long wide arcs on ice but perilously curt swerves on paved roads. You will also crash into the walls and stone pillars A LOT. To the point where all your vehicular carcasses start piling up like old bits of failure. If it was not already excellent enough: the Z key sounds a tiny, adorable beep – available for no discernible reason other than to offer the pure joy of tooting your horn in the most difficult and deadly circumstances.
Indie Bungle 2: Breakout Indies by Pippin Barr
Expansion pack for last year’s Breaksout, which offered 36 jokey variants of classic brick disassembly. But now there’s five more! All based on indie luvvies. There’s Desert Breakout, where you need to get the ball to hit golf flags in a sandy brickscape. There’s How Do You Breakout, complete with plastic sex noises and malleable facial expressions. And there’s The Breakout Is Present, based on Barr’s own past work. Disgusting! Self-referential! Art! *spits* I won’t tell you about the last two variants, you will have to go look for yourself.
Soothing raindrop-through-a-window simulator. Ever sit and watch droplets of rain or condensation slowly wibble their way down a long window? Staring into space as they meet with other stationary droplets before eventually cascading down in one final long streak? Well, that is in a game now. You control a single drop on your way down, collecting other droplets and avoiding the stickers affixed to the surface for fear of being reduced from a drop to a driblet. A blurry city glints away in the background. You must be in a nice, expensive New York apartment. But wait, what is this greenery appearing? Extra calming effects are on the way! There are only two buttons, left and right, which leads me to believe the 34th Brigade of Ludum Dare are yet again responsible for this devastating, meditative attack.
Re-embodied by Nocturna Games
Twitchy puzzle robo-action. Wake up in a hexagon-filled complex with nothing but your little robot booties and a gun that shoots jets of air. 18 levels of lasers, wires and pressure switches are between you and some man guiding you. Enemy bots spawn and whizz around like horrible wasps, trying to push you into pits and harass you to death, while laser turrets are another constant problem. But you know what they say: “a threat is just a friend you haven’t manipulated yet.” Use your airgun to push the baddies into the dangerous environmental hazards, zip over those pitfalls with a speedy boost, and re-position those turrets with a blast of well-placed wind (lol). The puzzles are often the straightforward ‘get the red things to go green’ variety but the jerky pacifistic shooter element gives it a well-needed edge. Whooosh!
Dragon Sweeper by Jesse Freeman, Andrew Sandifer and Sean McCracken
Dungeon-crawling minesweeper with reflex-based brawls. As the hero of legend you must hop from island to island, vanquishing foes and uncovering the secrets of the land (by clicking on it). At the beginning of each life the entire island is shrouded in darkness. Click a piece of land to uncover the area. Dangerous lairs will be secluded behind trees, among mountain ranges and deep in shadowy pockets. When you do discover a skeleton or an imp, fighting is a simple matter of clicking as a moving pointer passes the sword icon. But there are three characters to choose and each has a second icon to aim for – a mage with healing powers, a knight with a shield and a thief who can steal money. The ultimate aim is to find and kill the dragon, and getting out with a high score of gold, so meeting other monsters can be useful or calamitous. And the islands themselves are randomly generated, with a selection to choose from the start of every new game. A little bit roguelike, a little bit GameBoy, and a little bit Windows 3.1.
QuikDate by Giant Evil Robot
Disastrous dating simulator with serious OKCupid vibes. Enter a virtual realm where everyone is richer, more attractive and intolerably rude. Swipe right to initiate fuckplan. Set up your profile by choosing a gender, a religion and your biggest interest. Then roll through the matches, messaging everyone you can in desperation, or romp through each suggestion clicking “like” without even looking at the pictures. It’s your perfect Sunday morning online, complete with pop-up “encouragements” of the website’s mascot – a heart with a stethoscope called Dr Love who offers nothing but bare-faced corporate lies. Perhaps it is too accurate a commentary on dating sites, considering there is no deeper message upon completion, nor does there seem to be any win condition. Or… maybe there is? Is it just me that’s not getting a date? Am I doing something wrong? Oh god, my neuroses are flaring up, SOMEBODY COMPLIMENT ME.