Free Loaders: It’s Grim Up North

Eight free games were spotted trying to gnaw through border fences at Dover port in Kent yesterday. Animal control teams were caught off-guard as they battled to control the beasts, hospitalising one 36-year-old and injuring a by-standing truck driver. It is thought the free games, many of which are ‘arcade’ in species, must have come from France. French officials have reacted with a cavalier attitude. “Yes,” said a customs official at Calais, “we use the free games to evict refugees. Sometimes teargas is just not enough.”

North by Outlands

Become a refugee in a bizarre city where asylum is given only to those who can learn how to follow the rules. This is a game of profound architectural distress. You work in a sulphuric foundry that can only be safely navigated by drinking a stimulant. Church is a bright, populous expanse of beings all worshiping a giant Orwellian eye. The immigration office is a flooded, brutalist warren of ramparts and chambers, housing long-necked bureaucrats on inaccessible pillars.

You have crossed the desert to reach this city, where you and others like you have to try to decipher the customs and codes of those who govern. All the while, you can use the letter boxes to send word to your sister in the South, letters that will give you clues what to do as the player.

The officials and asylum seekers you meet, along with the eerie warbling music, just make the city more oppressive and fearful. And the letters to your sister, while helpful, are those of a man in constant anguish and perplexity. One sequence sees you in a police station, surrounded by looping films of children and crowds, under duress to complete an incomprehensible test that would unsettle Franz Kafka himself. A longer game, at about 30 minutes, but one with a lot to say.

Hyper Flex by gn.fur

Twisting obstacle course of spikes, pits and walls with single-button controls and super electric beats. Pitched by the creator as a horrible chimera of VVVVVV, Super Hexagon, Pivvot and Impossible Game, with apologies to Terry Cavanagh. Hit the spacebar or left-mouse button to switch gravity before you are killed, whereupon the game presents you with one of its obnoxious death messages. Reach 1000 metres and you will be rewarded in some mysterious fashion. I cannot verify this claim because I can only get as far as 121m. My shame consumes me.

TV Trouble by Supercore Games

1960s TV repair against the clock. Tune television after television before the time runs out by twiddling dials and fiddling antenna. You need an Xbox controller for this one. The dials are coloured according to which button you should press, use the triggers to move the antennas and the Y button to change channel. You have 30 seconds for each TV. When you’re done, hit the right bumper to get a new telly to fix. Obsolete technology is fun! I know this because I own a phone where the only game is 15 levels of Sokoban.

Into, or, I Turned My Autobiography Into a Fictional Second-Person Surreal Coming-Out-Of-Age Dramedy and Now My Life Is Happier by animal phase

Quiet and cryptic vignette about a couple, or possibly close friends, or maybe some close friends who secretly want to be a couple, I just don’t know. What I do know is that it looks and sounds very pleasant. Playing as both characters in what seems to be a classroom, you mostly just click to advance the dialogue, seeing them scribble messages to each other on something in front of them. But the way the fabric of the desk in front of them tears to show their eyes as they write to each other gives it all a heartfelt tone – something that continues for the rest of the (short) story. Another thing: there are voices! Very few games I cover for Free Loaders include voice acting, so when I hear people talking them wurds, with clear and crisp voices, like they were recorded in a sound-dampened studio with an actual human ear, I feel all fuzzy and warm in my brain parts. Also, there are some nudey bits, which I always appreciate.

PUSERTOH by Sos Sosowski

Two-player Superhot pong from the man who brought you McPixel and dozens of other oddities. The ball only moves when either player moves. PUSER. TOH. PUSER. TOH. PUSER. TOH.

Horizontunnel by Fluttershaft

Continuing the homage theme, here is a Downwell inspired sidescrolling shooter. Run, gun, dodge and stomp your way through 6 procedurally generated levels of black, white and red. Spikes fall from the ceiling, basketballs bounce around, lasers beam out between walls, and turtles you could once jump on suddenly form spikes on their backs – it’s all here. You have five shots with your gun before you need to reload by killing something and taking the goodies left behind.

Haccer by Kevin Andersson

Bombermanish arcade game about digging as deep as possible before being blown to pieces by bombs. Dig, dig, dig. If there is no clear path, activate bombs to clear the way. But you can never go back up, so avoiding the explosions becomes a matter of quick reflexes. The bombs also chain react, leaving you scampering about in the dirt. On top of all this, there’s a time limit – keep digging to stay alive. My average time is 15 seconds. I’m sure you can beat that.

i’ve been late by himynameischuck and Derek Daley

Short, ambient stroll through memories. The town houses and beaches of this world are populated with sad ghosts. Gathering at a backyard barbeque, assembled by a seaside bonfire, alone in the corridors of their homes. Very brief but the bittersweet music and the moonlit colour palette make it worth the few minutes.

Have you seen any free games in your neighbourhood? Be safe. Inform @Brendy_C. Need more free games? Check our list of 50 best free games on PC.

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48 Comments

  1. kament says:

    staring eyes

  2. Javerlin says:

    I would like to say that I come to website for gaming news, and news that affects games. Information on the migrant crisis is not really what I want to see.

    • Bradamantium says:

      There’s no news about the migrant crisis here, unless you count North’s admittedly blatant inspiration as news. Somehow.

      • GWOP says:

        Didn’t you hear? Games exist in a vacuum, and you can’t bring in any context like that because that’s politicizing.

      • Javerlin says:

        “There’s no news on the migrant crisis here”

        “we use the free games to evict refugees. Sometimes teargas is just not enough.” with a hyperlink to external news site regarding the jungle in calais.

        I wouldn’t mind so much if it was made relevent in the text concerning the inspiration for north but as it stands it appears as out of place social commentary at the srart of the article.

        • Premium User Badge

          yhancik says:

          Well, please elaborate, because you lot are a mystery to me and I’d like to understand.

          What is, in your own opinion, problematic with social commentaries? And what commentary did you actually perceive/sense here?

          Did you feel that it was so out of place when one of the games is seemingly (I still have to try it out) talking about asylum seekers?

          Thanks.

        • DrGonzo says:

          It wasn’t out of place or out of context, the first game spoken about RIGHT AFTER the link in question is about being a refugee. How is that not relevant?

        • Hogans heroes says:

          I fully agree with Javerlin, this politicisation nonsense has to stop. Tim Stone’s otherwise excellent columns are ruined by his insistent need to reference World War 2 and other historical events.

          I play games to escape from reality, I do not want any aspect of society to influence my gaming experience. I recently had to stop playing Pong because the back and forth nature of it started to remind me of Cold War politics.

          I am also secretly highly conservative and reactionary, I do not like change or things that are different, but I would never admit that. This is about ethics, or rather the need for no ethical references in games. I am taking an ethical stand opposing the inclusion of ethics in games or journalism (it made more sense in my head). This is an ethical argument for not talking about ethics.

    • GWOP says:

      Well, too bad then.

    • Bull0 says:

      And I’d just like to say that I don’t give a crap what you come here for. This is fun, I’m glad we did this.

      • Javerlin says:

        Comments that simply say “I don’t care about your comment” further nothing.

        I’m commenting on a peice of the article that I felt was jarring in it’s current format and detracted from the peice as a whole. Although I originaly laughed at the satrical nature of the first paragraph I wasn’t fond of the hyperlink.

        But that’s jsut my oppinion so I thought I would comment about it so the writer could be made aware of what the reader thinks. Is that not what comments are for?

        • Bull0 says:

          What a load of twaddle.

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          Graham Smith says:

          “Is that not what comments are for?”

          I’d actually like to dissuade people from the impression that comments are for giving feedback on the content of articles. They’re there so you can talk about the subject matter – which games you’ve played and liked in the list, perhaps, or suggestions for other free games you think people might enjoy.

          Otherwise, it’s too much. There’s really no other field than writing on the internet where people feel so free to offer feedback, thoughts, and of course mostly criticisms on the work. It’s unlikely you’d critique the performance of a person working in a store as they served you. It’s probable that if a server in a restaurant asked you what you thought of the food, you’d say something polite rather than standing over the chef and telling them what you dislike about what they’re making. We have a word for people who yell back at comedians on stage during gigs.

          It’s fine that you didn’t like some part of the article. But by saying so, and by the general atmosphere on the internet being one where saying so is permissible, it’s a little like working in front of your in-laws, waiting for them to tut at whatever they think you’re doing it wrong.

          A better approach might be to email me. I’m the editor here, I oversee the running of the site, I edited Brendan’s copy, and I’m ultimately responsible – legally and otherwise – for what’s published here. People are always welcome to drop me a line at graham@rockpapershotgun.com so I can see what people think. I’m better placed to hear that feedback, since I’m a step removed from the writing, and it allows me to act as a buffer for staff who are otherwise at risk of being overwhelmed by the thousand cuts of internet commenters or the potential of internet commenters.

          Plus, even setting all of that aside, it might have allowed this comment thread to focus on the cool free games, rather than turning into a long unrelated conversation. Cool free games > p. much everything else.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      Be happy you’re not a supporter, you’d also have to suffer Alice’s posts on gaming-unrelated plants. These make me really uncomfortable, because I’d rather forget about the existence of flora in the world.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Man, I REALLY need to get around to signing up as a supporter…

      • Javerlin says:

        I’m glad you use sarcasm. Because it’s exactly the same, I have no desire to forget about the refugee crisis, the same way I have no desire to forget about the world flora and fauna.

        But I have two points to counter your own. The key word there is forget, anyone who can draw the link to the refugee crisis is already aware of it’s existance, and the problems it poses.

        Secondly many use gameing as an escape and to de-stress myself included, I’m not trying to “dis” the writers or any activism they’re undertaking. I do however feel it’s appropriate to use the comments section, to leave a comment about how I felt about the article. Which I would have enjoyed more without the link to the external news site.

        I myself am politicaly mindful and I havn’t said “Oh the crisis isn’t happening” or “Send the filthy peasents to whence they came” I just don’t think this is the right place for activism. Satire yes, but the link was disconcerting to me.

        Furthermore I don’t feel like the heavy handed intro did the game north much justice, it would have had a more powerful impact upon myself had I made the connection on my own. Subtly is a very useful tool.

        • Sirnizz says:

          You sound very butt hurt. Didn’t have your cookie this morning poor fella ?

          Am french and I found this hilarious, 5 seconds later I forgot that the article even talk about this.

          • Javerlin says:

            I’m not really sure what you’re trying to add to the discussion. Saying that someone sounds angered is an obvious attempt to further inflame a situation. Especially followed by such a condescending remark. Furthermore your assertion that you’re French leads me to believe that you feel I have a problem with migrants, quite the opposite I’m frustrated with the U.K. Governments policy’s regarding the migrant crisis and am on the side of Caldwell regarding this issue. However I do take issue with each standard and type of journalism he has linked to.

        • Premium User Badge

          yhancik says:

          Alright, I see, thanks for taking the time to explain yourself.

          I think we all agree that games can serve as an amazing escape from many things in life (whether it’s personal or political). The problem is that, because of the wide variety of games, the genre/medium is bound to be concerned by politics.

          For example, a lot of games take place in the context of wars, which is unequivocally political. When the representation of female characters in gaming keeps being such an issue, it’s a political matter as well. There has been a very vocal fraction of the gaming community that constantly denies the political elements that are present in games. “Games are for escapism” often is their excuse, but I think it’s indeed just an excuse. What they really want is to maintain a status quo that is more comfortable for them, by denying that such problems exist in the first place. They naturally don’t realise that this stance – loudly defended whenever they face any sign of “social justice” – is very political itself.

          Your comment rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because “I don’t want to see political content on my gaming sites” is how those gaming conservatives are usually trying to mute discussions on the political nature/content of games. I’m not implying at this stage that you intended that, but that’s usually what those comments mean.

          It’s also a bit of a strange comment to leave on RPS, considered it’s a place known for the strong opinions of their writers. They do take games seriously enough to include the Real World in their musings. If they crashed the funeral of a family member of the Deponia dev team demanding less outdated bigoted jokes, I’d also be like “guys, maybe it’s not the right place for this”. But I don’t think their own blog can ever be the wrong place for that.

          Trying to understand better what you actually meant: what do you think about the presence of such political content on gaming blogs? Part of your comment makes it sound like it’s a personal issue, something that makes me think you might personally be sensitive to content that can be a source of stress and content. But I also get the feeling that you consider this has no place on gaming blogs in general, beyond your own uncomfortable experience of reading the Calais news.

          • Javerlin says:

            Although your attempt at psychoanalysis is well meaning, I find it irellevent. I personally am not affected by imigratation nor do I hold particularly strong views on the matter. I do however see the entire topic as a political mine field.

            Unfortunately, you can many other have misunderstood and hence misrepresented my opinion. Admittedly I wasn’t very clear about what I was unhappy with. Let me clarify.

            I really could not care less how political a game is and I applaud games that tackle controversial issues successfully. However, I judge games biased on gameplay first, theme and story second, visuals third and context last. Spec ops the line being a great example of a game exploring war, its successful because is has workable (although uninspiredgameplay), and checks out great in the other categories.

            Again I could not care less about politics in games. The games themselves as a whole are of my concern and how good they are to me. Because I’m not a journalist I play games if they are fun or emotive or addictive.

            What’s more I like it when political games like north are brought to my attention, they might even be good games.

            You are right about the writers on this site having stong oppinions, some of which I disagree with but I continue using this as my no1 games site because I often enjoy the humour and I find they’re the games journalists that their views on the quality of a game most often match my own.

            Deponia is one of these area where we disagree. The author of the reviews seemed to greatly dislike the game simply because of the contraversial dialogue and scenes, and structured his entire review about them. I feel like this was misrepresenting the game, more than a little. In fact I’ve just been listening to a podcast where the author of the deposit reviews was asked “you disliked the racism and bigotry displayed in deponia, was it an aesthetic thing for you or did you believe it to be dangerous?” He of course dodged the question as as awnser isn’t that kind of question is suicide in any debate. But he did say it wasn’t dangerous.

            I thought I’d ask that question to myself. I thought the satirical first paragraph was quite funny, and I thought got the views of the author across, but the hyperlink I found to be distasteful (that is was “it made me feel icky ” ) and furthermore I think it could be dangerous. Wether intentional or not it could foster hate for the police forces working in Calais in what is a very complex issue. This is a problem I have with wider news and journalism. Where individuals or groups try to push their agenda and show only one side, albeit in an effort to do right, this does not give people access to the full picture from whence they can base their own oppinions. You could argue that it’s raising awareness, except that people who don’t know about the issue shouldn’t be introduced to it in such a one sided manner. Further more no one, on any side of the debate wants there to be teargas, or a crisis at all. Furthermore I know that I’m not qualified to even try to comprehend the complexity of the situation in Calais yet, and I doubt anyone reading this is either.

            The result is a distasteful “preaching to the choir” that feels passive aggressive and hate mongering in nature. But that’s just my opinion, I’d like to believe that people can strive for an unbiased media, now I know it’s an impossible goal but it’s one I believe we can get a lot closer to.

          • Javerlin says:

            I’d like to add that I’m not in favour of censoring games, litriture movies or art of any kind. In fact I’m not in favour of censoring any media, people should be able to write about what they want. However I believe that others should also be able voice their oppinions on such media, and then have people voice oppinions on their oppinions and so on. Whay! I just invented a comments section.

            What I mean is If someone shouting and said “the sky is red” I’d say back ” I think it’s blue, and I’d prefer it if you mentioned that others think it’s blue as you know it’s a popular opinion” key word there being prefer as it would lead to passerbys making up their own minds based on a well presented argument and evaluation of differing oppinions.

          • Premium User Badge

            yhancik says:

            @Javerlin

            I wouldn’t call that an attempt at psychoanalysis, just some natural concern. Anyway.

            Beside that, let us all (and I mean, all) remember that different people look for different things in games. It’s not a bad thing if we manage to discuss it civilly, honestly, empathically but without falling into extreme relativism either.

            If I understand you well, though, it’s the link that really made you react. Fair enough. I agree when you say that complex situations deserve to be tackled carefully.

            Of course I’m not here to tell you how to comment ;) but in my humble opinion, you could have gone straight for that. Some of us spend at least as much time in the comments as reading the article itself; if you feel some information is missing, or that a different / more balanced point of view on the matter is needed, why don’t you simply share it? Unlike traditional media, we are “making” information together here, so you can definitely contribute to the unbiased ideal you’re aiming for. Everyone having her own bias, be prepared to have your notion of “unbiased” challenged. But I think that “here’s something to complete this information” will be more welcome than “this information shouldn’t be there”, and foster (hopefully) more constructive discussions ;)

          • Javerlin says:

            I think you yourself are preaching to the choir when you remind about different people looking for different things in games. That’s awhat a comment section is for, no need to remind everyone that it’s only an oppinion, no one ever beleived it to be otherwise.

            I beleive that my comment had the effect that was intended. It was disigned to express my displeasure to the author about the inclusion of the hyperlink and to count as a statistic towards that fact. The reason I did not write out my three paraphraph long explanation is twofold.

            1. Ain’t nobody got time for that
            2. If i were to write it out I’d fear it’d go to waste, with somone such as yourself to discuss with however I have a more introspective experance questiong myself about why I feel such things, and I have more fun, when there’s someone to bounce ideas and arguments off of.

          • Javerlin says:

            Having you ask me questions lets me think criticaly aobut my own oppinions and how to express them. Was that better? Does that also require you to post a meme about not understanding.

          • Premium User Badge

            yhancik says:

            Well my bad, I thought you meant the exact opposite :(
            I’m glad it was fruitful then.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        That reminds me, I need to renew my subscription.

    • puppybeard says:

      Skim-reader, are we?

    • Shazbut says:

      I read this and assumed you were joking. Please confirm

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Because, as we all know, games can’t contain references to real life while still being games.

      No, I don’t think so either. So, unless skipping such content is enough for you, you may want to consider not visiting RPS, because writing words about all sorts of (pc) games is kind of their thing.

    • Premium User Badge

      cpt_freakout says:

      Anything else we, the world, can do for you, good sir? You know we’re all here for you. Even the Sun.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      You should ask for a refund.

    • SpiceTheCat says:

      “I come to this site to read things other than what you just wrote. I demand you write only the things I want to read!”

      I, on the other hand, come to RPS because they write the things they want to write, however tangentially related to games they things they want to write may sometimes be. And those things can be personal, political, botantical, whimsical or ornamental.

  3. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    “Tune television after television before the time runs out by twiddling dials and fiddling antenna.”

    What nonsense. Everyone knows retro TVs can only be fixed by hitting them *just* right.

    • Bull0 says:

      Making a younger sibling hold the antenna above their head and waggle it around until they find a good signal also works.

      • oyog says:

        No, no, it’s a firm belief that the tracking buttons on the VCR have some control over the terrible reception of the rabbit-ears! You just have to believe hard enough!

        • Butts says:

          Also missing the critical bit where you get it working by holding the antenna juuuuuuust so, but if you attempt to return to the couch, step back a few feet, or even breathe a bit too hard it goes right out again.

          • Person of Interest says:

            I was recently forced to watch an entire episode of The Bachelor because the only way my girlfriend could get adequate reception is if I positioned the antenna high on the wall opposite the TV and stood, on a chair, directly in front of it.

    • zerofiftyone says:

      It’s funny you should say that! When we were making the game, we actually came up with the same idea and designed a mechanic around it, but sadly ran we out of time before we could built it in. Oh well!

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Frankly I’m outraged that televisions are featured here at all. This is a PC gaming website gudnammit!

  4. JB says:

    PUSERTOH is the most innovative pong-clone I’ve played in years.

  5. KinkyJohn says:

    Hugely enjoyed playing north. I didn’t think it was possible to find something more kafka’esque than my tax return but that definitely is and unlike my tax return I didn’t have to use Riemannian calculus to get out of an audit afterwards.

    The amusing blurb on the front page drew me in … and I’m glad it did!

    • Premium User Badge

      Ben King says:

      I’m glad I played North, but damn it was not much fun. The citizens of the Northern city…. disturbing. The comment thread about politics in games could just as well been instigated by the commenters actually PLAYING North as much as by Brendan’s witty writing which clearly is striking true on a couple of good levels. I felt a bit like I was tumbling through a bit of a terry Gilliam movie crossed with the simultaneous migrant crises in both the EU and US with a good dose of soul sucking kafkaesque horror (Hey look everyone is made of CLAY and is CRYING). I’ve found a lot of good free games through RPS and I’m really glad anytime one of the writers here takes some time to curate a collection of it for us to peruse.