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.
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
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.