Free Loaders: You Have One New Message

Five people were maimed yesterday after a pack of free games escaped at an illegal arena and ran amok. The games were due to be released into the ring one by one like bulls, police say, where they would face taunting and death at the hands of a trained handler. But when one of the games figured out how to unlock its cage, it created havoc behind the stalls, releasing seven other games and goring several bystanders. The games are still loose. If you see any of these, seek shelter immediately.

A Normal Lost Phone by Accidental Queens

Lost phone mystery. You find a smartphone all by its lonesome and now you have to rifle through its contents to find out who it belongs to and why their parents seem so worried. What begins as a modern day detective story soon becomes incredibly voyeuristic, as you start to figure out passcodes for dating apps and make your way through the owner’s text messages one by one. This came out in February but I missed it. After playing it this week I feel comfortable slapping it right up at the top here. It shares some of the feeling of Her Story, albeit featuring today’s technology and with less of a focus on the crime angle. But it has the same small moments of revelation, all of which come together to form a story in its own neat yet meandering way. Games that let you piece things together in your own mind get a thumbs up from me. In summary, you should look at this phone. There’s a message on it for you.

I Like Walking Very Much by Camel504

Walking simulator starring creepy, friendly spider made of twigs or something. Imagine if you were that spider from Limbo, the one that stabs the wee boy in the head, and you just wanted to be loved and accepted for what you were – an unfathomable, eight-legged horror. Bravo, you have imagined this game. I Like Walking Very Much is all about looking forward, overcoming rejection and climbing onto the faces of bafflingly trusting human beings. I like the way the spider scuttles. Scuttling is a motion that is not reproduced enough in our industry. I also like the way each of his tree-branchy arms has a hand with long, spindly fingers. It wants to be people. Why can’t we just let these terrifying creatures be people?

Climbed and Quartered by burgess

GIRP-like limb dismemberment. Climb a constantly shifting ladder as quickly as possibly using seperate buttons for each limb. Sounds simple. Except the wall of ropes you are ascending is not all moving the same way, pulling your limbs all sorts of directions. Get as high as you can before your arm pops off, before your legs get pulled right out of their teddy bear sockets.

The Pit by Lots of People

Down-scrolling platformer in which you fall down a giant hole. “When society has problems, cast some people into a pit.” That’s what my mother used to say and that is exactly what happens in this game. You play as Beatrice, who is throwing herself down said hole in search of her husband Dante (whoaaaa, role reversal!) Hover to slow yourself by holding space and put down checkpoints on the wooden platforms you find on the way down. You have limited breath while in the air and only 14 checkpoint “totems” for the entire journey, so this is as much a game about pacing yourself as it is about flying past spikes and cogs at high speeds. If only every platformer of our childhood was about falling down the level, we all would have suffered less trauma.

GERM by carpetbones

Microscopic muncher. Terrorise the mitochondriac inhabitants of ceulluar organisms by floating around, bashing them and eating their remains. Survive enough cells to see yourself transform into the next stage of life. Think of it like a tiny, black and white Spore, but with a weird beat-boxing soundtrack that sounds like two pixels having sex. Will you become the gluttonous slug you always dreamed you would, the one that is able to fire laser beams from its head? Do you yearn for a visible mouth? Will you approach self-actualisation when you are able to defecate? It’s germ-eat-germ in this game, which is also called Germ.

Why bother? by Kate McNamara

Everybody loves first-person 3D platforming – Xen taught us that. Revisit all the wonder, joy, frustration, loneliness, despair, self-loathing and resigned tears of that wonderful gaming experience by playing this ruinous single-level jumpathon. Try to cross the void of sweetly stars platform by platform without falling to your doom. Rising platforms, sideways platforms, tiny platforms barely big enough to land on – they’re all here! OR: just take the stairs to the end. No catch, just take the stairs. I saw this game described on Twitter as “sassy”. I can confirm this is an adequate description.

Rooms by ZeroEchoz

Rooms! Do you need a room? We’ve got it! Happy rooms, sad rooms, energetic rooms. We’ve got gloomy rooms, party rooms, spooky rooms and introspective rooms. Rooms with balls and rooms with fireworks, rooms with bittersweet music, rooms with thoughtful music. Reminisce over your lost love in the rose room. Consider the environment in the smog room. Why go anywhere else to feel feelings? We have all the rooms you’ll ever need, right here. Why would you ever want to leave?

Golden Scarab by OMG WTF Games

Twin-stick dubstep, shoot-the-fellas, neon kill lights, line of murderbullets, space explosions, 2-player mode, high score or die, blow up the everything, Golden Scarab.

If you see any other free games, tell us how they made you feel: @Brendy_C

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  1. ProctorEldritch says:

    Wow. I don’t know if I can bring myself to finish A Normal Lost Phone after digging through it. I really want to see where it goes, but I’m very conflicted about digging any deeper than I already have.

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      Serrit says:

      I couldn’t directly relate to the story being told, but it felt like it was well handled (with notes from the devs at the end for further info). I really enjoyed it – how as you progress, the bits of info you pick up suddenly shift some of the other items of data on the device into a new light.

      Having things spread across a few apps was a nice approach as well – compared to Her Story that had pretty much the same input/result format, where the shifts in understanding were purely in the narrative.

      I did have to go back and re-check one of the images though after later understanding what it was showing – my initial take of “erm, turtles on a beach, with maybe some seaweed?” was soooo off-base…

    • demicanadian says:

      Only after finishing it, I found out that the game actually expects you to be intrusive.

  2. Ooops says:

    I had already played the first two games in this list and they’re both great, each in their own way. About I like Walking Very Much, it’s easy to think it’s over before it actually is. You haven’t “completed” it until you see the credits.

    • Ooops says:

      On the other had, Germ didn’t work for me, despite the low-fi prettiness.

  3. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I liked A Normal Lost Phone. It didn’t feel creepy to me, perhaps because had I found a phone I’d just have called a relative. That digging around also created some distance because of that.

    So it felt more of a puzzle with a plot, although intimate since the player has nothing to do with these people.

    • Hawkseraph says:

      Exactly. At that point it “just” became solving a puzzle. I feel like the way the puzzle was built really reinforced the themes well. Sounds weasely but you can’t really go into more detail without spoilers.

  4. roseerblooming says:

    A Normal Lost Phone was heavenly – I identify a lot with it’s narrative, so I picked up on what was going on fairly early. Without spoiling too much, it uses it’s format to great effect.

    (It might be a frustrating game if you have difficulty intuiting someone else’s line of thinking, but if you look closely enough, it makes it’s “rules” as it were fairly explicit and consistent.)