Have you ever wanted to ride through the desert, just you and your bike, without a care in the world? Free from the law? Free from society? Free from those weird black trucks that follow you everywhere? Well, don’t worry. The world’s premier free games column has you covered.
(We also have a game about tyrannical cyber-Egyptians, if you’re into that instead).
Shapeshifter Biker by More Mountains
Relaxing post-apocalyptic motorcycle adventure. You are an ordinary motorcyclist, the best of all peoples, winding through the sands of old earth, just trying to enjoy the wind in your beard. But those damned black trucks won’t leave you in peace. Rev up your engine and seek out the transformative powers of the animal kingdom. Blue cubes scattered around the desert will let you change shape into animals with various helpful powers. Bats can fly speedily and eagles can reach great heights. Become a chameleon and your marauding pursuers will lose track of you and go skidding off in some other direction. Or don the skin of the stubborn rhino and smash straight through oncoming vehicles.
Become one with 15 animals in a chase that never ends, all played to some chilled out folk-y songs. I can’t emphasise enough how satisfying the controls of this feel on a gamepad, and how damned cool it feels to slalom your way through canyons and around trees, leaving your foes languishing in a long cloud of endless apocalyptic dust, watching as they smash into rocks, or tumble into deep chasms. Right on.
Don’t Spill Your Coffee by Symphonite
Wonky human goes to work. Control your wobbly human frame along the corridors of your work building and try to get to your meeting with your cup of coffee intact. But you’ll need to beep your workpass against the card detector to unlock the turnstile. And your workpass is in your wallet, deep in the back pocket of your jeans. Oh no!
Direct your gauche working man as best as you can with the left control stick and keep his torso upright with the right stick (mad keyboard controls also available). Early levels see you beeping into the office with relative ease but later levels put the scanner in unhelpful places, forcing you to move your butt with the left trigger (or shift key) in an attempt to graze your entry card against it for the blissful moment of admittance. Meanwhile, your coffee is going everywhere. Don’t spill it all or you’ve failed as a human. Apt, since most levels will result in you lolling about on the floor, trying desperately to right yourself like some disgusting, upturned beetle.
Nova Alea by Molleindustria
Abstract parable of money, greed and property prices. A city grid lies before you and you can click on any property to buy it up, turning it a dashing, healthy pink. Then you can wait or invest in other buildings as it grows with each click. Sell it again before the bubble bursts to cash in, just like a real property magnate! This would be a simple and mechanistic game of profiteering, if it weren’t for the musing, vaguely robotic voiceover of a woman telling you the story of the city as you buy and sell. She talks of the city’s dwellers and their struggles, and of the masters (the caste in which the player obviously belongs). But also about other groups with their own interests and motives. With every new swing of the tale, the game changes slightly, adding challenges to your unchecked financial power and weaving a tale of a city that is slowly eating itself. Not content with being a click ‘n’ earn management sim, this game also offers a short science fiction story – one we all know is already underway.
Moveless Chess by Nico Saraintaris and Aikalen
Thinky chesslike with transforming pieces. You’re presented with a chess puzzle, just like old times. Except this time you can’t move your pieces to checkmate the king – instead you have to use magic to transform your pieces while they are glued to the spot. This leads to all sorts of brain gymnastics as your mind wraps itself around this new rule. But there is also a check on your magical powers (haha “check”) in the form of limited action points. It costs 1 point to change a piece to a pawn, 5 points to transform into a rook, and so on. Eagle-eyed free loaders will note that these AP costs match the relative value system! A+ for chess nerd cleverness.
crab my passion by thecatamites
Living as a crab is an important and essential form of being in today’s rough and tumble society. Here the developer has correctly and succinctly portrayed the crab in its natural work and life environment – an artistic endeavor worthy of the greats. What is it, after all, to be a crab? The shell of these hard-working beings is an immutable emotional shield but thecatamites has, as ever, peeled back the layers of introspection to open up yet another avenue of thought. Dwell not lightly on the crab, for we are all, in some ways, he.
Intimate Codex by Andy Makes
Text exploration. No, sorry, not that type of text exploration – not text adventure exploration. This thing lets you type a word from the passage it generates and produces a new passage based on that word, all stripped from whatever text files you want to slot into the game’s folder. It comes with some stuff pre-loaded – Macbeth, Alice In Wonderland, and some other junk. But like bots and Twitter poetry generators, it probably works best if you choose your own text to put in. A neat wee experiment, inspired by the king of non-linear story-telling, Her Story.
Void Pyramid by Willy Elektrix
And finally, here is a cyber-Egyptian horror RPG. I know, you’re sick of this genre, right? Well, in this game you have woken up in the DREAM TOMB of the VOID PYRAMID, where you have been cast by the PRIME PHARAOH for some crime, probably TREASON. Make your way through the slimey, sandy tombs and fight or flee from the scorpions, slaves, prisoners and hyena men that plague you every step of the way. Navigate electrical barriers and funnel your money, stolen from corpses, into Brawn, Agility or Wits to find your way through the dead corridors of this ancient cybernetic nightmare, collecting treasures and seeking an escape. I wish you the best of luck.
Watch out for acid worms.