Free Loaders: This Desktop Is Under Investigation

You there! What are you doing on that computer? Nothing unsavoury, I hope. The investigators of the DCPS might be peeping at everything you’re doing right now. All in the name of justice and security, you understand. Would you like to join them in their mission for total information control? Well, step right up. You too can “collect it all”.

Project Perfect Citizen by Bad Cop Studios

Windows 95 desktop investigation. I wanted to post about this a couple of weeks ago but a bug stopped me from playing until now. You are an investigator for a government agency, tasked with making connections between people by reading their text messages. You then have to fish through the hard drives of any suspicious people for evidence of any wrongdoing. It’s something akin to A Normal Lost Phone, except you are working for the intelligence services instead of getting carried away with a misplaced Samsung. The tutorial gives you some idea of the process – colour suspicious links red, innocent ones green, etc – but it does not prepare you for the first mission. Caution: There are some strong themes here that will upset some people.

But in light of the greater debate about digital privacy, and the erosion thereof, it is a necessary game. There’s plenty of password guessing and your “targets” leave a lot of obvious clues in txt files. But it has some of the same voyeurism of Hacknet and Uplink, albeit with a much more serious tone. And obviously, some of the later missions will have you questioning the validity of the whole enterprise. Play it.

Glitch Dungeon by cakeandturtles

Corrupted chip-tune labyrinth. Try and escape the glitch dungeon and all its horrible code-gone-wrong, with the help of “spells”. At first you notice changes to your 2D platforming body with each door you pass through. Sometimes you might be red, able to walk off ledges without falling, as if there’s some invisible floor beneath you. Other times you might be purple, invulnerable to the spikes and shifting glitches that patrol the dungeon.

Eventually you get the ability to swap between these data-states. Thus begins your wall-climbing, spike-dodging misadventure. As the NPCs dotted around the place will let you know, this game is quite tough. And the chiptune music that accompanies you throughout isn’t bad either. It makes me think of a broken VVVVVV. There are also smatterings of what looks like real code from the game, plastered into the background. I think this is on purpose.

Explode Mode by zerofiftyone

The future of multi-tasking tank warfare.  Control each side of your hover tank with the trigger buttons (left trigger for the left thrusters, right trigger for the right thrusters) and try to fire at the enemies as best as your left-right brain divide will allow by aiming with the joystick and pressing it down to fire. Manage your tank’s energy levels by getting kills quickly or collecting it from the field (even if it is a bit hard to spot).

As well as being a troublesome task in the most rub-your-belly-pat-your-head kind of way, Explode Mode has some nice effects – the explodiest of tank shells, the zappiest of mega-lasers. Throw in the terrifying ball-bots that chase you around each level at high speeds and slap you around like a struggling fish, and viola! The recipe for the anti-twinstick shooter is complete.

Gladiabots: Tactical Bot Programming by GFX47

Program everything to murder. Remember that little robot they brought to you in school and showed you how it could be programmed to go left, turn right, drive forward? It looked like a Roomba? You don’t? I could have sworn… Anyway, Gladiabots is like having a whole posse of those, only they look like spiders and have turrets affixed to their heads.

Compete against an enemy army of bots to score the most balls to your team’s goals, or eliminate your opposition. To do this, you have to create a branching tree of commands, conditions and actions. The tutorial teaches you all you need to get started and then after that it comes down to how clever you can be. I was doing okay when I programmed all my robochums to be super-murderous and focus on weak enemies first. But then the level “Ambidextrous” came, and I had to rethink everything to stop my boys ignoring the foes who went straight for the ball every time. A clever game, and not without its funny moments, as you destory the entire opposition only to realise all your bots are programmed to huddle around the ball for all eternity because you forgot the “pick up” command.

Hellstar by Jesper Brun Halfter

Fast-paced killshmup. Pilot your ship through each gate and try to stay alive in the face of a “learning” enemy. Switch between weapons with the right mouse button and change up your whole ship with ‘R’. The bothersome enemy drones are accompanied by Scanners – horrible vessels with the ability to collect information on what weapon you are using. With each scan, the enemies become more dangerous and start to act differently around you. When enough intel is gathered, a barrage of baddies is on its way. Keep changing your fighting style and get through each gate as fast as possible. This is a roguelike permadeathy game, but when you only have one scrap of hull left you get the option to eject for a 10% bonus. Do you crack on, or do you bail out?

Give @Brendy_C all the free games or he’s telling. Need more free games? Check our list of 50 best free games on PC.

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8 Comments

  1. Urthman says:

    You should mention that Explode Mode is one of the games made for the Idle Thumbs Wizard Jam 2016, in which fans of the Idle Thumbs podcast made games inspired by Idle Thumbs episode titles. Other highlights include:

    Shoot That Pizza
    In Search of Paradise
    The Eyes of Luigi
    Dot Gobbler
    Rolling With The Pope
    Disable Enemies to Reveal Enemies
    Build the Nublar

    You can find all the games at the Wizard Jam itch.io page:
    link to itch.io

    • zerofiftyone says:

      Yep, thanks for mentioning! Wizard Jam had a really good turnout this year. The Thumbs community is so cool and talented so it’s incredibly fun to hang out with those folks during jam-time. If anyone is interested, the hosts of Idle Thumbs played a bunch of the games on stream recently, and

  2. LionsPhil says:

    Glitch Dungeon is pretty neat (especially given how played-out “corrupted game” is) and does indeed have nice music.

    67 deaths, 201 spells cast, 17 minutes, 5 horse points.

  3. zerofiftyone says:

    Thanks for featuring Explode Mode on the column!
    As a note, I found and fixed the bug you experienced that was causing energy cubes to turn invisible upon spawning. It took me a little while to fix that one, but I hope you had fun with it regardless!

  4. Setari says:

    Project Perfect Citizen is fun, but I’m glad it doesn’t cost anything right now, because it’s EXTREMELY short.

    Passwords to the second mission: R.S = Rosemary Sharp, Top Contributor= ADI, “Home” = Dallas, Dad’s Addage= Semper in excretia.

  5. Fox21 says:

    NICE!

  6. GFX47 says:

    Glad you liked Gladiabots :)
    I almost had a heart attack when seeing it on RPS but thanks anyway! ^^