Tuesdays are for making a cup of tea, compiling a short list of the best free games of the past week, and then stealing the introductory style of Sunday Papers. That’s right, who’s going to stop me? Not you, that’s for sure. You’re just a digital waif floating on the cyber winds. You’ll take what you’re given. So here’s some short games that will entertain, frighten, bewilder, and educate in that precise order.
We Become What We Behold by Nicky Case
Game of news values and fear-mongering. Take pictures of little people as they go about their day and the photographs will be broadcast on the screen in the centre of the room. Remember, you’re a photographer, so you have to find something interesting. In the meantime, the game will put up your pictures with a #hashtag, telling the waddling viewers what’s what. A picture of a man with a hat? That’s #fashionable! A picture of some people wearing hats fifteen seconds later? That’s #solastclick. Watch as the little square-faced and circle-faced peeps follow the whims and suggestions of the fickle media. Keep taking photos and see where the cycle of news and judgement can get you. I bet it won’t end in tragedy.
Sudden Mountain by Elliot Davis
The GameBoy homages will not end. This is a metroidvania featuring a lady with a spear. Find the mysterious components held by odd Egyptian-looking statues and plant them into the machines to find new pathways and save your progress. Poke giant beetles with your spear and stand on their exo-skeletal backs for giggles. Hold up and press the poke button to fire your spear at a foe, or stick it into the wall to create a platform. There aren’t enough games with spears. Lots of guns and swords and missiles but not enough good, old fashioned pointy sticks.
The Disappearance of Eileen Kestler by Connor Sherlock, Cameron Kunzelman and Rebecca Lamarche
Eerie traipse away from a burning house. This is a prelude to an upcoming game, say the creators, but it is still spooky by itself, if a little mysterious. But we like mysteries here. Mysteries like: ‘OH GOD WHY IS THAT HOUSE ON FIRE’ and ‘WHAT IS THAT NOISE????’ Begin in front of the roaring flames engulfing a country house and walk the only direction you can – away from it. A voiceover gives you some clue about its occupants, and possibly your own identity. But creepy things happen in the creepy woods (creepily).
Buds by Secret Tunnel
Blue man and puzzlesounds. Each level of this is a platform puzzle about coming up with the right combo of tunes. Walking left will produce one sound, walking left another. But stop walking or hit a wall and the tune ends. The locks for each level are released when you figure how how to combine your chiptuney footsteps in the order the game wants. Jump to see what kind of tune is needed, then try and figure it out. Walk left once, right twice, left once. Hurray! Unlocked! But then the levels start to feature pitfalls, spikes and walls, all of which get in the way of your sweet unlocky music. Keep beeping, bud. I believe in you.
The Catacombs of Solaris by Ian MacLarty
Eye-boggling maze of colour and confusion. According to the game’s description, the aim of this is “to find your favourite room in the catacombs.” I have yet to discover mine. They are all terror. As you make your way through the maze of noisy colours, the walls shift and change, taking on the presentation of the walls you were just looking at. What results is a sickening labyrinth of bright static and disorientation. This is a special kind of hell and it is certainly worth taking a walk around and trying to understand, until you too succumb to the warping reds, the invasive blues, the deadly yellows.
From Darkness by gold extra
Interactive documentary about the lives of refugees living in Kenya. You can walk from place to place in a limited way, but mostly it’s a collection of interviews and stories framed through the tale of a mother retracing the steps of her journalist daughter. It’s not clear at the beginning what happened to your daughter as you make your way through the streets of Nairobi or the avenues of a UN refugee camp, but you talk with social workers and volunteers all the same. The interviews are real video clips and the sentiments can be hard-hitting. One of the girls interviewed talks about tribal violence, others mention working with former child soldiers who have to be taught that violence isn’t the right response to every problem, other interviewees working in a slum neighbourhood talk about domestic abuse. It’s a big ol’ download at 2 gigs, because of the amount of video footage but it shows what goes on at the ground level for volunteers, refugees and aid workers in East Africa.