Free Loaders: Catching up with your past self

One game this week (pictured above) is about physically chasing your own trail to catch your past self in a dancey “worm hole of time-space frequency”. I once encountered my past self. He sent me an email through some sort of delayed electronic delivery service. On the morning of my 20th birthday I checked my inbox to find a poorly-written message from 2004 in which my schoolboy self laughed at me because he had “no worries ’bout money, education or any of that stuff”. What a brat. Well the joke’s on him. I don’t need money when I’ve got free games!

Hyper Time Disruptor by Critical Bit, Grendel Games, Extra Nice, Menger & Meester

Neon cycle of reflexes, electronic music and speeeeeeeed. You’re barrelling down a wireframe tunnel pumping with beats and filled with orange glowing obstacles – blocks, spheres, bars, walls – when by chance a glowing trail appears in front of you. By the power of laser tag, it’s your own trail! The aim here is to catch up with your past self to complete the level. You can do this by flying in the wake of your own route as you barrel down these endlessly-repeating tubular obstacle courses. This speeds you up (although while playing, I thought it was holding ‘W’ that did that… silly me) and allows you to get closer and closer to your own time-ghost.

Talos Descent by Matt Hughson

Infinite astro-falling. Your jetpacking spaceman is tumbling deeper and deeper down a planetary hole. You can adjust your fall left or right but that’s it. Every few hundred metres gravity grabs you by the ankles like a hungry whip and you start to fall even faster, making it hard to avoid the randomly shifting cavern walls. Get as deep as you can without crashing, cosmonaut. My high score was something like 750 metres, which only involved two speed-ups. I bet you can beat that.

Figure 8 by Mario Marquardt

Doubt-plagued ruin walkabout. Wake up in a deserted wasteland with only an ancient structure and some palm trees in sight. A narrator kicks in, a la Dear Esther, talking about the story he’s writing and the characters he’s creating. As is the custom of writers, he quickly falls into an introspective well of emotions and self-questioning. Meanwhile, you’re just trying to find out where to go. Ah, a door! Wander through the rest of this world and you’ll be treated to more authorial self-second-guessing. It’s a good-looking world, just surreal enough to be a troubling dream but not spooky or disturbing. There’s TV sets everywhere, spluttering static. And… is that a skeleton? There’s vibes of The Beginner’s Guide in here too, of random levels scrunched together out of necessity (it “started out as 3D modelling practice,” says the maker) and your player-man being somehow disconnected to the narration. I’m reading Keep The Aspidistra Flying at the minute and a lot of the sentiments were familiar. I would say it all makes sense in the end but, well…

The Tower by Mr Tedders and Mark Sparling

Microscopic manshoot. As a tiny pixel of a man with a tiny pixel of a shotgun, you’ve got to scale the 7 levels of this slowly swaying Tower. It’s dark in every room by default by your smallman’s progress through the level will dissolve the blocky darkness and replace it with monochrome structure. Baddies come for you with creeping, jittery sounds. Turrets will lambast you with firepower until you cheesily kill them from popping out behind a corner over and over, taking scattered potshots. Text will titter across the screen between levels, going up and down and all over the shop. It’s not much new by way of gamestuff, but it does look very nifty.

Space Train Simulator by arknano, Lite Black and Andrew Bell

Space delivery on space rails, yes sir. Oh, except there are no rails. It’s outer space, after all. Pick up your cargo in the station and deliver it to the destination on time, taking extra care to fly into the dock in the correct and non-full-speed manner. You have a little window with the dock display to help, and a window showing your rear view, if that is useful. To the left and right are more displays: how much time’s left, how much money you’ve earned, what stations are nearby. But the toughest thing is actually flying the damn machine. It’s shift to throttle up, WASD to steer (vertically inverted, of course) Q and E to roll left and right, hold right mouse button to look around the cockpit, and so on. Me, I’ve done enough space deliveries for a lifetime in Elite Dangerous, but I was glad to discover that they made some convoy-lovin’ twang-heavy country music to go with this. It is the music all space truckers will listen to in the glorious future. Notwithstanding imminent nuclear annihilation.

Dragon Tax Return Simulator 2015 by umrain

Normally I play these games before writing about them. But screw this.

Want more free games? Check out the Best of Free Loaders collection or check our list of the 50 best free games on PC. Got a free game yourself? Give it to @Brendy_C or another Brendan from the past, whichever suits really

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4 Comments

  1. anon459 says:

    I can’t beat that, actually. As far as I’m concerned Talos Descent is impossible after two speed increases lol. Space Train Sim is hilarious, but I demand dashboard-bobblehead DLC. Also, I made a u-turn and drove through my own cargo. How do the devs expect to compete with Elite Dangerous with such immersion breaking? :P

  2. LeBob says:

    1351 on Talos here, it’s a tough little game.

  3. Merry says:

    “Walkabout”. What an excellent replacement for the dreadful “walking simulator” tag, which brings with it way too much scorn for a proper game category. It even has the requisite three syllables, to match the familiar FPS, RPG etc. I propose that RPS issue an edict forthwith to make this the standard term for exploration, non-combat games.

    • Count Pacula says:

      I’ve already started tagging appropriate games with “Walkabout” in Steam. Perhaps if enough of us do so, the new tag could catch on.

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