Free Loaders: What’s the draw of horror?

As hard as it is to believe, we live in the good timeline. In this reality, Walt Disney did not go crazy with delusions of bringing his animations to life, creating a terrifying place where you can be stalked by cartoon characters. Oh no, he did! Well, at least the terror of Disneyland is offset by the boredom of long queues for Space Mountain. In our headlining free game this week, there’s no such respite.

Bendy and the Ink Machine by TheMeatly

First-person cartoon horror. Your old workmate at the Bendy animation studio has sent you a letter asking you to drop by. But the place is in a right state and completely derelict. Wood planks are falling from the ceiling, papers and drawings are scattered everywhere, and there seems to be ink dripping from places where ink should not be. To get the place up and running you’ve got to find six objects and get the ink flowing again.

But old cartoon characters don’t die well and freakish thing start to happen around the corridors. Some of these made me jump, some of them made me laugh. There’s something about Bendy’s eternally frozen grin that is both unsettling and amusing at the same time. Anyway, the pieces used to fix the ink machine are sometimes hidden in annoying places and the lack of a run button is something that always frustrates me in games that implore you to retrace your steps around a single maze-like arena. But it’s a good-looking first chapter, if you’re up for some jump scares.

Wave Run by Jamie Rollo

Tiny, spiky jetpacking platformer. Get yourself running and jumping, you fool. Here’s 33 small time trials filled with spikes and pits and water and spikes hidden sneakily under the water ha ha we got you there. Press Z to jump, and Z again while in the air to jet pack, so long as you have water in your tank. Press X to give yourself some speedy forward propulsion. I like the simplicity of this, the Meat Boy-ness. The feel and momentum of the controls is in that sweet goldilocks zone. Needless to say, you’ll never beat my scores. I won’t tell you what they are exactly. But just assume that they are always 0.01 seconds faster than yours.

Sine Wave Samurai by Kai Claiver

Wave-matching slicer. The honorable samurai have been cutting up villains for millenia, but now you can learn how they do it – by matching their focus to a sine wave. Of course! How could we have been so ignorant? Here, you see dots forming above you. Press left or right to stretch or unstretch the frequency of the wave so that it matches all the dots, then spacebar to strike. Your opponent wont sit around all day though. they’ll start to drum up energy for their own hit. And every turn sees you informed with fewer dots. Only a master can replicate the wave with two or three black spots. That’s how you become bushido, I think.

Choke by Raphael Dely

Jaunt through creepy rooms. Wander into this… I don’t know… hotel? Mansion? Labyrinth? Anyway wander in and look around the crimson-tinted hallways. Paintings line the walls of some of the rooms. Words appear on the walls and doors, chiding you for being in another horror game. The words give you commands. You roam in circles. The place seems to repeat itself. You’re told to look at this, stare at that. One of the commands is more suspenseful than the others and you don’t really want to do any of them. But the way out is blocked off by prison-like bars. Get out.

Holt by Seans Le Blanc

Itty bitty story made for the Utopia Jam. Holt is home to all little peeps, but maybe there’s something they could use. Press up to talk to people or use stairs or climb vines or read signs. Everything is small and simply done here – black and white pixels with peeps no bigger than your littlest fingerprint, a world which is only so big, and a chill and idyllic guitar track for the background music. Everything is good in Holt, but maybe there is more to life than just this place.

Stray by rxi

A micro dungeon, this time for the LÖVE jam and a little more traditional. It’s a minimalist GameBoyish action RPG. Get a weapon, shoot the blobs, find the keys, avoid the bats, fight the big blob, open the doors, save your progress at those runestones, and get through this mini monochrome maze. But there’s also some really disconcerting music boiling away underneath it all, seemingly getting stronger and stronger the deeper you go into these stone hallways. Bwwwwuummm… bwwwommmmmmm… BWWUUMM… BWWWWOMMMMM.

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 whistle all the way to your failed dotage

1 Comment

  1. geldonyetich says:

    I gave the first chapter of Bendy a watch. The released chapter is a bit of a teaser that directs people to Patreon more than anything else, but I love that old cartoonish style, thanks for making us aware of it.