Free Loaders: Of resistance and roguelikes

Good day, fellow revolutionaries. The time has come to shake off the shackles of oppression but also to try some free games from this week’s round up. We’ve had a couple of game jams competing for attention – the Resist Jam, which is all about raising that fist and shaking it at The Man, and the 7 Day Roguelike Jam, which I presume is all about getting lost in a maze and succumbing to sweet, sweet death. Roll out, comrades.

Rootless by Dessert Club

Point and click acts of comic defiance. As a citizen of a future where there is only one tree left and books are burned by the boxful, you have to stand up to the Mainframe alongside your new best pal, a talking plant thing that, in true suspend your disbelief style, everyone thinks is a dog. There’s a lot of small gags in this and the music is particularly good. The sliding cartoon illustrations make up for a lack in animation with some fun expressions. The plant is the best character, talking always in shouty all-caps and with a penchant for big, unnecessary words. “WE CAN UTILIZE THIS REGURGITATION!” he screams, after vomiting up a useful boombox. Yes we can, brother plant thing. Yes we can.

The Cat in the Hijab by andyman404

Harassment on the subway simulator. But with cats. You play a muslim cat just sitting quietly on the tube, minding your own business. Then people start being really, you know, catty. Racists telling you to go back to your own country (you are already there), ignorant strangers saying you ought to take your headscarf off. It’s a real ride. Mostly, you’re selecting responses or trying to ignore the strangers and hoping they go away. There is a final confrontation, however, with the chance to do something about it and get yourself a fun punchline as a reward.

Freedom Through a Lens by Nicholas Staracek and NicLyness

First-person protest photography. You’re reporting on a protest and you’ve got to get some photographs because photos are good aren’t they. Talk to six people in particular hidden among the chanting crowd and take their pictures. However, one of the organisers tells you that not everyone will want their photo taken. Walk around the colour-drenched park, chat, see what people are saying.

This one seems to set you up for some choices but you don’t really get one until the end, when you’re asked which three photos to include in your report. I think being an actual journalist ruined this one for me, though. You’re told a bunch of rules by the protest leader and then your character is forced by the game’s strict dialogue to follow all those rules – blur faces out, only take pictures of people who give permission. What? It’s a public protest about freedom. I’m a journalist, motherfucker. Don’t tell me what I can and can’t photograph.

In the end I didn’t include a photo of a child character in the final report, not out of consideration for the organiser’s imposing ruleset, but simply because my memory of UK media law flared up and said: “You need parental permission to photograph people under the age of sixteen.”

They Look Strange And Have To Die by ratking

First-person roguelike of alien murder. You must tramp through these cuboid levels, picking up new guns and bombs and syringes that increase your health, accuracy, and so on. Why? Because there are aliens here and they must be utterly destroyed. Your character moves in the roguelike fashion, one block at a time, and as expected, the alien creatures move only when you do, and fire their lasers only when you take an action yourself in their range. You need to bring death and find the portal home. Get busy killin’ or get busy dyin’.

Riders of Rhea by Dave Lloyd

I love the opening line for this one: “Born on this dry rock, you rode the dunes your entire life, free… Until they built that damned space elevator.” This was made for the same Roguelike jam as the game above, but it’s got motorcycles. Chase down enemy bikes on the radar and gun them down with your turrets. You have a fragile shield and too much shooting will overheat your ride. Press ‘E’ to use the water coolant, but don’t forget to turn it off. Press space for a sick handbrake turn. Kill the other bikers, kill them good. We are told to find the space elevator and shut it down. But also that, due to time constraints, there actually is no space elevator in the game. “Just kill doods and see how high you can get your level before dying,” says the creator. Okay!

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 hide it in one of his allocated dead drops

18 Comments

  1. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Oh man that website. The Resistance, sponsored by…

    Why do the most demonstrative, dramatic activists always have the most tepid liberal politics? Nothing against the devs at all, but organizing something like this is so painful.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Because Devolver Digital is a force of evil, and true activists make sure they never have any resources to reach people. This is criticism on par with a ’90s teenager declaring that a band “sold out” when they decided to publish their music.

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        Aerothorn says:

        To be fair to OP, Devolver is by all accounts pretty cool, but the IGDA mostly exists to A. lobby for even more draconian copyright laws and B. prevent game developers from unionizing.

        I am not at all arguing that their money should be rejected, but it is awkward company.

  2. AW says:

    The photo simulator is interesting, but I’d prefer to see a ‘zombietime’ simulator where you get in and take photos of how ugly and stupid these protests are behind the scenes.

    • Gomer_Pyle says:

      Amen to that.

    • goodpoints says:

      For a more interesting take on the Protest Photographer Simulator concept, check out 1979 Revolution: Black Friday.

  3. GunnerMcCaffrey says:

    “What? It’s a public protest about freedom. I’m a journalist, motherfucker. Don’t tell me what I can and can’t photograph.”

    If it’s a situation where people can expect to be punished by the state for being at certain kinds of protests, a journalist’s choice isn’t “help the protesters” or “journalism, motherfucker.” It’s “help the protesters” or “help the government.” Sucks, but it’s true.

    Of course having a free press means no one can tell you what to photograph, but if a journalist’s decision-making process stops there, I’d wonder if they’ve thought through all the nuances of their work.

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    Ghostbird says:

    The thing about photos of protests is that the police can and do use them to identify and keep tabs on activists – which is why it’s courteous to blur faces and not publish without permission.

    (And yes, it’s public, and yes, the police have cameras too, but you’re still helping them single people out for harassment, particularly if the protest is small. At the very least, the decision to publish needs to be made mindfully.)

  5. buzzmong says:

    I was half expecting #ResistJam to be part of a clever Marmite advert.

  6. vand says:

    Yeah, I registered just to comment on the freedom of press thing also.

    The thing is, if someone at a protest asks you to get permission before photographing anyone, it’s not that you shouldn’t do it because it’s illegal or in itself unethical. Rather, see it as a request to respect protestors’ privacy and safety. As a journalist, I think it is very important to keep in mind that any material you publish can and will be used against the people you’re photographing. This is especially relevant these days when many governments have passed laws that allow for punishing anyone that is even present at a riot.

  7. Kelvin says:

    Pro-pictures, anti-speech, anti-space elevator.

    The exact opposite of my personal outlook.

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      Harlander says:

      Next up: a game jam where you just make games to populate the logic grid of those three propositions.

      Anti-pictures, anti-speech, pro-space elevator: A Day in the Life of the Dictators of Zwarg

      • Kelvin says:

        Nonononono.

        Anti-pictures, pro-speech, pro space elevator. You got the speech wrong.

        That said I would be 100% behind making A Parlay with the Art Thieves of Saturn.

        The Art Thieves of Saturn have stolen the contents of the First National Art Gallery and are threatening to send the whole lot into the sun. As the official negotiator primus of the Solar Alliance it is up to you the negotiate the return of the art; but as you talk to thieves and work to earn their trust you may find that things are not as they seem. Should the art be saved, or do they have a point? The choice is up to you.

  8. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    There is no privacy in public protest.
    otherwise you can just put a mannequin with a sign.
    (opinion of someone who done fare share of protests, some of them
    ended with arrests)

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      Ghostbird says:

      This is both true and not really the point.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      There is always danger in protest, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together to minimize it.

      I read a fellow at Occupy Wall Street who said that, in a police raid, his top priority was to stand between the cops and any trans people present, knowing that they’d be subject to much worse treatment than him if arrested.