People who walk down busy streets with their head buried in their phone. We’ve all seen them. Savage half-humans without dignity or grace. You try to go left as they approach and they slowly veer the same direction, ignorant of your efforts to avoid a collision. Then they turn around and start walking the other way. Now, you are stuck behind them! Clearly, you have died and this is your hell. There is no other explanation.
Well, what if I told you that, thanks to the power of videogames, you too can be this absolute plonker? It’s true. Just come with me to find out how.
Check our list of the best free games you can download and play on PC right now.
Risky Phone by pomb
Walking (with a smartphone) simulator. You have to walk forward down the busy streets and get to your train. But you also need to look down all the time, in an effort to respond to the demands of your mobile. A word will flash up on the phone saying “Red” or “Purple” or whatever and you have to hit the corresponding keys (Z, X or C) to match, constantly glancing up to make sure you’re not approaching the traffic lights or in the path of another person.
You can slow down and speed up, or completely stop as you wait for traffic to quit whizzing past. It’s like Frogger except you need to press buttons on your phone at the same time and avoid bumping into people. Despite its blank walls and featureless humanoids, it is probably the most realistic game I’ve covered in months. Human friends: do not do this.
Arc Symphony by Sophia Park and Penelope Evans
Homage to the cult classic role-playing game Arc Symphony. Any true fan will remember the wonder they felt when Satoshi first saw the flooded world from the bridge of the Arc Glorious. Or the heartache at the end of disc one when Dallas’ mum died. Even the frustration of the final boss battle. But who remembers all the discussions we had as fans, on bulletin boards and forums? This interactive fiction piece recalls the life of the uber-fan. Writing fic, ‘shipping your favourite characters, quoting your favourite lines in your signature. But the message board is a clouded realm (just like Emilio’s head, ha ha ha!) and not all may be as it seem. Hell, even you may not be as you seem. But then again, as any veteran of the upper deck will tell you: “In this world, the only thing that matters is we keep breathing. Together!!!”
I like a lot about this one, there’s a lot of humanity and warmth to it. There’s even a copy of Forgotten Blade on a separate floppy disk but sadly it has become too corrupted to play. Luckily, we have a previous (only slightly less-corrupted) version saved right here!
Yurei Station by Atelier Sentô and students at the le Pôle des Arts
Point-and-click-and-be-creeped-out adventure. A young girl gets on an empty train just before dawn and starts receiving unsettling and corrupted text messages. She is confronted by a few puzzles and her strange journey continues into an eerie, empty village. Hand-drawn animations are one thing but the way the scenes transition and the objects move, slowly and steadily, give it an unusual appeal. A solid ghost story, accompanied by some freaky imagery.
Den by La mécanique du plastique and Kilosaurus
Life as a “half-fox half-cat half-wolf half-lemur half-many things”, which technically makes you multiple creatures but let’s not argue about maths. Click and drag to move the creature and squash the human workers. Left click once to scream like the horrible chimera you are.
Echo by Don Boose, Ashely Guchhait, Miki Straus, and Glo Wan
Or maybe you’d rather be a regular cave-dwelling animal. Here’s a bat. Get him out of the collapsing cave, alongside some batmates he makes along the way, using your powers of echolocation. The controls aren’t very well explained, but basically you have to hold your right analog stick in the direction you want to “see” and later batpals let you use diferent types of echolocation by holding down either bumper button. But once outside, there’s more waiting for you than falling stalactites.
The Mind Is A Small Place by Juju Adams, Daniel Marques, Chris Anselmo & Jan Vorisek
Depression as walkable art installation. Phones ring in every room, offering the words spoken to a loved one about their deteriorating mental health. There’s often a short and easy puzzle to figure out before or after picking up the phone to summon the door to the next room. Glean meaning from the metaphors in which meaning is to be gleaned, from plucking flowers out of their pots to smashing vases. Or be hit in the face with the metaphor, such as when you play chess with death.
The Final Fantasy of Cloud Boy by EJ Sainz
Short and slow cloud-based ditty. You are a boy who is also a cloud. Don’t ask why. Gather clouds and form some stairs. Fight the dragon. Die and repeat the whole tutorial over again. Fight the dragon. Die again. I hate dragons. I hate clouds. I hate this whole fetid gauntlet we call existence. Get out of my article.