Run your own queer bar, full of people who just want to drink and have a good time during the 1920s! Host parties, allow drag queens to drink, watch fake marriages be celebrated in whichever way the couple wish. Or, play around with beautiful gems and cute birds, trying to make sure everyone is content and in place before moving onto a new level and reading a poem. If relaxing games aren’t your thing, why not experience one about becoming pregnant and learning your options? Or one about repossessing cars to clear your own debt, or about feeding your limited supplies to a fire to survive. Read on for this week’s best free games…Need more no-money gaming? Check our list of the best free games you can download and play on PC right now.
Bottoms Up by Mo Cohen, Maria Del Castillo, Yori Kvitchko (SeedBolt Studio), Christian Scandariato, & Dr. Cookie Woolner
Have you ever wanted to know what it was like to run a speakeasy in the 1920s? What if your specific speakeasy is ran by you, a queer bar owner, allowing people of all sexualities and genders to partake in your bar?
In Bottoms Up, you must last the century – managing your drinks, customers, and drag queens as you attempt to dodge the law. Each day is pretty simple: you open your bar to customers, and then an event will happen. A fight might break out, cops might come, or someone might just be looking for your help.
Once you have dealt with the event, you will get a result. You can explore your bar a bit, reading the news or turning off the music, before shutting for the evening and reviewing your profit. While your bar is closed you can buy beer, liquor, and glasses (these get broken a lot during events). Sometimes during the night your phone rings, offering you an additional event to change the game before you open up for a new day. Making money requires a lot of careful choices, but you will get the opportunity to help the community around you thrive.
This current build of Bottoms Up is the first chapter and I can’t wait for more.
Rocks and Ravens by Andy Bacon
If running a bar is too much pressure, you can read a haiku while sorting rocks and diamonds on a grid of ravens. The ravens of Rocks and Ravens have different rule and these rules change as you get further into the game, but at first, it is simply to put a rock and a diamond in each row of the square grid. Ravens cannot directly look at a diamond, as these are too shiny and distracting. You have a set number of rocks and gems to place and must find the correct area to drop them into before the level will move on.
Sometimes the grid becomes much bigger, or some unmovable rocks are placed before the round starts, or the ravens are in a tricky configuration, challenging you as you place down the remaining pieces you have control over. After a few levels, you will be given another bit of your haiku. Other times the game changes, giving you new rules to play by and new challenges to take on.
A Laboured Land by John O’Kane
A Laboured Land is a short, narrative based game which takes inspiration from the recent vote in Ireland on abortion laws.
You are a young (well, middle-aged by medieval standards) man who has slew a very impressive dragon. You live in a simple town of Pipsville. Everyone is happy and cheery in your town. After a long night of drinking and talking of your vanquishes, you end up spending the night with a person from the underworld.
Though you had used a protection spell of quite a high level, you have fallen pregnant. The person from the underworld had to go back to their home, so you must figure out what you are meant to do in this situation. Not everybody around your town is helpful or willing to keep your secret, however; you need to figure out your options and what needs to be done to continue your life. You currently rely on medication to avoid infections – medicine you cannot take while pregnant – and your town isn’t very supportive of abortions. You must talk to various people and decide what’s best and right for you.
A Laboured Land puts a funny twist on this serious topic and makes for a very interesting game.
Repo Runner by Julius Tarng
Sometimes, life comes at you fast. You lose your job, rack up a load of debt, and are assigned a new one to pay it off. In this case, the new job isn’t always that glamorous. You might end up repossessing cars – like in Repo Runner – scanning licenses plates quickly to find the right one before the owner shows up. If you are quick then you can get the car repoed before anyone notices. If you are unlucky, or too slow, you might end up having to deal with the owner. You are given the color of the car you are looking for, but sometimes this just isn’t enough to work with.
Once you have scanned and found the car, you can repossess it. If the owner comes along, they will plead or threaten, hoping you leave their car with them. You can continue to repo the car – which will give you the money you need – or you can make decisions to give it back. Your choices might have a negative effect on you or your money. If you can’t find the car in time at all, you will lose money for the day, falling further into debt.
Hearth by Corey Bertelsen, Vivi, & Millipede
In Hearth, you are balancing your limited resources in a cold world with the heat that helps you thrive.
Your fire burns quietly in your home. It gives you energy, life, keeps you warm. This fire doesn’t just give, it also takes. It requires something to burn – twigs, grass, rocks, crafted items – anything to keep it alive and burning. The items around your small area are limited – once you have harvested them all, no more will appear within the snow.
So, you must figure out what you want to use for crafting – creating weapons, food, or life sources – and what needs to be sacrificed to the fire. As you explore more of the cold, lonely world, you will find hostile animals that will attack you. Your home and your fire is safe, but exploring is important. You become cold very fast while out in the wild, needing to check back into your home and warm up often, but over time you can craft items that help this.
Hopefully you will be able to survive at least a few cold nights in the dark, mysterious world of Hearth.
Disclosure: Jupiter Hadley is an apprentice games wizard at Armor Games, helping them to find released free games to sign.