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Candy Box 2 by aniwey
I really shouldn't say anything. We all know discussing the contents of the box is directly opposed to the appeal of the box.
Numbers get bigger. They get bigger faster if you click the right buttons (and these buttons are growing all the time). But Candy Box has never been soulless. It has a wonderful sense of humor.
Candy Box understands how to get inside our brains and tickle that drooling click-muscle. Candy Box uses that knowledge for fun, not exploitation.
In addition to Candy Box's tendency to grow systems like a polymorphous ASCII organism, Aniwey mentions player-created levels on his site: “when you will finish Candy Box 2, you will have access to a special area featuring quests written by the players! Anyone with some programming knowledge will be able to write a quest, and if it is original enough I will add it to the game so that everyone can play to it.”
By 2050, Candy Box terminals in every city allow me to purchase food for my family. There is no need to question this utopia. Candy is peace. Candy is love.
EMMA by Pierre Chevalier
Emma is an infinite story generated from Google Street View and a 48 year long dream journal. Stark b&w images precede calmly related visions juxtaposing the ordinary and the bizarre. No matter how mundane the events are, their dream origin makes them interesting--reports from a world that exists only for a single night.
A stark, claustrophobic feeling. The only way to wake up is to turn the game off.
Birds by Kitty Horrorshow
Birds is an autobiographical hypertext ("every single story is true" says Kitty) and it takes place in Savannah, Georgia, "a city slowly being reclaimed by nature". Kitty's story is all about nature. Humans are an intrusion.
Instead, the focus is on birds. Tender, detailed descriptions of birds. How we feel about their bodies in life and in death. Really, the whole story is about things considered unsightly and outcast, and how beautiful they can be when we don't scare or ignore them.
I finished feeling like I’d taken birds for granted. It's so easy to get trapped inside our heads and forget how we share common space with critters that can leap miles into the air whenever they want, or drop their prey on rocks to break open the meat inside, or rub ants on their feathers until the ants piss formic acid to kill bacteria, and and and yeahhh birds are cool
Her Pound of Flesh by Liz England
Chilling body horror about the lengths someone might go to see their loved one again. Precisely written, flowing with the inexorability of cellular growth.
The story moves quickly to the central premise, with no need for exposition, because the decaying apartment says everything about the protagonist’s obsession with bringing her back. That, and, you know, resurrecting her from an old tampon using a highly experimental procedure.
Like most stories about bringing the dead back to life, there's a catch. Humans seem incapable of imagining resurrection without drawbacks. We wake up mindless and hungry for brains, we need blood to survive, we burn up in sunlight--no one gets a second shot at life without some cosmic tax at work. Liz's premise is especially effective.
The flesh is a thing of perfect horror. Her hair, skin, nails, lips--those features that were once sensual or endearing--are gruesomely disconnected, a soup of human parts that responds to your presence with something less than sentience but something more than brainlessness.
I’m not sure if mistreating her has any effect, but the sheer revulsion at merely being given the option to do those things to a helpless lump of flesh, this faceless cross between a pet and a baby, was probably the worstbest thing in the game for me.
Liz optimizes for exploration: the exact number of possible endings is listed, and you can replay from several points. I appreciate not having to retrace my steps in order to fully devour this hideously excellent story. Another entry on the list of superb Twine body horror.
One Last Dance For The Capitalist Pigs by Julien Lallevé
If you thought Gravity Bone needed more puzzles...
That’s not really a fair comparison. The approach to storytelling is completely different. The comparisons are relatively superficial--a blocky graphical style, running through a city, and a mission that is completed through absurd, esoteric means.
If you like climbing, platforming (I'm not sure if this was deliberate or not, but it felt like a piece of ~platform humor~ when I had to climb and jump all the way around a huge tower just to reach an inaccessible area very close to where I started), and destroying capitalist game shows, this is for yoooooouuuuuuuuu.
Lakeview Cabin by Hypnohustla
A relaxing lakeside vacation, wow, how amazing! The grounds are littered with stuff to play with. I spent some time just tinkering with beehives and throwing boxes at the outhouse to try to knock that key down. Ah, the glory of nature.
BUT ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS
Lakeview Cabin's strength lies in the experiential. Unlike many games with horror themes, we aren't escaping or hiding or mowing down monsters, we are solving a problem found in many horror films: how to get rid of a seemingly unstoppable enemy.
So what you really have is a set of tools for dealing with a problem.
An axe. Electrical wiring. Whiskey. A beehive? Elements interact with each other, and figuring out one possible set of interactions to achieve victory felt so much like hitting all the right notes in a horror movie. There were no additional characters to suffer tension-raising deaths, but I took care of that by dying many times (which actually does a great job of simulating the various silly deaths a horror movie might build with--hiding inside the outhouse only to get torn to shreds, getting drunk and running into the monster, caught in my own beartrap, etc). Finally I transition to protagonist-level play by discovering one of the weaknesses that, as we know, all immortal invincible beings must have.
I feel like there must be other paths. I wanna know how to get that outhouse key.