After playing Westerado, I was inspired to look around at other freeware available online. I got promptly sucked in and lost; that’s why I’ve been silent for a while. But I crawled back here and have some gems to share with you fine folks, because surely you have just as much free time to muck about playing games as I do. Surely.
First, I stopped by The Escapist Magazine to play some of the innovative Indie Speed Run submissions (developers have 48 hours to create a game.) Some games have to be downloaded, and an inordinate amount of the games seemed to revolve around frogs, hippos, or gnomes… Here were two that really stood out to me:
1.) You Can Take It With You (play it here) seemed simple and easy to dismiss at first, but I found myself playing again and again. It’s an Egyptian-themed sidescroller following your character from birth to death and then through the afterlife. It’s a game based on choices, given to you at intervals about your life’s path and also in which items you choose to pick up/fit in your inventory. Everything you do affects some aspect in both this life and next, and there are multiple ways to deal with obstacles. It was created by the group aBadIdea.
2.) Game Evolution In a Briefcase (play it here) is a lifelong gamer’s homage to games. The music is beautiful, the references are delightful, and the whole game has a stand-out style. Made up of several mini-games, each one a variation on a classic epoch video game, this submission by Pixels in Trouble is worth your time.
After an abyssal side quest into the world of horror point-and-click (I’m a sucker for those cheap scares, can’t be helped!) I ended up with a shiny free Newgrounds.com account and I’ve been medal hunting ever since. Frankly it’s a miracle that I peeled away long enough to make this compilation *Note-visit the game pages to find out more about the creators. It would be a pickle to link them all, as the site allows developers to individually credit all members of production.*! Here are a few of my absolute favorites:
3.) The Outsider (play it here) was a Newgrounds Game Jam submission, made in 3 days, and doesn’t suffer for it. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story by the same name, this is a dark, melancholy point-and-click that manages to pack in an impressive amount of stylistic artwork and emotional impact. Despite the short playthrough, this one stuck with me after I finished the final frame.
4.) dys4ia (play it here) is as pixel-y simplistic as games come, but resonated with me for a few reasons. It was a game created specifically to depict an interactive narrative about the experience of undergoing hormone therapy. It’s raw and honest, honorably personal, and though it is not my experience in life I do have several friends who are/have gone through the situations in the game. No one likes to face sensitive, emotionally hard times alone. This game is out there to remind people that they aren’t. (It makes me want to learn how to make games to share some portions of my narrative, if only to externally address pockets of my memories that are still hurt and confused about things.)
5.) The Rose is Blooming (play it here) is a maddeningly cool zombie-survival game. Rather than following the hoards of “defend your _____ ” shooters, this game is a turn-based, resource calculating exploration. You have to choose your next moves carefully, think ahead, and in the end depend on luck to survive as many days as you can. (I believe my longest run was around 550, but that took a lot of doing.) The longer you survive, the worse your luck gets. In its own way, this game does a great job structuring an environment of anxiety and excitement that is more natural to an end-of-the-world scenario than picking up a double barrel shotgun to blast away throngs of line-walking zombies.
6.) Memohuntress (play it here) is by far my favorite game so far. It won’t be for everyone, but you’ll have to decide for yourself. This is a point-and-click item-finder game that puts Where’s Waldo? to utter shame. The artwork is stunning to say the least, and the careful crafting that went into making the environment’s layered geography still impresses me after my third playthrough. The back story for the protagonist isn’t the main focus but still manages an emotional impact all the same. And, wow, the music! The only downside is that it can be a little laggy, but adjusting the game quality seems to do the trick. Just, really, try this one out. It’s a worthwhile way to lose yourself for 45 minutes or so to a richly beautiful world.