November's best free PC games
You know what? When I got up this morning it was snowing. Snowing. Stupid crystals of liquid falling from the sky, too obnoxious to even bother defrosting themselves. The snow makes everything cold and no one knows how to get on with anything. I am absolutely allowed to hate the snow. So what I'm going to do is stay indoors until it's over, playing all six of the following free games over and over again until I know I can leave my house without someone hurling a ball of solid weather at me. Are you in?
Vlambeer. Play it on Bored.com.
Last month, I enthused about a fantastic, ultra-challenging platformer called Super Crate Box. This month, developer Vlambeer has released another game. This time playable in a browser, your aim is to throw your hook deep into the sea, catch as many fish as you can, fire them up into the air, then shoot the living carp out of them. (Yes, the fish puns are very important.)
The deeper underwater you managed to delve, the more exotic and valuable fish you're able to destroy in a shower of red mist. You can also buy various upgrades with your earnings, such as that delightful red cap I'm wearing in the screenshot above. Completely silly, Radical Fishing is also hilarious.
...But That Was [Yesterday]
OneMrBean. Play it on Jay Is Games.
Developed as part of the Jay Is Games Casual Gameplay Competition, ...But That Was [Yesterday] begins at an excruciatingly slow tempo. It's only once you've persevered for a couple of minutes and learnt how the central mechanic works that everything begins to fall into place - but once it does, this is absolutely lovely.
It is, essentially, the story of a man who's haunted by memories of the past, and how he deals with that. But it springs into something truly joyous. I'll say no more, for fear of terrible spoilers, but this is definitely something that's worth ten minutes of your time.
Activate The Three Artefacts And Then Leave
Increpare. Grab it from the official website.
A title from the You Have To Burn The Rope school of game naming, Activate The Three Artefacts And Then Leave is a game in which you must activate the three artefacts and then leave. The place in which you're activating the three artefacts, and as such the place you'll then leave, is an extraordinary maze of black-outlined blocks which fade into a muddled blur at a distance.
The name really does say it all, which might not sound so impressive. But the increasingly mental design of the environment, combined with its black and white colour palette, makes navigation an uncomfortable and stifling experience. The soundtrack, too, is oppressive and haunting, meaning you'll want to activate the three artefacts and then leave as quickly as possible.
Mausland Entertainment. Play it on Newgrounds.
This is the most straight-up fun I've had with a game all month - no exaggeration. Sydney Shark is the sequel to Miami Shark, which was a game about a shark on the loose in Miami. You can probably guess what Sydney Shark is about.
You'll rack up your score by diving underwater then powering up above the surface, snapping at anyone or anything in your way. Landing on boats causes them to explode in a fiery ball of awesome. You can cling onto planes and drag them to their doom, bite the heads off horses, and end the game early by setting off a nuclear bomb. The shark wears an Australian hat. This game is wonderful.
//No Comment. Get it from IndieDB.
A third-year project by a group of students at the Queensland University of Technology, this is a surprisingly polished puzzle game with elements of third-person shooting and platforming. Set in a high-future, Tron-esque world, all glowing grids and neon floatiness, it's the story of an artificial intelligence hacking program called Aviva, and her efforts to shut down an enemy mainframe.
It's essentially a sequence of puzzle minigames linked by more typical action sequences. But it all holds together extremely well, with conundrums embedded into the game world with aplomb. And it looks absolutely gorgeous, using the Unreal tech to splendid effect. One of the most professional free games you're likely to play any time soon.
DePaul Gaming Experience. Download it from the official website.
In Octodad, you play as an octopus pretending to be a human male. I want to be very careful not to understate the brilliance of this. As said octopus, you must go about your day-to-day routine without arousing suspicion that you may, in fact, be an octopus. Even your wife hasn't caught on yet.
You control Octodad by switching between hands and feet modes. Holding the left or right mouse button causes him to raise his left or right foot, or extend his left or right arm. Moving the mouse forwards or backwards pushes that particular limb in that particular direction. It's an absolute nightmare to maneuver, but that's the joyous thing: flailing around from place to place, almost as if you were an octopus pretending to be a person.
It's rough and glitchy, but the concept is an absolute joy.