March's best free PC games
Ah, Spring appears to be upon us. But far from scurrying around outside, lapping up the sun's rays and trying to delude myself that it's warm enough to just wear a t-shirt, I've spent a portion of the month playing all the latest free games on the PC scene. And this month, a trend seems to have developed for unusually complex browser games. The Unity engine: we do love you. Read on for this month's picks!
From the developer of the absurdly fiddly QWOP comes GIRP: another game in which you must control the individual body parts of a dude, only this time you're climbing a wall instead of running a race.
See those letters in the rings in the screenshot above? Those correspond to letters on your keyboard. Holding one of them down makes your character reach for and grab onto the respective ring. Release that key and his arm goes all floppy. You can even click for an added bit of muscle stretch.
It takes absolutely ages to get the hang of GIRP, but once you're on your way to becoming the next champion rock-climber, you're already hopelessly hooked.
Quinton Reeves, Lee Salzman. Download it from the official website.
Here's an interesting project emerging from the open-source software community. Red Eclipse is a full multiplayer (or singleplayer with bots) shooter, built on a modified version of the Cube Engine. It immediately feels slightly out of place on this list, because it's not particularly good. The weapons feel flimsy, the AI is useless, and visually it looks ten years old at best. It's fun, certainly, but it feels like fairly perfunctory fun.
But then you look into what these guys are doing a little bit, and things take a turn for the better. In true open-source spirit, it's a game that's being poured back into the community for feedback, suggestions for alterations, and regular updates to ensure the experience is eventually all that it has the potential to be. And all for free - or, if you're feeling charitable, a small donation on the website. To my mind, that's got to be worth supporting.
Neutronized. Play it on Armor Games.
It seems to be a typical platformer. A typical cutesy platformer, at that. You play as a small yellow thing, scurrying around a colourful world that makes adorable noises. And then you get to the obstacle in the screenshot above.
You can't jump that high, because the controls are oddly floaty, in the way that console heretics will understand if I mention LittleBigPlanet. What to do? Ah, of course. Just spin the world around.
This is a very clever 3D game that, for the most part, masquerades as a 2D platformer. You're running and jumping and bouncing off enemies' heads, but an extra puzzle dimension is opened up by the world's hidden depth. What's initially a little lackluster quickly becomes delightful, and well worth a play.
NPlay. Play it on the website.
Residing in its own little region of the gaming world, hidden away somewhere between Counter-Strike and Battlefield, sits BeGone, a new browser-based shooter from NPlay. And it's impressive stuff. While it lacks the flair and impact of the games it tries to imitate, this squad-based FPS does a cracking job of evoking the same sensation of careful, strategic warfare, but warfare with a bit of a kick to it.
BeGone looks half-decent, and generally promotes tactical play in a way that even the best shooters struggle with from time to time. Considering it's all played in a web browser window, it's nothing short of a remarkable achievement.
Chronodrax. Play it on Kongregate.
This month's star, however, is Antimatière, a puzzle game from French devs Chronodrax. This smart title drops you into a world where all matter within a given space appears to have become flattened. No one quite knows why, but the result is lots of things painted on the walls and floor, when really there should be actual, tangible objects.
Much of the puzzling involves getting from Place A to Place B, as the doors seem to have been muddled up, as well. And since even people are being stuck to the nearest flat surface, you'll have to help them out in order to progress. You are, after all, the only 3D thing in this entire world. You're an asset.
Never too taxing, but always cerebral and frequently amusing, Antimatière is a gem of a game, containing a hundred brilliant ideas. Play it now.