This week's best free PC games
I love it when a game surprises me, and this week Yeti, a free adventure game from N developers Metanet Software, did just that. It's a delightful game that quickly heads in a direction you wouldn't expect. Meanwhile, [stranded] is an impressive but flawed top-down shooter, and both Abduction Destruction and The Art Piece as a Video Game are loaded with heaps of personality. Read on for more details on this week's best free PC games!
Nyx Studios. Grab it from IndieDB.
With a surprisingly pretty prorietary engine and some nifty ideas, [stranded] is a game I wanted to like more than I actually did. But it's still worth your time if you're prepared to overlook a few issues.
After being attacked by an unknown enemy, your ship crash lands on a mysterious alien planet. During the descent, all your rescue beacons got scattered around the planet's surface - so your task is to seek them out, reactivating them one-by-one. What follows is a top-down shooter that incorporates some interesting mechanics. There's a full day/night cycle, and your enemies will sleep during the dark hours, meaning you're able to sneak around them as long as you don't disturb them with loud noises or your flashlight. And hiding in thick undergrowth will confuse some of your foes, too, meaning you can pick them off from afar while they're none the wiser.
But it's tough. Hugely challenging, in fact, from the earliest sections. Ammo is scarce, and while the game is keen to stress that conservation is key, it doesn't help when even the first enemies in the game take a good few shots to take down. They travel in packs, and you're supposed to try felling a few then outrunning the rest, except this isn't always possible. Once you're surrounded, it's pretty much game over.
There are also a few bugs, and in particular I got stuck on the scenery on a few occasions, forcing me to reload from an earlier checkpoint. Frustrating, certainly - but I'd still recommend this quite highly, as it's certainly a decent achievement for its tiny indie developer.
Metanet Software. Download it from the Yeti website.
Oh my goodness. Yeti is an Adventure Game Studio release from Metanet Software, the folks behind the N games, designed to promote their next full title. If you don't know anything about that game - of which there isn't a lot to know, to be honest - then play Yeti without doing any further research. Because that way it contains one of the most wonderful, unexpected surprises you could possibly imagine.
Even without that surprise, it's a fantastic idea. You play as the camera operator of a documentary film crew, and you've travelled to snowy climes to capture footage of the Yeti, the mythical creature said to roam the cold lands of the Himalayas. The entire game is viewed through the lens of a camera, which you'll have to move around the scene in order to locate all the objects you can interact with throughout this short adventure.
The puzzles are basic, and don't really involve much other than a spot of light hidden-object-hunting. But that's fine, because it's all that's required. The game is carried by a remarkable, unlikely sense of humour, and it had me laughing out loud repeatedly. It's just superbly imaginative. Play it at once.
Tipp/Snowk. Download it from TIGSource.
As an exceptionally small alien in an even smaller flying saucer, you're on a happy visit to the planet Earth. Unfortunately, the pesky humans aren't too fond of your being here, so they've dispatched helicopters, fighter jets and all sorts of other gubbins in an attempt to drive you away.
To prevent them from doing so, you'll have to shoot them with items you've beamed up into your spacecraft. Apples, chickens, rabbits - all are fair game. Because you're small and feeble, not everything's easy to pick up, though: try abducting a cow or a farmer, and you'll find they don't fit into your weapons, and all you can do is drop them back to the ground.
It's drawn in a cute style, the alien's beady little face poking above the dashboard of his ship. And the music, while initially irritating me, quickly got stuck in my head and will now never leave ever, so thank you for that, Abduction Destruction.
The Art Piece as a Video Game
Axel Shokk. Play it on Deviant Art.
A pleasing combination of game and interactive art, The Art Piece as a Video Game sees you navigating a single large screen of platforms, monsters and environmental obstacles. Your aim is to work your way towards, and ultimately defeat, the large boss creature in the top-right, collecting as many slices of pizza as possible along the way.
While the game would benefit substantially from some audio, it works well in its current state. Frogs bounce you, birds can either kill you or - if you time your jump well enough - fly you over to the next platform. And jets of water, displayed as part of the static background, give you a boost up to the next level. For all its simplicity, it's a beautifully drawn piece, and the controls are floaty and slidey in a mostly pleasant way. There's also a single checkpoint, but you're given no indication of where it is, making this a compulsively challenging little creation.