This week's best free PC games
This week, there's a war being waged. But whose side are you on? Fail-Deadly presents a smart twist on the tower defence genre, asking you to keep the battle going for as long as possible. Also: getting lost in space, being a miserable robot, and clicking on a lone flower on a grey screen. Exciting times in the world of free PC games...
Josh Sutphin. Download it from the developer's blog.
Tower defence games: there are too many of them, I have decided. Yet I'm glad that Fail-Deadly exists, despite its terrible name. In it, you play as not one defending side, but as neither and both simultaneously. Instead, you're a dodgy third-party organisation whose nefarious schemes require all-out war to be waging in order for them to work.
So, you place structures for both factions. The game is a constant battle of tactics against yourself. Which side will benefit more from this helipad? And how can you ensure that, with my next move, things become more balanced again? You've to keep placing structures, as well: leave it too long and people will work out that something's not right, and you're cover will be blown.
Nicely drawn and featuring a strong original soundtrack, Fail-Deadly is a smart twist on overused ideas, and supremely polished too. This is an excellent effort, and well worth a download - but if you can't be bothered with that, you can play it online as well.
Egress: The Test of STS-417
Krams Design. Grab it from the dev's website.
It's quite something for a developer to create his first adventure game, and for him to make it so remarkably well. This is a supremely polished, beautifully drawn, fantastically written short-form game about something sinister that's afoot on an alien planet. Knowing the solutions you could probably race through it in under ten minutes, but those ten minutes are great.
Told entirely from a first-person perspective, Egress puts you in the big space boots of an engineer, dispatched to do some essential work out in the stars. But then something goes a bit wrong. Quickly you find yourself lost and alone on the planet's surface, desperately trying to get in contact with your partner who, during the accident, disappeared.
I've seen people moaning about the couple of taxing puzzles that the game includes, but I found them to be fine: the first simply demands that you pay attention to some dialogue, while the second has a second, much simpler solution. But this small game is primarily about the mysterious tale it tells, which builds up to a climactic and surprising conclusion.
Armor Games. Play it on Kongregate.
Last year's K.O.L.M. impressed me quite a lot, and its sequel, released this week, does a great job of rekindling the atmosphere through which the first game excelled. It follows directly on from the original, so it's fairly important to play that through first - not least because there's a massive spoiler for the first game within about two minutes of starting the second one.
Like its predecessor, K.O.L.M. 2 is primarily a game of exploration. You can shoot, and you'll be avoiding traps, but the aim is to delve deeper into this world and solve the mysteries of both your environment and your very nature. Of course, you play as a robot, and it's a story about your family.
The delicate, melancholy music works tightly together with the soft, grainy, disorienting visuals to cement an atmosphere that's both sad and bleak. It's quite impressive.
Neko Games. Play it on the dev's website.
There exists a small, rotating flower-thing against a charcoal grey background. Your aim is to click on it. Which, by a few levels in, is more difficult than it looks.
This is an interesting, simple puzzle game that plays with your expectations of what the mouse will do in each level. Sometimes the flower moves away from your cursor. Sometimes a left-click just repositions the flower, instead of ending the level.
There's a subtle hints system, which is a nice idea. And it's a credit to the developer that such a simple game has been crafted so neatly as to work. A good job.
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