This week's best free PC games

Lewis Denby at

William and Sly header

Oh, hello 2012. It's great to meet you. I hear you're planning to end the world, is that true? Oh my goodness. In that case, I guess we'd better get on with playing as many excellent free PC games as we can. We wouldn't want the apocalypse to arrive without having played a couple of decent adventure games, explored some woodland and caves as a fox, and moved around some pennies, would we? Read on for this week's picks.

11-11-11

Screen 7. Download it from the AGS site.

11-11-11 is a sequence of numbers you might remember as Skyrim's release date. It was also supposed to be the release date of this, a science-fiction point-and-click adventure, hence the name. Unfortunately it took the developer a bit longer than intended, so its moniker is now sort of meaningless. Frankly, it could have done to have been delayed a couple more weeks.

The 'restore' feature doesn't work properly, and there are a few empty, barren areas with little to click on. Some interactions seem missing, too - when an item that's clearly collectible doesn't respond to the 'look at' feature, there's a bit of a problem. And when the main character doesn't scale properly, making him alternately look like a giant and an ant, you want to scream "finish your bloody game" into the void.

But developer Screen 7 has an ace up its sleeve, and that's the dark, mysterious atmosphere that prevails in 11-11-11 despite its shoddy release state. It's a low-resolution adventure game with scrappy environment models, but they work to create a desolate futuristic city whose loneliness is a key part of the storyline. It's grey and cold, unnervingly lifeless, and when a collective of agents impose a strict curfew on the city's residents you take it upon yourself to find out why.

At a couple of hours in length, it's worth pressing through the occasionally shaky quality to immerse yourself in the unfolding mystery, even if the ending does feel rather out of place.

Night and Day

Hands-Free. Download it from Reality-on-the-Norm.

Within the Adventure Game Studio community, there exists a thing called Reality-on-the-Norm. It's a fictional town, collaboratively created by a range of AGS developers, and it's now used as the setting of a variety of games to use that engine. Think of it as a comedy Twin Peaks - an odd, quirky setting, full of oddball characters, perfect for a good, old-fashioned point-and-click romp.

The latest game to emerge from the Reality-on-the-Norm scene is Night and Day. It's developer Hands-Free's first title, but that doesn't show. This is a surprisingly polished old-school adventure, complete with witty writing, silly storytelling and - shockingly - full of relatively sensible puzzles to solve.

The art looks like it could well have been drawn in Microsoft Paint, but it's suited to the game, never looking out of place or amateurish. I'll be interested to see what Hands-Free delivers next.

William and Sly 2

Lucas Paakh. Play it on Kongregate.

Two years after the original William and Sly emerged onto the free games scene, its sequel follows suit. It's an exploratory platformer which tasks you, a fox with a remarkable ability to jump and glide, with collecting torn-out pages of a sunbathing bloke's diary.

On your journey you'll be trying to drive yourself through breakable sections of the environment, locating hidden caves where you'll find all manner of secret treasures. You'll also spend an amount of time impressed by the striking design, most likely: the game's gorgeously drawn parallax visuals impress as much as the soundtrack does.

Coins

Onefifth. Play it on Kongregate.

Previously available to purchase for your clever portable telephone device, Coins now has a free browser-based version for you to enjoy from the comfort of your very own internet. It's a smart puzzler that sees you dragging coins around to fit a pattern in an unusual take on the match-three game.

Here, a coin must be in contact with at least two other coins. But many of the patterns require them to be positioned in a straight line, or a V shape, or a range of other non-touchy formations. And so it is that you must establish the quickest way to manipulate your coins into the correct shape while ensuring that they're always keeping company.

It's a more difficult task than you might expect as the levels tick forward, but it's also a surprisingly engaging pursuit, head-scratchingly compulsive. I liked it lots.

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