The Best Free Games of the Week
Zoom. Wizards. Zoooom. Clothes. Zoooooooom. Sheep. What else is lurking inside this week's roundup of the best free games? It's time to go deeper. Zooooooooooooooooooom. How about a robot-based shoot-'em-up, a camera-based shoot-'em-up, and an isometric mix of Syndicate and Deus Ex? That'll do nicely – now how do you make this camera zoom out?
The moderately boob-obsessed Core of Innocence may alienate some players with its upskirt jumping animation and detailed, optionally nudey inventory dress-up system, but there's a sprawling Metroidvania lurking beneath. It's the sort of slightly scrappy title that fourteen-year-old me would have scribbled furious notes about in a school exercise book – although I would have lacked the ability to turn it into an actual game. The plot's reminiscent of Half-Life; there's a subterranean world, monsters spilling in from another dimension, and an armory of weapons to collect. Also clothes. So many clothes. You can play dress-up on the inventory screen, if not in the game proper – something that reminds me of a scene from Clueless, weirdly enough. (Via IndieGames)
There's just one enemy in this single-room shoot-'em-up, but it's a doozy: the sweary, nuke-dropping, intergalactic bastard known as King Space. You're a robot that shoots lasers from the top of your metal head – and in the game. You can also jump, which grants a brief moment of invulnerability. Even with these two superrobot abilities, Ratchet Head is hard. Thankfully, it has a damned catchy soundtrack that will have you restarting and restarting just to hear – and survive – a little more. Speaking of which, I think it's time for me to give it another shot...
Jeff Minter, the grandfather of sheep-based shmups, has released the PC version of Gridrunner++ for free. It's less baffling than many of his other games but just as laser-spewingly addictive, not to mention just as smothered in glorious neon special effects. Llamasoft are accepting donations, if you feel inspired to fire some money bullets their way. (Via Free Indie Games)
As you may have guessed from the title, this is pretty much a clone of the sidescrolling survivey rogue-'em-up Risk of Rain, though I'd say it's a little too scrappy, embryonic – and not to mention free – for anyone to be too annoyed about that. I haven't played Rain yet, but Death seems to follow the same sort of structure, with waves upon waves of enemies bothering the four playable characters, who each have a number of abilities at their disposal. It's not perfect, but it's remarkably fun for something whipped up in just seven days. Developer Dushan Chaciej is currently working on a Christmas update, which will add new items, enemies and even a Santa-themed wizard as a playable character.
A mixture of adventure game, locked room puzzle and Where's Wally book, FOC/US puts you in a bedroom with a single item - a camera - before gradually opening up its world in a really quite extraordinary way. I'm obviously tiptoeing around the details here – although I admit that screenshot up there may have clued you in somewhat. At it's core, FOC/US is a series of odd, sad and funny encounters, but it's one that may change the way you look at game worlds – particularly first-person game worlds – from now on. Mesmerising, unsettling stuff. (Via IndieGames)
I'm a bit late to DataJack, and I haven't had much time to play yet, but it's obvious right from the start that this sci-fi stealth/hacking adventure is something pretty special. Four years in the making, DataJack plays out like an isometric, indie version of Deus Ex – with a bit of Syndicate thrown in for good measure. The synthy soundtrack is expectedly wonderful, while the simple acts of shooting, hacking, rewiring circuitry and scaring civilians all feel appropriately satisfying, at least from my time with the game. The tiny pixel dioramas that make up DataJack's levels and city hub are also frankly bloody gorgeous to behold.