The Best Free Games of the Week
I have a tale for you friend. It's the story of the Domovoi, Slavic house spirit. It's the story of an elderly, lantern-wielding woman who enjoys incinerating bats. It's also the story of that most underrated of video game elements, the block. Typing and potion-brewing also await, in a fable storytellers everywhere are already calling “The Best Free Games of the Week”. Thank you friend, I'll continue.
This lovely platformer shows that it's (just about) possible to make a good game with the free version of Game Maker, so long as it has a strong idea at its core. Lantern puts you in the slippers of an elderly, lantern-wielding adventurer. To stave off the darkness – and to see where you're going – you need to strike your lantern into life, something that (in a wonderfully realistic touch) only seems to work about half the time. The darkness attracts or awakes certain beasties, so you need to use it sparingly – you can also encourage it into a flame blast that will incinerate any nearby enemies. A sweet stew of platforming, combat and octogenarian stealth. The best kind of stealth, if you ask me.
A smart block-pushing game where you play as...a block. Like most blocks I care to know, you have a special ability: namely the power to teleport yourself, Dishonored-style, in any non-diagonal direction. You'll use this to activate switches, to not die, and to eventually reach each stage's chequered exit point. The puzzles soon ramp up, making smart of use of the game's Pac-Man-esque wraparound screens, not to mention the cool ability to chain two teleports together.
Brew or Die. It's not just an angry instruction to your local barkeep; it's also the name of a game. The first potion-brewing game I've come across, in fact, and therefore the first in existence. In Brew or Die you have to brew...or die at the hands of the king, who has tasked you with creating an elixir of immortality. To discover this om-nommy liquid you have to mix, and match, and test things with tea leaves or on (nobody tell PETA) rats – but you only have until dawn to do so. At dawn the king plans to murder you, which is one of the more extreme – but not unjustified – reactions to the tyranny of morning. The actual potion-making is a pretty involved process, so if like me you spend a lot of time in fantasy games chucking herbs into a mortar-and-pestle, you're going to want to give Brew or Die a delicate sip. (Via IndieGames and Indie Retro News)
This astonishing short Twine game combines beautiful art with beautiful writing to create something...well, it begins with a B. The Domovoi is an interactive piece with a narrative shaped by your decisions – but not in the BioWareish way you might be expecting. It's a story framed as a conversation between a narrator and yourself, a conceit that lends a great deal of intimacy to an already evocative fable based on Slavic folklore. Play it, even if you think you don't like Twine games – then play it again. (Via IndieGames)
Finally a game that recreates, in excruciating detail, the act of typing on a keyboard. To hit keys in atmospheric adventure game Second Amendment's virtual keyboard, you simply hover your giant hand over the keys, then hammer your palm down over the one you want to press, invariably hitting the one next to it instead. The inevitable carpal tunnel sydrome is just about justified by the wonderful ending, which I totally didn't just look up on YouTube after several infuriating minutes struggling with the game itself. A clever, almost unbearable game you'll want to inflict on your friends immediately after playing. (Via Free Indie Games)