The Best Free Games of the Week
This week we sample the highlights of the 7-Day Roguelike and Procedural Death jams, which ran simultaneously a week or so ago. (They presumably did this in an effort to get the whole procedural generation thing over and done with in one fell swoop, so we can get back to the business of painstakingly handcrafting levels instead.) Stick around for vamps, lamps, goats and sliding, plus two bonus games with no random bits at all (well, unless you count the fairly random penis door). Enjoy!
Astrovoid is a twin-stickish shooter with a great feel to the controls, a whole lot of screen shake, and a soundtrack that does that neat dampened-sound/am-I-in-a-nightclub-bathroom thing when you die. Another neat thing that happens when you die is that your little jetpack hero drops a giant ball bearing (or something), which will bounce around killing enemies in your wake. Your score – that giant number in the centre of the screen – isn't finalised until the ball stops moving, adding an element of Breakout to the tail-end of each heart-racing run. (Via NeoGAF)
A vamp meets their arch-nemesis the lamp in this intricate supernatural roguelike, and winner of the Procedural Death Jam. These lamps are carried by priests and vampire hunters, and will debilitate your undead hero if you happen to step within an illuminated square. Reaching your coffin – and the next stage – involves sticking to the shadows, using your Bat and Phantom powers to pass through solid objects, or to hide in plain sight respectively. Land on a square adjacent to a human, but not engulfed in light, and you can suck their blood to regain some of your health. A tactical, innovative and above all darn cute approach to the genre, whatever name it's going by these days.
Sorry for all the roguelikes this week, but we are living in the aftermath of not one but two game jams dedicated to the genre. We have the more established 7DRL to thank for KRAXLN and Variablo (scroll down), the first of which applies turn-based movement, procedural generation and resource management to the treacherous world of mountain-climbing. I'm the reminded of the climbing system in the underrated I Am Alive, which used a stamina gauge and pitons to make clambering up/down buildings an appropriately tense experience (and which undermined the whole thing by allowing you munch on food and energy drinks to refill your stamina bar at any time). KRAXLN is thankfully a bit stingier in this regard, letting you rest at specific locations only (the ones with '0' written on them), and plying the mountainside with rampaging, murderous goats. How high can you go before you run out of stamina and the star of Goat Simulator 2014 kicks you to your doom?
The gimmick in Variablo is a fun one, as is the delicious pun in the title. In addition to exploring a series of procedurally generated stages, beating enemies and collecting power-ups in the traditional roguelike stylee, you're also able to slide each level's constituent parts around, as in one of those rubbish puzzle things sometimes found in Christmas crackers. Here it works, because each slide contains monsters or a stat-up or (if you're very lucky) the exit to the next stage – the challenge lies in lining them up correctly. Variablo could use a bit of tweaking when it comes to the monster balancing – not to mention the sheer difficulty of finding the stairs down – but it's still worth a play if you enjoy shifting things around or wailing on slimes. Which, I'm sure, we all do.
Silent Hill and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas collide in Da Neel's creepy, nicely illustrated adventure that's part road movie, part horror, part runs-terribly-in-my-browser-and-is-worth-downloading-instead, and part mystery – the prime mystery being 'what lies behind the penis door?' I can't tell you what lies behind the penis door, but I can tell you that I got to the shooting bit and couldn't find a way to proceed. Until then, I was having a wonderfully unhinged old time. (Via Free Indie Games)