The Best Free Games of the Week
This week: a painful coming out, a girl named Tess, a subtly improved Swindon, yet more intentional glitches, terrifying shadow monsters in a monochrome mist world, and one more Hitler than the norm. Read on for some great games that won't cost you a penny/dime/credit/gil of your (presumably) hard-earned cash.
Peer closely at any image of Hitler and it soon becomes clear something's amiss. No, not the monstrous fascism (although that was pretty bad), but the fact that he was two kids in an overcoat. Double Hitler recreates key moments in Adolf's adult life, putting you in the role of said kids in said giant overcoat. As you can imagine, even the act of walking is difficult when you're really two children in a big jacket, and about 90% of the game is spent trying to stay upright without toppling over and revealing your secret. Double Hitler is pretty much QWOP: ie wonderfully silly, and told with a masterfully straight face.
Nicky Case created the Public Domain Jam, as well as (inventive surveillance-state stealth game) Nothing to Hide. His latest game is more personal: a true, half-true and fictionalised account of the night he came out to his parents. Coming Out Simulator 2014—don't let the zeitgeisty title put you off—is at times brutal, sharply observed and hilarious, in addition to being one of the tensest games I've played for a long while. There are several outcomes to the evening, determined via agonising multiple choice answers, though Case never picks the evening apart to tell us which bits of it are completely true or bogus. This stops the game from feeling too uncomfortably personal—the witty, self-aware writing also helps. In a way, this is the Schrodinger's Cat of coming out stories: every part of it is true and false at the same time. (Via IndieGames)
A strange, sad, Cave Story-ish platfomer set in a dreamlike world. You're Tess, and you appear to be working out the frustrations of a bad day by jumping around shooting at feral plants and other hitpoint-spewing baddies. There's a touch of the Yume Nikki about this one, and Anodyne, and all the other games set in sad and lonely worlds.
Speaking of strange worlds, Moeity is a misty, watery plateau of a game populated by creatures of light and darkness. Encroach too far upon a shadow creature's territory and it will pursue you relentlessly, gobbling you up in a frankly terrifying bit of animation after catching you. Moiety is a piece of formless horror, mood and interrupted serenity, though there is a clumsy “You won” screen should you do what the game requires. Seek the light. Observe your environment. If you hear noise, it might already be too late.
Yes, you read that right: Richard Cobbett did this, who you might remember from PC Gamer's own Crap Shoot or from his exhaustive knowledge of games made before you were born. Cobbett's put his fine words to good use in this affectionate pisstake of Fallen London: the expansive supernatural browser adventure, and the thing what Failbetter Games did before Sunless Sea. Fallen Swindon is set in the arguably less exciting Swindon, and will take you to such exotic destinations as the job centre, the pub and your local Tesco. Only, y'know, with added demons and obsidian spires and that.
Glitch Lab is cheeky, witty, smart and yes it's another platform game. It's quite unlike most platformers (except maybe Fez) though, using its glitch theme to break the game in new and surprising ways on every screen. It's a game that locks you into a battle of wits with its demonstrably playful creator, asking you to fathom the small or major changes they have enacted to spanner up your progress in every room.
It's a shame detuned ends just as it's really started to get going, as this is an enigmatic, ambient puzzler with a novel central conceit. You use the mousewheel to attune the game's various glitchy purple platforms to a particular frequency: a frequency that will let you step on them without falling through the floor. This idea is expanded and reverted a little before detuned's rather abrupt end point, but it would be great to see this detuning mechanic explored in greater depth. Either way, it's worth a play to experience its abstract, fairly malevolent tower environment, and to see the various ways that detuning is used throughout the game.