Free games of the week

This week, I'm still very much in Twin Peaks mode, despite the notable absence of an episode this week. But there is always time for premium free games (not to be confused with freemium games), including a  peaceful twang on an ancient instrument, the Build-Your-Own-Space-Gun workshop, and two very different attempts at Crowd Control. Enjoy!

Crowd Control by The Sweet Boys

A simple arcade game based on a neat idea. You interact with Crowd Control by pressing just two buttons; the game tells you to tap left or right, but you instead left- and right-click to make a rockstar crowd surfer survive on waves of supportive music fans. Left-click speeds the dude up, and right-click makes him jump, leaping him out of the way of a series of killjoy guards determined to spoil his surfing fun. This is a pretty difficult game—and maybe a bit too random to be entirely fair—but it's a strong concept, implemented in a funny way. (Via Warp Door.)

Koto by Florian Decupper

If you don't have your own peaceful meadow in which to serenely strum a koto, then I'm sorry but you have prioritised the wrong things in life. Rectify that mistake with this lovely little music simulator, which puts you into a gorgeous hand-drawn scene, complete with an atmospheric soundscape. Your contribution to Koto is fiddling with, er, a koto, by pressing several buttons on your keyboard. Those buttons correspond to notes on the instrument, meaning this is basically a Koto synthesiser with an attractive visual component—not that that's a bad thing at all.

Vapormaze by Akuno

Huh. So. Yes. Vapormaze is a mixture of roguelike and 80s-throwback-synthwave-album-cover, so you should play it if you like smooth, neon gradients and shooting lots of 'bots. You won't know what to do when you're thrown into the titular vapo[u]rmaze, but the keys to your discovery are your boingy hook gun (which can grab and move pretty much anything in the environment), and the various vending machines scattered about. There are a lot of interesting things going on in this rogue-o'-shooter, which is currently in early access.

Princess Kero by David Chen

Here's a fun twin-sticky shooter set in a pleasant 8-bit world, one where giant frogs are a knight's worst enemy. You've played things like this before, but there's a lot of humour inherent in the attractive pixel art, while the shooting is delivered near-expertly. There's a nice amount of screenshake, and your weapons feel satisfying to wield. The challenge is entirely illusory, given that you'll be resurrected after death with nary a consequence, which is interesting and not necessarily the wrong approach for this particular game.

Gunstructor by Oliver Benzten

Before starting up this minimal twin-stick shooter, you first have to construct your own gun-ship, which—if the nomenclature is confusing you—is a gun that's also a ship. You do this by bolting bits and bobs, and whatsits and doohickeys together, and oh how very mature, you made it look like a penis. Once into Gunstructor proper, the game is a bit more traditional: it's an attractive, well-presented arcade shoot-'em-up that goes on and on and on until your blocky gun-ship bites the dust.