This week, we attempt to allay a feeling of dread and uncertainty by playing some cool free games that came out recently. Read on for puzzles, spacexploration, some damn fine roleplaying, and a strange world that resides in our dreams. Enjoy!
Void Pyramid by A. Hagen
Void Pyramid, and I'll let the website explain this one, is a "post-apocalyptic RPG set in the spacefaring Egyptian empire", and apart from the post-apocalyptic RPG bit, that totally sounds like Stargate: SG-1! A. Hagen's game is not THAT Stargate-y in practice, but instead you're getting a deep, considered, puzzley RPG, and I GUESS that'll do in a pinch.
The best RPGs offer plenty of choices, that play to your character's strengths and weaknesses, and Void Pyramid offers several of these per room. Can you jump across that pit to reach that treasure? Maybe not, if you didn't pick the appropriate character class, but you'll soon come across situations that you are suited for. Random battles interrupt now and again, but considering the invention, and the replayability, on display here, Void Pyramid is one of the rare modern RPGs to get a pass from me there.
Robot Heist by Anna Anthropy
If you like puzzlers, and you aren't keeping track of games made in PuzzleScript, then, ooooh, you can't see me right now, but I'm vigorously shaking my head. Anna Anthropy has made the latest PuzzleScript game I'd consider essential: Robot Heist. Robot Heist is a game about some robots doing a heist, and it's one of the few PS titles to feature real-time bits, in this instance enemy robots that move about of their own volition.
You might need to convince them to walk over switches; you might need to push blocks in front of deadly laser beams; and you'll definitely need to push cubes vertically for a lot of it, as your cute little robot ain't too good at moving things along the X axis. Before long, however, he meets a chum who can do just that, with the ability to switch bots at the touch of a button. Smart, surprisingly expansive stuff.
The Infinite Melancholy of Space Duty by John Sahas
That's a hell of a title, isn't it? If I say that this doesn't live up to it, that's not so much a knock on the game as it is a celebration of a hugely evocative moniker—few games could live up to that. An entry for Bring Out Your Dead, a game jam dedicated to unfinished games, The Infinite Melancholy of Space Duty mixes node-based exploration with sorta tower defencey bits where you shoot from a stationary position. Kill all the...well, I don't know what they are, exactly, but after each wave you can move forward to collect all their lovely loot. Upgrade, rinse and repeat, in an enjoyable shell that plays with the idea of RPG progression in a fun way.
Isles of Umbra by Raoul Duke
I first wrote about Isles of Umbra back in 2014, on a Best Free Games of the Week I can't find anywhere, but it was with some delight the other day that I stumbled across news of an updated demo. The expanded Isles of Umbra now contains a few extra scenes, a bit more to do, but it ends with a message that we'll hear more towards the end of 2015, which I guess never happened. I'm not sure of the future of the game—the itch.io page says it's 'on hold'—but here are a few minutes of atmospheric, rather beautiful pointing and clicking while we wait for its ultimate fate.