This weekend, let's bury our heads in the sand by indulging in some priceless (literally) games that came out this week (or thereabouts). Prepare for theatrical missiles, deliciously lovely donuts, multi-multi-multiplayer and more. Enjoy!
The Rainsdowne Players: Opening Night by Steve O'Gorman
The thing about theatre, the main thing; the main thing about theatre, see, is the bottles of water, and other missiles, constantly thrown at the actors performing on stage. The 'acting' part of this board-treading game is handled automatically, but your job is to dodge the various bottles, paper planes and so on, as your adoring audience queues up to pelt your two-person acting troupe square in the chops.
It's a bit odd that an audience can (largely) enjoy your plays while simultaneously lobbing things in your direction, but there's a nice premise, and some interesting systems, at the heart of this rhythmy game: for example, by chatting to your audience between plays, you're given ideas you can use to expand your repertoire.
Kate's Crush by Jane Dove
Here's a (probably NSFW) game about a girl, another girl, a crush and the resulting sexytimes—Kate's Crush is a text adventure with an engaging conversational writing style, and no small amount of wit. There are flashier Twine games out there, but this is all the better without such trappings, as they would only serve to distract you from the well-written text.
A World, At Peace by Joshua Weinberg
And here's an uplifting, pleasant platformer set in an attractive, low poly world. There are people to chat to along the way, but really you're here to gather up a load of shiny diamonds—something that used to be enough for games back in the day. I'm not sure about collectibles a lot of the time, but a 3D platformer without them just feels wrong, so I'm happy to see them making a return.
Donut Wrangler by Anneka Tran
Doughnuts! Or, 'donuts', depending on which side of the Atlantic you happen to be on. Donut Wrangler is a game about *cough* wrangling doughnuts, something made possible thanks to the little fact that you play as a hoppy-go-lucky fork. Yep, you're a sentient piece of cutlery in this pleasingly tactile game—a game that shines thanks to its robust physics engine, and the variety of lip-smackingly delicious treats contained herein.
10,000 And You by Rat King
The problem with split-screen games is that you can see what the other players are up to—a problem that developer Rat King has found a solution to. More or less. Instead of two or four screens, there are up to 36 here, the challenge being to find the one you're actually playing in—no mean feat. There's a simple first-person shooter lurking under that (fantastic) premise, but it's a shooter elevated by the silly, fun game of trying to decipher a huge board of monitors. I can imagine this would be particularly worthwhile played on a giant TV screen, or via a projector.
Nest by Jonathan Whiting
Jonathan Whiting made the terrific first-person puzzler Knossu, and if you've played that tricksy labyrinth, you're probably already downloading his frustrating-yet-ingenious follow-up Nest. I have to spoil it a bit to explain it, so I hope you don't mind me telling you that it's a game within a game within a game within a game within a—well, you get the idea. After a single loop around a track, you have to do the same again, only this time by stepping on Dance-Dance-style arrow switches on the ground. Your actions cause the character in the screen to complete the circuit, and when they reach the end, oh God my brain is hurting just thinking about it.
I found Nest a little painful to play (it's like patting your stomach, rubbing your head, and eating a sandwich at the same time), so I was very grateful for the 'autoplay' option in the menu, which plays the game for you.
Mr. Puffin in The Dark Castle by Jon Kristinsson
There's little meat to this Wizard Jam game yet, with creator Jon Kristinsson choosing to focus on Mr. Puffin's presentation and polish instead. But wow, what polish: the environment design, the lighting, the 3D models in this zombie-based action game are top-notch—it could be a big-budget game, for the 30 seconds or so before you succumb to the undead horde. Your only defence is a weak sort of punch, an action that proves ineffectual in the face of a bunch of hungry zombie birds.
Also, you play as a puffin in an overcoat. So there's that.