Free games of the week

Gradient Addiction by Jake Clover

Jake Clover's latest freebie feels like an unfinished Net Yaroze game that someone made in the late '90s, put away in a drawer somewhere, and never shared with the world—until now. It's a beautifully ugly, unashamedly scrappy-looking exploration game with an aesthetic that is sure to make you smile and occasionally laugh, perhaps at its smeared textures, its clashing art styles, or the fact that there's no limit to your jump.

You can leap, and leap again in mid-air in Gradient Addiction, an action that will cause your little backpacker to ascend toward the city's upper limits, to the top of the various skyscrapers contained therein. There are people to chat to, and locations to enter in search of...I have absolutely no idea. Hopefully, and presumably, more strange characters and sights await, in this unadulterated bolt of creativity.

Devil's Flower by Namada

There's something so wonderful about 2D, first-person dungeon crawlers, and Devil's Flower is more attractive than most, thanks to its extraordinary pixel art. Like many games in the genre, it suffers a little from environmental repetition, but that's a small complaint in a game with an interesting story and setting, and one that's not afraid to do away with a component many might think vital to the genre. There's no combat in Devil's Flower, no items to collect and no character
advancement—however, there are puzzles to solve, and a labyrinthine dungeon to map inside your head (or on graph paper).

The Tearoom by Robert Yang

Robert Yang makes important, unique, and funny games about gayness, games that have been banned for streaming on Twitch as they contain more naked penises than you tend to find in other titles. His latest, The Tearoom, is a "historical public bathroom simulator about anxiety, police surveillance, and sucking off another dude's gun", and as you can see, it doesn't feature any penises whatsoever. To "appease this oppressive conservative gamer-surveillance complex," Yang explains on the game's itch.io page, "I have swapped out any pesky penises in my game for the only thing that the game industry will never moderate nor ban—guns. Now, there's nothing wrong with guys appreciating other guys' guns, right?"

It has to be said, these are strangely bendy guns that need to be emptied into public urinals, and occasionally, er, cleaned by a helpful citizen such as yourself. Time this cleaning poorly and the cops will arrive, to arrest and chuck you in the slammer. It's a fairly lighthearted game, but with a sad and shameful historical origin, which you can read about on Robert Yang's blog.

Everything is going to be OK by alienmelon

It's not finished yet, but here's an early version of the exuberant and colourful Everything is going to be OK, which I would probably need the aid of graphs and a pie chart to fully explain. It comprises a series of interactive cartoons, which feature a cast of persistent characters, and which will ask you to engage in some fresh and fun activity in each. alienmelon describes it as a 'zine', and it certainly has something in common with those enthusiastic, homemade magazines.

Evader by zerofiftyone

There is something about my brain that means I'm terrible at Evader, or any other game where you're required to juggle two actions simultaneously. I still recognise that this elegant, beautiful shoot-'em-up has a cracking idea at its core though, so it's worth a play if you're more suited to this type of game. Rather than controlling a bullet-spewing ship, you instead take the reins of two ships here, which are controlled independently with the left and right analogue sticks, and which are tethered together with a harmful laser line. To kill your enemies, you need to move this line so that it comes into contact with the baddies, something you achieve by moving both ships at once. There's a bit more to the game than that, but I wasn't able to get to grips with the basic principle—hopefully you will fare better.