In this week's best freebies, we're in a stylish sci-fi situation, we're an acrobatic fox, we're dodging painterly bullets and, when we're done with all that nonsense, let's exorcise some spooky pixel ghosts. Enjoy!
K'nossus by Svarun Entertainment
Here's a seriously difficult, but damned stylish and intriguing point and click that begins with your character waking up from cryo-sleep, in a facility where something has, inevitably, gone terribly wrong. I don't think I've come across a game that looks like K'nossus before, with its fresh colour scheme and angular geometry (its world looks like the inside of a broken mirror), so if you like your adventure games to stump you from the very first puzzle, give it a go.
Foxland by Sitebender, Luis Zuno, Yal
A cute platformer starring a nimble fox. It's not the sweet, muted pixel art that I find most interesting about Foxland, but rather its atypical take on platforming mechanics. The hardest thing to get used to is your need to stand perfectly still in order to execute a high-jump; meanwhile, large gaps can only be cleared by taking a huge run-up before leaping across. Controls-wise, this feels very different to most platformers as a result. Mechanics aside, it's a fun and simple jumping game that feels pretty polished.
Faith by Airdorf
If you're put off by the low-res, seemingly crude pixel art, don't be, because when you see Faith in motion, you'll realise that the sprite art is actually damned impressive. I shouldn't say much more than that, but I will say that, aside from being well-drawn, this is a well-paced, well-written, tense and fairly scary horror game. You play as a priest, who has decided to investigate a house out in the forest, and naturally to exorcise the spirits that reside there. With your trusty crucifix in hand, you'll ward off monsters and investigate cursed items, that is, before things get really spooky.
Iridescence by polaritybear
Iridescence reminded me of a bygone era of indie games, as you don't get many things like it nowadays. Its minimalist, vaguely puzzley shmupping brought Konjak's wonderful Chalk to mind, but also Crayon Physics Deluxe. Like both of those games, Iridescence has a lovely handmade quality, putting you in a vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up that appears to be made out of watercolour art. Bullets are splashes of paint, while the canvas background contains scribbles and the odd coffee stain. The aesthetic is gorgeous, but the actual shooting is highly enjoyable too.
Like Ikaruga, you'll have to switch between differently coloured ships in order to avoid similarly hued hazards (bullets, laser beams etc.) However, Iridescence has a few tricks of its own, the chief trick being that you cause more damage by getting closer to your enemies. That adds a nice risk/reward mechanic to this neat shmup demo: do you want to stay relatively safe towards the back, or dispatch your foes more quickly, by getting right up in their collective grill?
Clayton's Quest by Jamroot Games
Aww. Clayton's Quest is a charming 3D platformer starring a happy blue dude moulded out of clay. It's a little rough around the edges, but this is otherwise a fairly robust collect-a-thon set in a bright and colourful island world. Clayton's special power is his ability to turn into a clay ball, something you can use to speed around the archipelago setting, or to bounce yourself up to high platforms. It's a little like Yooka-Laylee, then, only free.