You know what time of year it is, right? It's almost Halloween. That means it's almost time for those snotty-nosed little blighters to turn up on our doorsteps, identities disguised, demanding confectionery in exchange for not being squirted in the eye with a water pistol, or something. I think we all know what we need to do: close the curtains, disconnect the doorbell, and settle down to have a blast on the best free games October's had to offer.
Super Crate Box
Vlambeer . Grab it from the official website .
For one, it's called Super Crate Box. Super Crate Box ! It wins for the title alone. But there's more to it than just an absolutely tremendous name. See, Super Crate Box is also one of the most delightfully silly, hilarious, brutally challenging freeware platformers around.
The aim of the game is to collect as many crates as possible: collecting one changes your weapon, and spawns the next crate. But standing in your way are several nasties who bounce around at an alarming rate. Fast-paced death comes frequently - it took me about five attempts to clear the bloody tutorial - but it never stops being a gargantuan lump of ridiculous fun.
In case the tutorial doesn't make it clear to you: every enemy that reaches the fire at the bottom is reincarnated as a fast enemy at the top. Kill them all before they get to it to make life easier for yourself.
Gretel & Hansel Part 2
Markopudding . Play it on Newgrounds .
The first part of this curious indie adventure game was released last year, and now part two is upon us. It's a rather unusual retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, painted in delightful watercolour and combining quaint with sinister in a hugely satisfying way.
It's occasionally a little fiddly, and not always brilliant at communicating what it wants you to do. Nevertheless, it's an artful and interesting adventure game, small but delightfully formed, and often genuinely surprising.
Technobabylon - Part 1
Technocrat . Get it from Big Blue Cup .
Room escape games sometimes get a bit of a bad rap, or at least buried away in their own little communities. That's a shame, because some are absolutely lovely, like this one: a short one-room adventure game built in Adventure Game Studio.
Its systems are nothing out of the ordinary, but the writing is strong, and the scene-setting delightful. This is a world in which many inhabitants are addicted to Trancing - delving head first into virtual worlds that strip away the horrors of this future reality. Quietly melancholy but always intriguing, it's a fascinating little game.
Pirates of New Horizons
Exit Strategy Entertainment . Download it from the official website .
This is a nice idea. Exit Strategy Entertainment would quite like to make a game called Pirates of New Horizons. They've drawn up plans for a full-length singleplayer action adventure, but they're wary of taking risks. So they've put together a prototype to demo their core mechanics and art style to their potential player base. If people think it has potential, they'll find a way of getting the thing made. If not, they'll move onto something else.
While the prototype is fairly insubstantial, I'm writing about it here because I would love to see a full game built upon these foundations. It's a swordy-slashy action adventure from the Zelda school of combat design: Zelda with pirates, if you will. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but it's the luscious art style that really swings it, complete with Mini Ninjas-esque puffs of smoke when enemies are quashed. It seems to be lovely. Write to Exit to tell them how much you'd like to see a full game.
Krimelo . Get it from the developer's blog .
Absolutely mental, Krimelo's new game Siamese Enemies sees you and a friend working first with each other, then subsequently against each other, to win your mother's love. After all, she did not ask for two babies.
Against a barmy backdrop of primary colour (the exact hue decided by your decision of which nation your mother is from), you'll first race across a level with your conjoined bro, collecting organs on the way. Then comes surgery, at which point everything changes, and the whole thing becomes a mad dash to get all your body parts in the right place before legging it home to mummy.
It's ludicrous, monumentally stupid, and just a little bit perfect.
Enjemin . Get it from the official website .
Built by students at French design school Enjemin, White is a thing of muddled sadism and hysterical cuteness. It's a first-person shooter in which you blast away at colourful critters, who bumble and bounce around a huge white square. Shoot them in their adorable little faces and they'll splatter across the blank canvas, creating a pretty piece of modern art.
But different weapons create different splatter effects, giving you added control over your eventual masterpiece. Weaker guns send them running for their little lives while bleeding colour all over the level, while heavier boomstick explode the poor blighters in a glorious rainbow shower. There's even a big magnet gun with which to pick them up and hurl them to where you want them before commencing with your killer artwork.
Most wonderfully, your finished piece is saved to your hard drive as an image file, which can then be submitted to a gallery on the game's website. Here are some of the best so far . I guarantee you'll have hours of fun trying to better them.