This week's Best Free Games of the Week is brought to you by detachable robot heads, two plastic dolls doing it, a procedural ninja, “these are small, but the ones out there are far away”, a unique perspective on puzzle games, and an even uniquier perspective on science fiction. It's been a particularly good week for free games, and below you'll find the pick of the harvest.
If you haven't yet downloaded The Dark Mod, you should. It's an excellent stealth game, our Mod of the Year for 2013, and a refreshing reminder of Thief's better qualities ahead of what would seem to be a troubling sequel. If you have downloaded The Dark Mod, you should probably do it again (or at least run the game's update application). The standalone spiritual platform for larcenous levels has received a new update, bringing the game to 2.01. It's a minor update, as the one hundredth of an increase suggests, but it releases alongside details of some brand new missions for taffers to anticipate.
It's been a difficult day. I'd been sent to find Legend of Grimrock 2 news, and so journeyed out through the secret basement underneath PCG towers. I puzzled my way forward, avoiding the spectres of former editors, the skittering of malnourished freelancers and the unstable, towering pillars of graphics cards. Eventually, I came across a five-foot tall snail-beast, moving square-by-square in a rotating pattern that I could skilfully kite to avoid taking damage. "Could" being the operative word. Instead, I thought "bugger this", then returned to my desk and followed a hyperlink to Almost Human's latest dev update.
Starbound's update naming scheme takes the form of increasingly agitated koalas. It started back in early December with version Perturbed Koala. Less than two months later and we're already at Furious Koala. This is escalating far too quickly. Sure, Chucklefish can still patch a Seething Koala, or an Incandescent Koala, but what happens after that? Throbbing Veins Koala? Murderous Rampage Koala? Emotional Equilibrium Through Extensive Counselling And A Treatment Of Mood-Altering Drugs Koala?
Whatever the state of the 2D sandbox's future koala's, yesterday's one brings a whole heap of changes and additions. One of the fixes may ensure that things are a lot calmer in future: thanks to "massive changes to disk serialization" (no, me neither), Chucklefish will no longer need to wipe characters or ships, and are confident that worlds are safe too. In addition, players get more efficient mod distribution, as well as new biomes, monster attacks, tech, and an enforced PvP zone.
I have a tale for you friend. It's the story of the Domovoi, Slavic house spirit. It's the story of an elderly, lantern-wielding woman who enjoys incinerating bats. It's also the story of that most underrated of video game elements, the block. Typing and potion-brewing also await, in a fable storytellers everywhere are already calling “The Best Free Games of the Week”. Thank you friend, I'll continue.
Jazzpunk, eh? What's that all about? That was the question I was struggling to answer the last time we were treated to a Jazzpunk trailer. Since then I've not only learned what the game is, but also played a section of its IGF build - the very one that secured the game a Seumas McNally Grand Prize nomination. Given that, you'd think I'd be prepared to at least understand this new Jazzpunk trailer. And yet...
It's no secret that 2D platformers often turn to the past for inspiration. A followup to the famously difficult original, La-Mulana 2 is looking to embrace its own history as well as the "Metroidvania" tag as it hunts down support through a recently announced Kickstarter project. That the first game is sometimes called a 2D Dark Souls should also give us a clue about what to expect from the sequel.
Spelunky is brilliant. Part of the reason it's brilliant is the random generation, ensuring that each of your many retries are a chance to explore something new. Even the Daily Challenges - which randomly generate a new level each day, and share that level between every player - are brilliant. Here, then, is a community application that lets you completely bypass those randomised levels by setting your own custom creation seed. Will it still be brilliant? It's Spelunky, so probably.
Hungry hungry survival game Don't Starve is teasing a new piece of DLC, and it seemingly involves giants. They're probably going to do some reigning! Plus stomping, growling and being tall. You know, standard giant stuff. Those are some insights I've gleaned from the following Reign of Giants trailer, which suggests an Autumn (Americans: it's like your 'Fall') release, while revealing literally nothing about the expansion. If you want to study the 23 second video for yourself, you can do so beneath the giant's causeway I like to call 'the break'.
Death. Glitches. Mouse-people with cyber-legs. Dog-people enjoying picnics. It's fair to say this might be the strangest free games roundup yet. If you like jumping, noiring, repeatedly dying or occasionally transforming into a spaceship, you're going to want to read on.
Indie developer Jason Rohrer has confirmed that his “massively-multiplayer game of burglary and home defense,” The Castle Doctrine, will be available on Steam on January 29. The game will cost $12 for the first week after it hits Steam, and then go up again to its full, final price of $16. There will never be a Steam sale for the game, however, because Rohrer thinks the sales “screw fans.”
Now well into its early beta-testing phase, post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 2 is all about roadmaps. While developer inXile Entertainment is—quite logically—intently focused on the nastiest game-breaking bugs, the Kickstarter project will also be seeing some "significant" tweaks to combat, according to the latest report from CEO Brian Fargo.
That headline is misleading, of course. All cats are jerks. Even that one you really like. Especially that one you really like. Still, it's hard to blame the little fluffy bundles of destruction. I mean, if you went through your entire life with deadly weapons attached to your hands, you'd probably be a bit psychotic too. Just look at every FPS protagonist throughout the history of games.
All of which is to say that a cat is a pretty natural character to take the lead roll in an FPS. Catlateral Damage was originally created as part of the 7DFPS gamejam - a competition in which entrants have a week to make a first-person shooter. The original build, while a fun game about knocking things off shelves, was relatively basic - a forgiveable consequence of its rapid development. Now, though, it's being expanded, with a new update to try, and a Steam Greenlight campaign to vote on.
Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen has answered a huge selection of questions surrounding his and Nicalis's remake project Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Taking the form of a Q&A between McMillen and a (hopefully fictional) foul-mouthed and belligerent question-asker, he reveals how the game will contain double the content of the original, how the developers are planning to add shared seeds, and how - typically - it will be "done when it's done".
There are two reasons to be excited for upcoming indie dungeon crawler Barony. The first is its description. On the game's TIGsource thread, creator Sheridan Kane Rathbunhe explains that it's essentially "Ultima Underworld, with multiplayer and lots of rogue-like stuff." The second reason is the trailer's use of In The Hall of the Mountain King, which is, in and of itself, a naturally exciting piece of music. Although it could have been made more exciting had the maker just learned a few lessons from AAA trailer making. Namely, dubstep.
thecatamites (AKA Stephen Murphy) has been making amazing games for several years now, and he's released every one of them for free - so it's about time he was rewarded for his efforts. Rather than making an action movie tie-in or infesting his games with microtransactions, he's shockingly decided to ask for a small amount of money instead - but you're getting plenty of weirdness for your buck. 50 Short Games collects...50 short games, each of which was made in a single day between September and December of last year. While they're all available for free individually, your $4 purchase gives you all 50 games (plus copious notes and development drawings on each game) in one handy program, in addition to supporting one of the most creative, and funniest, indie developers around. You can buy 50 Short Games here.
This week is all about creation, destruction, poking around in nightmares and taking on terrifying monsters of the sea. Build a world of blocks (then smash it up) in the beautiful Bokida, hunt the great sea-land-whale in the tense From Hell's Heart, and make use of your dead, blocky body in the clever Transcube. That and more gratis goodness awaits in The Best Free Games of the Week. Enjoy!
Freeform city-building game Banished now has a release date, and if you didn't read it in the headline up there, fans of placing and maintaining buildings will be pleased to hear that it's coming next month. The 18th of next month, to be precise, after two-and-a-bit years of development by its sole developer Luke Hodorowicz. You'll be able to buy the sorta-medieval, non-restrictive city-builder from the game's website or from Steam, and it'll set you back "around $20".
JAZZPUNK! It's a punchy and satisfying word to shout in bars, at interviews, and in the middle of conversations. That's what I've been doing ever since I played the IGF preview build last month. Little surprise then that the comedy espionage adventure was nominated for the competition's Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Today, creator Luis Hernandez announced both the mysterious appearance of the game's Steam page, and JAZZPUNK! a release date of February 7th.
It's entirely possible that you haven't spent enough of your day racing around procedurally generated, abstractly beautiful landscapes. Fortunately, you can boost towards your recommended daily allowance with Permutation Racer. The free time-trial race game was created by Big Robot's Tom Betts, and is now available to download from the Sir, You Are Being Hunted studio's blog.