The Best Free Games of the Week

It's a packed week for free games this week, what with Ludum Dare and LowRezJam and other stray delights, so let's get straight to business with an excellent visual novel about the ins and outs and mysteries of school life, a 32x32 pyramid game, Tie-dye Unity weirdness, several games that lie beneath the surface (of the break), and the foxiest game you'll play all week. Because *cough* it stars a fox. Enjoy!

LongStory by Renee Vrantsidis, Sara Gross, Yi Pan, JP Stringham, Miguel Martinez, Miriam Verburg, Elysse Zarek, Russel Slater, Golden Gear

Download it here

LongStory is a visual novel that's, perhaps appropriately, playing the long game, exploring the life and dating habits of a teenage girl you name yourself, who has just returned to her old school after spending the year in Gay Paris. It's a smartly written, funny and empathetic story, supported by a dating element that lets you romance boys, girls or, um, a turkeyhawk (it's someone in a costume – I hope). There are a lot of dating-based visual novels floating around at the moment, but few that are as capably written or illustrated as LongStory, which also boasts a mystery element to keep you invested in the story for upcoming episodes. I was reminded, more than anything, of the visual novelly bits from the recent Persona games – by far their best moments, in my opinion.

If, like me, you find yourself hooked on the adventures of The New Girl in Weasel Heights school, Episode 2 is scheduled to arrive sometime this August. (Via Indie Statik )

The Pyramid Gate by Strangethink

Play it online here

Conceived for

LowRezJam 2014 – restrictions: “Create a game with a maximum screen resolution of 32x32 pixels” – the enigmatic The Pyramid Gate is essentially an interactive prog-synth album cover (at least to my mind), and one that does the whole '3D objects textured with pixel art' thing better than any other game I've seen yet. It's not a long game, at all, but it is a transportative and alien one, taking you to a small but atmospheric little world full of buttons to press, and squiggly views to admire.

Nau(l)t Nipp by nruyed

Play it online here

Nau(l)t Nipp – as any modern electronic band will tell you, correct spelling is so un(ool – was made by nruyed to test out the Unity engine, and rather than building some sort of blocky platforming stage, they've decided to create a psychadelic wasteland instead. It's home to creepy Tie-dye dancing girls of various sizes, a sky that looks like it's been put through the wash with your favourite Flaming Lips T-shirt, and a piano, among other palette-agnostic things. What will tinkling those ivories get you? Well. Get your ass to Naul(l)t Nipp to find out.

Down by SonnyBone

Download / Play online here

Neath by metkis

Download / Play online here

Descent by camlang

Download / Play online here

Three games at once? Can I do that? Let's find out! I've lumped Down, Neath and Descent together because they're all quite similar – not just in naming format but in length and mood. As you may have guessed, they're all products of Ludum Dare 29 and it's 'Beneath the Surface' theme, though only Down really takes it to heart. That's a mildly heart-tugging narrative game, its scant puzzles (they're not exactly puzzles) featuring a hammer, a light, and a few rocky obstacles in your way. It's worth playing to the end to see how Down turns out, something that won't take you all that long.

Neath , on the other hand, is all gorgeous art and puzzles, one of which is actually pretty good. There's the foundation here for a rock-solid sci-fi/horror adventure game – all it needs is more content. And maybe a better walking animation, though admittedly those scissor-legs did grow on me over time. You're investigating a predictably empty research base, predictably slathered in bloody handprints, with keycards and the like that need to be collected. The story ends just as it gets going, however, so don't get too attached to the spooky goings-on.

Last but not least we have Descent , seemingly inspired by the capey Hyper Light Drifter. Expect combat, combat, and then a bit more combat in its two stages, with a couple of enemies that need to be sworded to death, and with a big skeletal boss thing that I can't quite take down. Once again there's not enough here to really sink your teeth into, but an expanded Post-Ludum Dare version would be a tempting proposition – let's hope developer camlang makes it happen, eh? (Via Indie Statik )

Kitsuni by SecondDimension

Play it online here

Another Ludum Dare game, but one that thankfully doesn't share the brevity of the previous entries. Kitsuni is, frankly, bloody gorgeous: a top-down, serene puzzle game where you'll inhabit the bodies of various animals, in an effort to acquire precious gems. The many puzzles make smart use of the body-switching mechanic, while the entirely mouse-based controls do a lot with very little, even if they're a bit fiddly and sluggish currently. It's the beautiful angular art that makes it, however. (Via IndieGames )

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