This week: a painful coming out, a girl named Tess, a subtly improved Swindon, yet more intentional glitches, terrifying shadow monsters in a monochrome mist world, and one more Hitler than the norm. Read on for some great games that won't cost you a penny/dime/credit/gil of your (presumably) hard-earned cash.
In honour of Glitch Jam, I've clipped through my floor and I'm currently hurtling into the void beneath the world. Luckily I thought to bring along my laptop for the journey, so I'm able to bring you a few highlights of the jam, mid-hurtle, including super-purple glitch tourism, buggy medieval dungeoneering, and some other stuff that isn't quite so messed up. Now that I've typed the word 'glitch' so much it's beginning to disassociate in my memory, let us begin.
This week sees the grand return of Space Email, the ambitious, if a bit naïve, indirect messaging system that was taken down due to technical and moral reasons – namely the sort of harassment that tends to emerge when people are granted a degree of anonymity. Its creator, Shelby Smith, has now brought Space Email back under a more robust system with a more stringent filtering system. I've only had time to explore it a little this morning, but so far so strange, and moving, and worrying, and sweet. Elsewhere this week: forest-based horror, train-based sleuthing, the goddamned heartbreaking Bottle Rockets, and a couple of games to help you recover from that. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Our next giveaway, for Dino D-Day, is live here.
SpaceChem is a puzzle game about building factories to create increasingly complex molecules. It's clever, absorbing, and a great way to test your logical reasoning power. We enjoyed its cerebral charms so much it earned a score of 89 in our review. Now we're teaming up with Bundle Stars to give you SpaceChem for free. We have a million copies to give away, so don't be shy, click through to grab your Steam key.
This week's column was 13 years in the making, or at least it felt that way late last night. Read on for indie gaming's Duke Nukem Forever, a Brendon Chung space bounty hunter game (!), one of the most joyous, inventive, text-free interactive stories I've come across (!!), Homebase's most misguided wallpaper advert ever, and a gothy philosophical platformer about following or not following orders. Exercise your free will by obeying this instruction to join me after the break.
At any one time there can be around 8,673 game jams happening concurrently. I'm starting to think there might some sort of Meta Jam going on that tasks jam-makers with making game jams on a variety of delicious jammy themes. (I'm also starting to quite fancy a jam-and-clotted-cream scone.) This week we sample the picks of the Public Domain Jam and the Space Cowboy Jam (it also sees Glitch Jam bugging onto the scene). So read on for watch_corgi, ninjas vs royals, a loose interpretation of a 19th century novella, tower defence and a bike game that goes on and on. Enjoy!
Pid is a charming platform puzzler about a boy called Kurt, stranded on a strange planet full of robots and gadgets that let him manipulate gravity—extremely useful when you're trapped in a maze of pastel-coloured jumping puzzles. We have 100,000 Steam codes to give away for Might & Delight's cheerful adventure, worth £7 / $10 apiece. Read on to find out how to claim yours.
Next on the ever-moving treadmill of game jams (gam-jams?), it's Space Cowboy Jam. This one, seemingly, merges indie games, Cowboy Bebop and Firefly into a moodscape of fast-fingered, fancy talking, bounty hunting action. You can see the full list of games at the jam's itch.io page, but, before properly delving into the list, let's highlight one in particular.
E3 starts today. Or maybe it's Pre-E3, or Shadow E3... Something is starting today, and, as a result of it, we'll hopefully be swept away by new announcements and exciting fresh looks at upcoming games. We're hours away from that though, so we might as well start with this: Cliffhorse. What is Cliffhorse? For one thing, it's Notch's latest game. Beyond that, I'm still not really sure.
E3 lurks just around the corner, like an Assassin's Creed hero waiting to drag a dimwitted guard into a big pile of hay, and while I'm as excited as anyone about the yearly festival of pomp, hype, CEOs saying 'synergy', and ultimate vague disappointment, here's your weekly reminder that some of most innovative and unrestrained games lie on the fringes, in that nebulous and contradictory space known as indie gaming. Here are five such games released, for free, over the last week or so, exploring low-res time travel, duck-based dungeon exploration, one-click RPG mechanics and more. Enjoy!
Gunpoint creator and PC Gamer alumnus Tom Francis has made a new game. It's called Floating Point, and its about using wire to swing across randomly generated floating platforms. Tom is a man that likes grappling hooks, and so it seems that, with this game, he's finally making up for a major Gunpoint bug that caused it to not have any of them. The game will release, for free, on Steam
later today RIGHT NOW!
A teensy shipwreck RPG, foxes on hoverbikes, the tale of Cyrano and ginormous honker – all that and slightly more awaits you in our regular free games roundup, which this week has been cobbled together out of various public domain words such as “flipbook” and “groin”. I've assembled these words in a (hopefully) pleasing order below, so hop aboard your flying cycle and join me, foxlike after the break.
Remember that free-to-play, London-set multiplayer shooter that Blink/Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory developers Splash Damage have been making for the past few years? What was it called...Dirty Bomb or something? No, Extraction, that's it, it's definitely called Extraction now. Well it's just been re/unnamed to Dirty Bomb - for real this time, they pinkie-swore and everything. Whatever it's called, ExDirty Bombtraction is still somehow in beta, and be signed up for over here.
The night belongs to ninjas, shadowy monsters attempting to eat sleeping children, keyboard-based snogging simulators, momentous jumping, cute wickle robots, and Games That Are A Bit Like Flashback. Now that I've neatly teased all six games that lie in wait beneath the break, it's time for you to brew a hot beverage, and sit down at your desk/sofa/beanbag/hammock to get stuck in. Enjoy!
Here's something that nearly slipped unnoticed from our news noose. Fistful of Frags, the Wild West Source engine mod first released in 2007, recently relaunched as a free standalone game. It was hardly a trial to play before—thanks to the free-to-play Team Fortress 2 providing the SDK base required to get it working. Now it's even easier: just head to its Steam page to download the back-to-basics deathmatch shooter.
You won't need an unreliable spy camera to play any of this week's free games – your trusty mouse-and-keyboard will serve you well, as always. Read on for slooooo-mooooo acrobatic shooting, precision-timed shmupping referencing Jean Michel Jarre, modern-day Minesweeping in a Puzzle Quest stylee, and yet more low-rez Low-Rez Jam games. Enjoy!
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!
More cool games have shaken loose from the Ludum Dare tree. The Sun and the Moon is a free (obviously) puzzle platformer in which the puzzles are in the platforms. You play a small, er, dot thing, that can dive beneath the surface of the floating world's platforms. Do so, and your momentum reverses, causing you to 'fall' upwards.
The world's your oyster in this week's Best Free Games thing, which once again collects the great and the good and the pretty cool of the week's free games releases (or thereabouts), presenting them in a linear order for your consideration. Among other activities, you'll roam a pitch-black cave, feed a cowman a tasty herb, contribute to a massive narrative sandbox experiment, and explore an electronic album from the inside. Enjoy!
More from the mammoth stockpile of Ludum Dare 29 entries: Vertico, created by Sebastian Janisz, is an isometric "three degrees of freedom" shooter, in which you dive to explore a vertically stacked coral reef. Along the way you'll meet a selection of ocean critters, and, like any good marine biologist, will shoot them to death. Er, it's for the best—a sinister obelisk is making them angry.