If you're in the mood for some free games, Young Horses has them: The developer of Octodad and Bugsnax has released a series of four "smaller side projects" on Steam, and it's giving them all away for nothing.
Naturally, the games in the Young Horses: Free Range collection aren't the biggest-budget or most highly-polished games of all time. But you also don't have to pay for them, and let's be honest, that goes a long way. As Young Horses said, "It's free, so there's only so disappointed you can be!"
With expectations appropriately managed, the little mini-games look potentially fun, or at least cute and silly enough to be briefly entertaining. They also make for an interesting look back at the indie studio's history, extending back to the days before it even existed. Here's the rundown:
The ant colony you live in got knocked off the shelf and smashed open on the floor. Now the Queen is missing, and the ants are starving. Your mission: Scour the living room and find food!
"This game is a tech demo we made to help us get used to the Unreal 5 engine. It turned out well enough that we thought fans might enjoy playing it (but not so well that you might enjoy paying for it...)"
You are the Antbassador, a giant human finger with a top hat, who must enter a busy ant colony to make peace with the Queen. There's just one problem: You're huge and cloddish, and liable to squish your hosts. Too much of that and you'll cause an international incident!
"Back in 2014 while freshly finished with Dadliest Catch, a portion of the Young Horses team decided to participate in the Ludum Dare game jam #30. The theme for the jam was 'Connected Worlds', which we interpreted fairly loosely. Over the course of 72 hours, we conceived and developed Antbassador using the Horsepower engine. To our delight, Antbassador took first place in the jam, scoring highly in innovation, humor, and fun!"
Open the Charmr app, swipe right, and cruise the club looking for potential dates to coil up with. The better your compatibility, the higher your score. How does a snake hold a smartphone in her hand? Hey, I'm a news guy, not a biologist.
"Back in 2015 we took a break from developing Bugsnax to try our hooves at Ludum Dare game jam #34. The two themes for the jam were 'Two Button Controls' and 'Growing'. Over a hectic 72 hours, we developed Snakedate using the Horsepower engine. It was a modest success, scoring third in the humor category for the jam!"
Octodad (Student Edition)
Octodad is a game about an octopus masquerading as a regular, everyday human, struggling with the mundanities of employment and fatherhood in a body with eight tentacles and zero bones. Being a cephalopod certainly has advantages, but if his family figures out the truth, "it's game over for Octodad!"
This is the original version of Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Young Horses' very first game, which debuted to generally positive reviews (although we didn't particularly care for it) in 2014.
"This is the game that started it all! Octodad was made before the founding of Young Horses by a group of students at DePaul University. Our goal was to enter the Independent Games Festival in 2010 (we did enter, but we didn't win). Octodad made a big enough splash that we decided to take our chances and start a company to develop a commercial sequel!"
These are permanent freebies, so there's no rush—grab them when you want them. But maybe drop Young Horses a thank-you on Twitter after you do.