Free games of the week

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This week, we're flinging space garbage, we're stubbornly refusing to shuft left and right, and we're stuck in a horse-led carriage, with seemingly no way out. When we've extricated ourselves from those horrible situations, let's recover by playing some good free games. Enjoy!

Kleptonaut by Space Bandit Studio

Stuck in a series of zero-g environments, you have to propel your little space-person to the exit, and not by conveniently blasting your jetpack. No, that only has a single charge. After that, you'll have to pick up space debris and fling it in front of you to shoot yourself backwards. You'll get a better score if you reach the end of each level with your collected rubbish intact, but boy is it difficult in this inventive arcade puzzle game.

Upward by Matthias Falk

What if you could only jump? You couldn't move left or right, or hop back down to previous platforms. It sounds mighty inconvenient, and I suppose it is, but it allows for this whip-smart platform game where you have to tactically time your leaps to master each minimalist environment.

Frog King by pixpnd

Here's a well-made little Metroidvania starring a hoppy little frog—I don't know about you, but I don't think I'll ever get enough free-roaming leaping games. On the hunt for the famed frog crown, you'll bound around an ancient temple, dodging death traps and spikes, while acquiring upgrades that increase your repertoire. One particular thing I like about Frog King is the animation, which is expressive and fluid, despite development tool Pico-8's miniscule resolution.

QQblocks by zblip

It's not often I come across a puzzle idea that feels genuinely fresh, but I feel that way about QQblocks, an abstract puzzler that, to me, recalls newspaper puzzles and Tetris, mashing the two things together in a big manual blender. I'll tell you what it's about, since you asked so politely: you have to drag, and position, various blocky shapes on a grid, placing them so that each row, and each column, has the desired number of blocks in, as determined by the lines of numbers at the edge of the grid. It's more fun than it might sound, and while the presentation is fairly basic, it's all the information you need to be able to fathom out each devious puzzle.

The Ransom by Off The Beaten Track

The Ransom is a novel room escape game that isn't technically set in a room, unless tiny cubicles dragged along by horses count? Yep, you're in a carriage, of horse-and-carriage fame, and you have everything you need to bust your way from the compartment—provided you're willing to poke around in and manhandle your immediate surroundings. I love the setup, and I like the low poly art and scraps of backstory that are sneaked upon you as you riddle your way around.