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Free games of the week

Tiny Clusters by Thibaut Mereu

Thibaut Mereu's Tiny Clusters is, yes, another puzzle-platformer, but it's smarter and smoother than most, boasting a wonderfully tactile mechanic that has you shifting parts of the screen around like a jigsaw puzzle. There are a ton of levels, and as you leap around in each to reach the exit door and advance to the next, you'll also need to use the mouse to tactically swap parts of the environment around. Once done, the various platforms and gaps will re-arrange themselves in newly helpful (or unhelpful) ways, necessitating a lot of fun trial and error until you build yourself a path to the door. Each stage is made harder with the inclusion of a collectible star, pick-ups that can be right devils to acquire.

Twin Sprouts by Janine

All gardening is competitive of course, as you fight daily against the whims of Mother Nature, who'd like nothing better than for bindweed to reclaim your plot, and for your carefully tended crops to wither and die. Twin Sprouts also invites you to compete against a friend, by offering (well, requiring) split-screen multiplayer with a nearby chum. As two green-fingered creatures that resemble the Deku people of Ocarina of Time, you have to rush around the lush game world planting seeds and collecting orbs, with the ultimate goal of snaffling more of these than your friend. I've only had a quick go, as I'm not able to test this with another person, but it seems pretty slick and fully featured, and I just love seeing more split-screen 3D games.

Super Weekend Mode by Pixelteriyaki

My brain blows a fuse during games where you have to control two things at once—it's like rubbing your stomach and patting your head simultaneously, it can't be done. I'm hopeful that you'll have better luck with the gorgeous, original Super Weekend Mode, which puts a unique spin on hectic arcade games like Breakout. Rather than controlling one paddle, you're controlling a couple of them here, adjusting between two fixed positions (well, two for each paddle) with just a couple of keyboard keys.

The third button, Space, shoots out a laser beam you'll use to destroy obstacles and damage the stage's boss. I found it difficult to keep track of which things I needed to collect, and which I needed to avoid, while trying to move the two paddles independently—it didn't help that the game throws you right in at the deep end, with no slower stages to first introduce you to the fresh concept. I suspect my difficulties are largely personal, however, so other people with smarter hands and better reflexes will likely get a lot out of this fast-paced action game.

Balancelot by AnvilBird

A Trials/Getting Over it-esque sidescroller boasting, naturally, an infuriatingly precise physics engine. Rather than driving the world's most awkward motorbike, or trying to get a man in a cauldron up a big mountain, you're merely attempting to cross a field while holding a massive lance and riding a unicycle here. (OK, that does sound quite difficult actually.) I love the medieval-ish art style, and the inherent humour of this super-challenging game. I obviously don't like that I'm terrible at it, and that I have zero patience to get better at this sort of game. If you've mastered Getting Over It, and you're looking for a new obsession, here you are.

I Want Out! By i_want_out

It's been a while since I played an adventure game that uses the nine-verb, Monkey Island-style interaction system, so it was fun getting to grips with it again for I Want Out! This is an attractive, polished adventure that takes place inside a single room: an underground station that's been shut up and abandoned for years. You play as (sort of, I'll explain in a moment) a young man who has become trapped inside the station, and as in the best room escape games, finding your freedom involves collecting items and solving puzzles as you attempt to fathom your way out. Interestingly, the player has an actual presence here: you can choose to chat to the main character, to learn a little bit of backstory. (Via Adventure Gamers.)