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Free games of the week

Balconies of Berlin by Sven Ahlgrimm

While the English translation is obviously not quite there, the presentation of this murder mystery is top-notch. You're trying to solve the murder of a resident of a block of flats, and you do this, primarily, by fast-forwarding or rewinding time outside the building. You're looking for discrepancies, including lights coming on and off in neighboring flats. You'll need to point the finger at some point, of course—but have you selected the right suspect? If you're me, probably not.

Book It! by Claymaker

A cute platformer starring an acrobatic little clay man who looks like he's just escaped from beloved '80s kids show The Trap Door. Book It's platforming soon becomes a little, how shall I put this, infuriating in its precision, but, despite that, this is a colourful game set in a pleasantly squishy world.

Our Place by Andrea Pignataro

This Myst-style adventure conjures up a wonderful sense of place, via pre-rendered backgrounds that have been bathed in an eerie, unusually coloured light. I do enjoy a game that features its own, atypical interface, and true to that the one in Our Place takes a little getting used to (there's a hint button, but the gist is that you have to drag action icons from the borders of the screen, onto things you want to go to or examine). It works well, and it works well in a small game that's nonetheless rich in mood and symbolism.

Constellation by Terry Cavanagh

The world is your (wait, let me see if 'oyster' works) oyster in this beautiful piece of experimental game-making from VVVVVV developer Terry Cavanagh. I was reminded of freeform DS puzzler Scribblenauts, the difference being that, in Constellation, all you do is type type type till you've seen enough. That likely won't happen until you've tried every word you can think of, then asked your friends for some you haven't, before witnessing the keen joy of those things (maybe, hopefully) appearing on your screen.

Vallation by Psytronik Software

If you've not heard of Psytronik, you should know that they make Spectrum games, and by that I mean they make new Spectrum games as recently as 2017. Vallation is typical of their (don't fail me, spellcheck) ouevre: a thoroughly old-fashioned sidescrolling shoot'-em-up that you can either play on actual Speccy hardware (by ordering a cassette tape) or by downloading this ROM and playing it on an emulator instead. (Via Warp Door)

Yedomaglobula by Bananaft

In (copy, paste) Yedomaglobula I'm recommending a game that I'd describe, with fondness, as 'barely playable', but wow is it exciting from a procedural generation point of view. A rough prototype made for the Procedural Generation Jam, Yedomaglobula lets you explore several randomly made, and thrillingly ethereal environments, with the aid of an infinite flare gun and a far-too-limited jetpack. Wandering around its cavernous fractal worlds (at least until I'd inevitably fall endlessly through the floor), I was reminded of No Man's Sky—however, in many ways, Yedo... (copy, paste) Yedomaglobula has that game beat. Explore HR Giger's mind palace in this game of wonderfully alien vistas... before your jetpack runs out and you tumble right through the fractal floor.