Free games of the week

Punk-8 by betajaen

Punk's not dead in betajaen's Pico-8 RPG, which consists entirely of cyberpunk battling. You'll be at home if you've played one of the early Final Fantasy games, though not so at home that you know the wi-fi code, or which of the many drawers the cutlery is stored in. The battles themselves are fast-paced and pretty engaging, spewing out a load of loot that you can bung onto your heroes between every fight.

It's just the controls that are baffling; rather than using a cursor to navigate menus, you instead use the arrow keys, Z and X and in rather unintuitive ways, trying to remember what does what while against the clock, and having almost no time to check the on-screen guide. Despite that, Punk-8 is quite an accomplished slice of game, that nevertheless gets a little wearying by having nothing else to break up the relentless combat.

The Adventures of Nick & Willikins! by Pinhead Games

A thoroughly silly adventure game that justifies all the errands and fetch quests that are so often a part of the genre, by putting you in the role of a butler carrying out tedious tasks for a spoilt rich brat. Uncommonly for a freeware adventure, Nick & Willikins is fully voiced, and even features animated cutscenes. It's set in an imagined version of Britain based on stereotypes and wild conjecture, and the lack of research is one of the game's best features. The other is the character of Willikins, the butler whose powerless, abject misery is most amusing. (Via Adventure Gamers.)

Woodfarer by Eva Baginska, Karina Pankov, Mohammad Sadegh H. Boroomand, Yasaman Farazan

Man, does Woodfarer feel good to control. It's a top-down wandering game where you follow, or not, a handheld compass (a physical object that your character can whip out and hold while they walk around). You're guiding them to various spirits that need to be found, in order to rid the land of evil, and that's a worthwhile activity I suppose. I love that smooth action, of taking out the compass, but I also like the spirits themselves, cute critters that will follow you wherever you go. As in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, these spirits are also your ammo, and you can fling them at pots, enemies and so on to inflict damage (don't worry, they will boomerang back to you, unharmed). All in all, this is a beautiful exploration game where real effort has been put into its look and feel.

Orbs by droqen

You'll probably recognise droqen as the developer of Starseed Pilgrim, and here's another enigmatic platformer that you'll have to fathom entirely for yourself. Well, either that or continue reading, as I feel like I should tell you something about the game. As the name implies, minimalist platformer Orbs is all about... magical orbs, collectible power-ups that will improve your character but that... hmm... OK, look, just play this if you're a fan of Starseed Pilgrim, or droqen's other games.

The Attic's a Dungeon?! by Martian's Parlor Entertainment

The attic is indeed a dungeon in this ace dungeon crawler assembled from Trap Door-esque claymation monsters. I very much enjoyed the tactile interface of this first-person RPG, as well as the ador-horrible creatures, and the tricksy environment that tilts and turns and shifts things around to try and get the better of you. From head to tail this is a lovely, punky game that offers continual surprises as you roam its right-angled corridors.