Free puzzle game Xenopulse offers isometric, sci-fi block-pushing

(Image credit: Tom Sykes)

In one way, the isometric viewpoint is a bit of a hindrance when it comes to two-dimensional block-pushing. It can be difficult to work out exactly where tiles are in relation to each other, particularly when there are obstacles in the way. But, I mean, would you just look at Xenopulse, with its crunchy isometric tileset, its wonderfully purple and blue and green alien world.

There's another issue, while I'm griping: restarting a stage (something you'll need to do often, when you mess up a puzzle) also restarts the brief cutscene dialogue, which you'll therefore have to skip through, every single time.

But the game's quirky charm overwrites that frustration. You play as a humanoid robot doing very important space-colonisation business on an alien planet, business that, more often than not, tends to have you pushing mushrooms and sensitive bits of equipment around. If you've played a sokoban (block-pushing) game before now, you won't be surprised when you're required to plug water tiles, or to shove blocks onto, effectively, pressure plates.

But, rarely for a sokoban game, Xenopulse's isometric nature comes into play as well. Stages have height, so you're not just pushing on a flat plane but in a world with literal depth, in this unassuming, charming, and satisfying to unravel puzzle game.

For more great free experiences, check out our roundup of the best free PC games.

Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.