It's all downhill from here in free, turn-based skiing game Alpine Alpaca

(Image credit: Johan Peitz)

Without wanting to generalise about lazy, smelly alpacas, they sure are great at skiing. Surprisingly so! So thoughtful, so considered: the creatures take the sport one step, er, one slide at a time. This I learn from Alpine Alpaca, a free, silly browser game where you take on a mountain by picking movement cards from a deck.

It's turn-based, is the other thing. Stopping every few paces on the mountain, you'll pick a card that determines the alpaca's next move: will they veer to the left, or to the right, or carry straight on? And for how many paces will they continue in that direction? Pass enough checkpoints and you'll earn a roguelite-style upgrade. However, if you hit a tree trunk you'll veer off-course a little bit. Hit any other obstacle, even once, and you'll wipe out, and have to start the course all over again.

Turn-based skiing might sound like an odd concept, but it works in the way that slowing down any sport would work, in theory: it highlights the tactical micro-decisions that skiers (probably) make every time they strap on some planks and throw themselves down a snowy hill.

As for the card system, it worked for me, most of the time, although I did come a cropper once because every possible action I could take would result in a wipe out. Did I make some bad decisions earlier in the game? Or did I suffer at the hands of unfair RNG? I can't say. But it didn't bother me much as I played this cute, colourful, seasonal, funny, enjoyably tactical skiing game. (Thanks, Warp Door.)

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.