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Magic solves everything in clever free puzzler Transmute

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(Image credit: Tom Sykes)

From a screenshot, it would be very easy to convince someone that Transmute! (opens in new tab) was made for the ZX Spectrum. But it's a lot friendlier, and you have a wider range of tools at your disposal than in most Speccy games. You play as a wizard with the power to transform certain things in your environment—for example, to remove a blocking tree from your path, by turning it into a much more mobile frog.

In this lovely, retro-flavoured puzzle game, the challenge lies in figuring out what form you need to transform specific people, animals and things into, but also where to find inspiration, as you can only, say, transmute someone into a big key when you've located and examined one first.

The itch.io page tells you most of what you need to know, but I was stumped in the first room for a while before I realised that you can only transmute into forms from your mental rolodex that are highlighted/white, and that the grey icons belong to stuff that you haven't examined yet. Otherwise, this is a wonderful game to pick at: a cute fantasy world home to strange people and animals, with seemingly plenty of secrets to discover, and your godlike power to transform stuff into other stuff.

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

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.