Play the free demo for Sky Racket, a sidescrolling shmup with added Breakout

(Image credit: Tom Sykes)

The extremely strange Sky Racket takes the sidescrolling shoot-'em-up and takes away all of its favourite toys. You don't have a spread of guns—in fact, you don't have a gun at all. Instead you have a racket, like in Tennis. Much like Andy Murray, you use this racket to repel projectiles back towards your enemies, although here those enemies are flying ducks, bananas and other cartoony things, rather than the elite of the Tennis championships.

The result is a lovely, odd shmup that's more forgiving than the usual shoot-'em-up, and that plays at a slightly different pace. Stages offer up a plethora of things to destroy with repelled bullets, most notably giant blocks, as in Breakout. These blocks seem content to just sit there in mid-air, waiting to be killed, while there's usually a creature to the right of the screen, happy to fling you another bullet, if you happen to lose that particular bouncy projectile.

Unlike in most shmups, bullets will only disappear if they fly off to the left, or the right. If they hit the top or bottom of the screen, they'll simply bounce off and continue their murderous journey. So, to take out the bad guys, you have to bat enemy bullets at an appropriate angle— or an inappropriate, trick angle, if you're looking to rebound bullets like crazy and earn maximum points. The early stages present in this demo (the full game is out October 22) are pretty forgiving, as they're really just showing you the ropes. Although the difficulty does pick up later on, round about the time a giant banana challenges you to a fight.

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.