One girl and her dog. One astronaut and their moon garden. Another alien metropolis starring a person with outstretched hands. A lo-fi dodge-'em-up for the Nintend-faux GameBoy. This week's free games box social is for those of us not going to EGX (it's also for those that are, when they get home). Grow, explore, bark and avoid, in the best collection of free games since the last one. Enjoy!
Space Gardener by Like 100 Bears
I'm not sure how gardening would work on a real-life alien planet (sadly, Space Alan Titchmarsh isn't on hand to ask), but in the terrific Space Gardener it works like this. You're an astronauty person with a spade, and like any astronauty person with a spade worth their salt, you'll spend a lot of time digging up blocks. Blocks of all colours can be fed into a special machine, which spits out a plant pot after every twenty meals. These plants grow and in time produce seeds, seeds that reward with a harder shovel after a bit of additional work. Harder shovels can mine differently coloured blocks and, well, you can see the central loop now.
If it sounds like a chore, it's not really. It's a series of repetitive tasks, yes, but games like this one can be a great way to unwind or de-stress after a hard day or week. Space Gardener's low key soundtrack, satisfying physics and subtle sound effects underline this intention: it's a game that feels great to play, and sometime's that's all you need.
Lisa by Rub
Lisa is a game about a girl and her dog, and it is the word 'awww' captured in an 89MB download. The 'point' of the game reveals itself after a bit of poking around, but you'll begin by just controlling the dog, scampering about a world that looks like the Teleglitch version of Hundred Acre Wood (that's a good thing, by the way). Bark at frogs and sheep and other living things, because you're a dog, and that's what dogs do. Before long you'll be moving the girl around as well, with WASD—things soon get a bit One Man and his Dog after that. Appropriately, the girl and the dog feel wholly different to control: the dog bounders around with unchecked enthusiasm, while the girl jogs slowly and slightly wearily, after a bit of cajoling. It's clear a lot of thought has gone into this.
Hernhand by Jake Clover
We mentioned the fantastic Bernband the other day, but here's another take on the same sort of thing. Jake Clover's Hernhand is the Blue Peter, make-it-yourself-using-stickyback-plastic version of Tom van den Boogaart's game, and that's not a criticism in the slightest. You have to work hard to appear this DIY, and Clover's cardboardy arms and stiff-as-a-board NPCs give Hernhand a wonderfully lo-fi look. Its locales aren't quite as powerfully rife with atmosphere as the ones in Boogaart's game, but there can never be enough vibrant sci-fi cities to wander around in, and Jake Clover's are delightfully weirder than most. Yak with moon locals, plummet to the city below, and observe a couple of drinking and dancing establishments, in a game that does interesting things with 3D space.
LPC: Low Poly Cylinder by VLTRAUIOLET
A first-person avoiding game that imagines a world in which the GameBoy could implement (nifty SNES mock-3D effect) Mode 7. Obviously this world is better than our Universe Prime, as it's one where the GB was capable of displaying a wider selection of colours as well. So yes: Low Poly Cylinder was made for GBJam 3, Game Jolt's occasional compo dedicated to probably the best handheld console ever made. VLTRAUIOLET doesn't exactly look like a GameBoy title, but it is a nice little game that will keep you coming back to beat your previous score. The catchy chiptune soundtrack helps a lot with that.