If you're the sort that spends hours at the counter in Subway, paralysed by choice, be prepared to face a decision even more agonising than 'Which bread would you like?' or 'What sauce would you like with that?' - I'm talking actual life and death stuff. This week, the tough decisions reside in the excellent No-One Has to Die, in which quite a lot of people have to die. Click through for tense turn-based puzzling, lighthearted adventuring, charming real-time strategy, and a spot of space-invadey social commentary. Enjoy!
No-One Has to Die by Stuart Madafiglio(opens in new tab)
With a name like that, obviously quite a lot of people are going to die – and, unfortunately, you're the one who has to choose who gets it. Ensconced in the security room of an office building owned by a particularly shady company, you have to contain a rapidly spreading fire by opening water valves, locking doors and so on, across a series of turn-based scenarios. Figuring out how to progress is difficult enough, without factoring in the tricky moral decisions presented to you in every stage. Do you sacrifice an innocent to save the life of the guy who started the fire in the first place, a man who's literally asking to be killed? It's not as easy a choice as you might think.
The (excellent) story branches based on your decisions, and you can return to each puzzle later to make different choices, and see what's really going on in this compelling mystery. You'll want to do that, because No-One Has To Die takes the visual novel and the turn-based puzzle game and fuses them into something brilliantly tense. (Via IndieGames (opens in new tab) )
Treasure of the Abandoned City by Alec Stamos and Todd Luke(opens in new tab)
Treasure of the Abandoned City is a definite improvement over the previous Renegade Sector title (Venusian Vengeance), featuring a more tactile combat system and a more interesting world, but I get the feeling it's one more iteration away from being a great game. Even so, this is a worthwhile action-shooter-adventure type thing, putting you in the role of The Captain “in his continuing quest for Laserbeard's Treasures”, which to be honest sound like something best avoided. Along the way, you'll punch or shoot your fair share of golems, chat with a sarcastic robot, and eat the trippy local plants, which induce hallucinations. There's a lot of game here for no money, though you can Pay What You Want (opens in new tab) to get an ad-free version, which comes with a bunch of extra stuff. Neato. (Via IndieGames (opens in new tab) )
Future Development Company by Nigoro(opens in new tab)
A real-time strategy game from La Mulana remakers Nigoro, but where your only enemy is bankruptcy. Oh and aliens. In each stage you're tasked with fulfilling a certain condition, such as launching a Buddha tower or constructing a giant robot, and you do this by building factories and labs and infrastructure and energy plants, while keeping an eye out for pesky alien spaceships, which periodically arrive to smash up your hard-earned stuff. Future Development Company is complex, cute, and just a bit too involved for me on a Friday afternoon, but if you have time and patience to spare, you could do a lot worse than to spend it here. (Via Free Indie Games (opens in new tab) )
Tax Evaders by Gan Gollan, Molleindustria(opens in new tab)
I can't tell if the pun came first and the game idea came later, or if it's the other way around, but either way Tax Evaders is a good joke, a nice piece of social commentary, and a fairly entertaining game all wrapped up into one. You're The People – you've probably met those guys before – and you're fighting back against the the corporate capitalist spaceships that have ruined your once vibrant town. As you fight capitalism with what appears to be giant foam fists (why did it take us so long to pinpoint its weakness?), your community is slowly rekindled in Tax Evaders' beautifully drawn backdrop – it's really a rather lovely touch. Eventually you find yourself squaring up against the Government itself, which drops austerity bombs to try and restore the imbalanced economy. Not on our watch! (Via Free Indie Games (opens in new tab) )