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Snoop on emails in free spam simulator PanComOSa

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(Image credit: Hyohnoo)

And I thought spam filters worked based on algorithms. There are simply too many sent for people to be employed to check them all, individually, I thought. According to PanComOS I was wrong. You play as a new employee tasked with checking outgoing emails—are they legit, or are they spam? Genuine messages get dragged to the 'Send' icon, while spam goes in the trash where it belongs. It's a bit like Papers, Please, but light-hearted in tone, and with actual aliens instead of illegal aliens.

Where Papers, Please was set on a desk top, PanComOS is set on a desktop, giving you a lovely retro, fictional operating system in which to do your snooping work, but also to purchase themes and backgrounds from a digital shop. Oh, yes, money: you earn a bit for sorting messages correctly, and lose a little, very little, for getting them wrong. You're given additional things to check for—malicious emails, messages from alien scammers, the usual—and then the game starts repeating itself. You see the same messages, over and over, which is a bit of a shame. There's no ending that I can find, unless it's triggered by a curious email that appears to be written in code.

Before it runs out of steam, this is great fun. Funny, sweet, and, in its own way, full of small moral choices: you start to think, maybe it's better if this (legitimate) message found its way to the trash, to protect the sender. Those choices never come to anything, but one half of a good game is better than nothing. Right?

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.