See that guy right there in the Mexican wrestling mask? He's commanding you to have a read of this week's free gaming picks! And you wouldn't want to mess with him, right? He's from a game called Sake Express Pro Wrestling, in which you punch pandas. Exactly . Elsewhere, you might want to try your hand at solving a murder case, go a bit insane after cutting your finger, or have a shot at saving the human race. Here's your week's worth of free gaming goodness...
Rizzoli and Isles: The Masterpiece Murders
Pastel Games . Play it on Kongregate .
Also available on iPad, Rizolla and Isles: The Masterpiece Murders is a simple but highly polished detective story that sees you hunting down and analysing evidence relating to the grizzly death of a young lady in her apartment. You'll be dusting for prints, attending autopsies, speaking to a variety of potential witnesses and, back at HQ, scratching your head as you try to piece all the elements together.
Your only interaction with the game is to click on things, and it would have been nice to see - say - more traditional adventure game dialogue trees, or similar. But it's immaculately presented, with beautiful hand-painted scenes that put most of the competition to shame, and the atmosphere remains consistent throughout.
It's not a very long game, and it ends with a strange abruptness that seems at odds with how steadily the tale builds to that point, but you shouldn't let that put you off: this is a smart and intriguing title that certainly held my attention for its duration.
Lu Pei's Dream
Biggt . Download it from the developer's website .
I like how Lu Pei's Dream, from its opening scene of a girl next to a park bench in the sunshine, steadily descends into madness as the game progresses. When you prick your finger on some sort of spiky fruit, and accidentally start bleeding all over the place, things take a turn toward the surreal as the sky turns red, a washing machine explodes, and fish get caught in a weird suspended animation.
It gets much stranger from there, each new section of what is generally a lightweight puzzle-platformer adding something even less expected into the mix. But it always makes sure not to sacrifice its status as an invigorating game just to make sure it's weird and wacky.
You should know before starting that left and right move you around, down is your use key, and space is a special key, because the game doesn't bother telling you. It also only contains text in Chinese - but there's not a lot of it, so you should be able to muddle your way through regardless of whether you're familiar with the language.
Sake Express Pro Wrestling
Mooosh . Here's a direct download link .
Welcome to a veritable explosion of completely bonkers gaming nonsense. Here is a game in which you must swing your mouse around and hammer both buttons to make your character punch a stream of psychotic angry pandas as they race towards you, the whole thing presented like a bizarre Japanese game show designed to tear the very fabric of existence right in front of your eyes.
That might all sound a little over-excited, but the intensity with which Sake Express Pro Wrestling launches colours and sounds and pandas at you is quite something. Controlling the game can be oddly fiddly at times - it's a top-down view, with you moving a cursor around to change directions, but the speed makes it difficult. And it is completely bizarre. But if you like having your senses assaulted and the word "Japan!" pretty much screamed in your face for a game's duration, you'll probably get on with this one.
The Man Who Sold The World
Nick Yonge . Play it on the developer's website .
Afforded the opportunity to save humanity at the end of the world, but only if you prove that humanity deserves to be saved, what would you point to as reference?
This is a simple but thoughtful platformer about things that define us as human: about love, courage, and spirit.
Inhabiting the bodies of three people back on Earth, you must prove to those in charge of the balance of the universe that the human race is one worth preserving. It's narrated in strange, enigmatic riddles, and not all of it makes sense immediately, but after you've bounded around three distinct environments things become clearer.
Some of the later sections involve navigating complex areas with sometimes difficult controls, which is unfortunate, because elsewhere this is lovely. The developer is currently looking for new ways to expand the concept. I'm intrigued to see what he does next.