Good games for preschool-aged children can be hard to find – and, let’s be honest, with kids in the 1-3 age group being notoriously easy to entertain, there can be little incentive for developers to create an intricate, well-crafted experience.
But Hupsi does things differently. This charming musical storybook might be aimed at the very youngest children, but that sells it short. From the professional-quality art and animation to the charming soundtrack, Hupsi shows real artistry and attention to detail.
The music is a particular highlight. As anyone who’s endured their seven-thousandth rendition of “Let it go” knows, kids love a catchy song – but Hupsi’s gentle harmonised vocals and driving hand percussion won’t drive you mad with repeated plays.
So, while Hupsi's aimed at kids, its charm and whimsy makes it a soothing but engaging experience for players of all ages. We reckon everyone would benefit from five minutes in its soothing woods.
Sometimes, there’s more to gaming than scoring points or killing the most enemies. From time to time, you might seek out a calmer, more contemplative experience – and if so, Wildflower Child is a fantastic diversion.
This web-based app is a simple exercise in genetics. A number of flowers are arranged around a hex-shaped grid, each with different colours, shapes and numbers of petals. But the fun starts when you start grabbing the flowers and arranging them on the grid.
If you put two flowers next to each other, any blank spaces next to them will be filled with flowers that are genetic ‘offspring’ of the other two – blending and combining their colours and features to produce distinct but recognisable variations.
There are no levels to complete, no baddies to squish and no achievements to unlock – but there’s something strangely compelling about developing generation after generation of pretty posies!
If you love a good beat-’em-up – particularly one in the frantic, Super Smash Bros vein – then you’ll get a real kick (and a few punches) out of Brawlhalla.
Indeed, the game plays very much like a PC version of the Nintendo classic, albeit without the cast of Pokemon, Zelda and Mario characters to liven things up!
But the action speaks for itself. Up to eight players, online or local, compete to batter each other off the edges of the game’s perilous stages, with all manner of pick-ups and power-ups thrown into the fray. It’s furious, button-bashing stuff – but committed players will find skill plays a major part, too.
It’s a remarkably polished offering, with tons of content and an active playing community. In fact, it’s hard to believe it’s a free-to-play game – but the price is most definitely right, and Brawlhalla comes with a strong recommendation from us.
Below, you'll find our pick of the very best free PC games for Windows we've come across this year.
There are dozens of great games to get stuck into, and they won't cost you a single penny – so dust off your keyboard, warm up your mouse and get ready to have some fun!
This game represents that most unusual of genre mash-ups: the first-person-shooter/text-adventure hybrid! Perhaps only the underground but much-loved Gun Mute by C.E.J. Pacian has tried this brave combination before.
But where Gun Mute took the rootin’ tootin’ action of the traditional FPS and combined it with the controls of an old-fashioned text-based adventure, The Spicy Meatball does the opposite: it’s a proper text adventure game that controls like an FPS.
That alone makes it a fascinating curiosity – and the game’s content is as silly and charming as its weirdo concept. The titular Spicy Meatball is a superhero, and on the way home from stopping crime, they get distracted by a burning building.
What happens next is up to you – but whichever path you take down the game’s branching narrative, you’re sure to find something as absurd as it is entertaining.
Most gamers will know Snake: the classic mobile-based game where you use your keyboard (or phone buttons) to guide a virtual snake around a constrained area, eating food and growing ever longer. The aim of the game is to grow as long as you can before your snake bumps into its own tail – at which point it’s game over.
Well, Snakemouse is like that, but with a mouse.
In other words, this game's snake isn’t controlled by your keyboard. Instead, it constantly moves towards your mouse pointer.
Otherwise, it’s a fairly standard game of snake: eat the dots, avoid the edges and grow as big as you can before you inevitably mess things up.
It might not sound too exciting, and the presentation is about as barebones as it gets, but there’s something very compelling about Snakemouse. After all, the original Snake was a famously addictive game – and while using the mouse for control makes it feel remarkably different, it’s no less compelling for it.
‘Roguelike’ games – highly randomised, replayable and generally text-based RPGs – have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, with the genre expanding in all kinds of unusual directions.
Armoured Commander is one of the strangest takes on the genre yet – and one of this writer’s personal favourites from the freeware scene in recent years.
You’ll take command of an entire Allied tank crew in World War II, advancing across the Western Front as you close on Berlin. On the way, you’ll fight intense battles against German infantry and armour, relying on clever positioning and precisely timed assaults to push through the Axis lines.
Oh, and luck. Lots of luck. Armoured Commander aims to provide a realistic experience – and in a real tank battle, sometimes you’re just a 33-ton sitting target. As such, exploding death can come abruptly, with little you can do to prevent it.
Despite that – and despite the somewhat intimidating textmode graphics – Amoured Commander isn’t as complex as it looks. Compared to many turn-based strategy games, it’s rather stripped down and fast paced – yet with enough tactical depth to keep you rolling all the way to Berlin.
This intriguing little toy is described by its creator as an “illustration”, rather than a game – but it’s definitely worth the five minutes or so it takes to play.
In Short Trip, you control an adorable hand-drawn cat – a cat who’s also a tram driver in a small rural community. You start the game by boarding the tram, then pilot it from left to right, picking up and dropping off other passengers (also cats) along the way. Oh, and you can press space to ding your bell. Ding ding!
That’s more or less a complete description. But it misses the game’s unique charm entirely.
The art is entirely hand-drawn and brought to life with grace and subtlety. In fact, it’s a masterpiece of animation: everything, from the tram itself to the other passengers, moves smoothly and fits together perfectly.
Then there’s the audio: from the tram’s growing clickety-clack as it gathers pace to the birdsong that gets louder as you pass through wooded areas, this is a game that masterfully builds atmosphere through sound.
Simple, brief but lovingly crafted, Short Trip is a triumph. It runs right in your browser, so you don’t even need to download anything – don’t miss out on this one.
This freeware smash-’em-up is reminiscent of the old PlayStation classic Destruction Derby – and while it’s not about to win any awards for polish or longevity, it’s an excellent way to release some frustrations with an old-fashioned vehicular melee!
Although the action takes place on a racetrack, there’s no actual racing to be had here. Instead, you’ll drive around in endless circles, smashing into your competitors until – as the title suggests – you’re the last car standing.
The controls are simple and the graphics and sound are primitive – but this game is only intended as a prototype. Even so, this weirdly satisfying diversion is well worth ten minutes of your time.
This fun little game, running in a postage stamp-sized window right in your web browser, offers up an interesting twist on the run-and-gun platformer genre.
You’ll bounce your little astronaut around a series of platform-heavy levels, taking aim at villainous aliens with your mouse – but the objective isn’t to save the galaxy, rescue the princess or recover the Triforce. Nope, you’re simply tasked with returning the galaxy’s trees to their rightful state: rich, lush and green.
To that end, you’ll activate a series of sprinkler systems in each level and be rewarded with a bright spray of green where once there was only barren earth.
It provides a real sense of satisfaction to bring green life back to a desolate landscape – so if you love blasting aliens and cultivating plants, Galaxy Garden comes highly recommended!
Bored of your day job? Why not start another virtual role which lets you experience all the high-octane thrills of office clerical work, in this free browser game from the mind of Pippin Barr.
You'll be tasked with speed-typing your way through fake memos, reports, and emails while clicking furiously through calendar apps, closing pesky pop-up windows and waiting patiently for progress bars to fill up.
Work hard and you'll earn promotions, with exciting new made-up job titles such as Interface Administrator and Input Technician. But it's not all work and no play: you'll also get scheduled breaks where you can play a classic 'Breakout' game.
Between breaks, you can distract yourself from the daily grind with a range of changeable desktop backgrounds and switchable background music, with midi tracks titled 'Jazz', 'World' and 'Classical'. Work! Are we having fun yet?
It's no secret that we're a little bit mad for clicker games. We've spent hours playing Cookie Clicker, AdVenture Capitalist and Candy Box 2 in open tabs while working away on other things –but the one question we get asked from curious over-the-shoulder faces is "But why?"
It's a good point. In most of these games, there's no end game to think about – no reason to build an empire of cookies or bank fake monies. But War Clicks is different.
Here, the game is split into two parts: first you'll build an army of troops, jeeps, tanks, choppers and battleships, before deploying them to the battlefield to complete daily missions for gold.
With the gold you earn in battles, you'll buy trainers to automate your build queues and purchase upgrades to multiply the production speed. You'll also be able to buy in the support of investors, boosting your whole production system. The 'War Zone' is the second half of the game, where you click on enemy vehicles to wear down their HP, earning battle stars to buy even more upgrades!
You're not just building your forces for your own satisfaction: the power points you earn contribute to your country's overall score, meaning whole nations are battling out to take the top place in the leaderboard. There are even team-based objectives you can participate in to propel your country even further up the global leaderboard!
Cindy and Henry
Those of you with cats will know that you can never tell a cat what it should do. Instead, you can make a mere suggestion – and the cat will decide whether it wants to do it.
In Catformer, the premise is simple: a cat has fallen into the basement of a house, and must jump between platforms to get back up to the ground floor, where its food can be found. Unfortunately, just like all cats, this little feline will only let you control it for roughly 75% of the time!
While jumping between platforms and clearing wide gaps, the cat may decide to ignore any further commands and lie down for a while. It might also decide to continue jumping after you've cleared a jump and plummet back down to the beginning of the level. Of course, before you can try again, it's nap time – and you'll need to wait until this cat is good and ready to move.
It's a relatively short game, but the frustrating behaviour of this disobedient cat makes it a tougher task than you think. Take a breath, know who's boss (hint: not you) and you're already halfway there.
Playable in Google Chrome, Safari and of course, Mozilla Firefox, this multiplayer adventure game is powered by HTML5 and tasks you with guiding your avatar through a Zelda-esque world to complete quests, vanquish monsters and discover better loot.
Your ultimate goal is to go toe-to-toe with the evil overlord and his minions – and if you want to survive, you'll need the best kind of loot.
Some enemies can drop new weapons and armour, and the best loot is dropped by even tougher enemies – so you'll need to work your way up through the ranks to stand even a remote chance. Some items can be found in chests – which are, of course, guarded by some pretty tough monsters – while other chests are hidden in secret caves, which are a bit like the dungeons in A Link to the Past.
The game is packed with lots of fun pop culture references to find, and also includes a long list of achievements to unlock. Your game world may also be populated by other players who can help you battle your way through. Just be careful they don't beat you to your well-earned treasure!
99 Balls is the result of combining classic games like Puzzle Bobble and Breakout. In this mash-up, you aim your shot to try to richochet your rings into the balls above to make them disappear.
Each time you land a shot, the number on it will decrease to zero and it will eventually vanish. You can pick up additional rings along the way, which will follow your shot like a train. This means that the same ball can be hit multiple times to quickly reduce its number.
Any remaining balls will, after all your rings return to the base of the screen, move one space down the screen. If any balls reach the bottom of the screen, the game is over. You can pick up stars on the play area which can be put towards unlockable shapes to replace the default rings.
It's incredibly satisfying to watch a stream of projectiles work their way around the game area and beating what looked like an unwinnable situation!
Shiritori is a classic game revamped for modern day. The concept is simple: you take it in turns to come up with a word, and your opponent has to start their word with the last letter of the word you chose!
An easy enough game, you might think. That is, until you find that each move is timed – and the quicker you answer, the better your score.
Each player starts the round with a score of 100, and your goal is to lower your score to zero before your opponent does. Answering quickly scores a lot of points, but a long word will reward you just as much! The longer the word, the better – only five-letter words or longer will score points, with one point awarded for each additional letter.
If you grow tired of beating (or getting beaten by) your computer, grab a friend and try two-player mode! Use words that end in unusual letters, like 'quartz', to really make things challenging - and try not to lose friends over it.
Reactive Drop Team
Originally released as a mod back in 2014, but requiring the base Alien Swarm game to run, this newly version has been released for free – with no requirement to own the base game.
Made by a community of fans, Reactive Drop is an expansion on the original game with more of everything – including new maps, aliens, guns, and game modes. Plus, the game also features full Steam Workshop support, so there's a constant supply of new content being created by the community.
Taking a page right from the Aliens movie handbook, the game features squad-based combat from an isometric view where each player assumes a role with key responsibilities. You may be a heavy gunner whose job is to protect your teammates while they hack a nearby access panel or unweld a locked door, or plant an automatic sentry gun to secure an area while you focus on the threats from a different angle.
The game features single player, four-player and new eight-player co-op, PVP modes (including 'Team Deathmatch', 'Gun Game', and 'Instagib'), as well as additional modifications which alter the game for an additional challenge.
The mod also includes new weapons such as Desert Eagle, Devastator, and Combat Rifle – with more promised to be on the way. There are four different classes of marines to choose from, with two different characters in each class and loads of unique items to pick up and use to suit your playstyle.
If you ever played classic titles such as Lunar Lander or Thrust back in the good old days, you'll likely be familiar with the mechanics – and inevitable frustrations – of this Ludum Dare game-jam title.
For those who haven't: in this game, you'll pilot a small spacehip using your arrow keys to travel from one planet to another across a galaxy of debris, asteroids and bombs with only a single thruster as your means of propulsion.
In the process, you'll want to burn your thrusters as little as possible to conserve precious fuel. You can pick up more, but that means having to get dangerously close to jagged planets and land safely on a fuel pad. Get to the goal safely, and you'll move on to the next procedurally generated map. You'll only start with the remaining fuel you had from the last level – so planning ahead is crucial!
Inertia plays a huge part as you propel yourself through the vacuum of space. With only your single thruster to move forward, you must spin your ship around and thrust again in the oppositge direction to slow down. You'll also need to avoid being drawn into large planets which have their own gravity to contend with. Fail to navigate safely to the goal and you'll be right back to level one to try again. Just one more go then...
Tubetris is a fantastic little game that we played for far longer than we anticipated we would!
It's a super-addictive mashup between Tetris and Pipe Dream, where you must first build up several rows of connected tubes using pre-defined shapes and then drop a ball down the tube to score points and clear away the pipes you've placed.
The ball will follow the path of the connected pipe, and you can even choose a direction for it to travel if you've managed to add one of the junction pieces. The ball builds up momentum with every continuous block it manages to flow through, and you'll only stop scoring points when the ball runs out of momentum – or exits through the end of an unconnected pipe.
There are also special blocks that can be used strategically. Bombs can be used to detonate large numbers of pipes all at once, and 'golden cross' pipes can be used to bridge unconnected pipes where it wouldn't normally be possible.
The developer recently announced on Twitter that the game is also being ported to Android, so keep an eye out for that!
This little 4x4 roguelike puzzler is another one of those games which just beg for just one more try after each time you fail. Which will happen, like, a lot.
Set in a dungeon spread across 16 squares, you're a hooded, mustachioed bug tasked with stealing a golden acorn before making your escape down a trapdoor. Each level is protected by several armed guards who will try to stop you – unless you can outwit them.
Each floor tile depicts a different type of weapon: sword, bow and shield. When you move in a chosen direction, the weapon you're holding will be used to attack a foe in that direction. Enemies also move in the direction you travel – so you can push them to swap to a stronger defense. Bows can defeat swords at distance, swords can defeat bow-wielders up close, and shields can deflect against any threat.
If you lose a confrontation the game is over – but by cleverly manipulating enemy placement, you can put yourself into the right position, and have the best weapon to win or escape unharmed. That said, each enemy you vanquish will respawn elsewhere – and every 20 moves will spawn an additional foe. See you far you can get!
In Riders of Rhea, it's just you, your motorbike and the open dunes. At least, it was – until that darn space elevator got installed. Now you're bothered by roaming gangs of bad dudes, hell-bent on taking you down!
Riders of Rhea is a roguelike survival game where you race around a 2D map searching for enemies to take on. You've got a limited amount of fuel and water – and your bike. This can be upgraded with a better engine, shields, armour and weapons, all of which can be taken from the wreckage of the biker baddies. You can even attack convoys, with transport trucks ripe for the taking!
You drive by using the WASD keys to accelerate, turn and brake, and the spacebar gives you an overdrive boost, allowsing you to exceed your top speed and turn faster in a drift skid. That said, you tend to lose control of the bike when doing this, so use it sparingly if you're struggling!
Your guns also have a tendency to overheat when firing, which can be compensated by shooting in bursts (which is harder) or cooling them down with your water supply – just remember to switch it off again!
The game is a delicate balancing act, and each pickup you find has positives and negatives. For example, you might find more powerful weaponry – but you'll need to remove a heatsink to make it, fit meaning your guns burn up faster.
There's surprising depth to this little action game – highly recommended.
WildStar is a fine example of a free, multiplayer game for PC – and if you're a fan of science fiction adventure, you're bound to enjoy exploring and fighting your way across the planet with your custom character, battling alien races and crushing your enemies.
There are eight races to choose from, with six further classes that are tailored to the race you pick at the start of the game. You can also choose from one of four progression paths to follow, which develop your character further and offer even more flexibility with your appearance, skills and upgrades.
Like similar MMOs, you're given a player home which you can customise in whichever way suits you best. Your house is set up with sockets that can fit different modules, ranging from mines and exploration shafts to crafting benches and more. One of the things I love most about MMORPGs is customising my character – and being given a home to customise as well is the icing on the cake.
Once you've gotten used to the combat style and your chosen character class, you're ready to take on enemy factions in PVP mode. You can start fighting other players pretty much anywhere on the planet – but the real fun lies in the Arenas, where small teams of players will battle until only one team is left alive
Alternatively, you can check out the bigger modes like Battlegrounds or War Plots, where your team must meet certain objectives to win. War Plots are especially interesting, as you're tasked with creating a fortress that can attack and defend against other teams: conquer your enemy's fortress or 'War Plot' to win the match and earn sweet victory.
If you like creating your own adventures in a sci-fi setting and teaming up with your friends to explore alien worlds, you're sure to enjoy fighting your way through WildStar.
The Spell is a top-down game of magic and murder – like a cross between 80s-themed shooter Hotline Miami and spell-mixing adventure RPG Magicka.
As a powerful wizard with control over kinetic magic, you're tasked with fighting through armies and confronting other wizards – former friends who've been corrupted by the immense power they wield.
Playing through each level is a great experience, with a combination of combat and puzzle solving to keep you entertained. The story is also quite engaging, with a good backstory setting up the game's events – explaining the reason you're fighting and who your enemies actually are.
Each boss you'll encounter is a fellow wizard, and each one holds mastery over a different spell. Working your way through each boss battle will reward you with the powers of the mages you've defeated – and over time you'll build up quite the magical arsenal.
Through mastery of light, knowledge, the elements and even life and death, there's plenty of room to experimenti with your skills and find the ones which work best for your current level. Highly recommended!
After a swashbuckling career on the high seas, there comes a time when all aging pirates reclaim their buried treasure for a well-deserved retirement. In A Pirate's End, you're a former pirate with few years left on the clock – and a hidden hoard waiting to be found.
Having forgotten the precise location of your loot (what kind of a pirate forgets that X marks the spot?), you must sail across the ocean to find lost islands and begin your search.
While there's limited provisions and hidden dangers under the waves, it's time that's your ultimate enemy. Not only because you may run out of food on your voyage – but because you're also in the final years of your life, and the clock is ticking!
Each journey takes several days to complete, and the tasks you'll have to accomplish also chip away at your remaining time. You'll need to find gold and other items along the way before it gets too late – at which point you'll sail home whatever happens as the years roll by.
Each voyage will be tougher than the last, with your journeys taking longer to complete as you grow more fraile – but your time-tested knowledge of the islands remains. Will you find your forgotten treasures, or will you live out your last days as a penniless pirate?
Moving house can be a stressful time – but if you're anything like us, working out how to fit all your stuff into the smallest number of boxes can be quite therapeutic, and almost like a real-life version of Tetris!
Packing Up Your Stuff is a cathartic box-packing simulator with a fantastic ambient soundtrack and gorgeous colour scheme. You'll need to wander around your apartment packing up memories, attempting to fit all your worldly belongings into the three carboard boxes supplied. You'll have to play around with the rotation of your stuff to get everything to fit together, and sometimes even switch items to different boxes to free up space!
One of the nicest features in the game is your MP3 player. Like the other objects in the game, it's something you must pack away – but it's also loaded up with songs that change the game's soundtrack. Pick it up and cycle through the songs to change the music – then dance around your room while you pack up!
Indeed, every item in the game has a unqiue description you can read, which gives you a bit of insight into your character and their history. As with any household, you'll even find some stuff that's fallen behind your drawers or under your bed, which you can only discover after moving your heavy furniture out of the way.
This is a really casual, soft puzzle game – but there's a gorgeous feel to it
Megaman 2.5D is a 'fangame', made by obsessive fans of the original Nintendo series and featuring levels and bosses from the original games.
What really makes this version stand out against the original, though, is the inclusion of a new 3D level design, which allows the camera to change perspective around the pixel-art levels. The camera will pivot up, down, left and right to create depth to the platforms – but the gameplay remains on the same 2D plane. The camera even occasionally pans around the player as they turn a 90-degree corner and continue in a different direction!
The game is also the first to offer a unique co-op mode, where you and a friend can join forces to take down the evil Dr. Wily and his robot army. In co-op or solo mode, the gameplay remains satisfyingly challenging, with plenty of levels and bosses – and the soundtrack is a great remix of the original chiptune tracks.
There are some fantastically inventive gameplay tweaks to keep even the most ardent fans of the series guessing – and for a game that's been in active development since 2009, the hard work has clearly paid off!
Those of a nervous disposition should probably keep on scrolling past this title from indie developer Nick Zangus!
Handle with Care tasks you with moving some very expensive-looking antiques from one pedestal to another, on the other side of a museum. From the moment you pick up a vase, you'll begin stumbling back and forth in a chaotic manner towards similar pedestals – and your aim is to guide your character past the other exhibits without bumping into them!
Points are scored by successfully moving the vase to the indicated pedestal, and points are lost by destroying the vases that stand as obstacles. The game is short, with only three vases to move – but each one has a different path to follow, where one may have very tightly packed pedestals and another may have a sweeping slope to climb.
You'll also be constantly fighting with the controls, as the character's movement wildly exagerates your movements – and occasionally throws in the odd random kick in the direction of a priceless urn. You break it, you buy it!
Game jams are usually fantastic treasure troves of strange and wonderful indie creativity – and Please Sine Here is no exception.
Tasked with making a mark in the signature box of some official-looking documents, your marker pen draws a thick line as gravity pulls the pen downwards and into obstacles. You can make your pen leap into the air to jump over gaps, but physics will bring it back down again – if you've ever played the classic web game Line Rider, you'll not be far off.
Your first pen won't be enough to reach your goal, so the need for skill comes when you have to use your first line as a guide to lead the next pen over the previously unpassable gaps between marks. You can really mess things up for yourself with an early spike if you can't clear the summit with your next pen.
With a limited number of pens, and a finite amount of ink in each, you've got to strategise and sacrifice your early pens, with the goal in mind for your last one!
Raft is very much in early development at the moment – but that hasn't stopped the PC gaming community from eagerly trying out this original new survival game.
Floating in the middle of the ocean on a single wooden pallet with no rescue in sight, your only hope of survival is to collect resources that drift by your raft.
With enough resources, you can make a bigger raft and all the other home comforts you'll need: you can craft cooking equipment, a fishing rod, nets to catch drifting resources automatically, and a spear to fend off circling sharks that are looking to take a bite out of your new home!
Once your raft is big enough, you can begin planting trees to harvest coconuts, or even growing potatoes and cooking your food! You can even build extra height into your rafte with new floors and stairs to connect them together. You can also craft a handy hook to throw out from your raft, dragging back precious resources that would otherwise have sailed right by you.
It's a constant battle between you and the sharks, however, who'll always keep coming back for another bite. They'll destroy parts of your raft – including any resources that happen to be on top – so its better to chase them off as soon as you can! How long can you survive?
The latest release from Super Hexagon and VVVVVV creator Terry Cavanagh, Tiny Heist is a roguelike heist game where you play as the heroic '@', and must sneak and pilfer your way through several procedurally generated floors to escape with as many gems as possible.
There are guards, cameras, detectors and guard dogs to slip past as you edge your way around the level space-by-space. Like other roguelike games, you can only move in the basic compass directions – and the enemy makes their moves at the same time. You can also tap the 'Z' key to wait in one place, letting your enemies move along unaware of your presence.
As well as the gems you'll find scattered across each floor, you'll also find items that can help you survive a little bit longer. Signal jammers knock out cameras, a gun can neutralise any threat – but will alert everybody else on the floor – and a cardboard box can temporarily hide you from sight, like an ASCII version of Solid Snake from the Metal Gear franchise.
Each enemy has a set path that they follow and a vision cone which you must avoid to stay undetected – and you can also sneak up and bash a baddie over the head to temporarily take them out of action, or make a camera go on the fritz just long enough for you to sneak by. Once you're spotted though, the guards will begin to hunt you down – and won't stop until you've either neutralised them or escaped to the next level!
Created for the Ludum Dare 37 game jam, this 'one-room' themed game tasks the player with playing the developer's new video game while it's still being coded – with all the bugs, glitches, and unfinished levels you'd expect.
While the gameplay is understandably basic, the real fun comes from the player's interaction with the developer – with each of you ultimately becoming each other's nemesis.
Initially you'll be testing broken movement mechanics, which the developer dutifully fixes as you go. When the dev drops a door into the empty room, your first instinct is to go through it – but the level beyond it isn't quite ready yet, and you're under strict instruction to leave it alone.
Of course, you're going to make it your number one priority to get out of the room through the door – and dev is going to try everything to stop you. The fourth-wall breaking humour is fantastic, and the clever twists caught us by surprise. It's five minutes of your time well spent!
Aboard the submarine Blue November, your captain has assigned you to find the traitor aboard the vessel as it makes its way to Vladivostok. You have to find him before you get to your destination – and time is running out! Can you balance your own day-to-day responsibilities on the submarine with your secret mission to find the mole?
You'll navigate the vessel from aft to stern, inspecting the crew quarters, bridge and torpedo bays while keeping an eye on the crew as they perform their duties. While most of their actions seem to be on task, why is the torpedo gunner making whispered calls from the radio room? The nuclear engineer seems to be spending a lot of time in the crew quarters? And why is the Captain acting so strangely?
At the end of each day, you'll get the chance to point the accusatory finger at a crew member or ask for more time. Pick incorrectly and you fail the mission – but take too much time and it could end in disaster for your crewmates!
Unmind is a simple yet addictive puzzle game that tasks you with sliding a number of coloured dots around a grid maze. You'll need to position the dots within their corresponding holes in the fewest number of moves. Sure, you'll breeze through the first few levels – but you'll soon find it gets much harder!
Using the arrow keys to move the dots, the difficulty comes from the fact that you control all of the dots at the same time! This means a plan of action is required to drop colours into their holes in the correct order to get the puzzle solved in the fewest moves possible.
It's a fantastic little timewaster that's deceptively challenging – and well worth spending a lunch break playing through.
Games in the 'bullet hell' genre can at times be impossibly difficult when the screen is saturated with tiny specks of instant death. They take infinite amounts of concentration and fast reflexes to survive. So what better way to improve on this with something to drag it down to the ninth circle of bullet hell: a Typing of the Dead-style combat mechanic!
As Ray Bibbia, mighty exorcist, you battle against the devil, who has possessed a young girl. To save her soul you must recite passages of Latin by typing them out with one hand while dodging waves of demonic attacks with the arrow keys in the other.
You'll have to manage some serious levels of multitasking – but if you take a hit you'll drop you trusty Bible and become vulnerable to a losing a life. Lose three lives and you'll fall to evil – but manage to recite three passages of Latin successfully and you'll banish the devil back to where it came from once and for all!
Draculaland is a perfectly sized gothic adventure-puzzle game, following Jonathan Harker in his quest to slay the notorious Wallachian, Count Dracula, and rescue his bride Mina from his castle. After receiving a telegram from famed vampire- hunter Van Helsing, Jonathan arrives in Transylvania to discover that his dear friend has already failed in his mission to take on the Count.
The game is a super-accessible text-based adventure, where you control inventory management and your progress through the game with your mouse cursor, rather than having to guess specific, parser-friendly phrases to type in. Each scene only has a few buttons to choose from and navigation is much, much faster than typing in directions – and so, more time can be spent solving the inventory-based puzzles.
Without spoiling anything, you may have to think cryptically to solve some of these, slay the evil vampire and rescue Mina! Fantastic spooky fun for those cold autumn nights.
Harking back to the days of the original Mario Bros., this charming platformer tasks you with collecting acorns across a map, which wraps around at the edges, while being pursued by your shadow.
The shadow follows your exact movements, but is delayed by a couple of seconds. So long as you keep moving and don't walk over the same path you've just taken, you should be able to evade the shadow – but if it catches you, the game is over!
Collecting more acorns spawns more shadows, which follow in a line of insta-death umbra. You can remove shadows by collecting rare fireflies, which randomly appear and fly from one side of the map to the other. The more adventureous will likely want to grab the +4 point honey jars that appear thoughout the game – but beware, these unleash a swarm of bees that aren't restricted by the platforms and will mercilously pursue the red bear! Can you get on the leaderboard?
Every wanted to run your own video game shop? This fun buying/selling game tasks you with negotiating prices on used video games and consoles in order to make a profit – when you're able to sell them!
Sellers will visit your store with their games and answer any questions you have about their history and how old they are, then quote a price they're happy to sell at. It's your job to use all the clues available to work out if you've got a rare gem on your hands or a total waste of money: it's entirely possible to buy a game and end up losing money on it when it's sold.
It's smart plan to test every item you're presented with, because faulty games are a sure way to lose money. Some games are rarer than others – especially the hard-to-find Japanese imports – and fully packaged games are worth more. Some games are signed by the developers, but may also be damaged and faulty, so it takes a keen eye to work out what's going to earn a profit.
You can call an expert if you're unsure about an item, and you'll be offered some advice for a $10 fee. If you're not happy with how a negotiation is going – or if you're just flat broke – you can also pass on unwanted items.
The game is available free on iOS and Android, too – so you've no excuse to pass this one up.
Zlap.io is an utterly-mental, fast-paced multiplayer battle arena with a great concept.
This time, not even the scoreboard king is safe from being taken down by a new player: here, every player is armed with a swinging mace that gets larger with each kill. As you move your character around the map in search of foes using the WASD keys, you'll need to weaponise your mace by skillfully swinging it around your head with the mouse cursor. Each player you take out increases the size of your mace!
The mace can also be used to deflect enemy attacks, so a good defensive strategy is to keep it close. At the same time, though, this means you're not able to get the kind of reach or swing needed to catch out the players who surround you. A mace at full speed is much faster than a player is able to move – so another great strategy is to keep the mace swinging wildly at its full circumference!
Whatever your strategy, don't get too cocky: it only takes one mistake for even the mightiest of kings to fall.
In Wings.io, you're aim is to become Top-Gun: you'll want to be Maverick, Ice-Man, or Viper but you'll probably end up like Goose.
You control a fighter jet in a mad-paced, free-for-all 2D dogfight over the ocean against other players. Each plane has a limited amount of health, which will cause engine failure if it plummets too low and a mid-air explosion if it's completely depleted! Leaving the area or crashing into the ocean incurs health penalties too, and flying too high will stall your plane, leaving you vulnerable for attack.
Players score points by taking down other planes, collecting floating orbs and finding power-ups. These power-ups include a three-shot spread gun, a railgun, missles and even a rare laser superweapon. There are health pickups too, but players will also heal slightly upon killing another player.
If you're taken down, you'll lose half your accumulated points – but can respawn instantly to get back into the fight. Make it to the top of the leaderboard and you'll get a huge health boost to help you rule the skies!
Games with drunken physics tend to be best played with friends alongisde, simply because of how funny they are – and this title is no exception!
Noodleball is a two-player local-multiplayer title which the developer refers to as "drunken soccer" or "ragdoll soccer". You each control a 'noodleballer' who can only stagger across the pitch in a vain attempt to score a goal in your opponent's net.
The controls are purposefully loose and your in-game character won't always respond to your intended direction – so there's a healthy dose of randomness to the game.
The first to score three goals is the winner which sounds easier than actually is – give it a go and see how you get on!
Many years ago, we'd spend our afternoons crowded around small portable televisions with our mates, playing GoldenEye multiplayer on the N64. There was nothing quite like it at the time, with its four-way split-screen carnage, and many friendships were tested to their absolute limit. Darn those proximity mines!
Team Goldeneye: Source have spent over ten years working on a total conversion mod for the Half-Life 2 Source engine, remaking the game with modern technology to bring back some of that nostalgic magic. They've recently released their 5.0 update, with a ton of new tweaks and adjustments, new levels and game modes – making it the perfect time to jump in on the action.
The gameplay and visuals have been overhauled since the original, but there's definitely enough familiarity to show that this is a labour of love from serious GoldenEye fans. Outside the visuals, the soundtrack is also all-original material – although heavily inspired by the N64 game's unforgettable score.
All 28 weapons are back, including the DD44, Cougar Magnum, RCP90, KF7 Soviet, and even remote mines and throwing knives. There are 25 maps, too, including recreations of single-player maps that weren't originally available in multiplayer.
There's also 10 gamemodes including fan favourites 'You Only Live Twice', 'The Man With The Golden Gun' and 'The Living Daylights'. All told, this is a must-play for any fan of the original N64 classic.
Spaceplan is a browser-based clickfest which puts you to the task of generating power for a spacecraft orbiting around an unknown planet.
As the systems begin to awaken from an indeterminate slumber, your initial mouse clicks on the 'KinetiGen generate tiny amounts of 'power' – the game's virtual currency. Once you have enough power, you're able to deploy solar panels from your ship and launch probes to survey the mysterious world below.
Your first task is to understand more about the planet by dropping probes into a de-orbit towards it. These are quickly destroyed by the planet's dense atmosphere, but it's from these failures that you're given the option to buy upgrades in the form of new unlockables, like heat-foil shields to allow your probes through the atmosphere. These cost power, paid for with your KinetiGen, solar cells, 'probetatos' and 'spudnik' satellites.
There are several really nice touches that set this aside from you run-of-the-mill clicker game. Your solar cells will be less effective when your ship sweeps into the planet's shadow and the screen darkens. Dust and air explode out of the airlock when probes are jettisoned before they twirl around the planet in a graceful orbit.
Finally, the ship's AI that describes what's actually happening is pretty fun, and the game feels like a black comedy as a consequence.
This simple multiplayer geographical knowledge game is designed to test your expertise in a head-to-head battle with other players.
Your task is to drop a pin on a world map to guess where you think the named city and country is located. Scoring is based on how close to the target location your guess is – with no points being awarded if you're too far away. Your score is also based on your last 20 guesses, to allow new drop-in players to catch up and compete against you.
The game map is blank apart from the outline of continents and country borders and you'll only get a few seconds to place your pin. Each new location is quick-fire and it's best to take a guess because there are no penalties for being too far from the right answer. That is, of course, if you don't mind the knock to your pride when your pin flashes up on your opponent's screen showing that your guess was half the world away!
Broken Sword 2.5 is one of those fan-made sequels you hear about which are inevitably hit with a cease-and-desist notice from the copyright holders well before the game even hits beta testing!
Yes, this is a game built by fans who adored the first two Broken Sword games for their epic story, memorable characters and gorgeous pre-rendered 2D backgrounds – and it shows! But astonishingly, the project received the blessing of Revolution Software co-founder Charles Cecil, and even received assistance in the form of original assets and artwork to improve the game's user interface to tie it even closer to the original games.
The game takes place between the second and third games in the series – hence the 2.5 – and follows George Stobbart back to Paris after he receives a letter telling him that his on-again, off-again girlfriend Nico has been killed.
Upon arriving at her apartment, he's shocked to find that she's still alive – but strangely, she refuses to see him. Bewildered by the recent events, he soon learns the alarming news that she could be involved with Neo-Templars – the villains of the first game – and is determined to save her.
The game is free to download from the MindFactory website, and it's also essential to download the official patch which contains fixes and the English voice pack. The actor voicing George Stobbart is certainly no Rolf Saxon – but for a fan-game, it's a really close impersonation!
Fans of the first two games will be amazed at just how well presented the game is. The voicework is decent, the hand-drawn scenes featuring new and old locations are gorgeous, and the story and puzzles have an undoubted Broken Sword feel to them. This is not to be missed by any Broken Sword fan!
Just like the ad-break quiz from the 90s TV show, you'll be tasked with guessing the name of the Pokémon based on its silhouette.
When you guess correctly, your score accumulates – and the game ends when you get one wrong, saving your high score so you can try to beat your best with another try. There's four stages of difficulty, covering Easy, Medium, Hard and Ultimate, and you can even turn on the lights to reveal the Pokémon behind the silhouette if you're really struggling!
Uber-fans of the show and games should have no difficulty guessing correctly, so this is likely aimed at more casual fans, who remember watching the original show as a kid and have perhaps played one or two of the monster-hunting games.
After burning out on Fallout Shelter when it was available on iOS and Android, we were worried the PC version of the VaultTec vault simulator wouldn't be able to hold our interest. Thankfully, Bethesda have released the game with the latest 1.6 update which is their largest content update yet!
For those unfamiliar with the game, as the vault overseer you're tasked with building and managing an underground nuclear fallout shelter to protect local citizens from the catastrophe of nuclear war. You'll need to build accomodation, food and water sources and weapons to protect your citizens from the dangers of the surface.
The latest update brings a new overseer's office where you can start and manage quests, the ability to follow your vault dwellers on their missions to places like the Super Duper Mart and Red Rocket outside of the vault, Nuka-cola Quantum which can instantly complete crafting, quests and travelling timers – and even new enemies like radscorpions and ghouls which bring a greater radiation threat. Better stock up on those Rad-aways!
Zebawl is a fiendishly difficult physics-based puzzle game of skill and patience. Similar to old-school favourites like Super Monkey Ball, Spin Dizzy and Marble Madness, you're tasked with rolling a ball to the end of a twisting maze of narrow paths, perilous pitfalls, moving platforms and the greatest hurdle of all: overconfidence!
Momentum is generated while rolling the ball so you'll constantly need to quickly adjust your direction to stop yourself flying over the edge of a 90 degree turn after racing across a bridge of falling platforms. Thankfully the controls are good even though you're limited to the arrow keys of your keyboard which feels particularly evil considering all of the paths are diagonal.
Like all the best browser timewasters, What's inside the box? is a very simple game with very little build-up and zero time constraints. It features quickfire brain-teaser levels that are only taxing if you overthink them – and throughly rewarding when you complete them.
Each level presents you with a wooden box with buttons, lights, sliding puzzles and memory games, with very little explanation of what you need to do to complete the stage.
There are only 30 levels in the browser version of the game – and a little surprise at the end. There's also a free iOS and Android app version, with over 100 levels to work through – so it's well worth picking that up if you like what you see here.
With a great blend of emotive music, colourful art style and engrossing storyline, Who Is Mike? is an enjoyable adventure in which you are confronted by a person who looks and sounds exactly like you. After you're accused of being the impersonator, you must put your investigative skills to the test and find out who's telling the truth, who's lying – and who Mike really is!
There are nine possible outcomes for you to discover as you play, entirely dependent on the choices you make during your story. You could end up as the villain or the hero – and playing through the game again allows you to make different choices and get a different outcome! I really enjoy games with replay value, and some visual novels only direct you down a particular path with a particular ending – not so here.
Who Is Mike? is a short game which can be completed in an hour or two to achieve your first ending. While some of the choices you make and their consequences aren't very intuitive, this does make the game more challenging when it comes to finding additional game endings!
One of the features which I'm most grateful for is the ability to skip text, which is ideal if you read quickly and don't want to wait for the speech to finish before you can continue. If you're a fan of fiction and like to play as you read, you're in for a treat with Who Is Mike?.