Free Game Friday: Doing it wrong
One of the great things about games is that there are no real rules. There’s a traditional way to do things, sure, but there’s freedom to break with tradition and do things your own way. This week we’ve got five games that choose to break with tradition and are better because of it.
A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond
You wake up in a post apocalyptic shelter and find yourself in…what seems to be a text adventure. A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond is significant not just for being a good game, but for looking quite a lot like a Fallout game made in a distinctly different genre. You’re stuck inside of a shelter instead of exploring the world and that might seem like you’re losing a lot of what makes a great post-apocalyptic game, but it actually emphasizes a sense of creeping unease better than most other games.
simian.interface is a game that revels in doing controls wrong. Every single level finds the control scheme just slightly skewed from the last as you attempt to get your white dot inside of a box. Discovering each of those new controls isn’t just surprisingly enjoyable as a part of the game: it is the game. The graphics are simple and the story is non-existent (I think you play as a monkey that’s controlling a computer with its mind, but the firmware is broken?) but bulking up either of those elements would just get in the way of what almost feels like a series of microgames.
Avant-Garde is a game about becoming a famous painter. Naturally, it’s a game where you never paint anything at all. In fact it seems like a dating sim about gaining the love, not of a significant other, but of artistic patrons and audiences. It’s a strange way to recontextualize painting, but it’s also one that emphasizes something very real about making art. On some level the art you make doesn’t matter as much as the reaction of the people who are judging it. That’s a lesson I imagine independent game designers know all too well.
Massive, multiplayer Bomberman. That’s basically all you need to know about Bombermine. it’s a huge server with dozens of player all trying to bomb each other into oblivion and bombing the environment to find upgrades to make that first task easier. It’s not a perfect game yet—it can be irritatingly hard to get the upgrades you need if you spawn near a player with the power to destroy you almost instantly—but it’s free and still in beta and well worth your time.
FPS-Man is Pac-Man as survival horror. It’s a combination that fits bizarrely well once you get used to it, wandering through corridors grabbing every dot you can and hoping that the next time you turn around there won’t be a ghost ready to pop out and end your game. Stuck down in the trenches, missing all the information afforded by the old top-down point of view, Pac-Man starts to feel like it was ALWAYS this scary of a game; you just didn’t notice.