Well, my fellow freeloaders, it’s time to start showing off the hard work of your fellow Earth citizens. And by “your fellow Earth citizens”, I’m referring to the amateur programmers of freeware video games. Commercial games are all around, as one can name off several different franchises (Halo, Fallout, Mario, Zelda). But, what is there that glitters through all the hype and chutzpah, it is not all gold. There have been hundreds of horrible video games that have been put out there for a price.
However, and this is the part everyone is gonna love, you’d be surprised at the vast amounts of freebie games out there that are actually just as great as any Zelda or Mario game. For every Superman 64 there is in the independent gaming scene, there’s a shining-bright Super Mario Bros. These games aren’t just great, they’re brilliantly made and well-handled for beginner programmers. Here is my first batch of freeware games for you all.
1. Dwarf Fortress
One of the most ancient-looking yet epic games to come on the face of this earth. The graphics are ASCII format, meaning they’re comprised of numerals and letters and other symbols. Yes, it’s an extremely basic format, but the graphics aren’t the main point. Besides, one can always look up tilesets for the game online that can give a better sprite format too.
Basically, the gameplay is comprised of you being the owner of your own fortress with your own crew and traps and such. However, not every game is played the same. ANYTHING can happen. Your fellow dwarfs carry personalities and habits, random encounters happen all the time, enemies can dig from the underground to enter your fortress, death is easy at all turns. Yes, if you got it already, the game is very difficult beast to behold. Not to mention, the actual way you manage your fortress has a very steep learning curve, so it will take time to learn how to play properly. The rewards are high, though. The adventures will truly be epic in scale, whether it’s fighting a dragon or starting war with another fortress, the choices are yours.
Oh, yes, and the game is updated regularly, so keep an eye out.
2. I Wanna Be The Guy
Everyone remembers the basic platforming mechanics in games: Jump on/shoot at enemies and kill them and jump on top of other objects to get to other areas. For those who have played Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, you might recall how many of those levels were down-right impossible to get through, and one could easily die.
Well, behold: I Wanna Be The Guy. The absolute most unforgiveably difficult game in existence. In the first screen, you can die just by walking right and falling down to another floor. Then, spikes shoot out from the left and automatically splatter your character to bits. Game Over. This game does NOT screw around. It breaks so many rules in platformers that it probably just made a whole new book of rules. Anything will move. Anything will kill you. YOU. WILL. DIE.
Graphics are ripped from some video games, as are some sound effects, but they are used in such way that doesn’t infringe copyrights. Also, if you somehow magically beat the game, you will be added to the list of people who are “The Guy”. Definitely an achievement higher than the Holy Grail.
Designed and created by indie darling Derek Yu, Spelunky takes its pieces from RPG roguelikes and platformers. You play as an archaeologist who is trying to collect as much treasure from an ancient cave. There are several different areas, but 16 levels in total. You’ll explore a rocky cavern, a lost jungle world, an icy cold arctic area, and an Egyptian style tomb.
There are three things that will probably cement Spelunky as one of the most addictive games on the planet, even more so than Tetris: One, the levels are randomly-generated, meaning that they will never be the same EVER. It’s all about finding your way through the level and exploration. Two, there are sooooo many hidden secrets within the game. For example, there is a shopkeeper that you can buy upgrades and bombs and ropes from, but you can also STEAL them. If that’s not enough, you can even kill the shopkeeper and steal them. But, beware as his fellow shopkeeper brothers will hunt you down. Three, the game is difficult, but in a constant wanting to play way. It really is easy to die when you’re a beginner, but as you’re playing more and more (and the death count goes high up into the hundreds), you’ll slowly become a better player and move on even further to the later areas. This game is probably going to have my most recommendation, but only because I’ve been playing it the most. (Darn yetis…I hate it when they throw me around like a troll.)
4. Beneath The Steel Sky
Some of you might be thinking, “Hey, wasn’t that game a commercial product?” Not so anymore, my fellow chums. Revolution Software, known for their Broken Sword series, let this game go into the freeware world in support of the ScummVM project. The game is playable on the engine, but how is the game?
Well, it is certainly a very fun point-and-click adventure game, for one! You play Robert Foster, a man in a dystopian future (they all are, aren’t they) who must find his way out of a technological Australia. Accompanied by you is your dear friend and robot Joey, who provides amusing solutions to puzzles. The art and design may be recognized by most as that of Dave Gibbons, known for his work on graphic novel Watchmen. It gives a magnificent feeling of a sort-of noir feel, but also that of a cartoon.
The game can easily be found in the downloads section of the ScummVM website, as well as a few other recently-made-freeware games. Check ’em out.