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Here is this month’s free game roundup! All of these games can be found on Steam, and are 100% FREE! No microtransactions, none of that free-to-play until it’s not free anymore nonsense, just plain old and simple Free. Also because these games are free, I decided to rate them using a “recommended” or “not recommended” scale. After all, these games are free. Complaining on a scale of 1-10 about free things just seems silly, so I figured it’s best to keep things easy.
For those looking for a game about the inner struggles of being an artist, look no further. Awkward Dimensions Redux by Steven Harmon explores the fears and challenges he faces as young indie video game developer. The game is made up of eighteen short levels influenced by Harmon’s dreams and previous games. Levels range from the backstage of a theater, to an art gallery, to room that looks like a prototype level from Mirror’s Edge. This is definitely game that fans of walking simulators, specifically Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide, should check out.
As a walking simulator, Redux is a game about the overall experience rather than a straightforward narrative. Each level is a self-contained surreal vignette with a simple puzzle to solve. You move from level to level by finding doors to the next one. Once you find a door, it can take awhile for the game to move to the next level. This can be a little frustrating, but not enough to break the game. The controls can be clunky at times as well. I found this to be especially true when jumping from platform to platform. It was hard to know how far I was jumping and how high. Fortunately the levels are short and the puzzles simple enough, so it’s not too much of an issue.
Overall Awkward Dimensions Redux is an interesting game, which captures the dreamlike state well. The game’s impressive soundtrack, and mix of video and voiceover, adds the experience. Harmon also provides a commentary mode where he provides insight into the game’s design and development process. It took me about 1 hour to play through Redux and the commentary mode. Oh, and did I mention this game was made by a high school student? I have a feeling this won’t be the last Steven Harmon game we’ll be seeing on Steam.
October is the month everyone starts craving a good scare. Vaclav Hudec aims to satisfy that craving with Blameless, a first-person mystery game. You play as an architect, who was invited to work on renovating an old home. However when you arrive, you are knocked unconscious and locked in the basement. Using the tools strewn around the property, you make your way through the old home and quickly discover you’re not the only victim.
The puzzles are relatively simple once you figure out how they work. I got stuck in the first room for a frustrating fifteen minutes before realizing I had to use the construction tools, rather than the items in my inventory. Using the construction tools is an interesting gameplay feature. However, because the tools aren’t added to your inventory, it makes it difficult to know which ones serve a purpose. It doesn’t help that the items added to your inventory during the game also serve very little gameplay-wise. It almost as if figuring what to use is part of the puzzle, which again is interesting, but a little more direction would’ve been nice.
The graphics and audio of Blameless create an excellent mysterious atmosphere. I always felt as if something or someone was about to jump out at me. However, if you’re not one for frights, this is the probably the only dark mystery game that allows you to turn on all the lights. The game also gives you a flashlight, so really this is the brightest dark game you will probably ever play. However, if you are looking for a good fright, the only one this game has to offer comes at the very end of this 30-45 minute game. Speaking of endings, this game has a very very open ending. Basically don’t expect any closure. Just as the game starts to pick up it ends. So even though this game is free, there is a lot about it that left me wanting for more, and not in a good way.
If you’re looking for a breath of bizarre Alice in Wonderland-esque air, Off-Peak by Cosmo D is your game. This first-person adventure game is set in world where circuses and train stations collide. Seriously. I don’t know how Cosmo D came up with this place, but it’s certainly worth exploring.
In Off-Peak the player’s main task is collecting pieces of a torn up ticket in order to board the next train out of town. Why do you want to leave? They game never really says. However, talking to the colorful cast of characters gives hints to the political and economic situation. Something about capitalist tyrants, worker abuse, you know, the usual. But more importantly, while you main task is completing the ticket, talking to the train station’s inhabitants is what you’ll be doing most of the time. And it’s fantastic.
From the owner of a ramen stand who dreamed of being an orchestra conductor, to giants playing Settlers of Catan (maybe??), there isn’t a single boring person in this place. Even the characters who don’t say anything are interesting. Like that dancing dude down on the train platform. And the lady who gives you free cookies (pretty sure those are laced with something). There’s also the ruler of the town, who is surrounded by a harem of cows. Yes, the kind that go “moo.” Literally.
And then there’s the giant whale hanging from the ceiling. You can’t talk to it, pretty sure it’s just for decoration, but you can look at it. It’s really pretty. The whole train station is actually kind of pretty in twisted kind of “what the heck is going on” kind of way.
Off-Peak is only about 20-30 minutes long, with a real cliffhanger of an ending. But the good news is that a) it’s free and b) Cosmo D used this freebie to announce his next full-game. Good things to come in Spring of 2017!