In this week's collection of free PC games, we explain how you can play Super Meat Boy for free! Well, sort of - and in a way that's well worth checking out. Elsewhere, we've got snakes, robots, werewolves and disgusting, lazy students. Computer games are awesome...
Increpare. Play it on the website.
The latest title from renowned indie studio Increpare is Line Bender - a small but smart twist on Snake. You know, that game you played on your enormous Nokia brick phone ten or eleven years ago. Yes, it's still going strong.
The idea here is that the middle section of the play area makes your 'snake' skip across to the other half of the screen. It's a wormhole, if you like - a big, blank space in the centre where nothing can exist.
It's a minor twist, certainly, but it completely transforms the way you play, as you learn to re-evaluate the game space. The simple presentation could have done to be spruced up a bit, being a straight-forward black-and-white job, but it at least allows you to focus entirely on the game's smart hook.
MFA Prep Course
John Bruneau, Marek Kapolka. Play it on the LudoGenesis website.
A very strange 'game', MFA Prep Course plonks you into the lazy boots of a filthy student. You're sitting at your desk. You should be doing work. However, because you're a student, you're looking for any possible reason to procrastinate.
You can drink coffee. You can spark up a cigarette. You can play with your phone a little. But that's it. Alongside the blocky, MS Paint-style visuals, it should be a recipe for disaster.
It's interesting, though, because of the control input. In order to perform these mundane actions, you've to control each of your protagonist's hands separately. One hand's mouse-controlled, the other keyboard-controlled, and it's surprisingly taxing to try to manipulate each limb in the manner in which it needs to be manipulated. It's a game that's worth playing for its form, then, rather than for the extremely limited content.
Super Meat Boy
Terry Cavanagh. Play it on his website.
This is just a quick one, but it's well worth playing. Basically, it's Super Meat Boy remade by VVVVVV developer Terry Cavanagh, vaguely in the visual style of his own brutal platform game.
In a blog post, Cavanagh explains that Team Meat asked him to draw a title screen Easter Egg for last year's famously challenging indie game - which Tyler Wilde very correctly score 90%. In the end, though, he ended up making his own version - and when he came across it again recently, he decided to throw it online.
There are only a few levels, and they're relatively easy to navigate. It would be great to see this expanded into a fuller product, though I suspect such a game is unlikely. Nevertheless, the combination of Meat Boy's platforming style and Cavanagh's visual touches make for a really interesting few minutes.
Ant Karlov. Play it on Armor Games.
This is a surprisingly adept side-scrolling shooter, which hopefully won't become lost in the sea of slightly inept side-scrolling shooters that frequently dominate the free PC gaming space. It's another zombie game, but it stands above the rest for its excellent use of physics and distinctive visual style.
It's a sort of hand-drawn, cartoon look, but one with some impressive attention to detail and some often beautiful depth to the images. And some neat physics enable you to take out the zombie hordes in new and interesting ways, mainly involving crushing them with boxes, barrels and suchlike.
If there's a complaint it'll be about the controls, which are a little wayward and floaty in that way that PS3 hit LittleBigPlanet became famous for. Personally, I don't think it's a problem, but you might. Either way, you get to shoot and crush zombies in a very pretty environment. Oh, and you play as a robot, which is awesome.
Where I Go At Night
Pat Kemp. Play it on Pat's website.
Two players. One human, one wolf, both part of the same body. By day the man searches a town for an elixir. By night the wolf takes over and goes on a rampage.
This is a really interesting take on a two-player game, asking players to work against each other in intervals. The daytime player's job is to build barricades to stop his nighttime alter-ago from chomping on the lovely townsfolk, while collecting elixirs to hopefully cure his ailment. Then the nighttime player must tear down those barriers and, y'know, aggressively murder people. During the switchover period it's a frantic fight for those few seconds where both forms are lucid. It's clever stuff.
While the game looks blocky and basic, it still manages to paint quite a lovely picture. People appear to go about their business in town, and the nighttime scenes take on a lovely glow that transcends the pixelated image. Well worth a look.