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Oct 9

Freeware Recommendations

From time to time I find freeware games that are interesting and worth a play, but that don’t really warrant a full review.  Here are the latest, all of which are playable in your browser:

Heir - It’s not a perfect description, but the phrase “2-D Shadow of the Colossus" is definitely enough to pique my interest. In Heir, a dying king with no heirs has put out a call that any warrior who can slay the giant beasts in the kingdom can take the king’s place.  So you run, jump and climb up these gigantic monsters until you reach the top and plunge your sword into their weak point.  The designer flat-out says he is making a tribute to SotC, (which is good, because otherwise the word “rip-off” wouldn’t be out of line), but there are differences of course.  This game strips away everything but the platforming. There is no exploration and no combat - you just have to make it to the top. But the game looks good (especially the excellent animations and sense of scale) and sounds good, and the platforming is actually really solid.  Even without the SotC gimmick, this would be worth a play.

Neon Race - This is your fairly standard racer - play tracks, pick up money, upgrade your car, repeat.  It’s on this list because it manages to do those things pretty well, and also because it seems to be inspired by Rad Racer, one of my favorite NES racing games.  You avoid hitting purple cars (which slow you down), but purposefully hit red cars, because they fill up a turbo meter.  Turbo is really fast in this game, and when you combine that with super tight turns and tons of obstacles, many of these courses can be really challenging. As the title implies, though, all of this is presented in this gorgeous neon vector graphic style.  It’s pretty and fun, so give it a shot.  I hear there’s a sequel out, too.

Lilac.27 - This one is weird.  Made for Ludum Dare 23, you play as a girl with a crossbow, walking third-person style over planetoids, shooting two-dimensional enemies.  The visuals are decidedly lo-fi, but the particle effects when one of your arrows hits an enemy are surprisingly effective and your attacks actually feel pretty powerful.  The first area is filled with harmless butterflies to give you some practice navigating the 3-D world, but the enemies get harder and faster, and the last couple are tough as you fight them while running around and around a tiny sphere.  The controls are a wee bit clunky, but this one passes the uniqueness test with flying colors, and is well worth the 5-10 minutes it will take to play through.