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Ben Davis avatar 12:49 PM on 05.01.2011  (server time)
5 Freeware Indie Games You Should Play: Batch #6

Hello friends! Welcome to another batch of awesome freeware indie games! I had to skip last weekend's post, because of Easter and midterms. I've also been quite busy playing Portal 2 at my friend's house, so that's been taking up a lot of my time. I've still had some time to find and play some more indie games, though, so now I can share with you what I've been playing.

Here we go!

Spelunky by Derek Yu

Spelunky is by far my favorite cave exploration game (with the exception of Cave Story, of course). It takes influence from La-Mulana, a game which I could never really get into. Basically, Spelunky presents you with randomly generated cave levels and arms you with bombs, rope and a whip. These levels contain gold, jewels and artifacts to collect, damsels to save, enemies to kill, traps to avoid, and items to find or purchase to help make your exploration easier. There are four different worlds to play through, as well as a hidden bonus world which you can find if you're a particularly talented spelunker. Each world contains four levels that you must beat in order to move on to the next world. The game will occasionally throw a special level your way, such as a snake pit level or a darkness level which requires you to use flares to navigate. The game can be pretty difficult, as you can die fairly easily and have to start over, but I wouldn't say that the game is mercilessly frustrating. You just have to figure out strategies to defeat certain enemies and learn how to avoid certain traps in order to navigate the levels efficiently. There's really just so many little details about this game that make it absolutely wonderful which I could probably write an entire blog post on. I feel like I learn something new about this game every time I play it. It's very addictive once you get the hang of it, and the randomly generated levels and tremendous attention to detail give it a very high replayability factor. I don't really want to spoil too much for you though, so if you haven't played it yet you should definitely give it a try.

L'Abbaye des Morts by locomalito

Yet another game by my favorite indie developer, Locomalito. This game might just be my favorite of his. The game follows the story of Jean Raymond, a 13th century Cathar trying to escape persecution by the Catholic church. He finds an old church to hide in, and begins to explore the creepy ruins that he discovers hidden beneath the floorboards. The presentation of this game is very unique, with ZX Spectrum-inspired graphics consisting of bright colors against a black background, with each sprite consisting of a single color. The music fits with the style of the graphics, and is appropriately creepy. The controls are very simple, you only use the directional buttons to move, up to jump and down to crawl. The game involves avoiding enemies and jumping over obstacles in order to find and collect crosses. Once you've found all 12 crosses, you can confront the final boss. It's a particularly dark and creepy game, and the simplicity of the gameplay and graphics work very well together. Beating this game without any outside help is a very rewarding experience.

Seven Minutes by Virtanen

Seven Minutes is a rather strange and somewhat disorienting platformer. After touching a strange light that you are warned not to touch, an angry deity appears and informs you that you have only seven more minutes to live. What will you do with your remaining seven minutes left in this world? As you progress through the game, the deity will constantly pester you, confuse you and try to discourage you from continuing. You get infinite lives, however, so it's just a matter of persevering to the end and figuring out the various tricks that the levels try to throw at you. The game features simple graphics consisting of grays, whites and bright blues against a black background. The music is good, although the sound effects are kind of weird. The sound that the deity makes sort of gets old after awhile. The pulsating effects of the deity and his speech are also kind strange, I'm not sure how I feel about them. They definitely induce a sense of panic, however, which is a key element of the gameplay. I imagine you wouldn't want to play this game if you were epileptic. The idea of the game is quite brilliant, however, and I definitely enjoyed the game and how panicky and urgent it felt. There are two endings to discover, the proper ending contains the credits, so you'll probably need to play it multiple times in order to "beat" the game.

Cathode Rays by Christoffer Hedborg

Cathode Rays is a very ingeniously designed puzzle game which can be downloaded to your desktop or played in a browser. The game is described as a "zero-button" game, since you don't actually use any buttons to play, just your mouse. You must guide various colored rays of light from one prism to another to complete each level. The rays will follow your mouse's movements, but they will disappear if they touch something of a different color from their own, which means you will have to start the level over. The graphics consist simply of colored lines against a black background with some sort of a vibrating visual effect, and the music is pretty awesome. The level design for this game is excellent, and many levels require very precise mouse movements in order to complete them. You'll often find yourself stuck staring at a level for a while, thinking it's impossible, before it suddenly hits you and you realize what must be done. The "zero-button" design may not sound very fun at first, but it actually works very well for this puzzle game.

Digital: A Love Story by Christine Love

Digital: A Love Story is a very intriguing, immersive and emotional experience. It's a text-based game which places you back into the Bulletin Board Systems of the late '80s. The game is presented as a computer desktop, namely the Amie Workbench, which you navigate much like your own desktop. You can open messages, download programs to the desktop, dial numbers, and reply to messages on the BBSs. There is also a music player which comes along with your desktop, which will play different songs depending on your progress in the game. The music is quite nice. Digital does an excellent job of pulling you into the world of the game. Once you start reading the various messages and getting to know the characters, you won't want to stop playing until you've beaten the game. You learn about the characters solely through their messages and replies. You are unable to read your own sent messages, although you can usually infer what you said based on the replies that you get. It might have been nice to be able to read your sent messages, as I would've liked to know what I could have said that warranted a "FUCK YOU!" from one of the characters, but I guess you can just be creative and decide what you would have said yourself. The game also has a strange way of inducing paranoia in the player. I don't really want to spoil the game or the story for anyone though, so I won't say anything more about it. If you're unsure about whether or not to play this game, I say at least give it a try. I'm not really a fan of text-based games myself, but this one was a very interesting and rather emotional experience for me.

Hope you enjoyed these picks! And don't forget to donate to the developers if you can. See you guys next week!

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