The Best Things in (virtual) Life are F r e e
Part two – No Cost Adventure Games!
I had played adventure games for years before I stumbled upon some websites offering wonderful story-based games at no cost to the consumer! Quite a few of these are created by professional game developers working on their own projects, or from talented design students. I’ve downloaded and played many of these now. I love the concept, and love the games.
I must admit that after years of better and better graphics, complex and beautifully rendered artwork, and professional actors voicing characters and appearing in cutscenes, the lesser, two-dimensional graphics took some getting used to. However, the graphics are the only things “lesser” in these games. They look like a throwback to the early days of graphic games, but with better colors and rendering. The stories, the music, and the puzzles in many of these are first class, though, and well worth the mental adjustment. And they cost $0! The ones recommended here fit my criteria of uplifting content with limited, or no “badguy” factor. (See previous “Games” post for “badguy” discussion).
Additional fun can be had by going to the authors’ websites and learning about them, and why and how they developed their projects. The five developers mentioned below are from five different countries! It’s great to be a part of an international gamers’ community. You can find these five, as well as dozens of others at http://www.gameboomers.com/FreeGames.html There are lots of other good free adventure game sites out there too. Seek and find them. Here are my favorite five no-cost games, SO FAR…I have a feeling many more will make it onto my computer.
#5 Other Worlds This is a very long and involved game. It has preposterous character graphics-I feel like I’m looking at a variety of cutouts from different comic books and magazines. The author acknowledges this, though, and believes the story is more important than anything else, and that the character renderings are sufficient to do the job. Many of the backgrounds and buildings are beautiful. This is a journey into several parallel worlds, and the rules are different in each. Your character is searching for another who has disappeared, and is discovering how the different worlds can coexist. I was haunted by the overall beauty of this game, its moody music, and its ending, for days after I finished. It might have ranked higher on my list if I was not required to perform one small, maybe even humorous violent act. I felt it violated the character’s principles. Nothing gruesome here, though. A vivid, wonderful game.
#4 Nathan’s Second Chance I loved each of the characters the moment I met them. I wanted to stand up and cheer. When Nathan accidentally dies, he gets another chance to make things right. The after-death concept is hysterically imagined by this author, and I giggled constantly at the dialog. And, drum roll please, NO “badguys”! Not one! Everyone in the game feels a little better at the end, including the player. Nice and coherent graphics. Not much music or length, but, honestly, I wouldn’t mind living next door to this household.
#3 Five Magical Amulets This is an absolutely lovely old-fashioned fairy tale. You wander through an enchanted forest, meet wizards, magicians, and, yes, fairies. Your job is to find and rejoin five amulets that have become scattered throughout the kingdom. Each has a very specific power, and you learn to use them. It’s a long, satisfying game. One or two “badguys”, particularly the evil king, but you are able to overcome all sticky situations with your overpowering niceness. It has rich, very detailed backgrounds, evocative music, talking animals, and nearly every magical creature that’s ever appeared in literature.
#2 I’m going to cheat, here, and put two of the same designer’s games at #2, only because I couldn’t pick one or the other, and I didn’t want to displace the other four. First, play Cubert Badbone, P.I., then play The Game That Takes Place on a Cruise Ship. This is their chronological order, and if you play Cubert first, you’ll understand why I say this when you get to TGTTPOACS. When I’ve read reviews of this developer’s work, the most often repeated comment is “How can such a young person have written such great games?” The creator is older now and is finishing a degree in computer science.
Cubert is an otherworlds private investigator who is looking into the disappearance of all the humans from a tourist planet. You go along and discover the clues with him. Cubert’s an odd sort of fellow, and the planet is populated by eccentric individuals. The backgrounds are great, in “noir” black and grayscale. Very different. Really good original music. Only one “badguy”, who is hatching a nefarious plot with all the trimmings. What happens to him is…interesting.
The Game That Takes Place on a Cruise Ship is another feast for the eyes and ears. When I met our heroine, Gert, I asked myself, “Who IS this person…and how did she get into a game? (There’s yet another game, “The Interview” which explains that). The characters generally have unlikely hair colors to go with their unlikely personalities. Gert has won a free cruise—terrific. But something strange is going on. The most mentioned feature of this game is that it has four different endings! You pick which you will experience through the choices you make during play. Of course I went back and played them all. I loved all the different rooms. I really felt I was visiting a jazz club, or a restaurant, or a locker room, all on board ship. There are one or two “badguys” with the requisite evil plots, but, really…without giving things away, their “reasons” for their bad behavior advance the plot in delightful ways. You’ll guess from the outset that Gert will save the day, but she gets to do it four different ways, and you have to admire her spunk. Fabulous original music from the developer, who has a great Blog on WordPress discussing social issues as well as games and gaming. Visit http://www.deirdrakiai.com/ You’ll be glad you did.
#1 Out of Order This is the flat-out most original thing I’ve seen in this 2-D world. The creator developed the game engine used by this and three other games on this list. I guess I like its style. Your character, Hurford, is awakened by a severe electrical storm to find his house and garden have disappeared! Only his bedroom is left from his usual environment. He finds the world outside his room very different indeed. This is a great 2D sci-fi mystery adventure with memorable characters, stunning graphics, and wonderful, compelling, and deeply disturbing music. (I mean that in the nicest way!). Each room has it’s own theme, and the creator is the composer. I found myself analyzing some of the music on my keyboard. The chord structures used by the composer were as “out of order” as the rest of the game. The Title can be understood several ways, and the music just adds to all its meanings. I found Hurford immediately endearing. His bedroom slippers alone make playing the game worthwhile. The people he meets during his quest to find out “what the heck happened” are hilariously off center, too. The puzzles are fully integrated and make perfect sense within the game world…except when they don’t, wink, wink. You’re able to share a joke with Hurford about this. No “badguy”…or is there? What do you think?