Free Games of the Fortnight — Animals, trees, and balloons.

From dodo to frogs, there’re a lot of animals to play as in this week’s free games.

This week we have a few animals for you to play with! From being a magical frog, exploring through a gorgeous world, to being a dodo bird, looking to deliver mail in a hand drawn town. Perhaps you’d rather be a flightless bird just looking for some feathers to get home with. If you’d rather be a human, you can try collecting balloons to stay afloat. Or maybe you’d rather not play with characters at all, and instead take on a puzzler filled with nature. Read on…


La Rana by Frog Paw Studios — Bryan Taylor

In La Rana, you play as a magical frog who is bumbling through a Mayan temple. As you hop around the rooms of the temple, you will find frog statues with mouths overflowing water into pools below them. Standing in a pool for a moment will fill your frog’s mouth with water and you can then use this water to spit it to activate glowing blue frog statues and various block switches.

Activating a statue will reveal a sentence or two of the story of Rana the Frog and Serpiente the Snake. Rana is beloved by all, so naturally, Serpiente in a jealous rage steals Rana’s power — the ‘River Heart’, and of course all hell breaks loose. As you progress through this thirty or so minute game, you will spend most of your time finding these hidden frogs that bestow these story pieces. It’s a nice means of story delivery and keeps the action moving as there are no cutscenes to speak of.

The frog is cute and the environments are well designed, with Mayan motif and even some bumpmapped textures that add additional definition to the temple’s walls. The whole game has somewhat of a cel-shaded sheen to it, and what it showcases, it does well. Overall La Rana is a fun little distraction, and is certainly a worthy play if you love frogs!


Balloons! By TheGRS — Dann Sullivan

There’s something innocently fun about balloons, especially helium balloons, and it’s a common trope for people to be held aloft by adequate helium balloons. Well, in Balloons! By TheGRS you are doing just that, with the aim of the game to travel as far as possible through inflating and discarding balloons.

Balloons!

Along the way there’s hot air balloons and more to avoid, however the greatest dangers come from overconfidence and how that subsequently results in you going off screen, or crashing into the ground. The variation of the ground height is especially wide, so you’ll almost constantly be deflating and releasing balloons. Watch out though, you only have twenty extra balloons on board, and grabbing new ones requires some movement in itself.

My high score was 1666, what’s your best?

You can play Balloons! in your browser.


PIP! by Rarelikeaunicorn — Ruune

I always loving coming across lovingly crafted Pico-8 games filled with tons of character. This isn’t a rare thing at all, each developer has their own unique stamp on how they approach creating worlds with a fantasy console. Pip! Is the story of a small sleeping pelican who gets started out of their nest, and has to collect feathers in a daring adventure, all while skipping, jumping, and diving their way back home.

PIP!

Pip!’s visuals and animations are charming, and the music is a really nice mix of a familiar and repetitive groove, managing to be simple and not be annoying — the holy grail of backing tracks! For a Pico-8 game the world map is HUGE and fun to explore, with different areas hosting different themes and aesthetics. This game is super-engaging and fun to play, and even so when I can’t figure out what to do next. I love being a part of its world so much that I stick around until I have figured it out! Such good game design! Hooray!

Go play it in your browser now at Rarelikeaunicorn’s Itch.io page!


Tents and Trees by Frozax Games — Brian Gillett-Smith

Tents and Trees is a mobile puzzle game available on iOS and Android. It plays like a cross between Minesweeper and Sudoku. It has a simple concept — you get a grid of blank tiles and trees. Across the top and down the side there are numbers telling you how many tents occupy the respective columns and rows, and your task is to simply fill in the blanks by tapping on the square to cycle between grass, tent, or back to blank. The rules are simple too, each tree much have a tent next to it (diagonals don’t count) and no tent can touch another (diagonals do count).

And that’s it — simple right?

Except it’s not. Tents and Trees is one of these seems-too-easy-to-be-a-game games, and sure enough you are quickly forced into thinking in abstract yet logical ways; “If I put a tent here then that tree over there will be blocked, so therefore this tile must be grass”. The game gets harder as the boards get bigger and the trees get more numerous.

Tents and Trees

There are twenty-seven level packs (at the time of writing) ranging from a 5×5 grid up to 18×18, and each pack contains twenty levels, apart from the first which only has ten — so that’s 530 levels to unlock and play. Each level pack costs a number of coins to unlock, which are earned as you complete a level or by waiting six hours to get 10 free coins. There are also three daily challenge packs to play, the first or which is unlocked for free.

My only gripe is in the earning of coins — as you progress the cost to unlock the next level pack will become more than you have earned from completing the last, forcing you to watch video ads to double the amount of coins earned, or waiting for six hours to get those ten free coins. I would much rather there be a £2 pay wall to unlock all the levels — I’d gladly pay it, because Tents and Trees is a great, fun to play, hard to put down title that deserves your time and attention.

You can grab Tents and Trees on iOS and Android.


The Carrier Dodo Company by Clara & Ghostfiber — Jupiter Hadley

The Carrier Dodo Company, a game made for the 2018 Global Game Jam, allows you to become a dodo learning how to deliver mail. This charming game places you right in a town full of other carrier birds that can fly, tunnels which you can use to quickly get around, and a few ladders for those who don’t use the tunnels. You are an apprentice, learning the skills needed to deliver mail, who cannot even use these fast tunnels. Most people don’t tend to use the Dodo Company, due to how slow it is.

However, two individuals in the town are using this system to deliver letters back and forth to each other. As a part of your job you are able to read the letters between them before delivering them. These two individuals seem to be squabbling via letters, which can only be delivered once each season. Between the time that it takes to get to the houses and find letters that have been posted it is a very entertaining game, but the stories these two come up with are pure comedy.

The Carrier Dodo Company is a joyous game that made me smile. Take a look at it yourself.

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