B3 brings you another bunch of free games! We have a wacky, challenging team-based mobile game that’s fun for any party, a challenging yet chaotic match-3-esque game and a top down adventure that has been revamped from an older version. If you’re more interested in games that look into their developer’s souls, we have a silly physics game about being addicted to juice and a Bitsy game with the option to decode the thoughts of the developer. Read on…
Spaceteam by Henry Smith — Rob Covell
Spaceteam is a free mobile multiplayer game in a similar style to Bomb Corps from the Jackbox series. Everyone uses the app to join into a 2-8 player game in which you need to keep your spaceship going as long as possible co-operatively.
Everyone will have a different set of controls for the team’s ship. These controls are mostly silly, such as setting the Quarples to a number between 0 and 5, or activating the Disbelief Suspender. Simultaneously, every player will receive an instruction to do something with one of the controls, normally a control that another player will have. New instructions will appear in real time as previous ones are completed, and once enough are completed the team moves on to the next stage.
Cue madness as everyone yells instructions at each other to try and get to the end of a stage before time runs out. Some instructions are priorities, such as everyone having to shake their phones to avoid an asteroid, and making sure you’re heard above the noise is important.
Games last about five minutes and are tremendous fun, and the only monetisation is paying to unlock new cosmetics. Highly recommended!
Puzzle Plunder by Windybeard — Harley
Sometimes, there are atypical opportunities that I actually want to play something relaxing. This is a rarity as I’m usually involved in some brain-melting, rules-heavy 4X or wargame — either Earthbound or otherworldly. However, I’ve also reviewed what seems to be a large amount of pirate-themed games. So, when I saw Puzzle Plunder for free on Steam, I had to download it and give it a shot across the bow.
Additionally, this game will scratch two itches of mine — the first being that it’s pirate-like, the second being that it’s a Match-3. There’s always been something about the simplicity of Match-3 that soothes me. This should be a nice, calming and relaxing foray into…
Hey! No, wait a minute here. After a cursory glance at the rules — yes, I did realize there was a sinking aspect to Puzzle Plunder, but what I failed to realize is 1) it’s not turn-based… it’s all happening in real time and 2) the further I go, the faster I sink. Bottom line: I’m meant to keep dying by sunken ship. Blimey.
My happy little Match-3 instantly turned into a frantic, watch-everything-on-the-board intensity stressor. Of course, the saving grace is that it’s really fun, but still… c’mon.
Matching different items do distinctive things. Flags propel my ship forward, buckets lower my sinking level, etc. Then, I started running into obstacles. To get past these requires a specific items to be matched — whether it be twenty swords, twelve keys, fifteen flags, etc. Obviously, while I’m matching them, I’m still sinking. This made my eyes dart around like a buccaneer hooked on rum. Too farrggh? I’ll parrot patching it up later.
I became just as concerned with looking for the item to match as I was watching for buckets to match — while also watching the sink-meter on the left.
Puzzle Plunder is a precisely pleasurable game, just don’t presume to put your peg leg up and pontificate personal problems while playing.
Dink Smallwood HD by Seth Robinson — Louis Sullivan
Another one from the archives, the game isn’t exactly new (1997), but was recently (within the last ten years) uprezzed and re-released for modern computers and phone/tablets. Dink Smallwood is a fascinating stew of games; it’s from Seth Robinson who created the BBS Legend of the Red Dragon.
The game is a top down adventure game, with NPCs that are a bit… verbose, but rarely does the game throw excess dialog your way. Inputs are simply punch/attack, inventory, talk and magic which can lead to Dink punching NPC’s instead of talking, the game has dialogue for these moments. Notably, the narrative does take a sharp turn at a point in order to up the stakes/declare the villains purpose.
It has elements of Zelda (Link), Monkey Island (Threepwood) and Diablo, but succeeds as its own thing. Over the years the built-in editor would lead to a swath of DMods which can be found at The Dink Network, there are some absolutely shining gems in there, and their rating system always gave me something new to play, whether it was a forty hour RPG (Pilgrims Quest) or something that I now know would be classified as a Visual Novel.
Juice by Crawlspace Studio — Dann Sullivan
Juice is a free, introspective journey through the bottom of recently emptied glasses.
Played out through grabbing cartons and tilting them to fill progressively more difficult glasses, a game about serving and consuming juice might not seem as though it could deliver on a narrative level. But, between each of its levels we spend a moment in the mind of the game’s creator and narrator as they speculate on their fascination with drinking small portions of fruit-based fluids.
Almost gaudy in style, with its contrasting colours and unstable physics objects, Juice feels like an art installation. Albeit one with a little voice who tells a story over the top of the calming-chaos yin-yang of the gameplay.
A lot of Crawlspace Studios’ games play on a immeasurable spawning of objects — a creator’s ability to birth objects into the game world. Perhaps Juice is the purest yet. The space button brings in a new carton, and flooding the screen is an option.
For a free experience about a fluid treated like ambrosia, to be given infinite creation ability can lead to you feeling quite wasteful.
Where Have You Been? by Alacrity — Jupiter Hadley
Where Have You Been? is a deeply personal game, showing two thoughts of a person who is struggling. As you surf through each page you interact with question marks. These are questions being given to you — ‘where are you?’ ‘are you coming?’ ‘why did you go?’ They are harmless questions, just simple things that people say to other people, but to you, they are challenging.
You can make it to the top of what looks like a window that is displaying this picture full of questions. The minimize key will show your outward response — one expected of you and seemingly perfect; it’s exactly what they want to hear. The next button, a rectangle, displays a longer message in code. You can take the time to decode this by hand, understanding truely what the person thinks. Decoding it takes a lot of effort, trial and error — much like communicating with someone who doesn’t want to be open — but maybe it’s worth the struggle. Clicking on the X will go to the next page, giving you more questions to explore.
Where Have You Been? is a pretty different game — it’s more of a look into the developer’s mind and soul. It’s amazing that developers share this much of themselves — it’s brave and raw, and very important to explore.