There’s a good chance you’re crying inside now that this year’s Steam summer sale has finished. You’ve just checked your bank balance and realised you’ve no money left for the rest of the month; and have added a few more titles to your never-ending backlog and have given yourself an even higher list to get through.
Well, don’t worry: I’m here to ease the pain. While my other-half has taken over the living-room to cope with another bout of The Division obsession in preparation for the sequel, I’ve been using the laptop to check out a bunch of free titles. That means you can have even more games despite having spent all your cash during the past few weeks – or for those worried about their backlog, less than 60-minutes of entertainment at a time you distract you from it. It’s a win-win situation!
The Monster Inside
If you’re looking for something short that isn’t very taxing, then The Monster Inside may be for you. I completed it in just 15 minutes and enjoyed both the story and the artwork: it’s a ‘film-noir style audio-visual novella’ about a mysterious woman, a string of murders and a man with a hidden past, set in black and white isometric world. It’d be great to see Random Seed Games’ private investigator star in a full-length point-and-click so we can help him case crime scenes and interrogate witnesses.
Silver Creek Falls: Chapter 1
Keeping the detective vibe going, next up is the first chapter in Silver Creek Falls by Sapphire Dragon Productions. Two city detectives are sent to the small town in North Carolina to investigate a series of strange events after the local sheriff goes missing; and things get even stranger when his deputy is killed and the FBI take over the streets. This episode sets the scene for the rest of the game with a Twin Peaks vibe: there’s a whiff of the supernatural and everything isn’t as it seems.
A Raven Monologue
There’s one particular review on A Raven Monologue’s Steam page which stood out for me because it perfectly sums up the experience: “10 minutes and I’m sad without knowing why.” Who’d have thought such a little title by Mojiken Studio could have such a big effect on the player? The hand-drawn artwork that depicts the story of a raven who doesn’t know how to croak is just right, and the song that accompanies the gameplay is beautiful in a heart-breaking kind of way.
The Lion’s Song: Silence
The first episode in The Lion’s Song series may be free, but it’s a charming standalone story in its own right which is nicely wrapped up by the end. Players join talented young composer Wilma as she tries to prepare for her breakthrough concert in the solitude of the Austrian Alps and makes an unexpected friend along the way. Your choices influence what happens in the later episodes and you’ll also get to see the decisions taken by other players – incentive to buy the next episodes by Mi’pu’mi Games.
The Flood may be a very short narrative title which can be completed in no more than ten minutes, but it has such a lovely message at its core. Players pilot a boat down a river and with no real action or puzzles, it’s a charming and peaceful experience. Here’s a sweet reminder than sometimes we need to stop worrying so much about our destination so we can simply enjoy the journey; and that being lost isn’t always a bad thing. Simple Ghost’s game is one to turn to if you’ve had a really stressful day.
Considering it’s free, there’s an awful lot of quality evident in Marie’s Room by Kenny Guillaume and Dagmar Blommaert: the highly-polished visuals, great voice-acting and lovely soundtrack give the impression you’re playing something created by a much larger team. This exploration title about an unconventional friendship between two classmates, told through memories sparked by items left within a room, is one I’d highly recommend trying if you enjoy narrative games such as Gone Home.
I don’t play puzzlers very often (I overdosed on The Witness) but Flightless by Bristol Street Studios stood out due to its minimalist isometric setting. This title-based title has players navigating their way through a series of floating islands, each presenting a curious challenge they must overcome in order to unlock the next gate. It almost feels like a demo for a much larger game; it took me around 20 minutes to complete the ten-or-so levels that left me wanting more and the piano soundtrack had a really calming effect.
Most of the games on this list are pretty short and peaceful experiences, but CAYNE will give you around three hours’ playtime along with a bit of gore and a few jump-scares. This sci-fi horror-adventure was released as a freebie by The Brotherhood following a successful Kickstarter campaign and the release of STASIS. nufafitc from Emotional Multimedia Ride and I discussed this title at length earlier this year and you can read all about our thoughts in this post.
Are there any other free games you’d recommend, or have you played any of the others above? Let me know in the comments below!