Always short of a few bob and looking for something a bit different, each week I scour the internet for fun, interesting or just plain curious Indie Freebies. This week, as it’s Halloween, spooky is a must. So we’ve got a couple of creepy offerings from our old pal Suits n’ Nukes in the form of Spime, where you find yourself trapped inside a dimensional paradox; and Aquatika, a peculiar ghost story involving a sunken shipwreck. And then we’ve got: Moonlight, a fun Halloween-themed side-scrolling shump; Play With Me, a clown-based scare-a-thon; and A Nameless Inheritance, a sizeable Lovecraft-inspired mystery adventure set within a scary old mansion.
Inspired by Halloween, our old friend Suits n’ Nukes is back with two whole servings of horror for us to dig into. First up is Spime, a quirky story-driven sci-fi adventure.
After polishing off some damn fine pancakes, you get up to leave the diner only to loop right back into it. What the hell? Either someone’s been spiking the maple syrup with LSD again, or you’ve gone and got yourself trapped inside one of those pesky dimensional paradoxes. And it seems you’re not the only one. The bathroom wall is riddled with countless tally marks, while written notes you find journal another person’s struggle through this strange rift.
The good news is at least you’re stuck in a place with food. The downside is that, as a paradoxical entity, you’re being hunted down by a sinister floating watermelon with nasty snake-like tentacles for teeth. Fortunately, it doesn’t bother looking for you underneath tables or in the restroom or kitchen!
Spime is a highly entertaining and humorous twilight zone-style tale with a fantastically creepy ambiance, great visuals, and a brilliantly written narrative. Stephen King fans should pick up on the hefty nod to The Langoliers.
Spime is available for Windows and can be downloaded for free from Game Jolt here.
Created eight years ago, Aquatika is actually Suits n’ Nukes’ debut game, now on Game Jolt for very the first time and released especially for Halloween.
Haunted by a recurring vision, a diver is compelled to search the ocean for a mysterious woman who claims that only he can free her from where she’s trapped. Unsure where to search, an eerie siren song draws him to the sunken wreckage of the Freedom Ship, a titanic floating city that vanished without a trace. But what unmentionable horrors will you find inside?
Short and sweet, you find yourself amongst the decaying ruins and festering corpses of a once magnificent liner, defending yourself against nasties using your trusty spear gun and knife. The gameplay may be a little ropey and disjointed, but Aquatika more than compensates for it with its forbidding atmosphere, compellingly noirish ghost story, some amazing cutscene animations, and a joyously gruesome and twisted ending. You can certainly see the foundation’s been laid here for Nukes’ distinctive and offbeat style.
It’s All Hallows’ Eve and the witch Bel wants to visit her girlfriend. But on this night the moon draws out wicked things with evil intent. Do I smell a thinly-conceived pretext for a Halloween-themed side-scrolling shump?
Ah, who cares, it’s jolly good nostalgic fun. Control a witch on a broomstick, shoot at bats, skulls, and evil spirits, chuck pumpkin bombs, pick up health, and get a high score. There’s even a boss fight. Mind you, as you can only ascend while using Bel’s limited “fly faster” ability, it’s harder than it looks. Throw in some gorgeous 8-bit style monochrome pixel art and parallax scrolling, and a delightfully spooky chiptune track, and what more could you possibly want? Well, more than one level would be nice, but hey, you can’t have everything!
Moonlight is available for Windows and can be downloaded from itch.io here.
Play With Me
If you harbour a love-hate relationship with freaky circus entertainers, then Play With Me, the latest in scary clown simulator technology, might be just for you. It’s even VR compatible!
It’s the night of your birthday, and the clown wants to play. Guess what, you’re trapped inside a large, gloomy, and otherwise empty house. Obviously, the only way to escape this nightmarish predicament is to collect four birthday candles in order to release the key to the front door. And unless you want to die, you must avoid eye contact at all costs.
What Play With Me lacks in subtlety and originality it makes up for through sheer immersion, atmosphere, and terror. It’s a truly traumatic experience. Hearing the clown systematically stalking the rooms for you, cheerily declaring “Nottinnnnnggggggggg!” when it fails to locate you. Seeing the monstrous thing crawling all over the walls and ceilings like a deranged insect. Sometimes it’s on the outside of the windows, other times grinning at you from the screen of a TV set. And when it inevitably catches up with you and gazes right into your soul… those horrible, maddening, blazing red eyes – err, did I mention to avoid them? But above all it’s that piercing, manic laughter that will stay with me forever. God, I hate clowns. Why did I put myself through this again?
Play With Me is available for Windows and can be downloaded for free from Game Jolt here.
A Nameless Inheritance
Of course, this Halloween collection of Indie Freebies wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a spooky old mansion. Fittingly then, it turns out that your dearly departed father had been keeping an inheritance from you, a large estate in Scotland that once belonged to your grandfather. A grandfather that you’d never met and your folks never talked about. Perplexed as to the reasons behind all this, and to what value the property might have, you head up north to investigate further.
Drawing on multiple and varied influences, A Nameless Inheritance is an impressively fully featured and ambitious game that blends point-and-click adventure tropes with Silent Hill-type survival horror elements, Flashback-style platforming, and Lovecraft-inspired lore.
You find yourself exploring a huge Resident Evil-esque mansion, replete with multiple floors, dozens of rooms, hidden passages, attics, basements, and secret tunnel complexes (don’t worry, there’s an annotated map that gets updated as you progress!). For the most part you’re left alone to get on with the business of piecing together the richly-detailed and compelling story of your occult-obsessed ancestors, but there’s also a fair bit of running and jumping to be done, and from time to time you’ll be required to defend yourself against the estate’s monstrous inhabitants. However, with ammo in short supply, this largely takes the form of bashing things over the head with a fire poker.
But it’s the inventive, numerous, and pleasantly varied old-school puzzles where A Nameless Inheritance really shines. You need to find keys, decipher codes and riddles, combine and place items in the right places, and solve all manner of logic problems. For good measure there’s even a sudoku puzzle to be tackled. Some puzzles are rather simple and obvious, others are genuinely taxing, but they always feel rewarding and fit in well with the game’s narrative and environments. I must admit it took me ages to fathom out where to place the coins in the fuse box to complete the broken circuits!
I’m currently several hours into A Nameless Inheritance and thoroughly enjoying it. It really is a big and well thought out adventure, nicely complimented by an appropriately creepy atmosphere, a great soundtrack, and the endearing Maniac Mansion-esque visuals. On top of that, in addition to multiple endings, there’s also a playable prologue, set 20 years in the past, hidden away in the extras menu. Now that’s value for money!
My only real complaint is that the overly-sensitive controls do make the more physical aspects of the game rather clumsy at times. Fortunately, combat can be made easier through the difficulty options, which can be altered at any time, and you’re able to save your progress manually at arcane symbols positioned at convenient locations throughout the game. As such, this hardly detracts from what is otherwise a superb experience.
A Nameless Inheritance is available for Windows and can be downloaded for free from itch.io here. However, it’s listed as name your own price, so if you do enjoy it, you should seriously consider making a small contribution to the developers.