This week’s highlighted Indie Freebies are Eight Millimeters, an interactive alien invasion documentary; TRY. DIE. REPEAT., a puzzle platformer where death is your friend; and The Littlest Penguin, a rather psychotic adventure game.
DancingEngie’s Eight Millimetres is a short but intriguing little creation. Made for Adventure Jam 2016 (#AdvJam2016) and set in first-person, it’s an interactive documentary about the men and woman who successfully fought off an alien invasion. It begins with a flashback to the film maker’s childhood, six years before the invaders arrive, where he innocently plays toy guns with his sister. It then abruptly cuts to a montage of his own experiences of the brutal conflict. Returning to the present, some 20 years after the war, the documentary moves on to focus on the accounts of other veterans.
The gameplay comprises interactive interviews, where your dialogue choices have an effect on how the subject responds, and brief but frantic FPS-style re-enactments of the stories told. Rendered in simple but effective Minecraft-style graphics and accompanied by a range of evocative classical music, it’s a thoughtful piece that reflects on the tragedy and loss that underlies all armed conflicts and the broken lives that result.
Eight Millimetres is available for Windows and Mac and can be downloaded for free from itch.io here. However, it is donationware, so if you do like it you should show your appreciation by making a small contribution.
TRY. DIE. REPEAT. is a 2D puzzle platformer from rodolfodth (aka Mad Viking Studio) that was created in seven days for a game jam with the theme “death is useful”. Almost a year old, I stumbled across it in a serendipitous fashion and instantly fell in love.
Evil Labs, the biggest corporation in the world, carry out tests in order to “improve the lives of all living beings”. They’ve recently received an opportunity to experiment on tiny prisoners known as the Cubers. If the Cubers fail their primary test, then the nefarious Cyclops triangles who run the labs will be granted permission to do whatever they want, mwahahahahahah.
A sort of cross between Lemmings and Portal, you have to guide individual Cubers through a challenging test facility. Obstacles include nasty-looking spikes, unreachable ledges, and deadly red tiles (oh no, not the deadly red tiles!). But death is not in vain, because you can use the corpses of previous test subjects as stepping stones across the traps, whereas ingesting poison allows for the stacking up of bodies in order to improvise a gruesome staircase. However, the casualty counter in the top-left corner suggests that the idea is to complete the game with as few deaths as possible. Yeah, right!
Expect a million and one references to Aperture Labs while being goaded and mocked by a sardonic GLaDos-inspired antagonist. It also features some gorgeous pseudo-pixelated graphics and parallax scrolling, plus a funky retro-style soundtrack. I particularly enjoyed the chiptune rendition of Wendy Carlos’ Beethoviana from the A Clockwork Orange soundtrack during the intro. Tragically, there are only two short levels, but there is plenty of scope here for an expansion/sequel, and perhaps we will see this brilliant idea taken further in the future.
TRY. DIE. REPEAT. is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and can also be played in a HTML5 compatible web browser. You can download if for free from Game Jolt here.
Last but not least is The Littlest Penguin from the prolific and ever-creative Suits n’ Nukes, someone who is no stranger to my weekly feature (see here and here). Also one of the entries for Adventure Jam 2016, it’s a short story-based platformer centering on the exploits of a cute little penguin. A little penguin who is different from the rest. He likes adventures and feels that today could possibly be his best adventure yet!
Brilliantly narrated like a Jackanory children’s story, in full-on classically-trained actor voice, it’s dark, twisted, and fun. Lovely visuals too. And for some reason I can’t stop thinking of the intro to James Pond II: Codename RoboCod.
Containing “strong adult humour”, as they say on Adult Swim, it’s probably not for all tastes. However, if you fancy checking out The Littlest Penguin, it can be downloaded for free from Game Jolt here. There is both a Windows and a Flash-based web browser version available.