20 random free games from the last 8 years

Pierrec

For 8 years, I’ve been covering small indie games/alt games/jam games/weird games/trashgames (I like to call them “interesting games”) on my website Oujevipo.fr. I have written more than 1700 articles, that’s one article every 1,7 days.

To celebrate this 8th anniversary, I thought of making a top: “The top 10 free games from the last 8 years”, that sounded great! But isn’t picking the “best” games quite the opposite of what I’ve been trying to do with this website? Oujevipo.fr isn’t about the “best” games, it’s about those games nobody really notice, the good-but-apparently-not-enough games, the not-intended-to-be-good-in-the-first-place games, the is-this-even-a-game games.

The “best” isn’t what interests me. The “best” is boring. To quote Georges Buckenham “I always liked broken games the best anyway”. How could I make a top list while remaining truthful to this spirit?

And then I got an idea: let me introduce to you 20 random free games from the last 8 years.

Here’s how I will proceed: on Oujevipo.fr, I’ve got a plugin that randomly picks a previous article every time a page is loaded. I call it “reminiscence”. I will click on the first reminiscence, write a few lines about the game based on my memories of it (without playing it or even reading my own article), and start again by clicking the reminiscence on this page. See this as a live stream, without the live and without the stream.

1

Labyrinth — Niall Moody (2010)

I’m so happy with this first random pick! Niall Moody is an artist I’ve been following for a long time and I’ve always been a big fan of his work. If I remember correctly, this game was made for a game jam (maybe the Super Friendship Club Pageant?) and is an actual labyrinth of pictures and words. I’m not sure there’s a way out. If so, I probably never found it.

Read the article (in French)— Play the game

2

Break the limits — Volute (2014)

This is a Ludum Dare game about self-exploration. It takes the “clicker” mechanics and turns them into introspection mechanics. While this is a really clever idea, I don’t remember the game being that good. However, this game was made by Volute, part of the Stormalligator duo whose games I loved so much! What happened to Stormalligator? Their website is down, they haven’t published on their blog or tweeted since 2015. I even tried to reach them by e-mail in 2016 but got a delivery error message. From what I know, Break the limits is the last game any of them published on the internet. Damn. I wasn’t expecting this little exercise to make me sad.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

3

Vertical Drop Heroes — Nerdook (2010)

Remember Nerdook? He was one of the flash portal era superstar! What is he doing now? (Oh! Looks like he released a game on steam this year, I should try it out http://store.steampowered.com/app/496620/Monster_Slayers/). Anyway, from what I remember, Vertical Drop Heroes is about going down some kind of tower by jumping on monsters’ heads. But I might mix it with Downwell. Did Vertical Drop Heroes inspire Downwell?

I loved Vertical Drop Heroes when it came out (eh, I covered it!), but I’m not sure I would like it as much today. I guess my tastes changed.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

4

Ramble Planet — Willy Electrix (2014)

Ooooooh! I totally forgot about that one! What was it even about? I have no idea! I think it’s some kind of RPG, but I don’t remember fighting monsters or anything like that. I do remember finding weird items and not knowing what to do with them. Anyway, it sure looks pretty, and look: it was released on Ouya! That’s 2014 alright!

Read the article (in French)— Play the game

5

Errance — HeskHwis (2015)

Tough luck: while 99% (probably) of the games covered on oujevipo.fr are in English, this one is written in French! I would love to translate the text from the screenshot for the non-french readers but it is quite impossible: the text is full of untranslatable puns on the word “walk”. Maybe that’s what this game was about: clicking “Walk” and getting puns in return. But I feel there was something more to it. Eh, only one way to find out.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

6

Little Knight’s Tiny World — Alchymy (2012)

I’m pretty sure this one was made for the Ludum Dare whose theme was “Tiny World”. I guess the goal was to jump from planet to planet and grab all the dots while avoiding our pursuers. It doesn’t feel pretty innovative right now, but maybe it was back then?

Read the article (in French)— [Game not available anymore]

7

The Journey of me — Alice Carel, Florian Coppier, Sylvain Murat, Cécile Cazeau, Adrien Bernard (2017)

Ha! A game from this very year! Of course, I remember it quite well, but I can’t tell much about it because it’s one of those twist-based games. A good one. Try it. This game raises a question though: you might not have noticed but out of 7 randomly picked games, 4 are made by french people (Break the limits, Errance, Little Knight’s Tiny World and this one). Is it just a coincidence or is Oujevipo’s randomness algorithm especially chauvinistic?

Read the article (in French) Play the game

8

CAVE! WAX SOPPY, BAWDY ZZ SCAM SCAM — Pyrofoux (2014)

Oh. My. God. It IS chauvinistic! Here’s another french game! Or maybe it’s me? Maybe I tend to cover a lot of french games? Anyway, I have absolutely no memory of Cave! Wax yada yada. None. It probably isn’t very good. Pyrofoux is a great developer however, and I would suggest you to try his other games.

Read the article (in French) — [Game not available anymore]

9

Saturday’s Night Symbiosis — Pierrec (2014)

Ok, this is getting embarassing. Not only this is another french game, but it is a game I made! To be honest, I was expecting this to happen. I made more than 30 games and “covered” each of them on oujevipo.fr (don’t judge me!). This one is clearly not my favorite, but I still like it a lot. I tried really hard to invent another way to tell stories, and I think I succeeded! In this game, you’re inviting people to your 30th birthday, and the party takes different turns depending on who you invited. The art is shitty, but hey, this was made in 48h by someone who can’t draw!

Read the article (in French) Play the game

10

RMBR — Pitoum (2014)

…At this point, I’m not expecting anyone to believe this selection is really random. Because not only Pitoum is another french game developer, he’s also a very good friend. I would like to tell you how good RMBR is, how it’s a super clever new way to approach interactive fiction (especially for mobile), but would you even trust me?

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

11

YCOM: Enemy Unlikely — GrilledCheese100 (2013)

I’m a huge fan of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but back in 2013, when GrilledCheese100 released YCOM: Enemy Unlikely, I still had never played it. So I played the demake before the actual game and I loved it! Maybe it’s even the reason I bought Enemy Unknown. With YCOM, you get exactly what you see: an XCOM-like game (only the tactical part) but with cute pixel-art graphics instead of ungraceful isometric graphics from the 90s. And why wouldn’t you want that?

Read the article (in French)— Play the game

12

Clocked in — Ryleigh (2013)

What is Clocked in? I don’t really remember, but judging by the screenshot, it’s about racing against the clock, quite literally. Was this race rhythm-based? I’m not sure, but anyway, it’s nice to see a game using the idea of timer so cleverly.

Read the article (in French) — [Game not available anymore]

13

Jacob and the Magic Piano -Nerdook (2011)

Another Nerdook game! What are the odds? I have no idea how that game is played. I guess it’s about “preventing the ghosts from reaching the stars” and using music to “create blocks”, but honestly, I only remember a messy gameplay. Innovative, sure, but messy. Probably not one of Nerdook’s best ones.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

14

Hexagon — Terry Cavanagh (2012)

Ha! Does this one really need an introduction? Maybe some people do not now that before being one of the first indie mobile hits, Super Hexagon was a game jam game? This is the game jam game. I think I only covered Hexagon because of Super Hexagon’s success. Early 2012, I was much more interested in Terry Cavanagh’s narrative games, and when Hexagon came out, I was like “Geee, who wants an arcade game from Terry Cavanagh? Tell us stories instead!”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

15

The Monster in me — Alice Rendell et Gauthier André (2016)

Imagine Telltale’s The Walking Dead, but with choices that actually impact the story. That’s The Monster in me. Or at least what I remember of it. Of course it’s way shorter than a Walking Dead episode, and not as pretty, but here, the dialogue lines you pick really matter, and there are several different endings to discover.

Read the article (in French)— Play the game

16

Asylopole — Rockmil (2012)

Another french game. Another game in french. This is an adventure game set in a cyberpunk/noir universe but what makes it really interesting to me is that it was made with RPGMaker. Can you believe it? Look at the screenshot: does it looks like RPGMaker to you? I don’t even know how they did this! The bad news is: Asylopole doesn’t seem to be available anymore. The good news is its developer seems to be working on a commercial version.

Read the article (in French) — [Game not available anymore]

17

Parable of the Polygons — Nicky Case & Vi Hart (2016)

One of the most important “games” of 2016. That’s when Nicky Case stopped being “the :the game: kid” or “the Coming Out Simulator guy” to become “the guy who makes playable experiments that EVERYBODY needs to play!”. If you haven’t played it yet, well…you should. Not only you’ll probably learn a few things, but you’ll also witness the power of the video game medium.

Read the article (in French) Play the game

18

Let’s Protest — Matthias Zarzecki (2012)

I have a confession to make: I cheated. I wrote something about Let’s Protest, then read my article from 2012, realized how wrong what I just wrote was, and erased everything. It is important that I don’t say anything false about Let’s Protest. Why? Because the game isn’t available anymore (blame Unity Web Player). So: Let’s Protest was about joining existing protests to get actual things in the game (new hats, snow, etc). A really funny idea based on a Peter Molydeux tweet.

Read the article (in French) — [Game not available anymore]

19

Greetings — Lowpolis (2017)

A game from last October. It will probably be the most recent game from that list (but there’s one last game to pick so who knows?). Greetings is a game about secret handshakes and is as hard as it is funny. I would love to tell you more about it but I just can’t wait any longer to know what the last game of this selection will be!

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

20

The Heart Attack — Jordan Magnuson (2011)

Oh. Interesting choice. This game was part that gametrekking thing Jordan Magnuson did. The idea was to make games all around the world, along his travels. I don’t have many memories of this one. But I do remember The Kindness of Strangers pretty well, even though it was released before. I guess this one wasn’t as good? Or maybe I didn’t get it? But then, why would I had written about it?

[Edit: I played it again : it’s great!]

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

You know what? Finishing with a game I don’t quite remember is quite frustrating. Plus: I’m having a lot of fun. Let’s turn this “top 20” in a “top 30”!

21

Post/Capitalism — Colestia (2017)

Another game released really recently (November). A very good take on how to dismantle capitalism. To get rid of weeds, you need to pull it out from the roots. Post/Capitalism helps understanding what the roots are.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

22

A Fine Day in the Parking lot — Patrik Liljecrantz (2011)

I know this game isn’t available anymore because I already considered writing its epitaph last year in A Maze Magazine (p10–11). I eventually didn’t because I hadn’t enough memories of it. As you can guess, it’s even worse now. I only remember that this game was about shooting things, and that I loved it, which is weird, because I usually don’t like shooting things.

Read the article (in French)— [Game not available anymore]

23

Cosmic Heist -Kevin Wells (2011)

I wrote the vast majority of articles on Oujevipo.fr, but, for a brief moment (a single Ludum Dare) I accepted reviews from readers. Cosmic Heist’s review is one of them, it was written by Skywilly from Game Side Story. It means I haven’t even played Cosmic Heist, but I welcome it in this list and will probably try it later!

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

24

Glimby — thecatamites (2016)

It’s hard to tell what’s Glimby is about, but once again it’s hard to tell what any thecatamites’ game is about. This one might not be his best nor his weirdest (isn’t it the same thing?) but I still would recommend it!

Read the article (in French) Play the game

25

Heir & Sky Serpent — Antony Lavelle & Nitrome (2010)

Another oddity! I usually cover one game at a time but once, just once, I covered two games in a single article. Of course randomness picked it. What was I expecting? There’s a reason why I covered those two games simultaneously, it’s because they both reminded me of Shadow of the Colossus, which is weird because I never played Shadow of the Colossus. If you’re looking for pure fun, play Sky Serpent. If you’re looking for awe, go for Heir instead.

Read the article (in French) Play HeirPlay Sky Serpent

26

SMS Leaks — Hadrien Bibard, Pierre Chabiland & Pierrec (2015)

Aaaaaaaaand another game of mine! Randomness is weird. I didn’t make this one alone though. It’s a text-messages based game about the refugees crisis in Europe, in french. You can think of it as a proto-Bury Me My Love. (What? You haven’t played Bury Me My Love? Maybe you should). I was convinced that SMS Leaks was inspired by the mobile game Lifeline, but, as it turns out, we actually released it months before. Memory too is weird.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

27

Ragtag — Doug Cowley (2014)

An innovative roguelike made for a 7 Days Roguelike Challenge, from the guy who made Hoplite. This one might not be as good as Hoplite (since Hoplite is the best game. Ever. I’m not being dramatic. Ok maybe a little.) But it’s still very good as far as I remember. In Ragtag, you get to change youself into a squid, a bear, and another animal I don’t quite remember. An owl maybe? [Edit: the third animal was a transdimensional creature, duh!]

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

28

Orion — Feiss (2014)

I know Orion is good, but I don’t remember why. I can’t help mixing it with Al-One, which is a spaceship simulator in real time, which means you actually have to wait years before getting anywhere. Maybe Orion does the same thing? Maybe it does it better? Worse? Who knows? I did.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

29

Asphyx — Droqen

If I had to make a real top 30 of my favorite games from the last 8 years (I mean not a random-based one), Asphyx could still have been picked. As the screenshot says: Asphyx is a game about you. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s say that few games manage to immerse the player as Asphyx does.

Read the article (in French)— Play the game

30

Train Song — Dreamfeel, Dave McCabe, Ronan Quigley (2014)

That’s it! That’s a good way to finish! Train song is how I discovered the work of Dreamfeel, and I’m glad I did because she kept doing awesome stuff! I can’t wait for If Found Please Return to come out: it’s a very clever and beautiful narrative flatgame. Why am I talking about If Found Please Return? Because I don’t actually remember much about Train Song. But since my work is done here, I might go play it immediately. I hope you had as much fun as I did (re)discovering these games, and I wish you the best for 2018.

Read the article (in French) — Play the game

Pierrec

Written by

Pierrec

Journalist, writer, game designer http://pierrecorbinais.com/

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