Weekly Free Games (August 2015)

Limbo (PS4)

Limbo was Patient Zero in the Art School Platformer revival. Take basic platformer mechanics, overlay it with some moody, spooky, arty graphics and a story about loss of childhood innocence, and boom, critical acclaim. The PS4 version is nice, but it's a physics-based puzzle platformer that relies HEAVILY on trial and error gameplay. You've heard of learning by doing? Well, Limbo is learning by dying. Sometimes the game provides both the visual cues and the time needed to interpret them so that you can puzzle it out in advance, and sometimes the game fucking lies to you visually and laughs as you get squished.

I don't automatically object to this, but if you're going to do this to me, the five to ten seconds required for your artsy death animations and fade-out before a restart will eventually get on my nerves and make me stop playing. Still, the animation and art is really and truly excellent and creepy stuff, and a lot of the physics in the gameplay are solid.

Stealth Inc. 2: A Game Of Clones (PS4, PS3, Vita)

As far as I can tell, this is a cross between a Metroidvania game, a stealth game, and a FOMO simulator. Most of my time with the game was spent entirely on being driven through navigational and platforming challenges without any clue as to what was actually going on. Once the intro was over, I went through a more sedate set of puzzle/platforming challenges, but I was also shown things I couldn't reach. Was I just missing something that would have let me get them? Or was I supposed to come back through later once I got more abilities? I don't know. The game didn't tell me. And I wasn't willing to persevere long enough to find out.

Lara Croft And The Temple Of Osiris (PS4)

This is the second in a series of smaller, downloadable, 3/4 isometric perspective Lara Croft games that combine elements of Gauntlet, a twin-stick shooter, and a puzzle platformer. I like it quite a bit, actually - it's fluff, but it's fairly attractive and entertaining fluff. This is the game I'm most likely to keep installed and go back to in the future.

God of War: Ascension (PS3)

When I saw this, I thought it was the PSP game that got re-released for PS3, but that's Chains of Olympus, plus there was a second PSP game I never played and they were re-released for PS3 together as God of War: Origins. Turns out it's the obligatory post-trilogy "use the engine, make some new content, add an online multiplayer mode" fourth game we saw way too much of in previous generations. Anyway, the single-player of this is definitely worth free. It's very much like God of War III, with the ridiculous camera stuff, the whole "moving the landscape around" fighting, etc. It gets a little tedious, but it's mostly fun.

Sound Shapes (PS4, PS3, Vita)

I bought this late last year based on good reviews and a sale and never got into it. It's one of those games that's so focused on user-generated content that the core content, while not bad, kind of takes a back seat. So it's a bit like an abstract indie Little Big Planet in that aspect. Still, now it's free.

Castlestorm Complete Edition (PS3, Vita

Hey, I hated this game when it was free on the XBox One, and I'm not worried about my XBox One's hard drive filling up. But hey, if you want to play a mediocre 2-D phone game on your TV and don't have an XBox One, you can do so for zero dollars.

Too Many Me (XBox One)

Another 2-D puzzle platformer. This one tries to have some clever writing, with limited success, but VERY clunk platforming mechanics lead to very quick frustration. Also, how many more puzzle platformers does the world need at this point?

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (XBox One)

Another game that was already free on another system earlier. It's pretty and it's Metal Gear and that's fine if you're into that kind of thing.

Metro 2033 (XBox 360)

A dark, futuristic FPS in the vein of the Resistance games. The sequel, Last Light, will be free starting the second half of the month and it'll get a mention in next month's article. Metro 2033 is gray and brown and Russian and post-apocalyptic and after the prologue, following a cutscene where I was killed or hauled away by some kind of flying mutant, the game said "8 days earlier..." and I shut it off.