Following Freeware - October 2015

Following Freeware - October 2015 releases


In a rare light month of new indie adventures, you can travel to an island of talking birds, a house lost in a snowy landscape, or the terrifyingly named Castle Death Spider ™. Alternatively, you could find yourself in a situation that may be all too familiar to the cash-strapped gamer: the quest for rent money. All these await in this month’s roundup of releases from the freeware scene.
 



Willem's Winners


Joeyquest


The gender-ambiguous emo kid Joey and his stickman friend Anon, who has the text “No picture available” floating in front of his faceless head, find themselves on an island whose main feature is an enormous doorway. Joey and Anon don’t care at all about the doorway; they just want to get off the island. The pair happily start exploring but are hindered by the fact that only birds live on the island. When one of the two learns Birdtalk, they find out that by helping the birds with their personal problems they can reach their goal of escaping.

The pixel art graphics of glubbert’s Joeyquest show a detailed view of the island and its inhabitants. The environment and its birds look quite realistic, and everything is drawn in light pastel colors. The animation is good too: Joey moves around with a gait that shows interest and curiosity in the world around him, and Anon walks with a slouch that shows he doesn’t care much. Strangely, there are no sounds whatsoever. All text is displayed in a box that appears in the middle of the screen. When someone or a bird speaks, his/its head is shown next to the text box so you know who is talking. When the game tells you something, like when you have picked something up or made something, the box is a bit smaller and contains one or more options to choose from.

Joey and Anon can be steered across the island using the arrow keys. You can only control one of them at a time, but you can change between them by pressing E, and pressing Q makes the person you aren’t controlling appear on the current screen. Joey and Anon have the unique ability to fuse: when they are close together and the F key is pressed, they fuse into one ‘person’ with the combined abilities of the two. Pressing the F key again makes them unfuse. Between the two of them, you will help them catch a fish, bring booze to a drunkard pelican, and try to help a raven restore her self-confidence, amongst other tasks. Unfortunately, Joeyquest does not allow you to save your game, which means you will have to spend the 30-45 minutes it takes to finish it in one sitting. However, because of its beautiful graphics and the often quite humoristic things Joey, Anon and the birds say and do during the game, playing it is a joy right to the end.

Joeyquest can be played online at Newgrounds.

 

The White Path


Annellie wakes up in a snow-covered garden, next to a freshly filled grave. She feels very cold and disoriented and wonders how long she has been here. But really she just wants to go home. When she gets there she sees a little girl fleeing. Amazed and intrigued, Annellie tries to find out who the girl is and where she went. During her search, she finds patches of thick red liquid everywhere, as well as pages from a book that are smeared with the same fluid, making them mostly unreadable. She also comes into contact with both nasty and friendly ghosts along the way. Gradually, Annellie learns more about her own and the other girl’s current situations, which are stranger than she imagined.

The White Path, by Arty_Vn, was made with RPG Maker and thus shows the action from above in a traditional 45-degree birds-eye view. Most of the items in the game world, which comprises the inside of the house, the big garden outside and a forest, are highly detailed and easily recognizable. Outside everything is covered in pink-colored snow; inside the rooms have different color bases, but the palette everywhere is subdued and radiates an eerie quietness. Ominous but soft music plays throughout the adventure. There are only a few sound effects, like the unlocking and slamming of doors, objects being picked up, etc., which fit the atmosphere well. There are no voices; all text appears in a white-rimmed box at the bottom of the screen.

Players maneuver Annellie with the arrow keys and interact with hotspots using the space bar or Enter key. Escape brings up a menu from which you can view the inventory and save the game. Most of the puzzles are inventory-based and not too hard, particularly since the game uses the appropriate inventory item on hotspots automatically. The only real challenge is in searching for the house key in the garden, which can be quite vexing because there is only a small hint as to where it is hidden. For most other puzzles, hints are scattered throughout the whole house so if you keep paying attention the obstacles shouldn’t pose much of a problem. Annellie is perfectly capable of dying, however, so you need to save early and save often. During play you slowly get an idea of what’s going on, and according to the developer there are four possible endings: two bad ones, a good one and a normal one. The White Path is touching here and there in a story that is quite sad, and with subject matter dealing with topics like death and mental instability, it isn’t particularly suitable for children. It also contains some scenes that can be scary for young ones, despite its somewhat cartoony presentation.

The White Path can be downloaded from the RPG Maker website.

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Related Games

Joeyquest

Platform(s): Mac, PC

The White Path

Platform(s): Mac, PC

You.Me.Heaven

Platform(s): Android, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC, Linux

Flophouse Hijinks

Platform(s): PC



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