In this edition of Free Games What Need Playing, we’ll be delving into the concept of life and death. You’ll gain a unique perspective of the food chain as you gobble up the scurrying masses as a gigantic annelid. You’ll also get to murder hundreds upon hundreds of pixelated creatures, possibly to extinction. You’ll even get a rare glimpse at humanity as seen through the eyes of something not of this earth.
What you choose to do with this knowledge rests squarely on your shoulders, but no matter the outcome we hope you at least have fun playing.
Some may be browser-based and others might require a download, but they’re all free and very much worth your time. They won’t all be brand-spanking new, but just because they’ve been floating around the internet for a while doesn’t mean everyone has heard of them before, right? With that in mind, welcome to this week’s Games What Need Playing.
The “Giant Worm Eats Everything” genre (sweet!) has had its share of releases, but with the exception of Deceased Pixel’s Mega Worm for the iPhone (if you have an iDevice, you need to get Mega Worm) none of them come close to Worm Food‘s level of quality and humor.
At war with the humans for centuries, it’s finally time to put and end to it. And by “end” I mean “eat all the little meat-sacks.” You’ll have a limited amount of time to eat a number of different humans, but once you hit that number you’re free to destroy and devour until the timer runs out (for the high score) or just jump ahead to the next stage. At first it’s as simple as aiming at a hapless snack as they wander around the surface, then erupting from the ground while pulling them into your gaping maw before once again tunneling through the bowels of the earth in search of another victim. Get a couple more stages into the game and the levels become much less cut-and-dry, requiring you to deftly spring out of a cliff face, free fall through the chasm, snag a meal standing on a bridge spanning the two sides and diving right back into the wall. Later stages will even throw in hazards like floating islands (dig too deep and you’re dead).
There are no special power ups to complicate the experience and no new moves to learn, so you’ll need to rely on your skills to make it through the tough stages. The controls couldn’t be much simpler as you’ll steer with the left and right arrow keys while accelerating with the up arrow (or WASD if you’d like). Sure, in the end it’s pretty much a kind of falling-physics-based puzzle platformer, but it’s one that casts you as a giant friggin’ worm. Who gets to eat people.
The beautiful 16-bit retro visual style is probably what will pull most people in, but it’s just the gravy on the side dish for one hell of a splendid meal.
It’s difficult to talk about ImmorTall without spoiling it. Sure, I could just blab about everything, but that would totally ruin the profound effect that playing it is bound to have on you. It’s also difficult to talk about it in general as it’s a bit hard to pin down. Suffice it to say it’s less a video game and more an interpretive piece of interactive media chronicling humanity through the eyes of an alien visitor.
ImmorTall is incredibly simple from a gameplay standpoint: you can move left and right, and that’s it. As you walk, the music shifts and a touching (among other things) visual story presents itself to you. Different people may draw their own conclusions, seeing as nothing is spelled-out for you, but regardless it’s quite possible that you’ll find yourself a bit choked up by the end. In many ways, it shares a lot with Xbox Live Arcade’s recent Limbo in that it uses mostly stylized black and white imagery and feels more like an experience than a game.
Even with these basic descriptors it’s still pretty difficult to imagine what you’ll be getting into once you click that link. Well, if you want a by-the-numbers summation then this will have to do: You’re an alien who crash-lands on earth and quickly befriends a young girl (and eventually her family). The game lasts mere minutes, but its message will stick with you long after. There are no high scores to track and no slots to save with, you just walk and try to reach the end.
I apologize that I can’t give you more to go on, but believe me, it’s in your best interest to play it “blind” that first time.
Realm of the Mad God
It’s difficult for anyone with even the slightest inkling of Old-School sensibilities to dislike Realm of the Mad God. The pixelated artwork and insane Gauntlet-style fighting and level grinding alone should be enough to get folks excited. If you still need more to go on before clicking the link above and waving bye-bye to your free time, then read on.
The idea is very simple: you select a character class, name your character, then start playing. You run around the pixelated world, shooting spells, arrows or swords at various monsters that shoot other things right back and attempt to get experience and loot to make killing more (and stronger) enemies easier. So it’s basically a hack-n-slash game. Basically. You see, there’s just a bit more to it than that.
For one thing, Realm of the Mad God is also an MMO. So at any given time there will be lots of other players on the map killing things and occasionally sharing some nice loot. Beginners should probably keep the default “automatically use whatever server is available” setting, but there is an option to use specific servers should you meet some players you’d like to continuously quest with. But don’t let the MMO-ness worry you, there’s no PVP. Of course, it’s still possible for people to grief you by stealing dropped loot, but the game is to frantic and enemies are so plentiful the chances of someone finding your loot drop, let alone surviving the torrent of enemy fire long enough to take your stuff, are pretty slim.
Another thing that sets Realm of the Mad God apart is that death is permanent. If you make a character and they die, that’s it. They’re gone and there’s nothing you can do to bring them or their gear back. This sucks, of course, but it also encourages smarter and more cautious play. So if you want to keep that level twelve Warrior that you’ve spent a bit of time on, you’d better keep lots of health potions on you, stay out of giant swarms of enemies or find yourself a group to play with.
Death isn’t all bad though. If you manage to max out your character at level twenty, there’s a good chance you’ll have unlocked a new class to play with. Aside from looking different (and giving you possible bragging rights), each of these new classes also offers different special abilities that will have various effects on your party or your enemies.
So why should you be interested in this game? Because it’s fun. Because it’s addicting. Because it’s a quirky little throwback browser-based MMORPG with the combined blood of Gauntlet and Half-Minute Hero flowing through its veins. And if that’s not enough of a reason to play it then why are you even reading this?