Freeware Annarian Games


I have been writing about free-ish and freeware games since 2006 and playing them since the 8-bit era and, well, I decided that compiling (and maintaining/updating) a list of the very best would be a mighty fine idea. Especially if it focused on games that never required you to pay anything. Sooo... here it is then:

[Latest update: 23 June 2014]



Action:

The Suffering: Formerly commercial, distinctly shocking and always fun. Also developed by the aptly named Surreal Software.

Hydorah: Locomalito's wondrous and taxing shmup; it should have come in a cabinet...

The Cat That Got The Milk: Navigating Kandinsky requires decent reflexes...

Privates: In which excellently rendered, condom wearing soldiers battle those pesky STDs.

Tribly: Art of Theft: Yahtzee's excellently stealthy steal-'em-up.

Fragment: Be stealthy while shattering stuff in a visually glorious offering.

Seiklus: An early indie classic and a wonderful exploration action-adventure.

Scavenger: In its shiny NES-like graphical armour it is simply dashing. Also sports jetpacks and cave (or, well, cave-like) environments.

Paradise Lost: Yes, the same.

The Ur-Quan Masters: Essentially they undying (not undead) Star Control 2 and thus an amazing action, strategy, exploration, RPG mega-game.

Hide And Seek: Scaaaaaaaaaaaary. Boo!




Adventure:

The Fabulous Screech: Is fabulous.

The Last Door: Excellent series of highly stylized, deeply atmospheric, well designed and Lovecraft-inspired point-and clickers.

Mudlarks: Supernatural secrets help sustain digitized friendships and create lovely point-and-click mysteries.

Annie Android: Automated Affection: AGS cartoon adventure anyone? It's got a hot mailbot in it, you know.

Sarien.net: Not a game per se, but rather a way to enjoy some classic Sierra adventures online and in a lovably silly multiplayer environment. Larry and Space Quest should be the first ones to try.

Nanobots: Unique point-and-click adventure sporting lovable robots and innovative mechanics.

Space Quest - Vohaul Strikes Back: A fan sequel of sorts and the first full-length Space Quest adventure in over a decade.

^_^: For it silly and crafted by a Ben.

Space Quest: Decisions of the Elders: Over 30 rooms of extensive Roger Wilco shenanigans.

Warthogs: People that not necessarily hate but, well, dislike Harry Potter and love adventure games should probably play this little gem. It's a short, sweet, pixelated, impressively crafted and occasionally sarcastic.

The Book of Living Magic: A wondrous, excellently written, funny and touching offering by Jonas Kyratzes that comes complete with the whimsical art of Verena Kyratzes.

The Infinite Ocean: No, I'm not tired of Kyratzes' games. This is a sci-fi one and it's excellent.

The Snakes of Avalon: Takes place in a pub, is smart, funny and revels in alcohol-induced hallucinations.

The Curfew: Dystopian, oppressive and written by Kieron Gillen. Oh, and the FMV in it is simply impressive.

Eternally Us: Point-and-click to love, life and friendship.

Digital: A Love Story: Enter the world of the '80s BBS in this wonderful and actually unique adventure game.

What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed: The only adventure game featuring two stories for you to simultaneously enjoy. A triumph of innovation that sadly lacks in the guns department, but makes up for it with its taxing puzzles and super secret ending.

Dead Cyborg: Episodic, fisrt-person, point-and-click adventures in SPACE.

Egress - The Test of STS-417: Horror in outer space in a stunningly illustrated point-and-clicker.

The Rebirth / The Reaper: Two games sharing at least one in-game painting; also, two excellent, short adventures by Ben Chandler and Francisco Gonazlez.

Maniac Mansion Deluxe: Truly excellent remake of Ron Gilbert's classic by the now defunct LucasFan Games.



Arcade:

The Button Affair: More stylish than a particularly stylish thing and an endless runner.

Frets on Fire: The indie version of Guitar Hero (or indeed Rock Band) that sports a ton of available content.

Snow Tale: Inspired by Snow Bros but actually original; wouldn't look out of place in an early 90s arcade.

Forget Me Not: Vaguely reminiscent of Pac-Man, this thing offer quite a bit of shooting and a ton of apparently hand-picked colours.

Maldita Castilla: An utterly stunning arcade adventure by Locomalito.

Dino Quake: Fantastic web-base take on the classic SnowBros formula with some of the chunkiest pixels you have ever seen.



Interactive Fiction:

Blue Lacuna: The evolution of interactive fiction.

Dead Like Ants: Literary fun with insects.

Masters of Constantinople: Text away in a tale of intrigue, mystery and Byzantine betrayals while the Empire crumbles and knowledge has to be preserved.

Arcadia - pastoral tale: Play it for its rich setting, subtly subversive ideas, whimsical creatures and the sheer quality and quantity of its words.

Behind Closed Doors 5: The latest of the famous Zenobi series of quirky text-adventures, as always sporting a Balrog.

Calm: No genre can avoid the walking dead.

Cryptozookeeper: A huge, polished, well-written and lavishly illustrated piece of interactive fiction filled with weird animals and sporting tons of characters, a lovely soundtrack, odd visuals and quite a bit of splatterpunk-iness.

Fragile Shells: Escape the room; in space.

Zombies & Elephants: Everything can be mixed with everything else if you know how to write. And Verena Kyratzes does.

Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean: Imagine if you will a great tower in the ocean. Imagine zeppelins flying around it. Imagine odd scholars and weird language. Now play this.

Weird City Interloper: Unique dialog-based exploration and a wonderfully demented city to explore.

Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom: Filled with digital feelies this lost text-adventure that never really existed will let you parley with and regard thing in the Viraxian Empire.

The People's Glorious Text Adventure: In Soviet Russia texts adventure YOU!

Rogue of the Multiverse: New mechanics, a fanstastic sci-fi setting and excellent writing by Pacian.

Poizoned Mind: Adult, text heavy, hilarious and smart like a smart thing.

Pac-Txt: Pac-Man meets Zork and things get silly and almost fun.

The Play: Wonderful, polished choose-your-own adventure kind of interactive fiction by Deirdra Kiai in which you manage them loony acting people.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: By the great Douglas Adams and Infocom, all polished up and made available for free. Hilarious and downright frustrating.

Facade: The next step in AI development or the evolution of the Sims and cyber-voyeurs? No matter what you think, you really have a look at this innovative almost-gamy piece of software.



Platformers:

Spelunky: One of the greatest games ever. Ever! Also what Rick Dangerous should have been.

Poacher: Metroidvania done by wise game critic and accomplished adventure designer Yahtzee and done right. Also, with a healthy doses of humour and bunnies.

Alphaland: This platformer has the best plot ever seen in a platformer. Also sports some pretty platformy platforms.

Tiny Barbarian: Difficult and short, but this fantasy themed run-and-hack game offers some beautiful pixel graphics, amazing animations and a lovely chiptune soundtrack.

L'Abbaye des Morts: Fantastic production that comes close to besting Jet Set Willy.

Phenomenon 32: Much more than a simple platformer, Phenomenon 32 is a huge, black and white, fully voice acted game with an added strategic layer.

Treasure Adventure Game: Platforms set in a huge open world.

Cave Story: A rather cute indie monument.

La Mulana: Freeware metroidvania straight from 2005 with a distinct MSX aesthetic.

Volcosis: A gloriously confusing platformer that's both 2D and 3D.

Tobias and the Dark Scepters: 13 years in the making with the documentary to prove this.



Retro Remakes:

Gods Deluxe: A remake of the brutal Bitmap Bros fighting platformer.

Beats of Rage: Always thought that Streets of Rage can't get any better, didn't you? Well, think again.

Thrust Extreme: With its lovely entourage of arcadey and neon lighted retro remakes. Obvious highlight said reimagining of Thrust.

Space Quest II - Vohaul's Revenge: Sierra's brutal yet funny sci-fi adventure has never looked better.

King's Quest III Redux: You know you want it; I knew I had to review it.

Ant Attack (ZX81): because nobody, really, expected this.

Hurrican = Turrican

SWIV Decimation: One of the best shmups for the Amiga brilliantly remade.

Oolite: Amazing and highly modular remake of classic space exploration game Elite.

Planet M.U.L.E.: Based on the C64 multiplayer strategic classic, this is a fantastic race for space colonization with beautifully remade graphics and sounds.

Typhoon 2001: An excellent Tempest remake.

Abadia Del Crimen Remake: The Name of the Rose inspired classic, classically remade.

OnEscapee: Obviously inspired by Another World, this is classic arcade-adventure gaming at its best and appropriately a remake/update of an Amiga game now released as freeware. Smart puzzles, difficult fighting scenes, amazing animation and some brilliant art are the chief reasons you have to download it.



RPGs:

Barkley, Shut Up & Jam: Gaiden: A surreal, vast, funny and quite frankly excellent CRPG of sorts.

Dark Disciples 2: Traditional, fantasy RPG-ing from a top-down perspective.

UnReal World RPG (URW): Incredibly deep and detailed rogue-like graphical RPG that's almost accessible be mere mortals and explores a low-fantasy version of the European Far North.

Lands of Lorez: Because pixelating a dungeon crawler is a very wise thing to do; all unnameable horrors get -1 eyes.

Runesword II: A CRPG designed to appeal to us pen & paper RPGers. The thing features turn-based strategic combat, 50+ skills, races and several full-length adventures & worlds.

Zangband: One of the best and most beautiful roguelikes around.

The Ruins of Cawdor: Sierra's final installment in their online RPG series has now been patched, upgraded, generally messed around with, turned into a single player hack 'n' slash dungeon romp for modern PCs.

86856527: Not exactly an RPG, but it sure is deep, wonderful and confusing.

Avant-garde: A different kind of roleplaying, but not the one involving whips. Lovers of 19th century art will, uhm, love it.

Deepfall Dungeon: It's quite a bit like Eye of the Beholder.

As Was Foretold: Train your hero, be sadistic and evil, yet save the world.

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall: The same.



Shooters:

The Marathon Trilogy: Top quality FPS offerings from the era before HALO and after the Mac was invented. Playable on everything with a keyboard.

Duke Nukem 2.5: Much better than forever.

Traitor: A shmup with an excellently written plot and a huge world to explore. Utterly unique.

Wing Commander Saga: Shooting with a bit of simulation thrown in and it's all happening in the Wing Commander universe.

Left 4k Dead: Just like Valve's zombie shooter only vastly different and in a mere 4kb.

GUN GODZ: Gangster rap on Venus shooting by Vlambeer.

Cube 2 Sauerbraten: It's got its own graphics and physics engine and looks all shiny and lovely. A technically impressive FPS and one that seems to have been created with oldschool gamers in mind. Fast and simple both in single and in multi-player mode.

8bit Killer: An aesthetically brilliant and quite challenging take on the classic FPS formula.



Strategy:

Naked War: The brilliant two-player strategy game the Pickford Brothers developed finally got itself a free play mode.

UFO Alien Invasion: Deeply tactical and inspired by the classic X-COM / UFO series.

American Dream: Sort of a life management sim, only this time around you'll be able to buy an in-game ZX Spectrum.

Battle for Wesnoth: Ever evolving turn-based fantasy fun in 16 glorious bits.

Dwarf Fortress: You simply cannot ask for a deeper gaming experience than this. Difficult to grasp, impossible to master, yet a true, procedural masterpiece.

FreeCiv: Remember Civilization? Well, FreeCiv isn't as polished, looks dated and relatively simple, but it's free and quite excellent. And it is Civ (FreeCiv, but still...).

Twitchy Thrones: Very simply real time strategy ludum dare thing I simply cannot put down. Well, metaphorically.



Unique/Experimental Stuff:

Gravity Bone: A rather more novel use of that ageing Q3 engine. Brilliant, beautiful and innovative.

Masq: An interactive story for grown-ups.

Enviro-Bear 2000: The outrageous winner of the TIG Source Cockpit competition and the only game to ever let you play as a bear.

Unmanned: Thoughtprovoking, wildly innovative and humane.

Oiche Mhaith: By Terry Cavanagh and Increpare.

At A Distance: Another utterly unique game by Terry Cavanagh; ideal if you live in an expo centre.

You Shall Know The Truth: Politics, Wikileaks, Surrealism.

Leaky World: Molleindustria managed to turn political theory into game mechanics.

Liberal Crime Squad: Because satire cannot fit into genres.

Will You Ever Return Trilogy: Beyond bizarre and at times delightfully unsettling.

Opera Omnia: Still waiting for someone to explain this to me.

Experiment 12: By Terry Cavanagh, Jack King-Spooner, Ian Snyder, Zaratustra, Richard Perrin, Michael Brough, Robert Yang, Alan Hazelden, Benn Powell, Jasper Byrne, Jake Clover and TheBlackMask.



Simulation:

Orbiter 2010: The most realistic and cost-effective of exploring space available to the modern gentleman. Also works with ladies.

An American Dream: Well, it does simulate stuff and is a game by Terry Cavanagh.

Sweatshop: Food for thought.

Every Day The Same Dream: The ultimate and utterly depressing life sim.

trAInspotted: This, reader, is how you program trains. Seriously.

Love Hotel: Simulating a dream job with chunky pixels.



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