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Information wants to be Free, just like these games

John

(he/him)
All the game delivery platforms hand out freebies from time to time, to get you in the virtual door. I'm not talking the Free to Play model, or games offered as part of a subscription, but games that were once sold at a fair price, but are now at an even lower price of Zero Dollars. I'm also leaving out things that may be of a questionable nature, like archive.org collections or abandonware. I don't have anything against those personally, just am focusing on things that have no questions on their legality.

Good Old Games

GOG just has random giveaways, usually offering a single game for 48 hours to coincide with their other sales.

Serious Sam: The First Encounter. Shoot dozens if not hundreds of enemies in a single level, most with super dumb AI that's just going to charge straight at you. This is the original version, which is almost 20 years old. It also makes me feel very old, because I bought this when it first came out, when I was 20 years old.

Epic Games Store

Epic's deal is they always have 2 to 3 free games available, and they cycle them out on a weekly basis. Usually the games are from Indie studios of varying levels of quality, but free games are still free.

Enter the Gungeon. Haven't played this, but looks like a fun bullet hell-ish top down shmup type game.

God's Trigger. Screenshots make this look like Hotline Miami, or maybe Postal. Eh.

Next week on Epic: Hitman, the new episodic one, collected in a single game, and Shadowrun Collection. Heard good things about both of those!

Aleph One

Not a game delivery platform, but everyone should play the Marathon Trilogy at some point, and it has never been easier, or cheaper. Bungie released both the Marathon 2/Infinity engine source code and the games content to the internet at large, and the fan community made it into something that works on modern computers. It had some growing pains working through the bugs, but now the engine's rock solid, and all games look and feel great. Play them!
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
You can get all the No One Lives Forever games, patched and working in Windows 10, here. You should absolutely get these games.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Would it be bad to mention that just about any old PC game you might be interested in is probably located somewhere on the Internet Archive?
 

John

(he/him)
Would it be bad to mention that just about any old PC game you might be interested in is probably located somewhere on the Internet Archive?
Nope! I mentioned it in the beginning, as it's a better option than sketchy torrents or warez sites (if those still exist), but you should still keep aware of what you're clicking on. I thought about linking to the NOLF games, but those are definitely in the abandonware category. I was just trying to keep it on the total up and up.

Rockstar used to have Grand Theft Auto 1 & 2 on their American site free to download, but they've taken them down. They're still available on their Ukraine website, though. I would treat this with caution though, just make sure your antivirus is up to date.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Like Cave Story, but don’t want to support the racist jackass that apparently now owns the IP? The original freeware version can still be found here if you need a copy.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I'm honestly really happy that Epic is bringing some serious competition to Steam on the PC, and getting a ton of free games in the deal is a nice bonus. I must have 60-70 games on my Epic account now and I think I paid for four of them? Gungeon is honestly not a game that I liked very much, but there have been some serious bangers in the free games section in the past.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
They're also generous with discounts and coupons. I've bought a few games on Epic in addition to the free stuff and most of them have been half off or more. Control and Outer Worlds I got for maybe $30 each?
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Yup. They aren't doing it from the goodness of their hearts, but Steam really needed some competition and I'm happy to benefit from this battle for hearts and minds. Plus, for all the ridiculous stuff Epic has been doing lately vs. Apple and Google, the higher cut really is better for developers. The Epic games launcher isn't as robust as Steam yet, but it's coming along and I haven't had any major issues with it. I'd definitely put it above uPlay and maybe even Origin in terms of how enjoyable it is to use.
 

jpfriction

You'll never take my hat away
I paid full price for control when it came out and have been diligently downloading every free game since then. In for a penny and all that. May even play some of them one day!
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Honestly launcher features don't mean much to me. I only install a few games at a time anyway, so whatever I currently wants to play goes in Favorites.

Is the Control DLC worth it? I haven't gotten that yet.
 

Vidfamne

Half Machine Beak Moves
Endless Sky is a spaceflight-themed adventure / somewhat-strategic shootygame "sandbox". It was probably built with Escape Velocity: Nova in mind, and possibly also the X series, although it doesn't involve any economy to speak of. Mount & Blade is quite similar as well.

Explore space, move up from courier to captain of your personal starfleet, play through an involved and branching story that turned out much more interesting than I'd thought at first. The difficulty of missions is wildly unpredictable, and you can "sequence-break" if you're curious, attentive and crafty. Indeed, the game usually acknowledges if you do*.
I also like how the ships reflect each faction's story wordlessly when you know what to look for* -- reminiscent of the already-mentioned Ur-Quan Masters (indeed, there is at least one overt reference to UQM... as well as to the Can song "Moonshake").
The game is still in development, and I think it will remain so for a long time, but the campaign takes 30-40 hours. There can be issues with grinding and luck-based success, but you can technically finish the game in decrepit craft.

* Immense spoilers -- you should only click if you know the game:
Such as the Kor ships overheating constantly, despite already having some of the best heat sinks in the game, mirroring their limitless greed that caused the Drak to banish them from Eden. And of course, the Kor have jumpdrives. If you know where their raiders sporadically appear -- and there are clues available from the start -- you just need to survive an encounter with them and can e.g. meet the Pug long before the civil war concludes.

In fact, the game outright expects the player to find the Hai by themselves via the wormhole (which even the humans in Hai space call an open secret: "why else is there such a military presence in the 'empty' north?"), and I think you can also get to the Remnant if you guess that a certain item's name has been misinterpreted through a loss of knowledge.

The end of the Pug war is one of my favourite surprises in any video game's story I've seen yet. I love everything about it. You almost see it coming, and you tense up anyway because of sheer pattern recognition. Then, nothing. Then, the gateway with the jocular name. Then, the sombreness of Ruin and the destroyed ringworld (also not explained, but given which race they are associated with, and the whole Helianth/Coalition vignette, it apparently foreshadows the larger SMT-like Lawful/Chaotic/Neutral conflict in the galaxy), both of which affect you more because the Pug usually seem dry-witted and detached from everything.

Last I played, I flew around in a Remnant ship, the Albatross -- not that strong, but I like its look:

One can't help but notice the resemblance between Remnant and Wanderer ships.
If for nothing else, come for the planet landscape images and spaceport descriptions. Indeed, most of the game's story is not conveyed by images, but writing. I like that very much, too.

Orbiter is a spaceflight simulator. http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/
 
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John

(he/him)
This week's Epic Store items are live, and are both pretty well regarded.

Hitman 2016 was the last true Episodic game that I remember people liking. It was lauded on the Idle Thumbs podcast a ton, back before new jobs and life events put that show on indefinite hiatus. It's probably good? I haven't played a Hitman since the second one came to consoles.

Shadowrun Collection includes the original Kickstarted Shadowrun Returns, and the Dragonfall and Hong Kong expansions. It's another game that I've had for years, and have installed and deleted multiple times without ever booting it up. It's supposed to be as good as Kickstarter reprisals get, like "pretty fun, but wish it had the funding to really be great".
 

John

(he/him)
Over on Ubisoft's UPlay Store, they're offering up Tom Clancy's The Division for free. The advertising says this is an RPG, but I don't see my paramilitary tactical squad lining up to pick off slimes or drakees. It doesn't look like a "fun" 2020 type game, but different strokes for different folks!

edit: I just read through the synopsis of The Division. A viral epidemic sweeps through major cities across the USA, and you play as Secret Police designed to "help" rebuild NYC, along with the National Guard and other military agencies, presumably against eco-terrorists and other protesters. It's also a multiplayer online shooter. Gonna pass on this one.

Just a note about all these different stores. Once you get all these installed, you'll instantly forget what you've bought or acquired on what service. I know that most people use Steam as their one stop shop for PC gaming, but the GOG Galaxy app's actually really good at organizing all the games. You find the game you want to play, and it'll launch the game or actual app that manages the title for you. The only thing the GOG Galaxy app is actually bad at is searching the GOG store, so I just go to their website when they have big sales.

You enter in your creds for all the other services, and it'll tie them all together, even with Playstation and Xbox if you wanted to use it as a complete tracking tool. I have mine integrated with GOG, Epic, Bethesda, Humble, Origin, Rockstar, Steam, and Uplay, and it'll automatically update those accounts on a scheduled basis. They put the API up on github, so people are updating and creating new integrations as they come out.
 
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John

(he/him)



Into the Breach is up on the Epic Store, and it's one that I've actually played! Not a lot, but enough to get the gist. It's a small scale tactical RPG, but turns into more of a puzzle game or a board game than something like FFT or Front Mission. The levels I played were all on an 8x8 grid, and you only had 3 units, with different abilities. You program your actions, knowing exactly what the enemies will do after your actions are complete. On your turn you move, then attack/action, but on the enemy's turn they attack first, then move. You know exactly which buildings, units, or tiles will be hit (and hit hard) each turn, and if you don't use an action to combat them, it's on you. There's usually a set number of turns to do everything, so you can't just attrition your way to the end. It's much more about area control than just a "kill all the aliens" type tactics game.

Get it!
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Can confirm ItB is a great puzzle game! Also has cool mechs and giant bug kaiju so!
 

John

(he/him)
Epic Store's games this week:

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine - A narrative adventure game where stories is the main focus. I remember this one being regarded pretty well, but being a commercial flop (at one point the creator said he'd sold about 4000 copies). Hopefully the deal with Epic gets them some royalties.

Railway Empire - Looks like Railroad Tycoon. If you like sim games, and laying track across parts of the 1800's US, this may be the game for you. There's tons of DLC to get to interesting places like Great Lakes, Mexico, even Great Britain, so if the main game appeals to you, DownLoad some Content.
 

John

(he/him)
Sega's doing a 60th anniversary thingy, and has flipped Sonic 2 for free on Steam. They're also giving away copies of Nights into Dreams on Steam, but you have to link your account with them, so they see all the metadata associated with your play.

 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
Sega's doing a 60th anniversary thingy, and has flipped Sonic 2 for free on Steam. They're also giving away copies of Nights into Dreams on Steam, but you have to link your account with them, so they see all the metadata associated with your play.


As part of this, Sega is releasing some limited time free games. These includes mashup titles like a Yakuza/Streets of Rage crossover and a prototype of a cancelled Golden Axe project.

How limited? Well this week only limited, so be sure to snag them if you want them.
 

John

(he/him)
You've got one hour 45 minutes left to snag the Yakuza/Streets of Rage game on Steam! (10am PST it goes down, maybe forever, maybe to be rereleased at a later date)
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
GOG is giving away Europa Universalis II until the 24th as part of their “Cyberpunk is coming out for real this time srsly guys” leadup.
 

MetManMas

DNM-123
(He, him)
Building up a pretty impressive collection of free games on GOG now. Maybe someday I'll have something I'll actually be able to play them on again.
 
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