GOG.com is a great place to pick up both retro classics and newer indie titles for eminently reasonable prices, but what you may not be aware of is the fact that the site offers a selection of free games, too. If you’re burnt out after Christmas and broke from the purchase of all those presents for friends and family, why not check out some of these freebies? There’s some excellent stuff among them — here’s the cream of the crop.
Tyrian was one of my favorite PC games growing up. I’m not exactly sure what it was that I found so appealing about it — at heart, it’s a relatively conventional vertically-scrolling shmup — but there was something indescribably awesome and addictive about it. Perhaps it was the well-designed levels, each of which had their own distinct visual character. Perhaps it was the upgradable, customizable player ship. Perhaps it was the excellent, if slightly cheesy, MIDI soundtrack.
I’m not sure what it was, to be honest. But having revisited Tyrian 2000 recently thanks to GOG’s dark magic that makes old games run just fine on new computers, I’m confident in saying it’s a timeless classic. And for the low, low price of free it certainly won’t hurt to give it a shot, no pun intended.
Grab it here.
Lure of the Temptress
This was one of the first games that GOG released for free, and also one of the first titles from Revolution Software, creators of the Broken Sword series, so it’s noteworthy for its pedigree. Lure of the Temptress is a point-and-click adventure game that incorporated a system Revolution rather grandly dubbed “Virtual Theater.” In practice, this was an early implementation of the sort of NPC systems we see in titles like Skyrim nowadays — non-player characters go about their business and have their own daily schedules, regardless of what you are actually up to. It helps make the game world feel very much “lived in” rather than a collection of static backdrops populated by mannequins who are just waiting for the player to come along and interact with them.
Grab it here.
Beneath a Steel Sky
Also an early title from Broken Sword creators Revolution Software, Beneath a Steel Sky was noteworthy for featuring artwork by Dave Gibbons, best known for his work on Watchmen. The game even includes a comic by Gibbons — bundled digitally in the GOG package — that helps tell the story of the game.
Beneath a Steel Sky is also a point-and-click adventure game that features Revolution’s “Virtual Theater” system — though this time around Lure of the Temptress’ medieval setting is supplanted by a dystopian future in which everyone talks in COMIC BOOK style by EMPHASIZING every other WORD in their SENTENCES.
Grab it here.
Worlds of Ultima
The bastard offspring of the mainline Ultima series of classic PC RPGs, Worlds of Ultima (aka Ultima Worlds of Adventure) was a two-game series that took players to environments not normally seen in typical Western RPGs of the time. First game Savage Empire takes you to the depths of a dinosaur-infested jungle in which you can explore, harvest plants and craft items; follow-up Martian Dreams is an H.G. Wells-style steampunk adventure on a much smaller scale than many of the other incredibly sprawling Ultima titles.
These games are super-dated in terms of presentation now, but are worth playing because of their creative settings, and the fact that they represent some of the more accessible entries in the Ultima series. If you’ve ever been curious about what early ’90s PC role-playing games looked like… well, now’s your chance.
Treasure Adventure Game
The rather literally-titled Treasure Adventure Game is the odd one out in this list because it’s not a retro title. No, it’s an independently-developed title that came out in November of last year that just looks like a retro game.
Treasure Adventure Game, as you might imagine, is all about finding treasure. You control your little pixelated Indiana Jones-style dude as he battles his way through a series of pixelated dungeons on the hunt for riches, fame and fortune in an open-world 2D platformer stylee. A few reviewers on GOG have reported difficulties getting it to run on certain system configurations, but for free and just 111MB to download it certainly doesn’t hurt to at least give it a try.
You can do just that here.
FreePlay is Games Are Evil’s weekly column about games that cost you nothing to download and get started with, hosted by GrE’s managing editor Pete Davison. Follow Pete on Twitter here.