Here are some freeware games that have had Tang's attention lately.
Vilesteel by Firevictory
is a top-down RPG where you click on the bad guys
and hold down the mouse button until they're dead. In later missions you will
also have to push a button to quaff potions when your health gets low.
The plot is generic and the gameplay is repetitive but it is built around
a solid RPG character engine, the ambient music is pretty good, and
the placement of enemies sets an entertaining pace of advancing through
small victories. Multiple upgrade paths allow you choose your character's
powers and provide the opportunity to replay the game with a different
Hint: If you choose an archer character as I did, the "composite shot"
power lets you launch multiple attacks at the same speed as regular
attacks. The 400% upgrade to your attack power is like turning on
Tang's rating: 2/4 good effort, bad execution.
Sky Quest by Berzerk Studio is a side-scrolling shooter where you use the
mouse to move your psychotic angel antihero around the screen to dodge
bullets and blow up monsters while you are backed up by an airship
providing heavy artillery support. The airship also has an HP bar, so you
have to protect it too. The game's features include multiple upgrade paths,
equippable items to improve your stats, and optional challenge levels
including some extra-difficult levels near the end of the game that provide
a final challenge after you finish the story line. With each level being
around five minutes long, Sky Quest is an excellent choice for casual gaming.
Hint: The store sells better items than you can get from drops even with
item drop quality maxed out, but selling the weaker drops helps you afford
the rare items from the store.
Tang's rating: 4/4 well polished and addictive as hell.
Last Scenario by SCF is an RPG that came out in 2007, but I ran across it
recently and it has been taking much of my time. According to the seer's
prophesy, the last descendant of the ancient hero of legend is destined
to become the hero of today who will fight off the demons that are about
to awaken. That's all well and good and it's exactly what that guy wanted
to hear, but what does it mean to be a hero? Last Scenario raises that
question with an intelligent script that puts the would-be hero in such
complicated situations that he begins to question the very nature of heroism.
Being an RPG Maker game, the music and battle system are fairly routine,
although much of the artwork is original. The most notable deviation from
the norm is that magic spells are not learned but are equippable Spell Card
items usable by any character, and each character can only equip two of
them until you unlock additional slots. The battle rewards and item costs
are balanced well enough that you will have trouble equipping everyone with
the best gear available while also keeping a full stock of healing items.
There is an optional strategy sub-game that I do not play because I am
terrible at it.
Hint: You cannot easily replace most MP-replenishing items, so buy Tents
and use them at save points.
Tang's rating: 3.75/4 losing a quarter point for a few quibbles with the battle system.
Phoenotopia by Quell is a platform adventure with an interesting storyline,
many sidequests, numerous well-hidden secrets, bustling communities full of
interesting characters, and game mechanics that prove that there are still
new things that can be done with the genre. The pastel pixel artwork, soft music,
and predictable action patterns produce a calming ambience that make this
a rare action game that can be described as relaxing. The charming atmosphere
and strong design combine to make this one of the best freeware games of the year.
Hint: Bring one or two Honey-based speed items into the tech center under
the pit on the other side of the great wall. You may need them after defeating
the mechanical boss.
Tang's rating: 4/4 the best Metroidvania game since Cave Story.
The Awakening by RockLou is an RPG with a simple interactive battle
system where you press A to attack or D to dodge, and you ignore the other
battle options because they are not as useful and you are not going to need them.
It gives you about two hours of gameplay before it abruptly ends with a message
from the programmer that he ran out of energy and decided to release what he
had, so consider it as a demo. For a demo, it's pretty good.
Hint: The game does not yet include any point where you need to use Caleb
in battle, so you do not need to waste time grinding his stats.
Tang's rating: 1/4 a pretty good demo but a flawed and incomplete game.
Farmyard Chronicle by Flapbat is an action puzzle game. The puzzle is in
finding ways to collect the lost farm animals that an apprentice
wizard accidentally teleported all around the castle. The action is
in chasing the damn things down as they wander around the room while
you avoid the ones that will knock you across the room if you're not
careful. This is much more entertaining than it sounds. The game benefits
from making good use of stock RPG Maker music and graphics resources,
giving you magic powers that progressively open up new areas.
and having several secrets to find if you want a perfect ending.
Hint: One of the more important powers is found across a gap on the left
side of a room. You will need help getting there.
Tang's rating: 3.5/4 a fun diversion.
Flash's Bounty by ZyBy
is a remake of the 1990 game King's Bounty, and it feels like a tactics game
from 1990: inspired, fun, and flawed. In the exploration half of the game you
collect gold, raise armies, and encounter or avoid enemies. In the combat half
of the game you position your units on the field and watch the battle play out.
There are two flaws that stand out enough to be mentioned. There is little
variety in unit attack patterns and abilities, making the game repetitive after
a while. A more serious problem is that your gold sources do not replenish.
If you lose all of your units, you will not be able to afford to rebuild
your army so you may as well restart the game. You are allowed to retry lost
battles, but not to retreat without losing everything, so it's all over
if you walk into a lost cause. Even with these flaws, it's a good game and
Hint: Ghosts are powerful and increase in strength for every unit they defeat,
but they will leave your party after a number of turns. There is an easily
discovered bug that can be exploited to keep them in your party, which makes
the Ghost unit a total game breaker that removes all challenge from the game.
Be aware that this might not be what you want.
Tang's rating: 2/4 flawed but entertaining.
Tiny Dangerous Dungeons
by Adventure Islands is a delightful little platformer with retro-themed graphics
and sound. The game is one level long and can be beaten in under an hour, which
is right about when a player may start to get annoyed by the retro-themed graphics
and sound. What little the game does, it does well.
Tang's rating: 2/4 just a demo, but a good one.
Chaos Dawn is a flash
RPG from 2010 that seems like a flash game from 10 years earlier. The artwork is bad.
The voice acting is bad. The battle system is generic. The story is even more generic.
The hero-is-an-idiot comic relief had been done before and done better. Somehow this
game managed to draw me into it. Perhaps the amateurness of this game reminded me of
the early days of flash gaming when Absalom was the bleeding edge of the state of the art,
providing a comforting nostalgia. Who knows? For whatever reason, I liked it enough to
give it a mention in this list.
Tang's rating: 1/4 why can't I stop playing it?
[Edit Jan. 4: one more game]
Homework Salesman is an easygoing RPG where there are multiple itemcrafting skills you can build up in addition to your combat level. The worldbuilding and aesthetics are excellent, but the game is hampered by a difficulty cliff between dungeon levels that requires a great deal of grinding to overcome. It also crashes from time to time, so save often.
Tang's rating: 3/4 too much grinding and too crashy, but everything else is great.