“The beauty of the universe consists not only of unity in variety, but also of variety in unity.” – Umberto Eco
This article includes mini-reviews for four very different free indie games, ranging from visual novels to hidden object games, to walking simulators and puzzle games, there’s something for all breeds of casual gamers!
In The Rural Village of Nagoro
In the Rural Village of Nagoro follows a young girl on her way to school, interacting with the people she encounters along the way. It is a slice-of-life mini adventure telling a poignant short story about the passing of time and how things change. It features minimal interaction and simply utilises the arrow keys and f to interact.
The charming music has a calm but evocative feeling and includes guitar, strings, woodwind, piano and beautiful vocals. Similarly, the ambient sound effects such as cars and crickets are quite delightful and help bring the scenery to life. The visuals are a highlight with coloured pencil-like outlines filled with textured block colour in muted pastel shades giving a very relaxing feeling.
Overall, This is a charming example of a free game and walking simulator, it will take 10-15 minutes to play and is an ideal casual experience to enjoy with a cup of tea or on a short break.
Handshakes is a Sokoban-style puzzle game in which two characters try to shake hands! Players control the left hand with WASD and the right hand with arrow keys and must overcome obstacles in order for the hands to reach each other. Each hand can only be a set number of squares away from its starting position adding an extra challenge. Obstacles include boxes that need to be moved along with buttons and doors and the game gradually adds mechanics and increases the difficulty as the player progresses through the 30 levels of satisfying puzzles. There is also a speedrunning leaderboard for anyone wanting even more of a challenge.
Handshakes features a simple pixel graphic art style in a limited colour palette using mainly block colours and minimal shading. This gives the game a unique visual appearance while also matching the retro-sounding music that ranges from upbeat to energetic to downright frantic! The overall aesthetic is very effective and suits the gameplay well.
This is a very satisfying puzzle game that will take a couple of hours to complete, it has a diverse range of problems to solve whilst maintaining links to its Sokoban inspiration. I highly recommend this to puzzle fans, especially since it is a free game!
Something That Feels Like Waiting
Something That Feels Like Waiting is a short kinetic novel that tells the story of a lonely and ‘failed’ game developer waiting for the sky to clear up. It consists of a series of stunning black-and-white photographs alongside reflections from the game developer. The experience feels like getting to know somebody intimately and the slightly uncomfortable nature of this is reflected in the distorted and eerie ambient background noise such as the weather and city sounds. There is also a verbal intro to each of the chapters that sounds like somebody speaking to an audience about time and the world adding an extra dimension to the game.
Overall, this interactive novel is an immersive and unique experience that feels incredibly personal. It will take around 15-20 minutes to play and is emotive and engaging despite the minimal interactions. I’d definitely recommend this free game to fans of thought-provoking narrative-focused titles.
I commissioned some bees 0
From the creator of I commissioned some bees and its multiple sequels costing £1.69 each, instalment zero has been released as a free game! It features hundreds of bees, and a handful of bee-related objects such as honey pots and apiarists, hidden across ten levels. Each level consists of a piece of commissioned artwork from a different artist meaning there is a wide variety of visual interest and art styles. The music also changes for each level, working with the artwork and helping to keep things interesting.
I commissioned some bees 0 is a great example of a hidden object game. There is a mix of relaxing and more challenging levels but the experience maintains a casual feel overall. It will take around 1-2 hours to complete offering a good amount of playtime for a free game.
As evidenced, there are some great recent additions to the realms of short free indie games. Whether you want to find some hidden objects, solve puzzles or embark on a meaningful narrative experience there is sure to be a budget option available!
For more free games, check out the following articles:
Three Free Games Short Enough to Play on a Lunch Break! – Five Free Short Games on itch.io for Busy Bees! – Free Indie Games to Play in 30 Minutes or Less