“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” – Maya Angelou
Sometimes life is hectic and there just isn’t enough time for gaming, and when there finally is a spare hour, there’s no telling when the next one will be. With that in mind, here is a selection of short reviews for short games playable within a lunch break. Better yet, they are all available for free!
The Free Games
Bite Sized Puzzle
Developer: Pulse Check Games LLC
Released: 29th May 2021
Available on: Steam
Bite Sized Puzzle is a point-and-click adventure in which players must investigate their own kitchen to see what can be found! There is no explicitly stated goal to the game so players are left to drag props and open drawers in order to figure out how to reach the end credits!
The art style has a slightly sombre, sketchy feel to it and uses a minimal colour palette dominated by greys and browns. There is no music but a few nice sound effects, such as drawers opening, help the experience to feel a little more immersive. It is a short game, taking mere minutes to complete but it provides a satisfying little logic puzzle and pleasant aesthetics making it perfect to enjoy during a short break or with a cup of tea. As free games go, this is very easy to recommend!
Who Are You?
Who Are You? is a first-person, open-world, narrative game set in limbo, just moments after the protagonist has taken her own life. Players must traverse the key moments that led to the decision in order to reach the realisation that it was a mistake.
While this may sound like a somewhat interesting premise the narrative and story are basic and poorly delivered through underwhelming writing that make the sensitive themes feel like a tasteless trope. It features a strange mix of hand-holding narration and zero direction at all, making it very easy to get lost. The main issue, however, is that game also plays very slowly, lacking a much-needed sprint function and when teamed with clunky movement, disorienting camera speed and garish 3D artwork, the result is really rather nauseating.
In short, Who Are You? was confusing and made me feel sick. Despite the length and price tag, this is not one to waste any of that precious time on!
Outside the Lines
Developer: Cade Quick
Released: July 2018
Price: Free/Name your own price
Available on: Steam, itch.io
Engine: GameMaker Studio
Outside the Lines is an adorable top-down shooter in which players become drawing utensils and compete to cover the pages of a colouring book. Choose from the green crayon that can cover more ground, the speed boosted pink pencil or the blue ballpoint that can take an extra hit!
Games are played in short rounds of 90 seconds (this can be changed to 60 or 120 seconds) and the aim of the default ‘turf wars’ game mode is to cover as much of the colouring page as possible, going outside the lines is essential! To make things more interesting there are eleven weapons with randomised stats, these include a sponge, a cotton swab and a shotgun that can be picked up and used to hinder other players. The game also features deathmatch mode and while both modes can be played single-player, there are also options for local PvP and co-op adventures!
The simple but cute pixel art consists of a minimal but vibrant colour palette against a white background which fits perfectly with the fun and energetic xylophone music, both working together to create a charming childlike aesthetic.
Overall, Outside the Lines is a light-hearted take on what is usually a fast-paced and competitive genre. It is possible to have multiple games in the space of 10-15 minutes and it is an ideal short game to enjoy with a friend.
There are a whole host of short games available online but sifting through the various offerings to find the ideal game can take up even more of that precious time. This short list highlights great single and multiplayer options as well as a game to avoid!
Looking for more free and short games to play? Why not take a look at these lists:
Five Free Short Games on itch.io for Busy Bees! – Three for Free, Short Games by Dreamfeel – Free Indie Games to Play in 30 Minutes or Less – Five Free Games that Attempt to Tackle Mental Health Issues