Free Play Friday: What's Old Is New Again!

Justin Calvert suggests three more games that you can play without paying in our weekly look at free stuff.

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I've spent most of this week working on GameSpot's upcoming review of LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, so when selecting games to include in this week's Free Play Friday, I was definitely looking for titles that I could enjoy in short bursts. I found three that I hope you'll enjoy as much as I am and that, in a couple of cases, I hope you might be able to support. Apologies for the lack of any free codes this week; there are some great giveaways in the works for future Free Play Fridays, but nothing came together in time for this week.

As always, please let me know what you think of this week's suggestions in the comments below, and definitely feel free to make recommendations of your own.

Conclave (Web) Beta

According to the developers at 10x10 Room (both of them), their turn-based role-playing game Conclave was borne out of--among other things--a desire to experience adventures with friends without having to adhere to a schedule. As someone who plays a good number of MMO games but who can rarely set aside time for regularly scheduled raids and the like, I know where Nick and Derek are coming from. Inspired by tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, Conclave plays out in a very similar fashion and affords the added convenience of being able to take your turns as infrequently as your group is OK with. The only groups I've played in thus far were taking turns every minute or so and chatting with each other on the fly, but when searching for a group, you can look for folks who expect to play a turn only once a day or so.

Completing a multipart quest as part of a four-player group in which all of us were playing as a different character archetype is far and away the most fun that I've had with Conclave so far, but questing solo has proved an enjoyable (and challenging) way to level up my vanguard as well. I've been playing Conclave on a powerful gaming rig for the most part, but since the game requires only a browser with support for HTML5 and JavaScript to run, you can play it on all sorts of devices. The game runs well and is a perfect fit for my iPad screen, for example.

Conclave is still in beta right now, and 10x10 Room's Kickstarter campaign to get the game finished still has a ways to go before it hits the $75,000 goal. At the time of writing the fundraiser has only eight days left to run and so, in the hope of drumming up some support, the guys have decided to make the whole game as it exists right now available to play for free until midnight on Saturday, September 23. After that time, you'll still be able to play Conclave for free, but fewer quests will be available unless you pay to unlock them.

If you'd like to take part in the Conclave beta, you can do so simply by clicking on the following link and creating an account:

Play Conclave at playconclave.com

If, like me, you feel inclined to support Conclave on Kickstarter, you can do so here:

Support Conclave on Kickstarter

Super Crate Box (PC)

An oldie but a goodie, Super Crate Box has been around for a couple of years at this point, but Dutch developer Vlambeer's fast-paced shooter only made it to Steam last month. If you've never played the game before, which I hadn't myself until earlier this week, you should definitely check it out. The download is tiny, and odds are you'll either give up within 60 seconds or have to tear yourself away from the screen after an hour because your high score still hasn't hit double figures. To give you some idea of just how frantic and challenging Super Crate Box is, after just 30 minutes of playing I had killed over 800 enemies, died and restarted over 120 times, and--most importantly--collected over 300 crates.

It's the number of crates you collect rather than the enemies you kill that determines your high score in Super Crate Box, but while it's possible to avoid enemies rather than engage them, this definitely isn't a viable tactic in the long run. Enemies spawn at the top of the level and slowly work their way toward the bottom, where they fall into a fire pit which, unfortunately for you, doesn't kill or even harm them in any way. In fact, enemies who reach the fire become angry and so move even more quickly when they respawn. Killing enemies is a must, then, and Super Crate Box affords you access to an impressive arsenal of weapons with which to do just that. There's a twist, though.

Every time you collect a crate, you automatically equip the weapon that was inside it. The first few times you play Super Crate Box, most of the weapons feel underpowered; the pistol is worthless, the dual pistols aren't much better, and the bazooka takes too long to reload. Persevere, though, and regardless of how pitiful your high scores are, your cumulative crate total unlocks and adds new weapons to the arsenal as it stacks up. Inevitably you'll have favorite weapons (mine are the grenade launcher and the flamethrower), but any time that you spend hanging onto them is time that you're not scoring points for collecting crates. It's fiendish, and a lot of fun.

If you'd like to queue up the Steam version of Super Crate Box for download, you can do so here:

Super Crate Box on Steam

Alternatively, you can download the game directly from Vlambeer's site, here:

Official Super Crate Box Site

An iOS version of Super Crate Box is also available, but at the time of writing it costs $1.99. You can purchase it at the iTunes store via the following link:

Super Crate Box on iTunes

Broforce (PC) Prototype

I have to say thanks to GameSpot's Marco Martinez for giving me the heads-up on Broforce; after watching his live-stream of the game earlier this week, I spent more time playing around with the recently released prototype version than I care to admit. Currently awaiting approval on Steam Greenlight, Broforce is an action-packed platformer that plays like a love letter to the action heroes that I grew up with. Starting out as Rambro (see what they did there?), your goal is to navigate enemy-filled and highly destructible environments rescuing other bros en route to the requisite hanging-from-a-helicopter escape.

South African developer Free Lives is up front about the games that have influenced Broforce, and lists Super Crate Box (which you might remember from such paragraphs as those directly overhead) among them. The two games are quite different, but they share the same involuntary weapon-switching mechanic; anytime you rescue a bro, you immediately start playing as him. No two bros are the same; James Brodock's primary weapon of choice is a flamethrower, while Mc Brover carries sticks of dynamite, and BA Broracus is never seen without a shotgun. Bro in Black's version of the iconic noisy cricket gun is probably my favorite weapon in the game right now, although Snake Broskin's rifle with laser sight is a close second.

The prototype version of Broforce supports local co-op for two players using the same keyboard, and can also be played using X360 controllers. You almost certainly don't care, but after installing and playing the game on one of the office gaming rigs, I can also confirm that it looks pretty great on a three-monitor Eyefinity setup. Poking around online I found some work-in-progress art (embedded above) for the game that suggests its current pixel art aesthetic might be temporary; the new art looks great, but I'm hoping that the current visuals will at least be available as an option.

If you'd like to play the prototype version of Broforce, you can download it using the following link:

Download Broforce from FreeLives.net

To upvote Broforce on Steam Greenlight, go hit the thumbs-up button on this page:

Broforce on Steam Greenlight

Previous Free Play Fridays

September 7, 2012 - Dust 514 Beta Codes, Hand of Fate, Gotham Gangs!
August 31, 2012 - Portals, Strategy, Charitable Donations!
August 24, 2012 - Steampunk Beta Codes, Superheroes, Automobiles!
August 17, 2012 - Guns, Guns, Guns, Medic!
August 10, 2012 - Beta Codes, Shooters, A Story About My Uncle!

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