Spotted by PC Gamer, the short game, titled simply John Wick, was created by developer MuriloDev and uploaded to itch.io. It recreates the most recent film in the series as the sort of licensed tie-in game we might have seen during the 8-bit era. It controls like an 80s side-scrolling shooter and mercilessly channels the difficulty of games from that era.
As Wick, you can jump, shoot, and duck, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, guys with guns and swords run at you while snipers take aim from afar. Your health is limited to a small bar reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden, and once it’s depleted, it’s game over. No extra lives. No continues. And certainly no miraculously stumbling back to life after getting shot up and beat-the-shit-out-of like in the movies.
But while it is incredibly hard, the game’s not impossible. Each time I died, I learned a little bit more about the starting level and had eventually memorized enough to get to the end of it, if not actually beat it. Brute-forcing my way through games isn’t my preferred way to play, but it did make me feel slightly more like the battered and bruised hero from the movies.
John Wick is only a few stages long, but it’s as good a case as any for other popular action movies to get their own NES-inspired adaptations. Its music and art are particularly on the mark, and their original creator, Danilo Dias, made the assets free for others to use as well in case they want to go ahead and make the complete game we all deserve.
Correction: an earlier version of this article wrongly attributed the creation of the game’s assets to MuriloDev. They were actually originally created by Danilo Dias.
Ubisoft’s gorgeous open world skiing and snowboarding game, Steep, is available for free on PC for a limited time. Here’s how to claim your copy:
Visit this link any time between May 16, 2019, and 3 p.m. local time on May 21.
Click the “PC” button at the bottom of the page.
Sign in with your Ubisoft account, and follow any on-screen instructions.
The game will be automatically added to your Uplay library.
Open Uplay (or install it if you haven’t already) to install and play Steep.
Steep takes players to the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps and lets them freely engage in extreme winter sports within the game’s massive and mountainous open world. While it didn’t quite make the impression some were expecting when it launched, Steep is still a very fun game, especially in multiplayer where you can take on fellow players in races and other competitive modes, so it’s totally worth grabbing a free copy while you can. It’s also a visually impressive game—check out some footage below from Ubisoft’s official YouTube channel:
Here’s another clip showing off some of the multiplayer modes:
During these dark times of difficulty discourse—in which brothers tear down brothers and Sekiro purists get memed to heck and back—hit platformer Celeste stands out as a bastion of both brutality and accessibility, pushing players to the limit with devious level design but also allowing them to dictate the terms of engagement with a multifaceted assist mode. That said, people have been overlooking the greatest assist mode of all: being Kirby.
Ingesteis a free experiment from Ex.ult Videotainment that mashes up Celeste with Nintendo’s eternally joyful pink puffball, Kirby. Specifically, the project puts Kirby into the original 2015 version of Celeste, the first iteration of the game that Matt Thorson and company would eventually turn into last year’s beloved mini-masterpiece. The idea started as a joke during a podcast hosted by members of the Ex.ult team and then evolved into a new spin on Celeste’s tale of climbing a mountain as a metaphor for overcoming anxiety.
“We’ve been talking about [cartoon] Kirby: Right Back At Ya! and were struck by a scene in which Kirby falls asleep while fighting,” wrote Ex.ult on Ingeste’s Itch.io page. “Metaknight says that Kirby’s freedom from anxiety is his greatest strength. We were like, ‘Whoa! That reminds me of the feather scene in Celeste. Wouldn’t it be funny if…?”’And then we realized it was actually a cute and thematic idea, and put it together over a few weeks as a side project.”
Unlike Celeste’s main character, Madeline, Kirbybegins his journey as a void of anxiety—and also just a bottomless void in general. As you’d expect from a game featuring Kirby, Ingeste is pretty easy. Most of the time, you just need to float upward or sideways into various spike-covered corners if you want to collect optional strawberries. Spring boxes, dream blocks, and other vestiges of Celeste’s design remain, but Kirby obliviously floats right past them to the beat of a fun, flighty cover of one of his own games’ songs. I finished the whole thing in about 20 minutes. Still, I was amused, especially after beating my head against many portions of the full version of Celeste last year.
While Ingeste is kind of a joke, Ex.ult hopes that it helpsfurther drive home Celeste’s central idea.
“Madeline’s journey to work with herself, rather than against herself, has meant a lot to us,” wrote Ex.ult. “The generous Assist Mode shows us there’s no wrong way to make it, and that it’s cool to play games in whatever way you like.”
Today sees the release of Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters, the free-to-play version of Team Ninja’s latest fighter. It’s the full game minus story mode, with only four of the 26 currently playable characters. The idea is that players download the free version, then purchase additional fighters and story mode a la carte. That’s a dumb idea.
Offering a free version of Dead or Alive 6, as Tecmo Koei did with Dead or Alive 5 before it, is a great idea. It gives players who might otherwise skip a Dead or Alive game based on the series’ racy reputation a chance to see how toned down the sexy stuff is in the latest installment. Core Fighters players get access to four characters: Kasumi, Hitomi, Bass, and new character Diego. They can play all the training modes, local versus, the excellent Quest mode, and even ranked online multiplayer. The biggest limitation of Core Fighters is only being able to access the opening chapter of story mode.
The “dumb idea” is purchasing any portion of the game piecemeal after trying the free version. Based on the prices Tecmo Koei is asking, buying the full game will almost always be a better deal, especially as it starts getting discounted from its current $50-60 asking price.
Here’s what Tecmo Koei is now selling alongside the free Dead or Alive 6 Core Fighters starter pack.
$39.99 Female Fighters Set: Includes Ayane, Tina, Leifang, Helena, Christie, Kokoro, La Mariposa, Mila, Marie Rose, Honoka, and NiCO. That’s around $3.64 per character.
$33.99 Male Fighters Set: Adds Hayabusa, Hayate, Jann Lee, Zack, Bayman, Brad Wong, Eliot, Rig, and Raidou. Average $3.78 per character.
$49.99 20 Character Set: Adds all fighters but bonus characters Nyotengu and Phase 4. $2.50 per character.
$3.99 Single Characters: While I don’t expect anyone is silly enough to buy all 20 characters (21 with Nyotengu), if they did the game would cost around $80, and that’s not counting …
$19.99 Story Mode: Entertaining, a fun way to unlock entries in the game’s library, separate from character packs.
Right away it’s plain to see buying either male or female fighter sets is stupid, as cost per character drops dramatically with the $50 option. At that point, one may as well purchase the full game. The story mode is very good. Hell, <a rel="nofollow" data-amazonasin="B07DXBPNTH" data-amazonsubtag="[t|link[p|1833333865[a|B07DXBPNTH[au|5724686334600252479[b|kotaku[lt|text" onclick="window.ga('send', 'event', 'Commerce', 'kotaku – Play Dead Or Alive 6's Free Version But Don’t Buy The Game A La Carte‘, ‘B07DXBPNTH’);window.ga(‘unique.send’, ‘event’, ‘Commerce’, ‘kotaku – Play Dead Or Alive 6's Free Version But Don’t Buy The Game A La Carte‘, ‘B07DXBPNTH’);” data-amazontag=”kotakuamzn-20″ href=”https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Alive-6-PlayStation-4/dp/B07DXBPNTH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Dead+or+Alive+6&qid=1552679728&s=videogames&sr=1-1&tag=kotakuamzn-20&ascsubtag=1baf20446efad61df4b6a02699932deae6bce58f”>Amazon has the PlayStation 4 version of the game on sale for $52 as I type.
Of course, there’ll be players out there who only want to get online and fight battles as a single character. If you only play Ayane and don’t mind lacking access to characters outside of her and the four free ones, then $3.99 isn’t a bad price to pay. Just be sure, because buying one character and then deciding to fill out the rest of the roster means the price paid for the single character is lost. If you buy Ayana for $3.99 and then decide to get the full game, that four bucks is gone.
My advice is this. If you’re interested in Dead or Alive 6 but aren’t sure it’s for you, grab the free Core Fighters pack for PC, PS4 or Xbox One. Give it a taste, and if you like it, grab the full game. Think of it as a demo with benefits, and you’ll be fine.
We’ve been hunting Carmen Sandiego across the globe and through space and time for nearly 35 years. Now the notorious thief launches the first in a series of capers within the virtual world of Google Earth. Can you find her before she makes off with the Crown Jewels? Probably—it’s not that hard.
The original Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, released in 1985 on PC from Broderbund Software, gave PC gamers a unique new way to learn about the world. Players traveled to exotic locales, gathering pun-riddled clues as to the location of Sandiego and her V.I.L.E. henchpersons. Their relentless pursuit was rewarded with fun bits of geography trivia embedded in their brains for the rest of their lives, like a Rockapella tune.
These days, if folks want to know about geography, they can simply hop on Google Maps and see a 3D representation of popular destinations around the world. It’s the perfect setting for a new series of Carmen Sandiego adventures, courtesy of a partnership between Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Google.
It seems Carmen has made off with the Crown Jewels of England, one of her favorite targets. In order to determine where she went next, players must travel to popular London landmarks, gathering clues from witnesses. When a landmark is selected, the Google Earth globe smoothly shifts to its location, rendering it as a basic 3D model. It’s a very cool effect.
The game is very simple. Three clues hint at your next location. Hitting the airplane icon offers up a multiple choice selection of destinations. Choose the right one and a quick pixelated cutscene will play before clue gathering begins anew. Choose incorrectly, and the residents of the next town will tell you to try again.
The first Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego case is very brief, hopping between five cities before you can apprehend the culprit. It’s not challenging, especially if you’ve been playing Carmen Sandiego games all your life. But it is a fun little diversion and a cute combination of today’s tech with an edutainment legend. Now do it, Rockapella.
I like free games. And I’m not just talking about freeware or open-source titles that are either maddeningly complex or of occasionally suspicious quality. Triple-A titles, when discounted to the low price of zero, are great.
To clarify: I’m not against paying developers for their incredible work. I am, instead, completely in favor of taking advantage of any promotions that get you today’s top games for absolutely nothing. They’re out there. You just have to be diligent about finding and responding to them, or else your gaming gravy train will pass right on by.
Here’s a brief look at the places I go to for free games. If I’ve left any out, let me know in the comments and I’ll update this post with your recommendations.
One of the best resources for free games (and free goodies for your games) is Twitch, but with a caveat. In order to take advantage of Twitch’s frequent giveaways, you need to be an Amazon Prime member. That gets you Twitch Prime, and Twitch Prime gets you free stuff.
If you’re a teenager, you don’t even need your own costly Amazon Prime account. If your parents have Amazon Prime, you can take advantage of that by linking your “Teen login” to their account. You’ll get Twitch Prime, they’ll get their usual Amazon Prime bill, and all will be well with the world.
To keep tabs on Twitch’s offers, I bookmark Twitch’s handy hub. There, you’ll see the full, free games you can add to your account and play forever. You’ll typically get new titles once a month, but I like to check back every other week or so just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. (You could also subscribe to Twitch’s various social feeds to receive announcements when Twitch adds new titles.)
Additionally, Twitch also gives you free add-on bundles for games you might be playing—typically skins, loot boxes, mounts, virtual currency, et cetera. These just tend to appear on Twitch Prime whenever, so you’ll want to make sure you’re visiting the site decently enough (at least once a month) to catch them.
One of the newest digital distribution services on the block, Epic Games’ online store has a sweet setup for the frugal: You get one free game every two weeks. Simple. Check back every two weeks—it’s worth making a recurring calendar reminder given the quality of the offered titles—and you’ll be able to add a new game to your account.
The newsletter, as well as GOG.com’s social feeds, is the best place to hear about any one-off free games the service offers from time to time, which has included titles like Shadow Warrior 2, Full Throttle Remastered, and the ever-creepy SOMA.
You can also bookmark GOG’s search results for free games on its service and revisit that regularly. And there’s also the sprawling “free games” thread on GOG’s forums that’s worth checking.
Though primarily a storefront for all sorts of deep discounts on packages of games, Humble Bundle will occasionally toss out a free title as part of its limited-time sales (or as a solo offering). You typically have a tiny window to claim some of these free titles, so it’s worth signing up for Humble Bundle’s newsletter, following its social feeds, or checking out a simple Google search every now and then to make sure you don’t miss any awesome, free games.
It’s tough to keep track of every free game that drops on these services (and others). Thankfully, there are plenty of people willing to put in the legwork so you don’t miss out on anything free—be it the latest Assassin’s Creed game or some random indie title you’ve never heard of before. I recommend following these subreddits (or this multireddit) for all your free gaming needs:
When I first started playing the demo of Yet Another Exhausting Day, I careened headfirst into a pillow and died. This, I believe, is what is known as a Big Mood.
Yet Another Exhausting Day bills itself as “a 3D crawling platformer about ordinary people’s exhausting lives.” In it, you play as a noodle-limp worn-out husk of a person who needs to take care of basic tasks like getting out of bed, using a phone, reading a book, and doing household chores.
You do this by rolling, slithering, and occasionally dashing in various directions, collecting coins that keep you from falling into a near-comatose state along the way. And while Yet Another Exhausting Day is, in its own words, a platformer, you rarely come unglued from whatever surface you’re on, even when walls and ceilings are involved. Your tiny person is so tuckered out that not even physics can keep them from laying down on the job.
In addition to the unreliable nature of your own defeated limbs, there are also treacherous obstacles that get in your way—for example, pillows and bottles of milk that threaten to knock you from mostly unconscious to entirely unconscious. You can, however, temporarily avoid their effects with power-ups like energy drinks.
The handful of levels I played in the game’s demo were clever and funny, if not particularly challenging. One inspired bit saw me writhe around on a giant smartphone, mashing my head against icons to accomplish dreary tasks. In the middle of it, I paused the game to delete Facebook off my real-life phone. My life has already measurably improved.
Given that I was able to reach that level after only 20 minutes or so, I’m excited to see where the full game—which does not currently have a release date—goes. For now, I very much recommend the demo, which is free on Itch. It may not beat falling asleep after an endlessly exhausting day in our endlessly exhausting world, but then again, what does?
I’m one of those weird people that actually enjoys the liminal spaces of travel—hotels, train stations, and yes, airports—but even I have my limits. I might be having a chill time reading a book in a food court that only smells a little like a one-thousand-year-old Panda Express, but if I hear that my flight’s been delayed, all bets are off.
Brownie Cove Cancelled(via Rock Paper Shotgun) is a free PC game that attempts to capture the bleak hopelessness of that situation—when your flight gets delayed by multiple hours, and suddenly, all the color drains from your day. The game’s airport is an over-saturated dreamscape, one that aptly simulates the languid, draining pace of airport life as travelers slowly cook under sickly fluorescent lights.
Mundane airport tasks like milling about near stores and food courts and staring at art nobody really cares about intermingle with more pointed strangeness, like floating fish that look like they’re constantly phasing between dimensions, a hall of mirrors that gives way to a room of whispering shadows, and a graveyard that might be a little too on the nose.
All the while, other stranded travelers wander aimlessly, reciting what I’m pretty sure are negative reviews of airport experiences. Your character, meanwhile, moves with the urgency of someone who’s fallen into quicksand and, after struggling for a minute or two, accepted their grim fate. After all, where is there to go? There are also quite a few toilets just out in the open, for some reason.
It is, in some ways (see: the aforementioned whispering shadow room), more interesting than an actual airport, but like an actual airport, it gets old very quickly. That’s the point, I’m pretty sure. But I always enjoy games that reinterpret spaces we’ve all existed in and, in some cases, suffered through—especially when they’re locations most people consider boring or obligatory. It’s a cool way to learn exactly how those things feel for other people, to view them through a lens that’s familiar but also alien.
I’m still not sure about the whole toilet thing, though.