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You Can’t Write Proper English Under Pressure by UsVsTh3m

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You Can’t Write Proper English Under Pressure is a simple game where you work against the clock to see if you can spot mistakes in English text. It’s as simple as that. Don’t feel too smug yet as you’ll quickly realise that however good your reading and writing skills are, it’s incredibly hard to perform under pressure. The levels are short and sweet so there is a quick sense of achievement, but the difficulty increases swiftly as you progress through the game. One for Grammar Nazis with nerves of cold, hard steel.

Why we love it:

    • Simple but effective format
    • Clean design, particularly the countdown
    • Deceptively tricky challenges to keep you on your toes

Play it online

Transmission by Loju

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This smart looking game takes players on a journey from the humble telegraph through to cellphones and satellites in a series of increasingly fiendish puzzles based on a simple click and drag mechanic. The aim is to transmit packets of data between specific points based on the quirks of each method of communication. Easily digestible learning tidbits are sequenced between levels and while you may not remember it all, the basics of data transmission will stay with you. Superb sound design adds depth to the pared back visuals and the in-game feedback is also top notch.

Why we love it:

  • A distinct, highly polished look and feel.
  • Easy to start playing but plenty of depth for the pros.
  • Gorgeous responsive sound design.

Get it for iOS or Android or Online

Untrusted by Alex Nisnevich

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Untrusted is a lo-fi adventure game which challenges you to escape from a series of increasingly cryptic puzzle rooms by editing the very code that is running the game in your web browser.

With its atmospheric electronic soundtrack and authentic ASCII-art aesthetic, Untrusted evokes the feel of classic cyberpunk literature and hacker culture, while also helping players improve their programming skills. There has been a wave of games exploring programming concepts recently, but what makes Untrusted stand out is its focus on getting players to really think like a programmer. With a strong emphasis on reading unfamiliar code and modifying it through the creative use of a limited set of commands, the game helps budding coders to develop the core problem solving skills that are transferable to any programming language.

Why we love it:

  • Retro aesthetic gives the game an authentic hacker feel.
  • Open-ended design means there are many solutions.
  • Modifying code makes you think like a programmer.
  • The game’s code is open source and downloadable.

Play it online

Fort McMoney by David Dufresne

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Fort McMoney is a point and click adventure that puts you into the heart of the moral dilemma that is the Canadian oil business. McMoney uses documentary footage to add a deep sense of realism to the game. Taking on the role of environmental detective you meet and greet everyone concerned from the native inhabitants to the executives and politicians that are driving the oil business deep in the Albertan countryside. The framework of the game encourages users to debate the issues with the wider community and for once you get the feeling that there is enough information available in the game to fuel a really constructive dialogue.

Why we love it:

  • Modern take on the point and click adventure
  • Hours of fascinating documentary footage
  • Links to debating forum where the topic can be explored further

Play it online

Kerbal Space Program by Squad

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Kerbal Space Program is a game where players of all ages create their own space program. The aim is to help the Kerbals to conquer space by building and flying rockets. NASA has partnered with the game on a special downloadable mission pack and KerbalEdu, a cooperative, school-friendly version of space exploration sim Kerbal Space Program, was launched late last year. KSP is still under development, but we can’t wait to see what the team come up with!

Why we love it:

  • Cute characters backed by hard science.
  • Open sandbox promotes learning through experimentation.
  • The demo version is free, and will remain so forever.

Try or buy it here

Fraxinus by Team Cooper & The Sainsbury Laboratory

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In the UK Ash trees are being attacked by a serious disease leaving some of the country’s few remaining ancient woodlands in serious danger. Fraxinus is a Facebook game that uses the tree’s real genetic data, and challenges the player to manipulate patterns to match sequences. The game capitalises on human’s capacity for pattern recognition and gives scientists a helping hand sorting the genome of the Ash tree in pursuit of a cure for the disease.

Why we love it:

  • Strong social network integration.
  • Very accessible version of this type of game.
  • Moreish and meaningful.

Play it on Facebook

Sokobond by Alan Hazelden and Harry Lee

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Sokobond is a block-pushing puzzler about chemistry. Rather than being a direct simulation, it inspires further exploration of a sometimes daunting subject. A tutorial-free introduction immerses the player in experimentation as they try to figure out how different atoms bond to make molecules, without being prescriptive or dull. The visual design is beautiful, clear and refined, distilling the essence of the gameplay and learning into a triumph of simplicity. Critically acclaimed for good reason!

Why we love it:

  • A worthy tribute to Japanese classic Sokoban.
  • Clean art style.
  • Gradual and organic learning.

Download it for Mac, Windows & Linux

dys4ia by Anna Anthropy

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Dys4ia is a gamified experience about hormone replacement therapy. The controls are very simple – just the arrow keys – and the starkness of the gameplay and the lo-fi aesthetic allow the content to shine through. The game’s creator is making headway in an otherwise unexplored and totally niche area of videogames. It’s like queer WarioWare and is at turns funny, frustrating, informative, and touching.

Why we love it:

  • Game based on real experiences and events.
  • Simple retro styling enhances the message.
  • Witty and moving in equal measure.

Play it online (free)

Gone Home by The Fullbright Company

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Whilst Gone Home is presented as a traditional mystery with some light horror stylings, it’s actually [spoiler] an engaging and charming social commentary on the challenges faced by young people dealing with their sexuality. But there’s more to it than that – the way you empathise with the personal lives of your character’s parents, coming to realise they’re just people with their own hopes, dreams, ambitions and failings is all moulded into an enjoyable (if voyeuristic) game.

Why we love it:

  • Packs a healthy dose of 90s nostalgia!
  • Atmospheric, subtle and innovative storytelling.
  • Realistic, emotive sound design.

Download it for Mac, Windows & Linux

Papers, Please by Lucas Pope

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Papers, Please is a ‘Dystopian Document Thriller’ set on the border of a fictional Eastern Bloc country, Arstotzka. The premise seems simple: accept or deny those who wish to come in to the country based on news bulletins, terrorist attacks, international relations, inconsistencies in their documents and, of course, your own morals. Mistakes, unintentional or not, cost money you can ill afford with a family at home who are sick and hungry.

Why we love it:

  • Gratifyingly physical stamping and scanning.
  • Unexpected statements on gender performances.
  • An eye-opening exploration of struggles on conflicted borders.

Get it on Steam or download it here