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Teens, Web / Download

The Sandbox by Pixowl

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The Sandbox is a free-to-play physics simulator. Players are given access to an array of materials and encouraged to experiment with them. Each material has a unique property and will react to other materials placed nearby. This allows the player to build simple machines, electrical circuits and a variety chemistry based experiments. Whilst the tutorial gently guides you through a variety of in-game possibilities it is the free play mode that offers the player long term fulfilment. The control system makes the most of the iOS touchscreen and offers a simple and intuitive interface which is perfect for experimentation.

Why we love it:

  • Learn about a variety of materials and their properties.
  • Build circuits, conduct experiments and create structures virtually.
  • Save, share and rate your best creations in the online gallery.

Play it online or get it for iOS or Android

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

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

Time Explorer by GR/DD & The British Museum

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Time Explorer is an isometric flash game which allows you to travel back in time via The British Museum. The aim is to rescue precious artefacts, and in doing so find out more about them and the civilisations that created them. There are four levels, each taking you on a treasure hunt to ancient destinations across the globe.

Why we love it:

  • Cool isometric graphics.
  • Straightforward keyboard controls.
  • Aims young but is fun for all.

Play it online (free)

The Republia Times by Lucas Pope

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The Republia Times is a flash game about running the content of a state-owned newspaper under the influence of an overbearing government. The challenge is to please your leaders while also printing balanced articles, and answering to desperate pleas from your rebellious fellow countrymen. Developed originally for the Ludum Dare challenge, the game is very basic, but clearly conveys a strong message about politics and the media.

Why we love it:

  • Immerses you straight in to the game challenge.
  • A powerful message about usage of the media as a tool.
  • Lo-fi aesthetic allows the content to shine through.

Play it online (free)

Way by Coco & Co

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Way is a free downloadable co-operative 2-player game which, like other games in its genre (Portal 2, Spelunky, Ilomilo etc.), is all about cooperation and communication. The puzzles are simple, but the feeling of achievement is high as you work your way through the game with your anonymous partner. There are moments that you will have to be your partner’s eyes and communicate only through gesture, so here’s a word of warning – you’ll be screaming at the screen!

Why we love it:

  • Simple controls make it suitable for all.
  • Encourages trust and connection through teamwork.
  • A deeply ‘human’ experience.

Download it free for Mac or Windows

Nom Nation by Playerthree & Channel 4

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Nom Nation is a retro platformer in which you learn about nutrition. You play as Chef, whose mission is to defeat an evil fast food peddling clown, and return the Holy Book to the Noms. By eating different noms you get different powers, protein gives you super punches, sugar and caffeine give you speed, fat makes you, well, fat. But muncher beware, foods can have lethal long term effects too…

Why we love it:

  • It’s funny and irreverent.
  • Great chiptune soundtrack.
  • Teaches healthy eating without being worthy.

Play it online or on iOS (both free)

Oiligarchy by Molleindustria

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Oiligarchy is a satirical browser based strategy game in which you play the head of a global oil company; drilling, exploring, hiring mercenaries and manipulating governments to make money. Your decisions create reactions around the world, but there is no way to play this game that doesn’t reflect the unpleasantness of the industry and the international wealth that is bound to it. Oiligarchy makes a complex subject accessible, and its message is politically and environmentally resonant.

Why we love it:

  • Complex gameplay with a dark humour.
  • Illustrates interconnections of global events.
  • Features a plausible near-future in a bold political statement.

Play it online (free)