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Gone Home by The Fullbright Company

gonehome

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

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)

Code Fred: Survival Mode by Museum of Science + Industry Chicago & UNIT9

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Code Fred: Survival Mode is a suite of browser-based minigames in which the player learns to exploit their own human biology to stay alive. As Fred, you’re trying to escape from a marauding wolf, completing a series of tasks in order to survive; pumping adrenaline to run faster, fighting off bacteria and healing a wound (yes, the wolf bites!).

Why we love it:

  • Great combination of fun and learning.
  • Dark sense of humour to amuse teens and adults.
  • But it’s great for all ages!
  • Nicely paced action for enquiring minds.

Play it online (free)

Every Day The Same Dream by Molleindustria

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Every Day The Same Dream is a philosophy in action. It’s a browser based game in which you play a faceless, nameless everyman, repeating his day to day actions over and over again. Intentionally pushing the boundaries of boredom and repetition with its stark monochromatic art style it manages to communicate that life is what you make it, you are only as trapped as you feel and to change the things you hate now. For all its bleakness, its message is positive, and much welcomed.

Why we love it:

  • Has an emotive and politicised message which will resonate with most.
  • Unpretentious gameplay makes it accessible to all.
  • Effortless merge of art and gaming.
  • The music is awesome!

Play it online (free)

EteRNA by Carnegie Mellon & Stanford University

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EteRNA is a science based puzzle game in which players help to solve real life RNA molecule folding problems. Starting out with simple, yet addictive puzzles, the player is trained up until they have the skills to contribute to regularly changing RNA problems posed by the scientists behind the game. Top voted solutions are synthesised in a lab and ultimately improve RNA folding research at a much faster rate than traditional computer models.

Why we love it:

  • Easy to pick up puzzle mechanic.
  • Empowers the player to contribute to real life science issues.
  • Great example of crowd sourced science that is actually fun!

Play it online (free)