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Beautiful Games to Play on a Budget

By Arryn Zech

This week, I wanted to share some affordable, if not free, games that you should check out. From indie games that explore the dark but beautifully haunting world of a young boy on the search for his sister, to games sponsored by Adult Swim that include flamboyant music and a rainbow robot unicorn.

Limbo
Limbo

Limbo is probably one of the most visually stimulating games I’ve ever played. The atmosphere isn’t stimulating in that it’s really bright and gaudy, etc, etc, but it’s stimulating in its subtle beauty. The game happens in a silent world that a young nameless boy seemingly lives in. You begin a journey to find your sister, or we assume she’s your sister, but the game never actually makes it perfectly clear. The boy wanders through industrial boom graveyards, thick forests crawling with large spiders, and abandoned factories.

Limbo is a platformer game that takes the foreground/background relationship very much to their advantage. In every level the boy wanders the darkened world on a silhouetted ground, so you’re never too sure what you’re walking on unless the shape makes it blatantly clear. The background combines the use of depth of field and an ominous fog to create a haunting and lonely feeling, as if the world has ended and you’re the only one left.

Along with is fantastic ambiance, the game play keeps your mind working while keeping you interested in the game. It includes problem solving puzzles, not the sort that you play with your grandma on Thanksgiving, but rather having to figure out clever ways to get past obstacles and not die. This includes getting past a witty and massive spider and a group of mysterious children who seem to follow you and try to keep you from getting closer to the next level.

The game is described as a trial and death game, so I wouldn’t get too frustrated if you don’t get through obstacles the first time. The boy will end up dying in unexpected and sometimes pretty gruesome circumstances, but because the game developers were well aware of this fact, once you die, you start back where you died. It’s nice knowing that you don’t have to start from a saved spot and wait 10 minutes before you get to where you last ended.

Over all, Limbo was one of the most astounding games I’ve ever played. The game play lasts about 5-6 hours, the visuals are beyond words, and the sound design makes for an unforgettable game.

Limbo is available for download on Xbox Live Arcade and is also limitedly available for PC and PS3.

Pandemic
Pandemic

Pandemic is a strategy game available online for free; just google it basically. The goal of the game is to kill the entire population of the world, but the trick of it is, you have to do it using only a virus, a bacteria, or a parasite.

In choosing which of the three you’ll use to take over the world you have to keep in mind what kind of strategy you wish to use. Each one has it’s own way of showing in people, so if you want to try and kill every at once, you can use a fast acting thing, like a virus. The only problem is, is that everyone has sea ports, air ports, and borders and they have the ability to close down everything to keep it from spreading outward or spreading inward. If you aren’t careful, you’ll lose.

Not only do you chose what the disease is, you can choose how it’s spread and its side effects. You have a wide variety to choose from including coughing, nausea, and some with names I don’t even know how to pronounce. The more you spread your illness, the more points you get to buy cooler and cooler side effects. Depending on what effects you choose, your visibility, deadliness, and contagiousness go up.

One big joke with this game is Madagascar, which has only one port and is THE hardest place to infect. People usually end up rage quitting because Madagascar closes its ports. It’s a godsend if you start the game in Madagascar. I’ve only won once because of those germaphobic islanders.

Robot Unicorn Attack
Robot Unicorn Attack

Robot Unicorn Attack is as dumb as it sounds, but it’s surprisingly addictive. It’s sponsored by Adult Swim, so that should explain a few things.

The main point of the game is to rack up points. You get points by smashing into giant metallic stars and collecting little mini robot unicorns that float in the air. You play a robot unicorn with a majestic rainbow mane and tail that flitters in the wind as you leap from place to place. The game is a platformer with only two controls; jump and smash. The unicorn runs across a purple plain and, as the game progresses, you go faster and faster, making the game slightly more difficult over time.

What makes the game so awesome is how fantastically flamboyant it is. As you race this rainbow unicorn over the lilac plains, the sounds of Erasures “Always” can be heard behind the laughing of dolphins that pop up and celebrate you as you get farther into the game.

You get three shots at the game to get a high score. Mine is 30,000. Beat that.

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