So, you’ve got some free time tonight. Not totally sure what your plans are, maybe you’ll watch some Netflix, maybe go out to a “Social Gathering” (pshh no). You would play a video game, but everything’s expensive or takes too long to finish.
Aha! Here’s your solution. I’ve pulled together a list of seven indie games that are super short, totally free, and absolutely worth your time. Plus, they’ll be great conversation-fodder down the road when you’re inevitably forced to make small talk during a Social Gathering.
If you’re feeling generous/wealthy/employed, take note that (almost) all of these games don’t have to be free—if you want to support their developers, you can pay however much you like. If you can pay, please do!
If you are in your 20s or 30s right now, you probably used AOL Instant Messenger as a teen. Emily Is Away is a choose-your-own-adventure game that is jam-packed with all the awkward feelings of a young college kid. It uses AIM as its interface, so the only real mechanic is typing and reading. I found Emily is Away to be an uncomfortably genuine depiction of a certain time in my life.
2. Little Party
In Little Party, you play as a mom who potters away in the background of your daughter’s party. You can interact with the party guests by asking polite questions, making them guacamole, or performing other mom-ish hostly duties. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s quite lovely. Plus, we need more games starring moms.
This game is a sort of interactive folk poem that tells stories from the Italian city of Palermo. The more you play, the more options are unlocked to create a branching story all about the people and food of Italy. Sometimes it’s a little repetitive, but the lovely artwork and Italian narration kept me going until the end.
Animal Inspector is kind of like Papers, Please, but you are choosing between adorable cats and dogs instead of human beings. It takes place in a strange and colorful future in which there are too many pets and humans must make some tough decisions to cull the herd. This game is weird and definitely a bit of a challenge for pet lovers, but I enjoyed its bizarre humor.
The Longest Night is a supplemental game to the upcoming Night in the Woods. The actual interaction-part of this game is extremely simple: you click on dots to create star constellations. The game is charming because of its relatable banter and lovely soundscape.
6. Hot Date
Hot Date is a pug dating simulator, and it’s as strange and funny as you are probably imagining right now. You go through a series of speed dates with an adorable dog, and the two of you must make small talk. Personally, I found the pug to be pretty unpleasant. I definitely had a couple of flashbacks to actual bad dates of yesteryear.
Made by the creator of The Stanley Parable, Dr. Langeskov is an incredibly self-aware game. You must explore the backstage area of the game you were meant to play, guiding another player through the obstacles of the “real” game. Like Stanley Parable, it asks questions about the nature of what a game is, although this title is definitely a lighter experience.
Want to find more free games? Browse around itch.io to find thousands of amazing (and cheap) virtual experiences to share with your friends!