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Good Old Games, or GOG for short, is a service that specialises in charming retro games of years gone by. If you’re a Windows user then you’ve pretty much got complete access to the entire catalogue, from old-school shooters to those resource management RTS games they just don’t make any more.
Should your download require it, GOG will have already thrown in the necessary emulation software (something like DOSbox) so you can enjoy the pearls of yesteryear on the latest and greatest hardware. There are plenty of bargains on GOG, so have a good look around. In this article I’ll be focusing on the freebies.
Beneath A Steel Sky (1994)
Sure, you could just download SCUMMVM (the fantastic point-and-click adventure game emulator) and grab the free Beneath A Steel Sky (BASS) image from the same website – but GOG are offering a simple, one-click download to get you started with this challenging adventure title and a few enticing freebies to boot.
If you’ve never played BASS before then prepare to step into a twisted, dystopian future where your character, Robert Foster, must fight to survive. Fellow civilians are paranoid shadows of human beings living in soaring high-rises nestled amongst the pollution which strangles the world. The story is gripping, the dialogue is cheeky and Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame is responsible for the beautiful locations. If you love cyberpunk don’t miss this!
Bonus Content: Manual (15 pages), 2 HD Wallpapers, 8 Avatar Images & Comic.
So it turns out the world was fairly switched on to the (now fairly dead) adventure game genre by the mid-90s, and Dragonsphere is another game that comfortably sits alongside the classics. It doesn’t, however, conform to the usual “kill the beast, grab the chick, have a feast” formula of so many games, films and stories.
Combining brain-tickling puzzles, mystical magical items and a wealth of challenging enemies to overcome, Dragonsphere spices up the genre with tricky puzzles, attractive graphics and some “interesting” character animations.
Bonus Content: Manual.
Lure of the Temptress (1992)
Yet another point-and-click adventure, Lure of the Temptress is a simple to grasp medieval outing from Revolution Software, creators of the Broken Sword series. You’ll only need two mouse buttons to navigate your way around the land of Turnvale, which is being attacked by mercenaries under the control of the mysterious Temptress in the game’s title.
Chances are you’ve heard of this one before, as it’s often celebrated alongside other point-and-click masterpieces like Monkey Island. The game conjures up a dark and brooding atmosphere with lashings of mystery as you unravel the tale and bring safety to Turnvale once more.
Bonus Content: Manual (36 pages)
The last (and admittedly not the finest) point-and-click on this list, Teenagent is a Polish adventure about a boy who is kidnapped by two men in suits and dark glasses. Don’t worry, it’s been fully translated into English, and whilst much of the production is cheap the dialogue is pretty entertaining and at times fairly hilarious.
A few of the reviews on GOG complain of illogical puzzles, often requiring the same action be repeated a number of times in order to work so you might want to consult a walkthrough if you do get stuck at any point. Luckily for you I’ve found a solid Teenagent guide on GameFAQs.
To quote the description on GOG’s website, Ultima 4 has “a story so deep and complex that it should be taught in schools” – let’s not forget that this one dates back to 1985. If you’re a fan of RPGs, medieval witchcraft and wizardry and aren’t afraid of pixels then you can do a lot worse than download Ultima IV for free.
Yes the graphics are remarkably old school and the combat might seem outdated but Ultima is a bit like a good book – the story, the dialogue and the universe are captivating and once you’re hooked you can probably say goodbye to normal life for a few days/weeks/months.
These days it might seem a little inaccessible next to the likes of Skyrim, but it’s a valuable free education in classic RPGs that you know you probably shouldn’t turn down.
Bonus Content: Manual, Cluebook, Spellbook & Map
Tyrian 2000 (1999)
Enough with the adventures and mythology, it’s time to blow stuff up! Tyrian is a beautiful top-down shooter developed at the turn of the century. The title incorporates good-looking visuals, a fantastic soundtrack, lots of levels and powerups, the ability to create your own ships and a story that’s somewhat interesting.
Most of the time you’ll be blowing things up, upgrading bits of your ship or swearing at your inability to perform. If you’ve never experienced Tyrian and you’re a fan of top-down shooters then you’re in for a treat with this free download.
Bonus Content: Original Soundtrack
What really makes many GOG downloads special are the extra freebies they throw in with each game. As you can see from the game descriptions, many come with simple extras that don’t change the game but certainly make the purchase feel a little more worthwhile. Once you’ve grabbed a couple of these free titles don’t forget to browse the rest of the site for yesteryear’s finest, emulated flawlessly.
Do you have any favourite games on GOG? What do you think of these free titles? Any similar websites specialising in fine retro games? Share your thoughts, links and recommendations in the comments.