I’m not a big fan of competition, but I do love challenging myself, and there are very few computer games that are really both challenging and non-competitive, but I found four this week, for a choose-your-own donation to a pair of great causes, but they are only available for four more days!
HumbleBundle.com is the place you want to visit. They are selling Humble Bundle #3 right now, with proceeds going to Child’s Play or EFF (you decide how your donation is allocated), and if you donate more than the average for the day (something like $4.83 when I bought them, I donated $10), you get five games from Humble Bundle #2 as well (which I didn’t know at the time). All of the games are DRM free, so you can copy and download them as you like, forever, on whatever systems you have, as long as you keep your code.
Not all of the ten games are non-violent and non-competitive; that is my search criteria, not theirs. Here are a list of the four games that I selected to download:
1. Crayon Physics Deluxe: 2D physics simulator, in sooting crayon line drawings, and with the most mellow/aetherial soundtrack ever. Non-timed, and starts off easy enough for my two year old to do, but rewards innovative and elegant solutions, and my husband and I have been cheering each other on all afternoon (while we should have been packing). I can’t imagine how hard they get as the game proceeds, but I know I’m enjoying it, and it comes with an editor so you can make up your own problems as well. Easy interface, but little ones might have trouble doing this on a touch pad, as mine are, but they are getting the hang of it. Can be played on or offline, depending on if you want updates. Worth more than what I paid for the lot, all by itself.
2. Cogs: A 3D move the pieces until they make the cogs (or pipes) connect to make the lavishly illustrated gizmo work. Sort of a steampunk vibe. Timed for bonus points, and feels sort of frenetic because of it, but very enjoyable regardless, and great for visual/spatial learners. Also comes in a netbook version, but I couldn’t get it to work on our Gateway netbook, so who knows.
3. Machinarium: Beautiful pen and ink style challenges as you try to move your little robot dude through a wonderfully complex landscape, using the materials at hand to solve the problems presented. I tried a demo of this last winter, and was VERY impressed. Super sweet freebie! Non-timed, so be prepared to leave it and come back to it when you are able to look at each level with fresh eyes.
4. Osmos: The most competitive of the four, but only against the computer. Player is a little blob of mass in a petri dish/cosmos, trying to get bigger by gobbling other blobs of mass, which you sometimes need to maneuver to capture, but you jettison mass to do so, making it a game all about reflexes and patience, which is an interesting combo. Each level can be randomized, so you can choose to learn the trajectory of the blobs around you to improve your odds, or try it afresh each time. Can be stressful, since you are trying not to be eaten, but fairly addictive regardless. Not sure how the higher levels will play out, but, again, as a freebie I was quite pleased with it.