Given the brevity of most browser games, it can be hard for them to really tell a complete story that really connects with the player. This week I've got five free games for you that do an excellent job of telling great stories about life, death, truth--and fighting demons as an 8 year old.
It's hard to make Atari-level graphics disturbing, but Misadventure does it with style. The conceit of the game is that you're an 8-year-old that's been chosen to ward off an invasion of evil demons. You just think you're playing a video game though, so when the disturbing imagery pops up half of the scares come from the graphics themselves and half comes from imagining the 8-year-old that thinks this is all perfectly normal.
Truth Only does a great job of telling a story through gameplay. At first it seems like a traditional first-person shooter with some impressive graphics for a browser game. But as you start noticing who your enemies are and how your own weapon functions, the story of who you are and what you're doing starts to draw you deeper and deeper into the game.
Lost Fluid is impressive mostly for the speed with which it establishes and tells its story. The whole game takes 10 minutes to play, less if you know what you're doing or consult the walkthrough helpfully available in the upper right part of the game. In that time though, Lost Fluid manages to sketch an impressive little sci-fi tale about life and death.
Fragments of Him
Fragments of Him is just about death. You play a character whose lover has died in a car accident, and each level has you traveling around a location erasing all the painful memories of your time together. The mechanic is so simple it's questionable if Fragments of Him is actually a game in the traditional sense, but the story it manages to tell in the space it creates is powerful enough to brush those kinds of questions aside. Game or not, Fragments of Him is an experience that's worth the time you'll spend on it.
Just in case you didn't find Fragments of Him bleak enough here's Terminally Ill, a game that's so irritatingly difficult I'd ordinarily discard it from Free Game Friday. What keeps me coming back is the story around those impossibly difficult tasks. You play as a character that's terminally ill and on the verge of brain death. In a last ditch effort to buy you a little bit more time, your doctors have hooked you up to a machine that tries to stimulate your brain with a few simple games. If you can manage to play them well you can buy yourself a little more time but when you die you, well, die. It's a simple premise and obviously it doesn't make your death any more real than it is in any other video game, but it adds a surprising amount of weight to every mistake you make in the game.