Old and new, artistic and scientific breakthroughs, and a little bit of wacky fruit-loving robots, too. It's the most widely varied Weekend Download in the history of the universe, as verified by independent laboratory experiments!
On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness (Windows/Mac/Linux, ~200MB, demo) - The first installment of the Penny Arcade episodic adventures has arrived! Set in the steampunk/comic book/pulp horror town of New Arcadia, you are innocently following the narrator's suggestion of raking leaves in your yard when a four storey robot comes crashing through your perfect neighborhood. Join forces with the Startling Developments Detective Agency to fight bizarre enemies and solve sinister mysteries in this adventure/RPG game. You might want to keep the kids out of the room for this one, as it features some crude language.
Bridge Building Game (Windows/Mac, <1MB, free) - An oldie but a goodie, Bridge Building Game (by Chronic Logic, creator of Gish) is similar to Armadillo Run in concept, but far simpler. Erect sections of a bridge connected to the on-screen nodes. Once you construct a solid structure, send the train across to see if it holds. The interface is basic but very usable, and some of the train runs you'll create will be downright astounding. Challenge yourself to see how cheaply you can build a sturdy bridge!
Foldit (Windows/Mac, ~50MB, free) - We see lots of offerings that blur the line between gaming and art, but what happens when a game blends with cutting-edge science? Foldit is a project conceived by scientists at the University of Washington to see if human pattern recognition can outpace the brute-force computer modeling method when it comes to determining folded protein structures. Don't worry, there's no scientific understanding required to play. A few tutorial levels will get you used to pushing, pulling, twisting and tweaking the proteins, trying to find the conformation that maximizes your score. After that, take a crack at the real proteins, where nobody knows what the high score even is! After you register, join the Jayisgames Foldit Team and bring glory and honor to JIGsters everywhere! In the name of science, of course.
The Jackyard (Windows, 12MB, free) - An artistic game of exploration and intrigue, The Jackyard exists only to tickle your curiosity bone. Use the [arrow] keys to move, [spacebar] to jump, and the [up] key to interact with objects and areas. Then just wander around and see what you can discover.