We've got some serious subject matter on the plate for this edition of Weekend Download. Grief, loss, religion, philosophy, government conspiracies, and probably a whole lot more hiding beneath the surface! Only venture forth if you've got a mind ready to do some serious digesting...
The Thirteenth Year (Mac/Win/Linux, 40MB, free) - Visual novels aren't everyone's thing, but a good story is enjoyed by all. The Thirteenth Year is a short visual novel with a minimum amount of interactive elements that spins a philosophical tale in a war-torn fantasy/steampunk world. A strange traveler in a brown cloak is the central figure, though his origins and motives remain a mystery while you take on the role of several different characters, each of whom has an unusual experience while conversing with the boy. There are three endings to discover, and the story will take a little over an hour to complete. You'll be riveted to the screen the entire time!
Wither (Windows, 17MB, free) - It seems like most games created with RPG Maker do a great job at being ignored by most people. Well, Wither is a little bit different and deserves a second (first?) chance. Styled like a classic Game Boy green-on-black game and using a few sound effects and sprites ripped from very recognizable sources, Wither tells the tale of a boy crippled with grief over a recent death. Explore the small area and talk to the characters to get a sense of what happened, then do what any good video game character does when there's nothing left to do: take a nap. Here, nightmares occur, presenting you with new worlds to explore. All in all, Wither is fairly thin on gameplay but very thick on emotion. It's a game about sadness, guilt, and devotion, and its non-linear exploration-based gameplay makes it a delight to sample. The fact that it looks so retro is just a nice bonus!
The Caldwell Incident (Windows, 17MB, free) - A short adventure game that would feel right at home as the plot of an X-Files episode. In the year 19XX in a small town in Alaska, Toss is woken late in the night by his friend Jenny tossing rocks at his window. Dressing and carefully climbing down, he learns she spotted something unusual nearby. First, you've got to get out of town without raising suspicion. Then, it's on to some serious investigating!
Note: All games have been confirmed to run under Windows 7 and are virus-free. Mac users should try Boot Camp, Parallels, or CrossOver Games to play Windows titles, Linux users can use Wine. If you know of a great game we should feature, use the Submit link above to send it in!