Last week, on Weekend Download, I had the tiny problem of listening to the constant droning of a leaf blower somewhere in my neighborhood. This week it was back, with a vengeance, and it directly affected my downloadable game playing experiences. When I was playing Oxyd, all I could do was smash into walls. When I played IVAN, I couldn't kill a bat. I couldn't explore all of Elona because focusing was out of the question. And zombies in Rock Boshers took me out a few times too many because my mind was elsewhere. Maybe I should take a hint from the protagonist in Violet and start eliminating the distractions by any zany means available?
Enigma (Mac/Windows/Linux, 10-15MB, free) - A puzzle game inspired by Oxyd for the Atari ST, the object is to uncover pairs of identically colored stones by bumping into them with your cursor (a ball). Traps, mazes, laser beams, and a fistful of dangerous puzzles stand in your way, so it's never a straightforward tap-and-win affair. The physics are great, the visuals crisp, and there are over 1,000 levels to play, so you won't get bored any time soon.
Iter Vehemens ad Necem (IVAN) (Mac/Windows/Linux, 1.5MB, free) - Translated as "Violent Road to Death", IVAN is a graphical roguelike RPG that includes a slightly off-kilter plot and a high level of difficulty. Your day starts out like any other with a little tree climbing, banana gathering, and a dip in the crocodile pool. The colony's viceroy soon contacts you with a quest to a neighboring island whose inhabitants he suspects are plotting against him. To travel there, you must trek through a monster-infested underground tunnel. The game plays like most roguelikes/RPGs, but there are a number of ways to die in IVAN, and if you do, you have to start over from the beginning.
Elona (download mirror) (Windows, 24MB, free) - Call it a rogue-like, an old-school RPG, or, if you're feeling gutsy, a Dwarf Fortress-like simulation game, Elona doesn't fit squarely in any genre, per se. The Japanese-made game features a detailed character creation system that lets you customize almost every aspect of your avatar, then drops you in a world where quests, dungeons, and items are randomly generated. You can do things like fish, mine, negotiate, buy and sell furniture, own a house, run a shop or museum, have a pet, even poison a town well, splice genes, and nuke a city. The game has an enormous array of bells and whistles to explore, with the only price of admission being a rough-around-the-edges translation and presentation. Work through the game's tutorial before you dive in, it does a great job introducing the open-ended world.
Rock Boshers (Windows, 4MB, free) - A ZX Spectrum-style demake of Red Faction, Rock Boshers tells the story of a man lured to work on a distant planet with the promise of riches only to be enslaved by an evil empire. With the help other miners caught in the same trap, he sets out to free everyone and overthrow the empire. There are a few flaws in this game that keep it from being truly stellar, such as a faulty full screen mode and the fact that hitting ESC immediately kills the game, but the writing is light-hearted and the puzzles enjoyable, so you'll have a good time nonetheless.