freeware and open source games

Screenshot of PrimroseScreenshot of PrimroseScreenshot of Primrose




Art-Game creator Jason Rohrer is stepping out with his latest release, Primrose, by making it available on the iPod. While not as overtly "artsy" as his previous games (and certainly much less depressing), those who really want to interpret his games in meaningful ways can still do so. The main attraction of the game, however, seems to be purely gameplay-mechanical, i.e. it is fun to try to get highscores without thinking about the 'meaning of the game'. The game, therefore, would likely appeal to those with an inclination towards syntactic beauty (ex. the mathematicians out there), as opposed to semantic beauty.

-Gameplay- 8.5/10

The rules of the game are simple. There is a 7 x 7 board, and the player must place colored tiles (chosen at random) on the board. These tiles become available in pairs, and the second tile must be placed in the same column/row as the first (if possible). When a tile (or a cluster of tiles with the same color) becomes entirely surrounded by tiles of another color, the surrounded tile(s) disappear(s) and the color of the surrounding tiles is converted to that of the surrounded. Each time tiles disppear, points are earned.

The essential twist of the game is that the player starts with three possible colors, but gains up to 7 different colors throughout the game, making the board increasingly diverse. Once the last color has been acquired, colors will begin disappearing. Eventually, the player will be left with only 1 single color. Needless to say, in order to continue playing with 1 single color, the player must have a more or less diversified and sustainable board, which is where the soul of the gameplay lies (in my opinion).

The game could be played relaxingly, and all games are autosaved, making this an excellent coffee-break game.

-Difficulty- 10/10

Primrose is easy to learn and difficult to master. In a way, the game reminds me of Conway's Game of Life (with a much smaller space to work with, of course). Theoretically, it should be possible to create an infinitely sustainable system and thus obtain an infinite score... but I will leave it to the mathematical geniuses out there to figure that out.

-Replayability- 9/10

It really depends on your preference. I suspect that some would get bored of the game rather quickly. I am one of those people who are intrigued by mathematical intricacies and find the game worth replaying many times over.

-Graphics- 8.5/10

Nothing particularly fancy here. Since it is a simple puzzle game however, the lack of fanciness should not count much against it. The interface is clean and pleasant.


No music. Sound is not distracting.


1. Yay colors

2. Colors disappearing from my arsenal...

3. The end.