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Don't miss Epic's free PC game today or you'll regret it

20 minutes till dawn trailerImage: Flanne

The Epic Games Store has made it something of a tradition to give out tons of freebies over the holidays. In fact it’s become so reliable that I no longer grab each and every one — my Epic library is overflowing with games I’ve never touched, after all. But today’s free game is one I have played, because I bought it last year. 20 Minutes Till Dawn was worth every penny, and since you have the opportunity to snag it for precisely zero, you shouldn’t miss out.

The setup is this: You’re a scared Little Red Riding Hood-type in a top-down forest. You’ve got a gun, you’ve got an increasingly dense field of monsters trying to kill you, and you’ve got 20 minutes until they disappear. Progression is obviously inspired by smash indie hit Vampire Survivors, with each killed monster dropping a tiny amount of XP and each level unlocking a new survival tool or upgrade. Unlike Vampire Survivors, you can aim and shoot manually, though if you expand your build right your collection of helpful critters might be dishing out a lot more punishment.

The game’s four-color pixel art is simple but effective, making it easy to differentiate a variety of monsters and bullets constantly heading your way. Boss fights show up at regular intervals, but you’ll soon develop strategies on how to deal with them. The real fun is finding the right combination of starting girl (each one has a different special power), gun, and upgrades to become a whirling dervish of death, slaying dozens or even hundreds of crowded baddies with every pull of the trigger by the time each run ends.

There’s a limit to the replayability of 20 Minutes Till Dawn. You’ll inevitably gravitate towards certain combinations of character, weapon, and strategy, and from that point on it’s just a matter of time before you’ve unlocked all of your preferred permanent upgrades. But it’s a stylish and satisfying little game that really hit the spot when I was looking for some crunchy combat. The developer is working on a more complex version of the game, Emberpath, and it’s already on my Steam wishlist. As with all Epic freebies, you can claim it in the app (or on the web) and keep it associated with your account forever. Go get it, because it’s only free until 11 AM US Eastern time tomorrow.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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