“NERTS!” has been shouted, ending a round of the new, free Zachtronics game Nerts!. But how did we get here?
We’re no strangers to video games as escapism during the pandemic, especially the games that bring friends together online with simple-yet-deep gameplay. That very premise catapulted Among Us, a quietly launched indie game from 2018, to the top of 2020’s charts and headlines.
After only one week, 2021 has already started as a… rollicking year, which has led me to the unusual step of highlighting a new, free multiplayer card game on Windows, Mac, and Linux that we might not otherwise cover at Ars Technica: Nerts! One reason is that it’s currently the “best new game” of 2021—admittedly a silly designation only seven days into the year, but I’m counting it.
You may have already stumbled upon Nerts! as a child, perhaps calling it Pounce or Racing Demon, as it’s a modified version of solitaire for larger groups of players—a fact that the game’s developers at Zachtronics freely admit (and perhaps plays into the game’s free-as-in-beer price). The below video tells the story, though you’ll want to read my context to better parse it.