[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's daily link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

As we wander towards the weekend, semi-inevitably, it's time to break out the GameSetLinks for one final time this year, starting with Gregory Weir taking us through his bundle of intriguing free-to-play Flash games released so far this year, from Exploit through How To Raise A Dragon and beyond.

Also in this slightly extended round-up, picking from some of the best sources you might not otherwise read, IFC.com on Flower, the latest in the amazing Phantom Of Akihabara series, open-world games discussed, The Great Red Herring Chase released, and rather more besides.

Expect fireworks:

Ludus Novus » Blog Archive » Six Months of Games
GSW columnist Gregory Weir's retrospective of some really interesting webgames he's made so far this year.

The Sandbox: "Flower"'s Video Game Poetry - Features - News - IFC.com
Awesome to see that IFC.com is running these regular game columns - this one a thoughtful piece on Flower.

Intuition Games » Blog Archive » The Great Red Herring Chase is finally released!
Really clever typing-based Flash game - shame they couldn't find a sponsor.

“The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 4: “The Blindfolded” @ Magweasel
Still spectacular.

Liberty for All: How We Arrived at GTA4, Infamous, and Prototype from 1UP.com
'The key here is that all three of this summer's initial marquee titles are action-adventures that place gamers in an open world and let them choose how, where, and when they do everything..

Games as Art: You Have to Burn the Rope, Achievement Unlocked and Upgrade Complete | Games Can Teach
'As a game designer I find it particularly interesting when games are used to comment on the nature of games.' A good set of games to discuss/compare.

Crispy Gamer | Like Watching Paint Dry: Why Most Games Are Really Boring After the Opening Hour
'Nothing interesting has happened in hours. Yes, hours. So why am I still playing this $#@*ing boring game? Let's see you solve that mystery, Professor Layton.'