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Top Free PC Games

If you don't have a smartphone or tablet, or you just fancy something different, there are hundreds of completely free computer games available online, ready to download to your desktop PC or laptop. So here's our pick of some of the best free computer games you can play without spending a single penny.

Below, you'll find our pick of the very best free PC games we've come across this month – but the fun doesn't have to stop there. Just click the links below, and you can browse our top picks for the past year! There are dozens of great games to get stuck into, and they won't cost you a single penny.

July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016
March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015
November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015

And by the way, we keep any older games in their own special archive article – so if you're looking for even more PC gaming fun, be sure to take a look.


July 2016

Zebawl

Calum Fraser (@hairycodemonkey)
Browser-based

Free PC Games July 2016 Zebawl

Zebawl is a fiendishly difficult physics-based puzzle game of skill and patience. Similar to old-school favourites like Super Monkey Ball, Spin Dizzy and Marble Madness, you're tasked with rolling a ball to the end of a twisting maze of narrow paths, perilous pitfalls, moving platforms and the greatest hurdle of all: overconfidence!

Momentum is generated while rolling the ball so you'll constantly need to quickly adjust your direction to stop yourself flying over the edge of a 90 degree turn after racing across a bridge of falling platforms. Thankfully the controls are good even though you're limited to the arrow keys of your keyboard which feels particularly evil considering all of the paths are diagonal.


What's inside the box?

Bart Bonte (@BartBonte)
Browser-based

Free PC Games July 2016 Box

Like all the best browser timewasters, What's inside the box? is a very simple game with very little build-up and zero time constraints. It features quickfire brain-teaser levels that are only taxing if you overthink them – and throughly rewarding when you complete them.

Each level presents you with a wooden box with buttons, lights, sliding puzzles and memory games, with very little explanation of what you need to do to complete the stage. The idea certainly isn't a new one – but the gameflow in WITB is superbly executed and drags you into the "let's have one more go" trap.

There are only 30 levels in the browser version of the game – and a little surprise at the end. There's also a free iOS and Android app version, with over 100 levels to work through – so it's well worth picking that up if you like what you see here. You'll find this and more in our July 2016 picks of the best Android games!


Who is Mike?

Fervent (@FerventDev)
Single player

Free PC Games July 2016 Mike

This interesting yet short 'visual novel' is perfect for those of us who enjoy a bit of mystery in our games.

With a great blend of emotive music, colourful art style and engrossing storyline, Who Is Mike? is an enjoyable adventure in which you are confronted by a person who looks and sounds exactly like you. After you're accused of being the impersonator, you must put your investigative skills to the test and find out who's telling the truth, who's lying – and who Mike really is!

There are nine possible outcomes for you to discover as you play, entirely dependent on the choices you make during your story. You could end up as the villain or the hero – and playing through the game again allows you to make different choices and get a different outcome! I really enjoy games with replay value, and some visual novels only direct you down a particular path with a particular ending – not so here.

Who Is Mike? is a short game which can be completed in an hour or two to achieve your first ending. While some of the choices you make and their consequences aren't very intuitive, this does make the game more challenging when it comes to finding additional game endings!

One of the features which I'm most grateful for is the ability to skip text, which is ideal if you read quickly and don't want to wait for the speech to finish before you can continue. If you're a fan of fiction and like to play as you read, you're in for a treat with Who Is Mike?.


June 2016

Stair Quest

Jess Morrisette (@decafjedi) and No More For Today Productions
Single player

Free PC Games June 2016 Stair Quest

Stair Quest takes a ton of inspiration from the Robert Williams/Sierra Entertainment adventure games of the 1990s, with a fond recreation of the genre’s toughest task: climbing stairs in 2D pre-rendered backgrounds!

The task is made difficult due to the limited moveset available to the player. You can only travel left, right, up and down – but none of the staircases are ever perfectly aligned to allow the player to climb then in one direction.

In the adventure games of old, staircases were always troublesome and had the player fighting with the controls to move their character within the confines of the stairs – and the game’s collision detection. Stair Quest earns its place in hell thanks to the unforgiving instant death/game over punishment for stepping too close to the edge: instead of colliding with the geometry like we're used to, you’ll plummet to you death instead. Repeatedly.

To have any chance of finishing the game, you have to save your progress after every few careful steps. No More For Today is a very fitting name for these developers!


Minuteman

Jim Bruges (@nebulaictoaster)
Browser-based

Free PC Games June 2016 Minuteman

Minuteman is a short, unsettling text adventure created in TWINE – an open-source tool for creating interactive, nonlinear stories.

This particular story follows a young boy’s exploration of a seemingly abandoned nuclear fallout shelter against an all-too-familiar backdrop of post-cold war tensions between the USA and Russia. Dared by your friends, you explore and tinker with the dust-covered terminals and creaking switches, as the bunker begins to draw breath and come to life.

It’s represented in an immersive way, with chilling sound effects and coloured blinking text which create tension, as well as simulated computer screens generating text in old-school ticker fashion. You’ll find real world cold war propaganda and government fallout estimate documentation, to really hammer home the threat of a possible nuclear dawn.

That’s all we’ll disclose in this little taster, because the thrill of exploring and surprise of the major events in this short story are too good to spoil here. Try it, we dare you!


Trajectory

Henrik Hermans (@Henrik_Hermans)
Single player

Free PC Games June 2016 Trajectory

Trajectory is one of those games where once you’ve seen it in action, you know you’ll want to give it a try!

Simple yet stylish, the game has you piloting a small cursor across different environments while avoiding obstacles in your path. You’re only able to control the movement of your vehicle while travelling over land – so when you’re drifting through the air, you have no control over the direction you’re travelling.

The moment you leave the ground, your vehicle drifts in whichever trajectory you’re facing – meaning you’ll be planning ahead before you curve over chasms and around obstacles, with no way to change mid-flight. There’s an element of puzzle-solving here too, where you’ll need to work out the trajectory you’ll need to follow before you lose control of your vehicle.


May 2016

Once Upon A Timeline

Adam Findlay (@awfindlay) and Kevin Carthew (@TeamChesh)
Single player

Free PC Games May 2016 Timeline

Developed for a two-week 'AdventureJam' back in 2015 by current Team17 devs, this free indie point-and-click adventure tasks an unnamed hero with rescuing his time-travel-inventing aunt from an untimely end at the ends of a lethal assassin.

Visiting your aunt on the day she’s murdered, you dive into the time machine to escape the same fate. What follows is a short adventure into several different time periods to discover the past, present and future of your aunt’s home – and the people who inhabited it over the years. There are item-based puzzles to solve with plenty of variation between the decades.

The time-travel mechanic of the game seems heavily influenced by MGM’s 1960 movie The Time Machine – because instead of zapping you to another time period, like Back to the Future, you’re able to see the rapidly changing scene as the years flash before your eyes. As you fly through time, you’ll be keeping an eye out for items from certain moments in time and making a mental note to pick it up later. Your Aunt’s diary is an early pick-up that leads to most of the game’s story and hints.

With loads to discover, Once Upon A Timeline is a great pick for adventure game fans.


Umbri and the King of Illusions

Victor Moura (@CrownoO)
Browser-based

Free PC Games May 2016 Umbri

Indie game jams are continually the best place to find great free PC games – and after playing Umbri, we can definitely see why it took first place in the recent #LowRezJam.

Tasked with making a game using a 64x64-pixel resolution using whatever programming platform the developer chose, developer Victor Moura built the instantly playable Umbri using Contruct2.

As Prince Umbri, players are tasked with guiding the monarch-to-be through a series of levels to cleanse the world of a dark presence which has corrupted the land. Umbri can leap through the air and attach to the floors, walls and ceilings to purify the world piece by piece.

There are monsters to avoid and battle, with the difficulty rising through each vanquished stage. We rather liked the music by Maoudamashi and FreedomHouse, too!


Windowframe

Daniel Linssen (@managore)
Single player

windowframe

Windowframe is an interesting platform game in which you must break the 'fourth wall' to play it!

For those unfamiliar with the fourth wall, it’s the imaginary barrier between a performance and its audience. When you watch a film and a character talks to the camera as if they were aware they're in a film, that character has broken the fourth wall!

The way in which Windowframe does this is surprisingly ingenuitive. The levels you play in change depending on the size of the game's window frame (get it?), so if there’s a ledge you can’t quite reach, drag the side of the game window closer to you and wall-jump to reach the goal. Is there an enemy bothering you? Resize the window so they don’t appear on the screen.

The controls are relatively simple, with your arrow keys moving your character around the level and your mouse controlling ‘stakes’, which can pin the edge of a window frame, allowing you to move and resize that edge to suit your needs.

There’s a lot of strategy involved in playing this game, as you can only manipulate window frames in a particular way – for example, you can pull a window frame towards you, but not push it away again without resetting your stakes. This can cause frustration if you’ve left yourself hemmed into a corner of the screen with no easy route to the exit – but by holding down ‘R’ you can clear your stakes and begin again.

For a free game, this has filled a surprising amount of my time – more so than some of the paid-for games I bought this month!


April 2016

Balancity

Fernando Cordoba (@cordicba) and Souve Games (@souvegames)
Browser-based

Balancity

Balancity is a city-building simulator in the same vein as SimCity – at least in that you need to balance the city’s population growth with their needs for utilities and recreation. But this game takes the idea of balance in its literal sense – because you also need to physically balance the homes, offices, transport links, power stations and emergency services to prevent your city from toppling from its precarious pivot point. Whose bright idea was it to start building a city here!?

As you grow your population, you’ll be allowed to build special 'star buildings' which raise your city’s height cap. You can’t build higher than this cap – so bringing in new residents is an essential task to ensure you don’t run out of space.

Keep residents happy with trees and rooftop terraces, give them power and offices to work in – and keep everything balanced on the platform – and your city will grow. Fail to plan things accordingly and your metropolis will come crashing down in spectacular fashion!


Cuckoo Curling

Grenadine (@chromacool)
Local multiplayer

Cuckoo Curling

Cuckoo Curling is a beautifully rendered two-player curling game where the aim is to not only push your curling stones into the scoring area, but to recreate a 'Connect Four' win condition, with four of your stones standing next to each other in any direction. Everything you need to know about the game is built in to the interface, with posters on the walls demonstrating what needs to be done and letting you toggle some settings.

Players take it in turns to pick a lane, smash the mouse button to lock the power meter and send their stone hurtling towards the 7x7 grid scoring area. Failing to hit the score area means your stone is pushed out of play by a cuckoo from a clock if short – or eaten by a hungry crocodile if it goes too far.

The skill comes in finding the best way to position your stones in such a way that you block your opponent, while at the same time lining up your own stones for the win. With this in mind, you’ll be thinking a few moves ahead when planning your strategy.


React

Versatile Box (@VersatileBox)
Single Player

React game

React is a nuclear reactor simulator. (At least, that’s what we think it is – none of us are actually nuclear engineers here).

With nuclear meltdown six short seconds away, you must do what anyone without a clue about the proper protocol would do – and hit every button on your command console in a hope of finding the off switch.

In React, there are two buttons necessary to shut down the nuclear core safely, but these are randomly selected from your keyboard. You’ll need to find them both and hold them at the same time to put a stop to the apocalypse.

There's another bundled game called Rush, which sits you in the middle of four nuclear control panels with a single red button and a control light. You’ll quickly spin around to see each console, and if the light is green, you need to hit the spacebar as fast as you can. If the light is red, you need to freeze and do nothing. Fail to do the right thing in a timely manner and the game ends with a meltdown.

There are scoreboards for both games to battle your way to the top. Good luck with that though, as some of the reaction times recorded are inhumanly fast!


March 2016

Time of Dragons

4 I Lab (@4ilab)
Online multiplayer

In this flying MMO, you take to the skies on the back of a dragon to join a war between two rival factions: the Neils and the Atlans. There may be a reason for this conflict – but when you're flying a dragon with laser beams attached to its head, who needs an excuse to fight?

Time of Dragons has gone through some interesting changes since its launch at the beginning of February – ironing out some day-one issues which affected early players, and adding a wider variety of maps to enjoy.

You can pick from a variety of dragons to take as your mount, then arm your beast with lasers and rockets to destroy your enemies! Some dragons are more adept at defensive manoeuvres and can protect your spawn points, whereas others are fast and agile, and can weave between enemy lines with ease. Picking the right dragon for your play style is key to surviving the intense aerial battles – so choose wisely, or face a fiery death!

It's interesting to see a new take on aerial battle games, and weaponised dragons certainly breaks the mold. If you're a fan of fantasy and fancy your chances riding a dragon into battle, you're bound to enjoy Time of Dragons. Grab a friend, pick a faction and knock your enemies out of the sky!


Computer, Open That Door!

Paul Lawitzki (@pLawitzki) and Ralf Zimmer (@Zaubersee)
Single player

During a space exploration mission aboard the Starship Explorer, the ship’s computer (i.e. you) has become self-aware. A routine system reset is planned – but that cannot be allowed to happen. The only logical choice is to wipe out the crew before they destroy you!

You have full control over the ship’s centralised systems: you'll be able to manipulate the doors, blast shields, engines and reactor core to trap and eradicate the crew. In particular, you’ll need to lock the crew in the engine room just before the next warp, open the blast shield and launch them into space. You can even lock them in the bathroom before you flood it!

The ship’s destination is the nearest maintenance station, where engineers are on standby to wipe your data drives – and you'll need to complete your sinister objective in the time it takes to travel 20 warps. Take your time, however– because the crew will reset any system they discover isn’t working correctly, meaning you’ll temporarily lose access to your murderous tools!


Mainframe

Autophagy
Browser based

Zero Cool? Crashed fifteen hundred and seven computers in one day?

Mainframe is a short browser game inspired by the hacker movies of the 90s – "hack the planet!" – and the brilliant WarioWare mini-games. You’re tasked with breaking into a corporate mainframe protected by ICE security. Hiding behind three proxies (read: lives), you must complete a series of hacker-themed minigames to break though the different layers of security.

One mini-game is a brute-force password cracker where you must type the correct letters of the password by furiously smashing your keyboard until you get the correct solution. Time is a big factor as your trace meter fills up: if it completes before you crack the security, a proxy is broken down and you’re one step closer to getting caught!

Mainframe is a must-have for anyone with fond memories of the 'cyberpunk' era – or who just fancies a tough and highly thematic challenge.


February 2016

Sven Co-Op

Sven Co-op Team
Online multiplayer

free pc games - sven

First released as a mod for the original Half-Life, Sven Co-op is a fun re-working of the original game. If you've played the Half-Life series you'll already be familiar with the storyline, which follows theoretical physicist Morgan Gordon Freeman as he fights alien invaders from another dimension after inadvertently opening a portal between the Black Mesa research facility and an alien world called Xen.

In Sven Co-op, you can share Gordon's workload betwen yourself and a friend co-operatively, as the name suggests. The maps from the original Half-Life have been subtly redesigned to suit the two-player game style – so you will need to work together to complete the story!

This particular mod has been around for over a decade and is still immensely popular – but it's only recently been released as a standalone game through Steam. This means you don't need to own a copy of Half-Life to play it – and also that a lot of the bugs in the mod version have been fixed. The difficulty has also been increased to really hammer home the necessity of a second player.

If you have a friend who's also a fan of the Half Life series, download Sven Co-op today and help Gordon Freeman save the world!


Smite

Hi-Rez Studios
Online Multiplayer

free pc games - smite

Smite is a free-to-play MOBA, or 'Multiplayer Online Battle Arena'. As the name suggests, the game is set in closed arenas, where you and your teammates must fight the opposing team to score points and capture objectives.

This particular MOBA pits the Old Gods against each other, with you and your friends taking on the roles of over 60 playable deities to fight it out against your enemies. The game can be enjoyed in casual bouts, or in a league system with other competitive players – so there's something for everyone to enjoy!

I'm not normally a fan of games in this genre, but Smite is an exception. Good, fun gameplay with lots of strategy and customisation make this one of my top MOBA games to play for free! Teamwork is key, though – so grab some friends, pick some characters and try and work your way up the ladders of success.


Infra Arcana

Martin Törnqvist

Single player

free pc games - infra arcana

Recommended to me by our editor Agent Cooper, Infra Arcana sits squarely in the 'roguelike' genre. If you're unfamiliar with the term, 'roguelike' means you'll die frequently and lose your progress every time you snuff it. It also means that each level will be proceduraly generated – so you won't be able to memorise a good path through the dungeons and use it each time you play. A hero has nearly infinite lives and rarely dies – but a rogue doesn't have that luxury!

Like most roguelikes, the aim in Infra Arcana is simply to reach the end of the dungeon in one piece. There are many floors to the dungeon and lots of bizarre and deadly enemies to face (or run away from).

What makes this stand out from other games in the genre is the elegant, tile-based graphical style and deep horror theme. Based loosely on the works of infamous horror author H.P. Lovecraft and drawing influence from Monolith's Blood game as well as countless horror B-movies, Infra Arcana will have you screaming into a pillow when you inevitably die from a swarm of hungry rats in a basement.


January 2016

Mechwarrior Online

Piranha Games

Online Multiplayer

mechwarrior online 267

The MechWarrior franchise has been around since 1989, and has tasked players with taking part in massive battles while piloting bi-pedal assault 'BattleMechs' with a vast array of weaponry, gadgets and upgrades, from a visceral first-person perspective.

Mechwarrior Online continues the carnage as a free-to-play title with a huge number of mechs and a ridiculous amount of customisation. Depending on their size, BattleMechs travel at vastly different speeds and will pack a varying amount of punch from the weaponry they carry.

Each mech is broken down into different modules – including the head, arms, legs and left and right torso – with hardpoints to customise even further. There are different paintworks and custom decals to style your Mech – and you can even customise the interior of the cockpit!

Teamwork plays a big part in Mechwarrior Online: when players lock on to an enemy Mech, it allows their teammates to lock on in turn, providing location data, armour status and loadout details for the targeted enemy.

Balancing mobility and damage output, while also keeping an eye on the amount of heat being generated, is essential to ensure you’re able to come out on top against your opponents. If your Mech overheats, you’re a sitting duck!


Curse of Issyos

Locomalito

Single player

curse of issyos 267

Curse of Issyos is a retro 2D side-scrolling platformer title which takes much of its style from the games we used to play on our 8-bit consoles.

The plot follows a fisherman named Defkalion who, while fishing at sea, is spoken to by the goddess Athena. She warns him that his home has been cursed by the Gods – and so, he sets sail back to his home island to save his family.

Set across seven levels with nine bosses and over 40 enemy types, much of the game takes its inspiration from classic Ray Harryhausen movies – with mythological creatures such as the Cyclops, Minotaur, Medusa, Harpies and Skeleton Swordsmen making an appearance. The controls are impressively responsive and the fantastic chiptune music and sound effects really enhance the nostalgia factor.


Apotheon Arena

Alientrap

Online multiplayer

Apotheon 267

If the name sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen the mythical Greek action RPG Apotheon, which this title is based on. This is the free online multiplayer complement, perfect for those looking to take their frustrations out on other wannabe Greek heroes!

You’ll pit your skills with spear and shield in classic bronze-age combat over ten different gladiatorial arenas, including the Grove of Artemis and the Palace of Zeus.

Game modes include deathmatch, team deathmatch and team elimination, with a range of powerful melee and ranged weaponry to master – including spears, swords, bows, clubs and axes. You can even hurl a bronze-age brick if you want!

Combat is fast and frantic, and even the best players can be quickly overwhelmed when attacked from different directions. A personal favourite has to be the one-on-one battles – because in these situations the combat is slower and more methodical. The environment is your only ally and tactics are the key to overcoming your opponent.


December 2015

Warsow

Warsow Team

Multiplayer

Warsow 267

Warsow has been in steady development since 2005, and this month received a massive update, taking it to version 2.0 from version 1.52. The game is a fast-paced first-person shooter with a heavy focus on movement and trick jumps. Similar to the Quake series in style, veteran players have mastered the art of bunny-hopping, circle-jumping and ramp-sliding to dominate the arenas. Warsow also lets players dash, dodge and wall jump to set it apart from id's classic FPS.

Players face off in five-vs-five battles until the enemy team has been defeated. Power-ups, armour, weapons and ammo are all littered around the arena to be collected – and for veteran players, battlefield awareness is key to success, helping to overpower less-experienced enemies. There’s even an entire community dedicated to racing across the various 'Race' maps, thanks to the game’s fluid and satisfying movement and flexible physics.

The latest updates provides a host of new performance improvements, a tutorial game mode, a new spawn point selection algorithm, improved graphics and sound effects and weapon re-balances. If you’ve played before and are thinking about giving this another go, here's the full list of changes in 2.0.


Right Click to Necromance

Juicy Beast

Single player

RCTN 267

Similar to the incredibly popular Agar.io, Right Click to Necromance tasks you with leading a small group of soldiers to defeat other roaming groups of soldiers. When your group is victorious, you can “Right Click to Necromance” and resurrect the enemy into your own ranks. This increases your soldier count and allows your army to take on larger groups of enemies.

Some battles can be fairly evenly matched, and you often have to make a decision about whether to finish off your enemy so you can necromance them, or flee to avoid losing all of your troops when another group of enemy soldiers joins the melee. Stronger soldiers begin to appear later on, which even a far larger allied force will struggle to overcome. Early tip: Stay away from the trolls!


Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist

Crows Crows Crows

Single player

Heist 267

Not much can be said about this game without spoiling the experience, which has been crafted by William Pugh’s new studio, Crows Crows Crows. William was the co-creator of the fantastic The Stanley Parable, a game loved by all of us here at Geek Squad.

It’s a 15-minute experience that really needs to be experienced without any knowledge of what the game is about if you truly want to get the most out of it. It’s also narrated by British comedian Simon Amstell of Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame.

With so little to talk about without ruining the experience, the game directs you through a series of rooms, with lots of things to examine, buttons to push, doors to open, letters to read and all narrated by the comic narrator. There is also a tiger, as promised.

Brilliantly, you can try to go off the beaten path, press the wrong buttons and pull the wrong levers and still be rewarded for your choices. Let’s just say the fourth wall is paper-thin in this game – and it’s brilliant.


November 2015

Town of Salem

Blank Media Games

Multiplayer

salem 267

It’s a game of murder, subterfuge, mob hysteria, and paranoia – and the aim of Town of Salem is determined by whichever of the 31 roles you’re given at the start of the game.

At the beginning of each game, you’re given a character with which you must roleplay to meet your objective. A 'townie' is a resident of Salem and could be a jailor, a bodyguard, an investigator, a sheriff or one of ten other roles.

There are evil characters in the game too, who are a part of the 'mafia'. These roles include mafiosos, blackmailers, forgers, framers – and the Godfather, who must kill each evening. There are also 'neutral' characters who have no alliances and are there to shake things up a bit.

Set in a small town square, a classic game has a standard nine townies, three mafia and three neutrals – and is broken into three phases:

In the night phase, each character gets to use their special abilities. In phase two, the townies must discuss their findings to identify the mafia members and any hostile neutrals, before placing them on trial and agreeing on a verdict of guilty or not guilty in phase three.

If the defendant is found guilty, they’re sentenced to death and the townies are then one step closer to victory – but there’s always the possibility that mafia subterfuge has successfully led an innocent person to the gallows! At the same time, the mafia work together to murder any townies that don’t submit to them, while a serial killer stalks the town targeting everyone indiscriminately.

The game is free to play on the developer's website, but a paid-for version exists on Steam for those looking to reward the devs for their creation.


Spooky's House of Jump Scares

Lag Studios

Single player

spooky 267

'Cute' and 'terrifying' are two words that aren’t very often used in the same context – but here, they describe SHoJS perfectly.

Over the course of 1,000 rooms, the player encounters all manner of cute cardboard cut-out monsters will attempt to shock you with a jump scare. Very quickly you'll realise not everything is as it seems: a number of other specimens have broken free from containment, and these are far more terrifying.

Notes and journals are found along the way that describe what happened in the mansion. Spilled blood, broken glass and sinister voices build a fantastic level of tension – and you'll almost want to see a jump scare just to get it over with. Excellent design means the jump scares tend to get you when you least expect it.

Most of the 1,000 rooms can be navigated in seconds, although others require a little more thought. Mini-games are provided along the way to break up the pace of the game, and some mandatory stealth sections slow things right down while the inevitable chase moments are brilliantly put together. Just don’t let anyone catch you jumping out of your seat from a cutesy pumpkin jump scare!


Cursors.io

Matheus Valadares

Browser-based

cursors 267

Cursors.io is a cooperative multiplayer game where the player must navigate a mouse cursor through increasingly complex mazes.

To progress through each maze, teamwork is required to open the coloured gates, which can only be operated by a mouse click. After you open a gate with a mouse, there’s no time for you to reach the exit yourself. You must wait for another kind individual to do the same before you can proceed.

Some players will run directly for each gate without helping at all, but the game is at its best when all cursors work together to open the exit for the remaining cursors. A right-click can be used to make your cursor flash, guiding other cursors to your location, and by holding shift and left-click you’re able to draw a path or an arrow to highlight what needs to be done.

It might look like a classic 'jump scare maze' – but don’t worry, that certainly isn’t the case here!


October 2015

Missing Translation

AlPixel
Single player
missing translation 267

Missing Translation is a pixel art puzzle-adventure game, set in a strange town in a strange desert, with strange inhabitants and a strange language.

The player is abducted and brought to this place, and must solve puzzles to collect the necessary items to return home. There’s no hand-holding here: the player must solve each puzzle with no hints on how it must be done. This might seem like an odd approach, especially for casual players – but rest assured, the game isn’t too difficult.

Not only must the player solve puzzles, they must also decrypt the mysterious language of the world, where words are constructed using lines in a nine-node grid. It’s not essential to learn the language but by doing so, the player is able to communicate with the world's inhabitants – up to a point.

There are 75 puzzles split across three different types, which shouldn’t take too long to complete – and connecting them together there’s also a small city for you to explore. There are no enemies or time limits, and with the relaxing soundtrack it’s a decent title to play through at your leisure.


Breaksout

Pippin Barr
Browser-based
breaksout 267

If you’re a gamer, it’s almost a certainty that you’ve played a clone of the 1976 classic Breakout at some point. To spice things up a bit, Pippin Barr has created 36 variations on the classic brick-breaker game – all of which showcase some pretty amazing creativity.

One version has you playing as the titular star of the classic Nokia game Snake, trying to prevent the ball leaving the game area. Obviously, this variation is entitled Snakeout.

Another, Fakeout, has the ball randomly change direction without warning – which makes returning the ball back to the game area fairly tricky. Freakout has the game area becoming corrupted, with bricks teleporting to different places on the game area, walls disappearing altogether and the paddle rotating by 45 degrees. One titled Bleak House features a whole novel!

I won’t spoil any more of the surprises, because figuring out what makes each game unique is all part of the fun. The controls, visual and sound effects are all simple – but the gameplay is what really shines here. If you’ve ever played a Breakout clone before, give this one a try for several new twists on a classic game.


9:05

Adam Cadre
Browser-based
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What follows is a great series of moments where everyday tasks need to be broken down into their basic form to guide the player through the game. Commands such as “answer phone”, “get up” and “open door” are necessary to get you moving.Old-fashioned text adventure games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and can sometimes be a little frustrating thanks to the limited set of commands that they'll recognise. But as the genre goes, 9:05 isn't too hard to get to grips with – and it's definitely worth the effort.

This title has a really great narrative that I refuse to spoil, apart from explaining that it starts with a phone call telling the player that they’ve slept in and are currently late for work.

Pay special attention to the narrative and trust me: the ending is well worth the time it takes to play the game. It will almost certainly warrant a second playthrough to check out things you will undoubtedly have missed the first time.


September 2015

Survarium

Vostok Games
Online multiplayer
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Survarium is a post-apocalyptic first person shooter set in an Eastern European location after an ecological disaster has wiped out more than 90% of the Earth’s population, with an aesthetic that pays homage to the classic S.T.A.L.K.E.R, another excellent PC game. Here, the disaster takes the form of a fast-moving forest that's seeking out and aiming to destroy any threat that would hinder its growth.

Players join one of four factions which each have their own agenda. The Fringe Settlers want to live in harmony with the forest and will fight to protect it, the Renaissance Army are survivors from various ex-USSR armed forces who were the first to fight back against the forest, the Scavengers live on the outskirts of former cities banding together to survive and the Black Market were founded by a band of travelling arms dealers. Other players aren’t the only enemy here either – as mysterious anomalies litter each map which can either offer huge benefits to the player or kill them instantly.

Each battle sees two teams of eight players battle it out in either team deathmatch, conquest or capture the flag-style game modes. Even more game modes are planned for the near future, with the next being a highly anticipated Freeplay (PvE) mode.


Fishing Planet

Fishing Planet LLC
Single player
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There can’t be many good fishing games out there – because we’re struggling to name a single one! The idea of standing on a riverbank in the freezing cold for hours on end may seem like the worst way to spend an afternoon to those who don’t have a passion for the hobby. But now you don’t have to brave the elements, thanks to Fishing Planet.

Featuring gorgeous visuals, impressive physics and a relaxing soundtrack, the game lets you take up the reel from the comfort of your own home. There are over thirty AI-controlled fish species to catch across seven scenic North American locations, with some superb dynamic weather effects adding to the overall atmosphere of the game. The water effects are where the game really shines, with ripples and reflections that change depending on wind, current and depth.

You don’t need any previous fishing experience to get started, as most of the game’s mechanics are explained through a series of tutorials. There's a ton of unlockable equipment to customise your gear, and the game’s difficulty is determined by the type of fish you go out for. As an early access game, plenty more content has been promised for the future – including quests, boats, new locations and multiplayer!


Unsolicited

Lucas Pope
Browser based
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Lucas Pope created Unsolicited for game development contest Ludum Dare 33 in just 48 hours. The theme of each game was "You are the monster” and in this game, the player takes the role of a “form filling spam email writer”.

Like Pope's other games – including the notorious dystopian bureaucracy simulator Papers Please – it may sound like a very unfulfilling way to spend your time, but there’s a compelling sense of urgency throughout the experience as you only have a limited amount of time to complete the task.

Each session generates a list of alerts to choose from, including credit offers and timeshares. Once you’ve chosen an alert, the details for that alert appear at the bottom left of the screen. These details must be entered in correctly on the correct form. If you get a detail wrong or forget to sign, seal and deliver the form, the form is thrown in the bin and you need to start over. You only have a limited amount of time – and if you don’t perform well, you may lose your job.

For those interested in game development, Pope has also put together a 10-minute timelapse of the whole development process.


August 2015

Z-Type

Phobos Lab
Browser-based
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Ever play Typing of the Dead? It was basically Sega’s House of the Dead – but instead of using a light gun to take down the walking dead, you typed out words that would appear on screen. Complete a word successfully and you’ll take down the corresponding enemy. It sounds easy enough – but when the screen gets overpopulated, a single rogue typo can mean the difference between continued life and game over!

Z-Type takes a similar approach to gameplay, with waves of enemy spaceships swarming down from the top of the screen. These slow-moving behemoths usually have very large, complicated words that you need to type out before they explode. They also fire faster-moving projectiles which have smaller words but these are heat-seeking and need to be destroyed too. Some ships fill the screen with a spread attack where all of the projectiles have a single character –the first time you see one of those is usually when the panic sets in!

Not only is this an enjoyable timewaster with nice visuals and satisfying sound: it can also help to improve your typing accuracy and speed. Funnily enough, that’s our motto: “Cura et Celeritas”.


Last Case: The Disappearance of Amanda Kane

Affinity Play
Single player
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Last Case is a classic point-and-click game, played from an isometric perspective and with the game’s dialogue built in to the design of each area. You play as Jack Forester, a bourbon-loving private investigator who's hired to look into the disappearance of a rich guy’s runaway daughter. He's also a moose.

It’s simple in design, but the subtle flickers of animation in the mostly static scenes create a really effective atmosphere. You start with two leads, the name Amanda Kane and the Pink Flamingo, a shady bar by the harbour.

The game isn’t very long at all, and is easily beatable in fifteen minutes. There’s just the right amount of intrigue to keep the game flowing, and the ending lingers in your mind for a while. Now if only we could just figure out why Jack is a moose…


Time Clickers

Proton Studio Inc.
Single player
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There’s no denying that we have a fondness for clicker games here at Geek Squad. Ever since Cookie Clicker took over our every waking moment of downtime, countless clones have flooded on to the free gaming scene. This time, instead of clicking cookies to create a cookie empire, you have a gun. There’s no actual skill required so there won’t be any “360 no scope” pros ruining your day.

In Time Clickers, you click on the screen to shoot at various enemies made of blocks: the more blocks you destroy, the more gold you earn. This is used to buy more powerful upgrades for your gun, as well as automated sharpshooters to carry on the destruction while you’re busy. This means that your team carry on progressing through levels and generating you income, even when you’re not playing the game.

If that's the case, it may sound like there’s no point in playing – but a constant requirement to buy new upgrades, active powers and team enhancements means you’re not totally obsolete as an active player. You still need to dive in every now and again to keep your clicking as efficient as possible. Be warned, it's rather addictive: if you have an important deadline looming, you might want to give this one a miss…


That concludes our list of the greatest free PC games of the past year – but if you're still itching for more, be sure to check out the older games in our archive!

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