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 in no particular order, here's a list of some of the best free computer games you can play without spending a single penny.
Over the last few months we've amassed quite a collection of free content, so feel free to browse around or click on the links below to jump to the section of your choice.
- Free online multiplayer games
- Free single player/local multiplayer games
- Free browser-based games
- Older free games archive
Free Lives Games
Broforce, a chaotic ‘bullet-hell’ pixel side-scroller, was released earlier this year to capture the nostalgia of action movies of the 80s and 90s. The developers have since created the completely standalone expansion, The Expendabros, as a cool crossover between Broforce and the recently released The Expendables 3 and have offered it as a free download for a limited time only (31st December to be exact).
You can choose a pixelated version of any of the seven Expendables from the movie and play co-op with friends to complete 10 levels of pixel carnage to stop Mel Gibson’s character, Conrad Stonebanks. It’s a fast-paced game where players run, jump and shoot while destroying the typically 80s-style action movie environments (think lots of explosions!).
The game is frantic and designed to be played with very little finesse. Prepare to die and re-spawn repeatedly, before you’re flung straight back into the action! At times the game can be brutally difficult but the accomplishment of overcoming a particularly tricky section more than makes up for the countless restarts.
Trion Worlds, Inc.
Games based on movies or TV shows are almost always a complete let down. They often try too hard to copy the same formula as the TV show/movie, which usually fails to capture the initial magic, or they try something completely different which loses everything that made it great in the first place. With that in mind, Trion Worlds has partnered with the SyFy channel to create a dual video game-TV series. Player events which happen in the game are reflected in the show’s storyline, meaning that the game is both true to the source material and a solid MMO style game.
A third-person persistent MMO shooter, the game takes place in the San Francisco Bay area several years after a devastating battle between an alliance of aliens and humans. The Earth’s surface has drastically altered in the war, ending in the extinction of all animals and plant life and resulting in the introduction of a new dangerous insectoid species. You take the role of an Ark Hunter, one of a group of survivors paid to hunt for advanced extra-terrestrial technology.
You complete story missions to progress the main game arc or complete side missions for experience points and currency, which allows you to level up and improve your characters. You can collect weapons, equipment, vehicles and outfits to help you out along the way too. You meet characters from the TV series throughout the game too, fresh from what they’ve been getting up to in the TV show.
Heroes & Generals is a massive and deeply immersive first-person shooter, set in World War 2 and featuring a strategic multiplayer campaign. There are two types of game included: the first involves you taking the role of a Hero with an active part in each battle, and the second is a strategic game where Generals determine the overall direction of their army and support the Heroes on the battlefield.
In the action game, the overall gameplay has an arcade feel to it, but some elements such as realistic bullet drop and armour penetration enhance the immersive effect. Gunplay has been setup so that it is quite difficult to take down enemies. Weapons aren’t very accurate unless you’re stationary and crouched. This means that a more strategic approach is needed compared with other online multiplayer shooters – which makes a refreshing change. The game features a huge number of weapons, side arms, heavy explosives and both land and air vehicles. Generals can also call in air support to aid their troops in battle in the form of bombing runs or care-package drops. This can be prevented by the enemy team by using anti-aircraft weapons to shoot down the incoming planes.
Maps are generally expansive and normally feature domination-style gameplay where you must fight to control command points. Attackers have 30 minutes to take control over all command points and are awarded extra time for each successful takeover. The overview map of Europe allows you to see the towns they control and which towns are accessible. Enemy-controlled towns can only be attacked from an ally-occupied town but the front lines are always changing. Generals can also download the Heroes & Generals: Mobile Command companion app for Android & iOS and go into battle on the go!
Phantoms is a third-person multiplayer shooter set in the near-future Tom Clancy universe. You take on the role of a highly skilled operative known as a Ghost with the ability to deploy cutting-edge equipment and weaponry on futuristic battlegrounds against players across the world.
You choose a class before going into battle and can select either an Assault, Support or Recon class which all have their own specialist attributes to suit a particular style of play. You can equip yourself with support equipment to gain an advantage over the enemy with passive benefits. This equipment can boost damage capacity, improve radar coverage and provide more ammunition.
Three different game modes are available to try out at the moment called Conquest, Onslaught and Holdout. Conquest is a well-known point-capturing exercise where players fight to capture and hold a number of conquest points. Onslaught is similar to Conquest but places a team of defenders against a team of attackers where the defenders hold all the points at the start of the round and the other team must capture them. Finally, Holdout has you battling it out to attack and hold a single capture point until the end of the round.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play, turn-based card game in which two players battle it out using cards to deal offensive and defensive moves. Before each match, players select 30 cards to play with, either from one of several basic pre-made decks or a custom one. Players deal minion cards to defend themselves and cause damage to opposing minions, but they can also be used to attack the enemy player directly. The player’s hero character also has unique abilities to use during the battle.
Each card costs a certain number of mana crystals to use and these are fairly limited in the early rounds, so active strategy is required per turn. The number of available mana crystals increases with every turn, so more expensive and powerful cards will need to be saved for later in the battle. Single-use spell cards can be drawn to cause huge amounts of damage but are usually fairly expensive. Handily, cards can also be’ disenchanted’, causing them to be destroyed to form Arcane Dust. This resource can then be used to create more cards.
A match is over when one or both players have reached zero health or if a player quits. Victory rewards the player with hero character experience and grants access to more powerful cards. Card packs can be purchased with either in-game gold or real-world currency for faster upgrades. As an added bonus, win three matches in Player vs Player mode and unlock a new mount for World of Warcraft known as Hearthsteed. A free Battle.net account is required for this but doesn’t take long to set up.
Set in the cloud kingdom of Opulencia, the Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is a tongue-in-cheek game where defence-building strategy meets isometric RPG hack-and-slash adventuring. Or, if you aren’t new to PC gaming, think Dungeon Keeper meets Diablo.
You initially choose a hero from an exotic cast, featuring a powerful evil mage, a heroic but pompous knight, a surly one-eyed archer and a newly released axe-wielding runaway teenage rebel. Once you’ve chosen a hero and learned the controls, you’re awarded a castle of your own which will be filled with the loot plundered from other players. As your castle can also be attacked by other players, you must defend it with a host of hazardous traps and populate it with all kinds of over-the-top minions and boss characters.
The task is to level up your character while adventuring and find all kinds of weapons, armour and loot to plunder. This treasure can then be used to upgrade your character with new equipment or to build stronger castle defences to throw off any unwanted intruders. Some items can be bought with real money to speed up progress through the game, but it can all be achieved for free by putting in extra play time.
Released on Steam Greenlight as part of the Early Access program, Hawken is a first-person shooter where players pilot death-dealing mechanized war machines in battles against other machines on futuristic battlefields. Battles are frantic and fast-paced and are brimming with a vast variety of weapons and gadgets to help crush the opposition into scrap metal.
Battlefields quickly becoming littered with broken mechs, swirling dust clouds and red-hot tracer fire to create a seriously impressive visual aesthetic. Gunfire, explosions and stomping steel create a brilliant audio landscape which only adds to the game’s appeal. Respawn Entertainment’s recent Titanfall revolutionised the FPS genre with its mixture of free-running and mech combat, and although Hawken may not have free-running, it excels in the latter.
Several mech types are available ranging from fast, lightly armoured Infiltrators to hulking, behemoth Vanguard types. Primary and secondary weapons can be configured to suit a particular play style. Assault rifles, flak cannons, railguns and rocket launchers are but a few of the vast arsenal available to you in gameplay. There are also a huge number of consumable gadgets to deploy during combat, including EMP mines, auto-turrets, holograms and shields. The range of customisation is extensive, so there’s a setup to suit every playing style.
Starting life as a Half Life 2 mod, this standalone version aims to be a realistic approach to surviving a zombie apocalypse. The world is over and civilisation has been brought to a standstill with only a few non-infected survivors remaining. Playing as one of these survivors, you can work with other players co-operatively to scavenge each map for weapons, limited ammo and scarce supplies.
Different game types exist in the form of objective and survival modes. In objective mode, a randomisation system is used to create different branching objectives for each game to enhance replayability. Survival mode sees the players defend pre-determined safe zones from waves of zombies while also fighting to stay alive. Each wave becomes increasingly more difficult, with more zombies in each wave and with more dangerous zombie types such as runners and burning zombies added to the mix.
Realism takes a front seat here too, because whenever you’re attacked by a zombie, there is a chance that you’ll become infected. Infection is almost certainly a death sentence but this can be delayed by locating Phalanx medication. Upon death, you’ll rise to become a member of the undead and will fight against the group. The big question - should you announce the affliction to keep the group safe or keep it hidden in the hope of finding a cure?
Renegade X is a spiritual successor to the great but flawed Command and Conquer: Renegade, which was originally released in 2002. 12 years later, a dedicated team of volunteers has crafted an expertly realised remake to revolutionise the FPS/RTS genre using Unreal Engine 3. Players fight for supremacy in 64 player battles as either the militaristic Global Defence Initiative or the devious Brotherhood of Nod.
In the ‘Command and Conquer Mode’, players can take advantage of Tiberium refineries to earn valuable in-game currency. This currency can then be used to acquire upgrades, buy weapons and gain special items. Further credits can be earned by killing enemy players, destroying rival buildings and healing allies. Tanks, artillery and helicopters can be purchased for large amounts of currency but can quickly help change the outcome of skirmishes.
Buildings can also be destroyed from within by infiltrating the base with infantry and planting explosives or orbital weapon beacons to cause devastating damage. Engineer classes can be used to repair damaged buildings and allied vehicles but are vulnerable due to their lack of powerful weaponry. Weapons factories, power plants and automated defence towers are all priority targets to win the battle. Currently in open beta at time of writing, so some technical issues are to be expected, but this is certainly worth a look.
Released in 2008 to extremely negative reviews, Age of Conan was considered a colossal flop due to how broken the finished product was. A game with huge potential, many reviewers believed that with a few extra months' worth of development to clear out the bugs, glitches and broken content, this game might have been a worthy contender to rival the mother of all MMOs: World of Warcraft. In 2011, Conan was 'unchained' and made free to play for everyone. Since the initial launch, the game has had plenty of extra work done on it and many of the original issues have been resolved.
The game is playable either as a single player experience or with other people playing with you. The game also features a surprisingly deep combat system where weapons can be swung from different directions. Enemies will move to defend attacks from some directions so there is a welcome need for tactics to overcome foes.
Each environment of the game is vastly different from the next, and each has its own distinct atmosphere. The game is graphically stunning and well worth exploring with countless hours of questing, looting and discovering. It’s a massive game however, so expect to wait quite a while for it to download a minimum of 20GB of game data before you can play!
Warframe is a free-to-play third person shooter. It’s set in a futuristic interstellar battlefield where the player takes the role of an ancient warrior of the Tenno race at war with a facist, militarised human war machine called the Grineer and a mechanised merchant guild known as the Corpus. The Tenno have advanced armour suits called Warframes to aid them in battle; each with their own unique characteristics. The player is armed with a primary weapon (usually an assault rifle or shotgun), a secondary weapon (usually a pistol) and a melee weapon. Gameplay is fast and frantic as the player can run, jump, slide and evade enemy fire while battling through each level.
As players gain Affinity points from accomplishing objectives and destroying enemies, further upgrades to the Warframe combat suits and weaponry become available and can be purchased with these points. Micro –transactions exist as with most free-to-play games and can be used to purchase new weapons, warframes and equipment without having to earn credits in-game.
Up to 4 players work co-operatively to carry out a series of mission types which range from assassinations to sabotage, raids to rescues and defence and extermination. Some missions are more urgent than others, with small windows of opportunity to complete; from 30 minutes to 24 hours. They’re usually much harder to accomplish but the rewards are greater. Missions are also procedurally generated meaning that no two levels are alike, which should lead to greater replay-ability.
Sony Online Entertainment
Planetside 2 is a first-person shooter on a massive scale, with up to 2000 players simultaneously involved in battles over three continents on the world of Auraxis. Technically, Planetside 2 stands up to many paid-for games availible on the market. There are several infantry classes to choose from, but you have the freedom to do as you please - provided you have the resources which trickle through at a steady rate. You can spawn vehicles and aircraft to support your team, or join in the infantry grind as you try to capture territory.
As long as your skills are up to scratch, you should be able to hold your own. Teamwork is the key. A well organised squad can make a massive difference, not only in terms of success but also in terms of the fun you’ll have - and the new online friends you'll meet along the way. It's an incredibly rewarding game. The action is fast and furious and pretty daunting at first. But stick with it and things will soon start to fall into place.
Another little gem that uses the Unity engine is The Very Organised Thief. A simple first-person scavenger hunt set in an empty house, you take control of a thief whose mission is to ‘borrow’ a few items from an unsuspecting homeowner. Starting out with nothing but a torch and item list in hand, you must search the house for each item without making a mess and blowing your cover.
The house is littered with objects but only items from the list are collectable. Each item is worth a certain amount of cash, which adds to the overall score. Hidden throughout the house are also wads of cash that can be appropriated as an additional bonus. Some puzzle solving is also involved, with a locked door needing a key and an alarmed safe that requires a security code.
There is limited time to collect all the items because at some point, there will be the sound of tires on gravel and the jangle of keys in a lock as the owner returns. Make too much of a mess, leave a light switch on or set off the safe alarm and the homeowner will be alerted when they arrive. Escape will likely be difficult when being hunted. Play it stealthily and the homeowner will be none the wiser, meaning you can continue searching the house for an extended period of time.
To win, you must successfully leave the house with some loot and a final score will be calculated based on how long it took to complete and how much loot was swiped!
Dinosaur Polo Club
Mini Metro is in Alpha before a full release and is a work in progress, but you wouldn’t know it. Mini Metro is a subway train management game that can be played in your browser thanks to our current favourite indie engine, Unity. The game has a fantastic design in that it looks like a familiar subway map, making the game easy to pick up and play.
The game begins with you drawing lines between stations to allow trains to pass between them. Lines cannot be crossed unless they pass at a station and can only be lengthened from a connected station where it terminates. During play, as more stations spawn, the lines can be redrawn to connect the new stations and because the spawning is random, no two games are alike and the strategy is limitless.
After each in-game week, new power-ups can be added, meaning that more lines can be created, station capacity can be improved and more tunnels can be built. The game is over when a station becomes too overcrowded and the game is scored by the number of passengers successfully delivered. We scored 258 in our first attempt. Let us know how well you did!
Smarty Pins is another globe-hopping search game courtesy of Google Maps. In a similar vein to the hugely popular GeoGuessr, youre given a series of trivia questions for which the answer will be the name of a city, country or state. To ‘answer’ the questions, you must scroll and zoom around Google Maps and place a Pin onto the location you think is correct.
You begin the game with 1000 miles which are deducted whenever you pin the wrong place. The further away you position the pin, the more miles are lost. The game is over when the number of miles drop to zero – but you can earn trophies for hitting a certain number of correct answers.
To make things a bit easier, you can choose a specific category such as Entertainment, Science and Geography, History & Current Events and Sports & Culture. As an added incentive, you’ll be awarded bonus miles for answering quickly, so if you’re quick off the draw you’ll be able to offset any minor miscalculations. We scored 19 during one of our games: think you can beat it?
Black Shell Games
Like the text adventure games of old, SanctuaryRPG is a great throwback to the earliest days of gaming when hardware wasn’t capable of rendering a 3D game environment. These days, even your smartphone is capable of generating insanely detailed game worlds, so this game may not appeal to everyone. A strategic turn-based dungeon crawler, it’s a game with easily over a hundred hours of gameplay.
Made entirely out of ASCII art and text, SanctuaryRPG has far greater depth than it first appears. You first select the type of character you wish to play from one of 6 classes including barbarian, paladin, wizard, assassin, druid and ranger. Each class has its own play style so it’s best to choose a class with a specific battle strategy in mind from the beginning. The game can be played in the rewarding classic mode but will result in a permanent game over if a battle is lost. New gamers can try out the softcore mode, which is a little more forgiving, but if you’re a veteran gamer you may want to try out the harder difficulty.
The dialogue is well written and often hilarious and the combat well designed and dynamic. It’s also supported by a fantastic 8-bit soundtrack, so it’s obvious that the developers have created something pretty special here. While the game is technically free, the developers have left it open for players to offer a donation for the game which can be anything you like.
Made by the creators of Among the Sleep, The Plan is a short self-discovery experience rather than a game. As the player, you become a fly, navigating through the falling leaves and gusts of wind of a dark forest in search of illumination. The gameplay is simple, with no real difficulty to speak of, and instead becomes a way of challenging your thoughts on ‘death and meaning’, as Krillbite puts it.
Due to its simplistic gameplay, The Plan can be savoured for its mesmerising visuals and majestic music, even if it only lasts for a few short minutes. You’ll likely only play it once, but it’s the kind of experience that will linger on in your mind long after you’ve stopped playing. If games could ever be classed as art by the wider general public, this is the type of game that would take centre stage.
The Plan is available for PC, Mac and Linux and can be picked up through Steam for free. To say anything more would ruin the discovery: play it and make your own mind up.
Graphically abstract and with no soundtrack to speak of, Env offers a very simple gaming experience – but one that needs to be played. Your only objective is to survive for 6 minutes in a simple purple world. The challenge comes from an ominous-looking tube floating above the world, sucking up pieces of the floor and devastating the landscape into mountains and chasms that freeze in place when the tube moves onto another part of the map. As the game goes on, it gets increasingly difficult to avoid falling between the cracks into the abyss below.
You also need to scavenge for food and tech upgrades throughout the world while avoiding the changing environmental hazards. You’ll slowly starve to death if food is not located and tech upgrades will improve your ability to leap across the map. Both pickups are dropped by a spherical craft zipping from one side of the map to the other at an incredible speed.
You’ll find that the key to survival is to follow the Sphere until it drops a pickup while also avoiding the broken landscape dangers. Things are not made any easier when the Sphere also begins to break up the environment, meaning that new dangers are never too far away! All in all, an addictive nail-biter of a game!
Black Curtain Studio
The creepiest places are often places that are normally bustling with activity but when the place empties and noises turns silent, it becomes unfamiliar and just a little bit spooky. One late night takes place in the business offices of a graphic designer, waking up after falling asleep at his desk. It's definitely after hours as everyone appears to have already gone home. The atmosphere is still with only the ambient noise of whirring computer fans and beeping printers to fill the void. Nothing appears to be out of the ordinary at first as this could be any other office in any other building but something definitely doesn't feel right.
A colleague of the protagonist soon starts to leave messages warning about an entity that is stalking the office and of the great amount of imminent danger. The entity is that of a haunting woman in black who floats from room to room and if looked at directly, will come for you. All the player can do is run and hide and hope that the woman will leave enhancing the sense of vulnerability. Slowly the player finds clues to figure out what is going on; hampered by all sorts of paranormal activity.
Built on the formidable Unity engine, the game excels graphically with an enormous amount of effort being put into making this a believable world. There is no voice acting but this would only take away from how terrifying the absence of sound can really be.
Thought you’d been exposed to enough Marvel content this year? Think again. Marvel Puzzle Quest is ready to deliver your next dose in style! Players are asked to pick three Marvel heroes and complete Puzzle Quest/Bejewelled-style gameplay to score attacks, charge power-ups and defeat enemies. New characters can either be unlocked as the game progresses or bought early on from the store, meaning there is also something new to tempt you to carry on playing. Light RPG tropes are in place as well, levelling characters up over time so that more difficult enemies can be taken on.
Though technically a freemium game with all the usual free-to-play mechanics such as cooldown timers, micro-transactions and an overly tempting real currency store, Puzzle Quest is balanced enough to mean you should never have to part with real cash to get far. The game even welcomes you back after periods of non-play with generous amounts of in-game currency from time to time! Premium packs are available for purchase to speed up game progression (did someone say cheat?) but most of the game is easily unlockable through normal play.
Featuring an original single player campaign written by Marvel Veterans Frank Tieri and Alex Irvine, this game should be a part of any fan’s collection.
Great indie games are often inspired by great ideas and this is certainly the case with Probably Archery. Appearing on Steam Greenlight following its fantastic reception after being released as part of the 7DFPS (7 Day First Person Shooter) game jam event, it’s currently being improved with even more features.
The challenge comes from the control system which will have you playing Twister over the keyboard with key combinations to adjust the left and right arm positions, the direction each wrist is set to and, the easier-said-than-done, fire an arrow. You must select an arrow from the quiver, notch it, draw it back and release. Congratulations are due if you manage to launch an arrow and a great big pat on the back if you manage to hit a target!
The original version can still be played via the 7DFPS website but the Steam version offers a large demo of new scenarios. The original offered a training environment with several static targets to aim at and a fun multiplayer mode where you can duel to see who can shoot the other player’s head-shaped balloon first. As mentioned above, the game is currently on Steam Greenlight but the original is available for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.
Built in 48 hours for the Ludum Dare development competition, Probe Team tasks the player with piloting a series of jet powered probes to explore a maze-like cavern, all in order to locate and enable switches. Each probe has enough fuel to last 10 seconds on full power but this can be extended by using the probe’s own inertia to maintain propulsion in a given direction. Each probe is controlled knowing that it will not be able to return and this is enhanced by the cute power down sound each probe emits upon running out of fuel.
As each probe makes its first and final journey, more of the environment is discovered and remembered, allowing each successive probe to seek out new, undiscovered areas. Sending the probe in one direction can either reward the player by finding a switch to unlock new areas or result in a literal dead end.
The game is very short and has bags of charm to capture the imagination. Best of all, Probe Team can be played using the brilliant Unity engine.
Cave Story is a Japanese 2D platformer adventure that’s a throwback to classic games such as Metroid, which has definitely inspired the game play, with its maps and hidden areas to explore. The player navigates each 2D map by leaping between platforms while shooting enemies which can lead to experience pieces being dropped. These item drops add to the current weapon’s overall level and can make the weapon more powerful. If the player is hurt from either enemies or environmental dangers then not only does the player lose health but also loses some experience from the currently equipped weapon. If you end up with too much damage, your weapons level down and lose some of their power.
The game follows a protagonist with amnesia who awakens in a cave. By exploring the cave, the player uncovers a plot by the game’s central bad guy, the Doctor, who intends to force the cave’s inhabitants to fight for him in a bid to conquer the world. Of course, the player is given the heroic task of putting a stop to this.
The game is in Japanese but a fan-made translation pack is available too. It can be a little fiddly to get up and running but is more than worth the hassle. Cave story + is also available on Steam which includes a visual upgrade and an enhanced soundtrack, priced at £6.99 at time of writing.
Mu and Heyo
Boson X is a rotational runner game in similar concept to the popular Super Hexagon where you play as The Professor racing through a massive particle collider to discover new particles. The player builds up speed while leaping between floating platforms that form the floor, walls and ceiling of the tunnel.
All levels are randomly generated meaning that levels cannot be beaten through memorisation but instead the player must learn the unique concept of each scenario. Blue floors add to your research level which needs to total 100% before the level is complete and red platforms are dangerous as they will drop away after stepping on them. If the player mistimes a jump, the player will fall out of the collider and the level will restart. After completing each level, a new particle is discovered in the hunt for the elusive Boson X particle.
Grinding Gear Games
Path of Exile may be referred to as a “Diablo clone” which is a roleplaying game that has an isometric or “top down” view of the action. The player controls a single character and explores large open areas and claustrophobic dungeons and caves to battle monsters and complete quests. Progression is constant as the player receives experience points for completing tasks and rewarded by levelling up and collecting new weapons and armour to improve their character. Maps are also randomly generated as well meaning that the game has great replayability.
Path of Exile follows the story of the player who wakes up on the shore of a remote continent called Wraeclast which is a colony for criminals. The player must band together with other outcasts to survive while exploring the wilderness and facing it’s dangerous inhabitants. The player can choose from one of 6 character classes ranging from rangers, marauders, witches and duellists.
As a free game, there has to be a catch and in this case the catch is very minimal. Micro-transactions are in place to improve the game but the developer has chosen to follow a more ethical approach in that the majority of the games features are free and anything that is paid for is merely cosmetic.
Black Mesa Modification Team
Black Mesa is a third party total remake of the classic 1998 1st person shooter Half-Life; a classic that has stood the test of time and is a masterpiece in gameplay and story. In its 8 year development, the Black Mesa Modification Team has re-built every element using the upgraded Source engine.
Normally, a modification to an existing game wouldn’t make this list but as this game only requires the free Source SDK Base 2007 download, it is a completely stand-alone game. It’s been built from the ground up with new character and weapon models, newly designed levels and textures, new sound effects and voice acting, and a completely bespoke soundtrack which is worthy of a download all by itself.
For the uninitiated, the story follows theoretical physicist Dr Gordon Freeman, a scientist at the super-secret Black Mesa research facility. The game begins with Freeman tasked with taking part in an experiment to analyse an alien specimen. Upon beginning the experiment, disaster strikes as inter-dimension portals begin to open, flooding the facility with alien predators. In the chaos, the remaining survivors decide to attempt to reach the surface but when the military arrives, the question of whether they are friend or foe is quickly answered.
The distribution program Steam is required to play this one which can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/about/. Once this is installed and you’ve created a free account, download the game from here: http://www.blackmesasource.com/.
Futuridium was made by Italian indie developer Mixed Bag, having been inspired by the 1986 PC release Uridium. In the game, you play the role of a starship pilot taking on the brave task of bringing down an alien Dreadnought star cruiser.
In levels reminiscent of the climactic scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, the player must fly perilously close to the Dreadnought to take down its defences before revealing its weak point and taking it down for good. To heighten the tension, the player is constantly running out of energy and can only replenish this with some good old fashioned blasting. Shoot the blue cubes, weave in and out of the environment and reveal the yellow cube weak point.
The soundtrack is impressive too, by letting you change between 11 different tracks including dramatic scores, calm melodies and modern dubstep, which can be changed to suit your taste. The game is a definite throwback to retro fast-paced action shooters, for the low, low price of free.
This one is so simplistic in its design you’ll think ‘why didn’t I come up with this one?!’ A browser-based game, GeoGuessr literally drops you in the middle of nowhere and tasks you with figuring out just where in the world you are.
Using Google Street View, the player starts each round in very unfamiliar surroundings. You could be placed by a beach with high-rise hotels along the sea front, a deserted eastern European village, a modern metropolis bustling with activity or even a long dusty highway with nothing but horizon in the distance.
Google Street View lets you take a virtual stroll to locate clues in the nearest road sign, advertisement billboard or shop sign to build up a picture of where you are. To score in the game, you need to drop a pin onto a world map for each of the 5 rounds and you can then share your final post-game score with friends to compete against them. Prepare to lose a lot of time to this one!
Long before World of Warcraft claimed the title of world’s greatest online RPG, a small developer launched a simple game featuring stickman characters that could be played in a browser. It’s still going strong today with consistent weekly updates, with the latest (at time of writing) being mobile-browser support.
Kingdom of Loathing never takes itself seriously and this is immediately obvious from the character select screen, where you can select from a list including a warrior-type Seal Clubber, a magic-wielding chef titled Sauceror, a Pastamancer who wields arcane Noodlecraft secrets and a Turtle Tamer (complete with Turtle companion). Intrigued? You should be!
The game is surprisingly in-depth, featuring a huge number of quests to complete, turn-based combat, vast amounts of loot, a full currency system, leader boards and a clan system so that more difficult dungeons can be tackled with friends. You’re limited to a certain number of turns or ‘adventures’, which are replenished each day by consuming food and other items, which makes this a perfect game to play in your browser while you’re working on other things.
Little War Game is a relatively simple yet utterly charming real-time strategy game in the same style as Age of Empires. The aim of each game is to harvest resources, build a city and recruit an army, before marching on your opponent’s city and reducing it to rubble. The game runs entirely in your web browser using HTML5, meaning you don’t need to download the game. There are no plug-ins to install and no registration required either.
You’re able to play a single player match against computer opponents or take the fight online within the Little War Game community to challenge other players. You can select a pre-built map or spend some time designing your own using an easy map editor built into the website. You can also sign in with an account to track victories and losses and save match replays. If you’re feeling up to it, you can even code your own enemy AI to play against (it’s all explained in the website blog).
The creators have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and through an online blog, meaning that new updates are discussed with the community and feedback is actively encouraged. There’s a pre-game lobby that you can use to meet other players and chat before getting started. Jump on and play now!
Arpeggio is a game you could play with your eyes closed. Which isn’t to say that it’s easy; what we mean is that it’s a game you can play purely from listening. The game plays a series of audio tones in a loop and after playing the same series of notes a few times in a row, a single note is changed. You must select one of the notes using the keyboard to indicate which note was changed.
Starting with only 4 notes, the game starts off fairly easy with the change in key being quite distant. Additional notes are added as the game increases in difficulty and the changes in tone become much more subtle. The tune also starts to play much faster, meaning it can be quiet difficult to pick out the correct note successfully.
Each mistake brings you back a step, which can lead to a frustrating 2 step forward/1 step backwards battle after reaching the later levels. Too many mistakes in a row will mean that the game is over. Just don’t play for too long or just before bed: the notes tend to become ingrained in your subconscious after a while!
Fallen London invites you to enter a gothic steampunk Victorian cityscape filled to the brim with intrigue, mystery, lore and secrets. It’s a browser-based game with vivid but minimal graphics that is progressed through rich descriptions and text-based player choices. The strangeness of the world is the main reason for playing, making the player strive to continue in the search for answers.
Played in a similar style to the old ‘Choose your own Adventure’ games, you must decide what kind of character you will become by the choices you make. Will you become a poet and spend your time in the company of other bohemian artists; make a living as a shadowy detective relying on the services of street urchins and thieves to solve cases; plunge into the darkest realms of the sunken city to fight demons in the service of the church; or spend your afternoon racing a pet snail? There are many more professions to choose from, each with branching possibilities, so no two characters are likely to ever be the same.
Many actions cannot be completed without first improving your character’s stats. Stats can be increased by completing certain missions with the possibility of success based on a stat check. Greater stats mean that missions are more likely to be completed successfully. The flow of the game is directly controlled by action points which are used when making a choice to progress the story. It slowly regenerates in real time with a new action point replenished every 10 minutes. Action points are usually quickly exhausted without spending real world currency, meaning that this is the type of game best left open in a browser tab while doing other things!
To quote Monty Python: and now for something completely different. Google has developed an experiment to take advantage of powerful new web technology to turn a smartphone into a game controller for your web browser. You can basically synchronise your smartphone with your computer browser using a code to link the two, enabling you to roll a ball from smartphone to PC screen. There’s even multiplayer mode!
Once synchronised, you swing your smartphone in a bowling motion to roll a ball down a ramp and score points by landing the ball into a scoring bucket. After 9 balls, the winner is decided and a more difficult game area is loaded. Special balls become available, allowing you to slow down time and re-direct your ball in mid-air, access multi-ball scenarios and score multipliers.
As long as your smartphone has an internet connection, an accelerometer (motion sensors that let you change the screen orientation) and the Google Chrome app, then you’re good to go. You’ll also likely need to lock your screen orientation to portrait mode. Just remember to grip your phone tightly!
If you've ever seen Kill Bill: Part 1 and remember the fight scene with The Bride vs. The Crazy 88 gang, you'll know what to expect from this free game. Set in a minimalistic martial arts dojo, the player takes control of a white pixel-art ninja armed with a sword against an onslaught of bad guys. Pixelated blood spurts from downed enemies and blade strikes flash white as if cutting through air in true Quentin Tarantino style.
The white ninja follows the player's mouse cursor around the screen and lunges forward to attack with a left mouse click. Enemies also lunge attack at the player so timing is crucial to avoid being taken down. Enemies will glow before they attack but when the battleground is full of enemies it can be difficult to keep an eye on everything.
With a mixture of both offensive and defensive attack movements, the player can take down enemies, dodge incoming attacks and even cut flying arrows sent by enemy crossbow wielders out of mid-air. Multiple enemies can be taken down with a single attack to build up a score multiplier but as the flow of enemies is endless, the game over screen is inevitable.
Set against the sun-drenched wilderness of the old Wild West, Desperado is a simple RPG about one man's quest to carry out the ultimate revenge on the murderer of his family. The player takes the role of the lone gunman to hunt down the man responsible for slaughtering his mother and brother. With no idea who the killer is however, the task is made more difficult.
Heading to the nearby town of Clintville, the player must carry out favours for the townfolk in exchange for a piece of information about the killer. Help the sheriff clear out a gang of bandits from a nearby mine and be told that the killer wears a black hat. A large number of citizens wear black hats so this isn't enough to go on. Extort a rancher at gunpoint over an unpaid bill and your employer will grant you further details on the villain. The key detail about this story is that the villain is never the same for each playthrough meaning that every game is different.
The game features simple yet beautiful visuals and an engrossing soundtrack that amplify the character of the setting. Subtle details like a lone rolling tumbleweed, strolling chickens and the flutter of the player's poncho succeed in creating a lived-in world that is a joy to visit.
Any great sequel should build upon the original’s strengths and that can definitely be said about Aniwey’s return to browser-based candy cleverness with Candy Box 2. If you’re not familiar with the original, the idea is simple. From the moment you open the website, you begin collecting candies at a rate of one per second. Once you have enough candies these can be eaten, thrown on the ground or after some patient waiting, be used to buy a game changing add-on. This is the magic of the game because these add-ons quickly change to turn this simple text game into a full blown adventure role-playing game with ASCII artwork.
Candy Box 2 sticks to the same formula but this time ramps up the artwork and features to include a world map, characters, inventory system and many other great improvements. These include a handy autosave feature: pretty essential if you plan on farming candies overnight. It’s a game you’ll think is really dumb at first but if you’re a certain type of gamer you’ll undeniably be addicted to finding out what new things there are to unlock.
Candies are generated at a slow pace over time but can be collected quickly through completing quests, defeating critters and boss enemies and farming lollipops. Candy and lollipops can be used to purchase better weapons, armour and enchantments to help you triumph over boss battles. There is also a crafting element which comes into play in the form of potion brewing, which can offer some extra assistance in battle.
It may not be the prettiest game or have the greatest longevity but it has enough charm to keep you coming back. Especially since the best way to play it is to have it open in a different browser tab while working on other things. Handily, it also won’t require anything anywhere near the computer hardware specs for the latest entry in the Call of Duty series.
For the uninitiated, N is an award-winning 2D platformer where the player controls a nimble Ninja. The mission? Navigate through a hazardous environment to an escape door. Powered by an impressive physics simulation, this game is easy to pick up but very difficult to master. You must run, jump, slide, bounce and dodge to finish each level without meeting an explosive demise.
You must also collect gold pieces to extend the score timer before reaching the goal safely. The levels are filled with enemies, including static explosive mines, machine gun turrets, homing missiles and lasers. Some levels can be pretty overwhelming at first but sheer determination will mean that victory is achieved. This is made easier as each failed attempt immediately restarts the level instead of showing a game over screen.
N has been available as a free download since 2008 but has only recently received its v2.0 release with 500 new and classic built-in levels. It’s highly addictive but sometimes very frustrating and will have you hooked with its ‘just one more go’ approach. The new version also has two player co-op and a new level editor, meaning that new levels are constantly being created and shared with the N community.
Easy to pick up but near impossible to master, Hexagon is gaming at its most simplistic. Built for a one-day programming jam in 2012, it spawned the larger project that is Super Hexagon, which was later released on PC, iOS and Android to great acclaim.
The player controls a small triangle in the centre of the screen that can be moved clockwise or anti-clockwise around a hexagonl shape. As the game starts, larger hexagon shapes close in around the central hexagon with only small openings for the player to pilot through. If the player hits the incoming walls, the game is over.
Progress is determined by how long the player can last in the never-ending assault of hexagon shapes with every successful 20 seconds unlocking new patterns to navigate. It features an excellent soundtrack, responsive controls and quick restart times (you’ll be doing this a lot!) and a real sense of achievement. In other words, a fair bit of time can easily be lost to this one…
Cookie clicker begins with a single click. That click can quickly turn into millions in the race to bake the most cookies. With no definitive goal, this game is more of a race for bragging rights as friends compete for the highest number of cookies baked per second.
Production can be improved by selling cookies to earn power ups such as automatic cursors that do the clicking for you every 10 seconds or hiring Grandma to bake a batch. Things steadily get out of hand when mines are built to industrialise the baking or even inventing time travel to go back in time to bring back cookies before they’re eaten.
All the upgrades are stackable meaning that an army of Grandmas, farms and factories can be added to the cookie machine which results in astronomical cookies being baked every second. Achievements can be earned for creative combinations meaning there is a sense of progression while building your empire. Game progress can be saved as well by exporting a unique code meaning you can add this to any browser to pick up from where you left off.
If you're new to PC gaming and haven't built up a decent library of games yet, check out some of our previous recommendations below.
Motherload is a deceptively addictive little game that has you exploring deep below the surface of Mars in your mining pod. You can sell the metals you’ve recovered and invest the cash in powerups which will increase things like the reslience of your pod and the rate you can mine at. You’ll need to maintian yor pod and keep it supplied with fuel, and there’s plenty of hazards down there which will play havoc with your mining efforts
Mother load has a very retro feel, the most obvous parallel being Atari’s old favourite Dig Dug but there’s certainly far more depth to the gameplay. The graphics aren’t spectacular but they have a certain charm that’s in keeping with the game's feel.