We are living in a Golden Age of free entertainment. YouTube, SoundCloud, Crunchyroll, maybe even going outside! Of course, among all of these are countless free games, some great, some terrible, but these are the best (I swear if somebody says: where’s Maplestory? I’m going to hit them) in a completely factual, unbiased and complete list. Oh! One more thing, these are ranked by how fun they are without paying anything, free-to-play games are up for consideration but only insofar as you can enjoy them without shelling out cash.
You… probably haven’t heard of this one. But because of this game, Mr. Hitler really has improved my forward thinking and pattern recognition skills. The goal is quite simple, go to a completely random Wikipedia page and, within only six links to different pages, try to get to Adolf Hitler. But aside from being surprisingly educational, there isn’t a school computer in the world (I hope) that has Wikipedia banned where other browser-based entries on this list have fallen. So if you’re still in highschool, go ahead and play! Do you have kids? Teach them to play, though depending on their age group you might want to change the end goal… anybody up for a round of Six Clicks to Eggrolls?
I tried, really I tried. I wanted to love you MOBAs, I wanted to love you so badly. Your gameplay is fun, your lore is interesting and your minions are adorably derpy, but… trying to learn you is more like going to school than it is playing a game. Why do you have so many characters? Why does leveling up cause me to either become weaker than a kitten or stronger than a god? HOW AM I EXPECTED TO KNOW WHICH OF YOUR 700 PAIRS OF BOOTS ARE THE RIGHT ONE FOR ME!? I- I’m sorry I shouted, but everyone just obsessed over how great you are and I- I just can’t live this lie. Goodbye MOBAs, I’m off to play Awesomenauts, at least she understands my needs (Awesomenauts is another great one, I’d rank it at about 6.5).
I put them together because these two are really pretty much the same game. Do you remember those games where you shot something out of a cannon, and had to see how far you could get it by bouncing it off of things on the ground? That’s Burrito Bison. So what does it have differently? Well the look for one, you’re a bull-headed luchador and the things you squash are terrified gummy bears. The upgrades are inventive, the sound effects are beautiful and the art is hilarious. What’s missing? Well, it feels too long and is liable to get pretty repetitive. But to play for ten minutes? A blast.
Imagine Pachinko, got it? Good. Now your ball is a cat which collects sushi spread across the board, making it grow larger. Add in an embarrassingly adorable story about taking your stuffed animal back from a dog and you have what is a strangely satisfying waste of an hour.
A game like Fistful of Frags represents, to me, one of the larger problems with a list format: it’s hard to show just how better or worse one entry is from the adjacent ones. In this case, the previous three were all pretty close on how much I enjoyed them, but FoF is leaps and bounds ahead of any of them. Anyway, do you remember Half-Life 2’s deathmatch mode? Good, this is that, but in the Old West and good. It’s a slow game, but intentionally so. All of your weapons (besides fists) require you to stand still or greatly slow down for any kind of accuracy, and even then it takes a second or two before such can be achieved. My solution? I like to be Batman. Equip Brass Knuckles, Dynamite and a Hatchet then leap across the buildings and drop down on people, stabbing exploding or assaulting them until you die. Sure you’re likely to lose the fight, but you get a lot of points per kill so you’ll still rank highly even if you only win once every other life.
Put down your pitchforks. Yes, TF2 is only at Number 5. Yes, TF2 is one of my favorite, if not my favorite game of all time. So why is it only Number 5? Because unless you drop some cash on the game, you won’t get nearly as much out of the game as you could. Even for free, this is an absolutely amazing game with hilarious characters, fun weapons, great maps and a community with more in-jokes than Gibusvision Pyros on a pub.
This is probably the second most addicting game on this list. But what is Super Crate Box? What is it that makes it glimmer, akin to the sparkling waters of days gone by? Simplicity. Enemies come from the top of the screen, don’t stop them from reaching the bottom? They come back stronger. While you’re doing that grab crates to get better weapons and score points. That’s it. But it’s a blast of a twitch shooter and a very quick download on Steam. If you haven’t already, give yourself five minutes to install this gem, and another week or so to try and detach yourself.
Bah, why do only PC games get to have fun on this list? Well no longer! An F2P Pokemon Puzzle game was just what I needed for some time on the go. I don’t have a smartphone, so for me this game was truly a blessing. Match the Pokemon heads to release type-based attacks on your opponent, deal enough damage quickly enough and try your luck at catching them (if you press B and rock the d-pad back and forth it works better) to force into gruesome battles against their brethren… in about an hour. Unfortunately there’s only so many games you can play at once, but I think this style of game works better in one sitting anyway, so it’s no real issue.
You remember when I mentioned Super Crate Box being the second most addicting game on the list (hope so, it wasn’t all that long ago)? Well this is the first. But how does this game not let you go? Add the satisfying and brutal nature of twin-stick shooters to the Skinner’s Box of World of Warcraft and blend it all into a fine permadeath paste and you get Smoothie of the Mad God. RotMG is glorious on so many levels, each session may take a little bit to get started, but once you get rolling the pacing is ablaze, everything you do could be the difference between life or death. Every monster stands a chance against you, and the only thing you have to defend yourself is your wits and the other players. This is not some petty squabble with every man for himself, this is a war against the forces of evil alongside your hopelessly addicted brethren, and avoiding their help is a bit like avoiding your own lungs.
Do I even need to explain this one (Oh, I do? Well, okay)? For the three of you that don’t know, Hearthstone is a card game set in the WoW universe, and it’s fantastic. Not only does it have this feeling of a warm inn on a cold night, with a welcoming atmosphere to every sound effect, not only is every card and character fully voiced and not only does it have a wonderful sense of humor, but the gameplay is some of the tightest I’ve seen. Is the game complex? Sure, but everything is explained effortlessly in the tutorials and single-player missions. Every move is satisfying, the Arena and Tavern Battles offer a wonderful change of pace and building a deck is as clean as can be. This takes a little while to get used to, but any gamer with even a semi-functioning computer should absolutely pick it up.