Top 20 Free Web Games
Disclaimer: We may not be held liable for hours lost nor will be responsible for addictions gained. Seriously…
You’ve been warned. And if you’re anything like me then you love stumbling upon new and creative games on the web. Back in the 90s I still remember a friend instant messaging me my first link to Shockwave.com and being blown away that someone put a bunch of games online that I didn’t have to download or purchase. In the past two decades the genre has come very far and the best web games should be celebrated.
I’m a big fan of web games that are easy to learn and keep things casual. Not that I haven’t spent tens of hours playing them but if it takes me more than 10 minutes to learn the basic game mechanics or I have to register to play then I waste my internet time elsewhere. Many of these games made the list because of their innovation alone and you’ll see what I mean.
While Trend|Quiz might seem like an odd choice to start the list it is also an excellent example of innovation within the web game genre. Utilizing Google Trends data, you are challenged to recognize which topics were popular during specific times. You are given a countdown, two search terms, and then you decide which peaks and valleys match up with one of the two search terms. The concept is super-basic and a lot of fun, especially if you’re killing time with a few office mates.
19. Don’t Shit Your Pants
Yes. It is a hilarious premise but Don’t Shit Your Pants will also challenge your typing and language skills, at least that’s what you should tell your boss if you’re caught playing. You’re given a short amount of time to type actions to avoid pooping your pants and it will take you several rounds to finally figure out the correct order of operations. This game also has multiple endings depending on what you do and how far you get.
I met these game developers at IndieCade 2013 and they’ve another great game titled Rogue Legacy that’s worth checking out too.
18. Roll It
Roll It is a classic skee ball game that syncs up your smart phone with your computer’s web browser. You ‘roll’ the ball with your smart phone and the ball goes up the lane on your computer screen. This is a very simple game but a lot of fun too. Most of all, it is a lovely proof of concept and I hope to see more of these experiments in the future.
17. Kick Ass (Previously Known as Asteroids Anywhere)
By dropping a button from their website onto your bookmark bar you can turn any web page, even this one, into a game of Asteroids. You fly the tiny ship through the world wide web and destroy any and all text or images you see on a webpage. It’s good for some quick fun and a very cool concept.
16. Catlateral Damage
This is another silly game but I love the concept and execution. You take on the role of Cat and your mission is to knock every object off of shelves, beds, bookcases, etc. onto the floor. Rack up points while doing it all within the time limit. There’s also a Litter Box mode if you want to explore with as much time as you want.
The developers put out a Kickstarter for their web game and it’s now being turned into a much larger game.
Kingdom is a simple side-scrolling tower defense game and is beautifully designed both in balanced gameplay and immersive atmosphere. You rally peasants to either farm or hunt during the day and fight or build defense towers by night. Every evening a swarm of monsters come to pilage and most importantly, they come to kill the king. How many rounds can you survive?
14. GunBlood — Western Shootout
Another game that made it onto this list because of it’s innovation within the web game genre. How quickly can you aim a mouse? Like a classic western shootout you’ll need to keep your gun holstered, by hovering your cursor over the chamber, until it’s time to shoot. When the countdown ends you’ll point and click as fast as possible at your opponent.
In this game you summon and control legions of zombies and monsters to destroy villages with your units and spells. While this might sound like many web games this one has a lot of charm and with powerful new units and upgrades you might keep playing late into the evening.
12. How to Build a Better Mousetrap
I love this game because of its politics and my only wish is that it was expanded upon even further. You’re in charge of a factory that hires R&D and factory-level workers. You control the wages, hire the workers, and level-up the quality of product. Pretty quickly your workers will want a raise and your funds will start to go down. You’ll then be motivated to replace your workers with computers and machines that can do the same work but without the pay. As anger mounts in the unemployment line you’ll begin to see why this game is not only fun but offers a critique of the modern condition of the workforce.
11. Super House of Dead Ninjas
Super House of Dead Ninjas plays like a long-lost three-button Sega game and includes voice talent worthy of Mortal Kombat. Travel down hundreds of floors with with ninja weapons, throwing stars and even a little magic. The gameplay is very quick and you’ll need ninja-reflex to defeat some of these enemies. The game developers even created a cool comic to flesh out the game’s story.
10. Fail Deadly
Control a war where you are secretly arming both sides of the same conflict. The challenge is keeping the balance so that the battle continues in perpetuity. If you arm one side with tanks then you’ll want to arm the other with helicopters to bring balance.
This one would have ranked higher but it has a few issues. For example, you can win easily after a few minutes by dropping a nuke but you’ll want to keep it going to drive up your score. I once played to the point I’d racked up a score of several million, the screen was completely filled with mayhem, and the game crashed abruptly. Also, the ‘launch nuke’ button is hidden up in the buildings.
9. Deep Sleep
If you’re looking for an awesome point-and-click adventure game then look no further than Deep Sleep. I highly recommend putting on headphones and turning off the lights to get a fuller experience. Deep Sleep, and it’s sequels Deeper Sleep and Deepest Sleep, have a legitimate story to tell if you’re brave enough to continue piecing it together.
Time only moves when you do! With such a simple premise the game developers created an addicting FPS that is stylistic and challenging. Not to mention being the actual Matrix game we all pined for 15 years ago, the real secret of this game are the tiny design elements, like gun flashes and bullet trails that only serve to heighten the gameplay.
SUPERHOT is one of the best web games out there and would probably be my number one if it was longer. This is the trial version and, thanks to an extremely successful Kickstarter, you can pre-order the full version from their site.
Forget that it’s a free web game, Chronotron is one of the best time-travel games ever. The main mechanic of using past and future selves to solve difficult puzzles is literally mind-bending. The levels are clever and very tricky and might just restructure the way your brain considers the concept of time.
6. Nothing to Hide
Nothing to Hide is another politically charged free web game that asks players to participate in their own surveillance. Set in the not too distant dystopian future, you solve puzzles to reach an exit. Meanwhile, you’ll need to set up cameras so that you are constantly watched at all times.
On top of the interesting premise, the game has an awesome website and opening story. In true nothing-to-hide fashion all of the code is open sourced and available to everyone.
BROFORCE! is ridiculously fun and with it’s incredible cast of familiar heroes, destructive environment, and rewarding gameplay you’ll want to play every level back-to-back. This game mixes over-the-top patriotism with every classic action movie hero you can think of including Rambo, Robocop, and Terminator.
Part of the fun is the surprise cameos so I won’t list them all but this is one of the best pixel web games of all time.
4. RSVP — The Dinner Party Game
RSVP is one of those games that everyone loves, even people that don’t usually play web games. It probably ranked this far up my list because I’m a tabletop game designer and respect the simplicity of RSVP. What is essentially a card game played on the web, your task is to line up cards (or guests) so they’re only touching the same colors on all sides.
The first few levels are fairly easy but the later levels challenge the area of your brain tasked with spatial relations. And a warning, like all of these games, you may lose a few hours of sleep on this one.
3. Treasure Arena
Treasure Arena, like any of these final selections, could have easily been my number one. I love this one because it combines everything I’m looking for in a quick, in-and-out web game.
Playing against the CPU is a lot of fun and great for learning but Treasure Arena really shines when playing with other human beings. Collect as many coins as possible in the allotted time while slashing your way through multiple baddies and other players. You’ll have upgrades along the way and each character type has it’s own magical power that adds a ton of depth to the gameplay.
2. Kindom Rush
I realize Kingdom Rush will be on everyone’s list of favorites but what can I say, I have a love for tower defense games. But when it comes to free web games this really is THE tower defense game to be measured against.
The designs are colorful, the maps are intuitive, and the gameplay is a blast. While some tower defense games suffer from a waiting period where you set up the troops and watch all the action, you’ll never play that way with Kingdom Rush. The levels are too difficult to sit back and you must anticipate every round of baddies.
1. Abobo’s Big Adventure
This game is so stuffed with old-school NES nostalgia that it would be easier to list the few games that don’t make cameos throughout Abobo’s Big Adventure. It’s one thing to throw a few classic 8-bit characters into a game but Abobo takes it to a whole new level: you actually play new stages that are in the format of Double Dragon, Zelda, and Mega Man, just to name a few. Again, part of the fun is the randomness and continual surprises so I don’t want to spoil too much.
Like most NES games, Abobo really makes you work to complete almost every level. The final level is very tough and you are rewarded with one of the best endings to any game. The game developers really took their time with this one and it shows. Every pixel seems carefully rendered to maximize the joke and/or reference of the scene at hand.
And that’s what makes Abobo and any game great: it is an obvious labor of love. This one stands out because it isn’t just a call-back to the NES games but a love song by a few developers that still cherish their early days in gaming.
These are games that stand out but were missing an element or two to make it to the official list.
A beautifully designed web game that adds a lot to the Pong genre in some really smart ways. Redshift Blueshift is the Pong equivalent to half court basketball where you’re all shooting for the same basket. This game even offers the option to play locally with another player.
I’ve written extensively on where to find the spark of inspiration for making games and Kern Type seems to follow that same philosophy. While it’s mostly a game for design nerds to nerd out about, this is also a super-fun way to get others interested in design.
Super Mario CrossOver
The original NES version of Super Mario Bros. but play as another classic Nintendo character like Link or Mega Man. This game dishes up a ton of nostalgia and innovation. For example, instead of getting a fireball power up the characters actually power up as they did in their native games.
Electicman2HS is an excellent kung fu-style fighting game and the gameplay is amazing. The only thing holding this one back is the graphics. With stick figures and odd menu screens, I really wish there’d been more time spent on the design. Still, it is a blast to play.
Everybody Has to Cross the River
On the surface, this game might seem incredibly simple but is actually very difficult to complete. The basic concept is to get everyone across the river but there are a few rules:
- Only 2 persons on the raft at a time.
- The father can not stay with any of the daughters, without their mother’s presence.
- The mother can not stay with any of the sons, without their father’s presence.
- The thief (striped shirt) can not stay with any family member, if the Policeman is not there.
- Only the Father, the Mother and the Policeman know how to operate the raft.
Because of these rules you’ll need to figure out the perfect combination to get everyone across. I promise, it can be done!
Full Disclosure: this is a game I developed but I believe it’s fun enough and innovative enough to go on this list. #SearchFeud is the perfect way to waste time at work and you’ll only need a friend and a search engine to play.
What is essentially a 3D version of Pac Man becomes something that fits better in the horror genre because of the excellent sound design and music. Trust me, you’ve never been more terrified of the Pac Man ghosts. I just wish there’d been more level design. I’ve only made it to level 5 but every one of them felt exactly the same.
NESbox.com is an awesome idea: taking the emulators, that you once had to download/install, but instead they’re now available to play directly on a website. Now you just need to pick up some NES and SNES roms.
So this one would be near the very top of my list but it has been pulled off the web because of a DMCA Copyright complaint by Nintendo. The game’s idea was amazing: give players full control of an NES Super Mario map editor so that they can play and share their newly crafted levels. What makes this even more frustrating is that Nintendo recently announced they’re releasing the exact same thing to the Wii U.
And that’s my list of best free web games of all time. Hopefully you’ve found a some that you’ve never played before. I’m sure I’ve missed a few over the years so please comment and let me know which games are on your list.
Curated and Written By Blaise Sewell
Follow on Twitter: @FeelsRightDes
Blaise Sewell is a game developer and graphic designer at Feels Right Design. Our mission is to design delightful political images for groups with a limited marketing budget and we make our work affordable through sales of our games!