With a lot of people trapped at home due to the ongoing pandemic, there’s a great need for cheap entertainment. Many generous game developers are responding to this with free or pay-what-you-want sales of their games. In addition, there’s a huge amount of always-free games you can play during this time.
I’ll be updating this post as giveaways/massive discounts come and go, and will put a changelog at the bottom.
If you have any suggestions, please comment!
What You Need to Play Free Games
Some people think you need a fancy gaming computer to play computer games. You do not. There are an enormous number of great, free independent games that will run on a ten-year-old laptop. Of course, some games will require (and make use of) newer hardware, but there are options for everyone. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
Some games will be Windows only, but there are many that will also run on OS X (Mac) or Linux.
How To Find Free Games
A few years ago, I wrote a guide to finding free, high-quality video games to play. Most of the resources in that post are still current, so check it out. Anything new or time-limited, I’ll cover below.
Limited-Time Free Games
These games are temporarily being given away for free – some as straight-up free, most as Pay What You Want (where selecting free is fine, though of course supporting the artist is cool if you have the money). Grab em while you can!
Many of these are highlights from Steamgift’s itch.io free games tracker. Check out that thread for even more games!
Death Ray Manta SE – Free through September 2nd. A colorful and frenetic shooter by the wonderful Rob F.
Nuravil Conflict – Free through April 4th. Retro top-down shooter.
Tailgunner – Free through April 28th. Arcade game about tailgunning from an airplane.
Adventure & Narrative Games
Causeways – Free through April 18th. “Causeway is an award nominated experimental branching narrative experience in which even the smallest decisions make big waves.”
Colorfiction’s games – Free through June 29th. A collection of chill and beautiful exploration & relaxation experiences. Becalm, in particularly, is great for meditating.
Dan Kerry’s games -Free through April 30th. A collection of short games, many with a horror theme.
Far Future Tourism – Free through April 5th. A collection of worlds to wander and explore – no “gameplay,” just walking and looking.
Fugue in Void – Free through April 15th. A 45-minute narrative experience intended for one sitting.
Jam and the Mystery of the Mysteriously Spooky Mansion – Free through April 8th. “The detective prodigy Jam already knows who did the crime, but what the crime actually was remains to be determined.”
A Mortician’s Tale – Free through December 30th. A one-hour narrative game about the life of a mortician.
Mud Slinger – Free through April 29th. “Mud Slinger is a lightweight, single player game about daily work as a barista at a cafe, the endless parade of weird people asking stupid, stupid questions, tipping poorly, and of course, wild rabid badgers coming through the door. You know, daily life stuff.”
No Response – Free through April 18th. “After a car accident leaves you stranded in the middle of nowhere, you need to find help as soon as possible.”
Open Sorcery – Free through April 7th. Text-based game of magic-as-code.
F J O R D S – Free through September 16th. A classic of experimental indie games. A mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Mu Cartographer – Free through April 26th. “A contemplative game experience that combines colourful sandbox and experimental treasure hunt.”
Drawful 2 – Free until April 11th. A fantastic local multiplayer party game, where players can use smartphones (or tablets) as controllers.
Codemancer – Free through April 15th. A game to teach programming concepts and skills in a fantasy universe.
Monster Match – Free through April 3rd. A stage-based Match 3 game, ala Puzzle Quest.
From Orbit – Free through April 17th. Procedurally generated light strategy game about exploring planets, getting resources, and defending your ship.
Soko Loco – Free through April 5th. Adorable, miniature train management game from the Sokpop collective.
Classic/Always Free Games
I’ll be rounding this out shortly, but for now, I recommend checking out Rock Paper Shotgun’s list of Best Free Games. This mixes both straight-up-free and “free to play” games, but all free to play games listed have very generous business models and don’t require spending money.
The Dark Mod – An enormous variety of first-person “stealth gaming” missions made in the style of the Thief series.
Generous & Good Free-to-Play Games
“Free-to-play” games have a well-earned reputation for being anything but free, many using exploitative mechanics to get the player to spend money on the game for minimal benefit. Here are some lovely exceptions to that rule. (This will be expanded over time).
Card Hunter – An excellent (and adorable) tactical combat RPG that simulates playing a D&D analog in the ’80s. You can play through the entire campaign for free, and unlike all bonus content for a flat fee if you want (but it’s not needed).
4/2 – Removed expired games.
3/26 – Removed expired games, added new Epic Game Store giveaways, added many other time-limited itch.io games.
3/23 – Removed expired games, split giveaway games into genre categories (loosely). Added tons of games to limited-time giveaways, Dark Mod to always free games.
3/21 – Initial post.