Jan 17, 2008

100 excellent free games in bloom

Let a thousand flowers bloom. Let a 1000 indie developers come up with brilliant freebies and, being the sensible sort you are, let me pick 100 of the best freeware games around for your downloading pleasure, with the added twist of focusing on the rather more contemporary releases. Oh, and as best is quite subjective, we don't have to argue about it, do we? Anyway. No more ado. Here they are:

Glorious Adventure Games

What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed: The only adventure game featuring two stories for you to simultaneously enjoy. Also, a triumph of innovation that sadly lacks in the naked ladies department, but more than makes up for it with its taxing puzzles and super secret ending.

Sam & Max - Abe Lincoln must die: A complete Telltale S&M episode. For free. For real.

Poizoned Mind: Adult, text heavy, hilarious and smart like a smart thing.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms: A Sierra/Lucasarts hybrid of a faerie-tale.

Penumbra: Polished, short, first person, scary. Also an adventure.

Chivalry is not Dead: It's a point-and-click story-game-thingie instead.

Fate by Numbers: The most impressive (and probably only) FMV adventure of the decade.

King's Quest III: 256-colours VGA remake of the Roberta Williams classic.

Prodigal: Epic horror; the AGS way.

Snowblind Aces: Interactive fiction at its best and the winner of the Text The Halls compo.

Shoot-'em-ups (aka shmups)

Prototype 2: One of my all time favorite shmups, an obvious R-Type descendant and a game to spoil you with options. Happily sports lovely 2D graphics and some shockingly frenetic side-scrolling action. Oh, yes, it's though.

Return to Sector 9: The runner-up...

Fraxy: Fast, furious and including a level-editor too.

Echoes: Not unlike Geometry Wars, is it?

Warning Forever: Unlike anything you've ever played.

Tumiki Fighters: Grab it for free before it hits the Wii.

Fractal Fighter: Black & white vertical shooting fun.

Platformers and their hybrids

Knytt Stories: Simple mechanics, excellent music, lovely pixel art graphics, smart puzzles and a brilliant editor that guarantees tons of new levels make this lovely indie offering a necessary download. Obviously an instant cult classic.

Cave Story: Retro-styled graphics, fantastic mechanics, lovable music.

Space Barnacle: A simpler, cuter and quite funnier Metroid.

Final Vision: The Space Barnacle of Castlevania.

Polychromatic Funk Monkey: Tile based platforming at its best.

Platform: Episodic platform gaming is indeed possible.

Ninjah: Fast paced speedrunning with ninjas.

Secret Meryo Chronicles: It's Maryo not Mario, mind you.

Iwanaga: Classic horizontal-scrolling stuff-shooting ...uh... stuff.

La Mulana: Like a difficult 8-bit game running on a super charged PC. Huge.

A Game with a Kitty 2: Darkside Adventures: Simply brilliant.

Lovely Retro Remakes

Jet Set Willy Online: The true reason behind the creation of the Internet and the best MMO experience I've ever had, JSWO can accommodate up to 16 players in a variety of demented platform gaming modes. Includes every room from JSW and JSW 2 and a ton of surreal brilliant new ones for added hours of fun.

Hurrican: A shiny Turrican remake with Hurrican in it.

Monty's Christmas Special: A mole in an Santa outfit. Also a painfully difficult jumping around/collecting stuff affair.

Wizball: A shmup that's totally unlike Geometry Wars. Sports a bouncing ball that shoots.

Cybernoid: Another fine shmup.

Typhoon 2001: An excellent Tempest remake.

G-Force: An excellent remake of a Tempest remake.

Tubopac: A remake of Sierra's Oils Well.

Karate Champ: Obvious.

RunOut: Cunningly named Out Run remake.

MunchMates: Like Pac-Man only a remake of Munchman.

Strategy Games of all kinds

Command & Conquer 95: It's the full version on two whole CDs, it is. Shockingly it's one of the best and most influential RTS pc games too and -should you be wise enough to grab it- you wont sleep 'till you beat it.

Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon: Self explanatory and classic. Click on the free full game button.

UFO: Alien Invasion: X-Com in 3D. Probably better, definitely impressive.

Invade Earth: The digital equivalent of Risk 2210 A.D.

Battleships Forever: RTS in space, where -apparently- no one can hear you click.

MegaMek: A BattleTech remake.

Battle for Wesnoth: Turn-based fantasy fun in 16 glorious bits.

C-evo: Empire building with the AI to match.

Transcendence: Nethack meets Star Control. Lovely.

Intellectual First Person Shooters

Cube 2: Sauerbraten: It's got its own graphics and physics engine and looks all shiny and next-gen. Easily the technically most impressive FPS around and one that seems to have been created with oldschool gamers in mind. Fast and simple both in single and in multi-player mode.

F.E.A.R. Combat: The not particularly terrifying but absolutely brilliant multiplayer bit of FEAR.

The World of Padman: Colourful cartoon shooting action.

The Secrets of Manes: Dark & straightforward.

Empyreal Nocturne: Too weird to be an FPS, but it does use the WASD keys.

OpenArena: Standalone FPS based on the Quake III engine.

Arcade-adventure action thingies

OnEscapee: Obviously inspired by Another World, this is classic arcade-adventure gaming at its best and appropriately a commercial PC remake/update of an Amiga game now released as freeware. Smart puzzles, difficult fighting scenes, amazing animation and some brilliant art are the chief reasons you have to download it.

Tribly: Art of Theft: Yahtzee's excellently stealthy steal-'em-up.

Tempo: Directly from Latin America, brilliant and a rare chance to play a psychic on a wheelchair.

Sunset Runner or The Suspiciously Long Train: Run on the train, avoid the obstacles and make merry in 256x256 resolution.

One Must Fall 2097: Beat-'em-up the way you did back in the 90s.

Dot Fighters: Beat-'em-up again.

Beats of Rage: Yes! Another beat-'em-up!

Garden Gnome Carnage: Dispicable!

Role Playing Games of the SFW kind

Runesword II: A classic CRPG designed to appeal to us pen & paper RPGers. Runesword II features turn-based strategic combat, 50+ skills, races and several full-length adventures & worlds. Plus a completely flexible game construction set/world maker.

Last Scenario: Polished decently sized Japanese-style RPGing on the PC.

The Griffon Legend: Done in FreeBasic! No, really.

Ark 22: Almost like a 16-bit Zelda.

Shadowflare Episode 1: Very Diablo and very good-looking.

Star Wars: Bloodlines: Almost like Ark 22 but with Yoda in it.

Mono: Oops wrong mono apparently... Anyway, it's nice though not an RPG...

Zangband: One of the best and most beautiful roguelikes around.

The Kingdom of Loathing: Funny.

Unique weirdlings

De Blob: Quite a bit like Katamari, only freeware and running on your PC. De Blob, developed by nine art students, is visually impressive, technically proficient, aesthetically perfect and amazing fun. It will probably soon appear on the Wii too.

Dwarf Fortress: The best ASCII game you'll ever play. Ever. And it's not a rogue-like either.

Passage: Heartbreakingly realistic.

Pac-Txt: Pac-Man meets Zork and things get silly and almost fun.

Dark Signs: Simulated hacking. Just like simulated eating but with computers.

100-in-1 Klik 'n' Play Pirate Kart: This is Madness! Sparta too.

Flight Gear: A complete flight simulator in its completist glory. Hardcore.

Frets on Fire: A Guitar Hero clone. Softcore.

Chalk: Draw yourselves out of 6 deviously smart levels.

Puzzlers to... err... puzzle you

Deadly Rooms of Death (DROD): Architect's Edition: Think deep, turn, point your sword, move wisely and try to survive in those lovely colorful dungeons. Excellent humour, fiendish puzzles and uncountable sleepless nights await you.

Mondo Medicals: Obscure, brilliant and a rarely first person puzzle game.

At the Carnival: CGA-style retro graphics, unique ideas and a healthy dose of humour make this puzzle games collection a must-download.

Avalanche: Ok, it's a web game, but it's just brilliant. Too addictive too.

Gesundheit: Action-puzzlers are great. Gesundheit is even greater. And more beautiful.

Mr. Heart Loves You Very Much: Mazes and physics. Mazes and physics.

Block Attack: A Columns clone.

SubTerra: Extremely varied puzzles and mazes all in 2D.

Massive MORPGs

Dungeon Runners: Too good to be free, really, and easily on par with the World of Warcraft behemoth. Also plays like a wackier online version of Diablo and you don't have to give up your life either.

Discworld MUD: A Multi-User Dungeon based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

Anarchy Online: Yes, the classic sci-fi MMORPG. Again.

A Tale in the Desert 3: Sophisticated and civilized. Not for the average cretin.

The Endless Forest: Be a stag.

Regnum Online: A decent 3D fantasy RPG. Of the MMO kind of course.

Planeshift: An almost finished MMORPG or an extended though promising tech demo?

And finally, some Mods

Ultima V Lazarus: This is Ultima V reborn in the guise of the best Dungeon Siege mod imaginable. Expect an amazing CRPG stroll through a beautiful rendition of Britannia, tons of quests, interesting characters, a tedious plot and lovely fantasy combat.

Introspect: Unreal Tournament without guns. Unreal Tournament for the tormented artist.

Minerva Metstasis: Excellent, mysterious, single player and a Half Life 2 mod.

Flipside: Half Life 2 on drugs. Happy drugs.

Project Revolution: It's Starcraft in 3D and does what the tin says.

Warhammer Total War: Just like Warhammer with miniatures only without them.

Related @ Gnomes Lair: 60 hand-picked free games, Commercial Games gone Freeware, free CRPGs, free games archive


  1. Oh my! It seems I've gone a bit over the 100 games limit... Sorry about that ;)

  2. I'd like to nominate you for best f'n post of the new year, gnomey my friend. The time I will spend on this stuff cannot be measured.

    The screencap that you gave of OnEscapee puts me in mind of the most excellent Flashback: The Quest for Identity, however.

  3. FEAR is great. It is my favorite FPS.

  4. We're still in January and still we already have the post of the year!

    1000 games to you, dear gnome, for keeping even the poorest gamer entertained.

    And I'm glad you mentioned Knytt Stories :)

    By the way, when I saw the classic RPG section I remembered something, do you happen to know Eschalon: Book 1? From what I've heard it's an indie game, as classic as a classic RPG can be. It's too l33t for me, but maybe you'll like it. I think it's not free, though.

  5. Thank you very much for the kind words dear Dane of War. They really mean a lot... Oh, and OnEscapee plays quite a bit like a cross between Flashback and Another world. BTW, are comments working properly on your -excellent- blog?

    And the multiplayer aint half-bad either funnyman.

    (bows humbly before Nebachadnezzar)

    Thanks and thanks again for the continuous support Nebacha mate. Now, to try this Eschalon... Sounds intriguing, but I'm not sure what Dwarf Fortress will hink of other games on my (its) PC.

  6. FEAR, BioShock, and Condemned were 3 games that scared the hell out of me.

  7. Comments? To be sure, oh great purveyor of good blogginess - they work just fine.

  8. Silent Hill was pretty effective too. And Scratches...

  9. Hmmm, it must me be being incompetent then of bravest of Denmark.

  10. Oh my. Last time you put up a list of games, I spent waaaayyyyyyyy too much time going through them and playing. Think this time might be the same as last. *sigh* If I didn't have to work.....

  11. Pacian entered the list, and was never seen again. Sounds of mirth emerged.

  12. Great list!! I love it.
    Now, i just have to download it allll

  13. Gnome you absolute legend! This must have taken forever!

    It's also going to take me forever to play through this amazing list.

    By the way, the best thing about it is that I just found out C&C is now free. God, that takes me back.

    Thanks again mate :-)

  14. Silent Hill was scary, but I didn't know we were talking about the PSP. You were correct in the multiplayer in FEAR being great. It is nice to see a FPS have a good single and multiplayer experience.

  15. Gnome, awesome list! (And thanks for the top billing!) I'm gonna go try out OnEscapee now!

  16. I'm with Dane.

    Post of the Year!!!!

    Great list, Gnome.

  17. Uh oh there goes my weekend (and the next few) again.

    Loved Runesword II & Dwarf Fortress - think Dwarf Fortress should go under Strategy though.

    Battle of Wesnoth, c-evo are very good too. Haven't tried the latest version of UFO AI released a few days ago though - should be pretty good :D

    Nice work :D

  18. Blue Gnome, dear cousin, that's the point really... crushing productivity and subsequently work. ;)

    (pets Pacian's cat)

    Too much mirth though might be... uhh... too much. Go make more games. Now!

    Glad you enjoyed it dian! Download away!

    Don't mention it Tom. Here, mate, more cookies. And some tequila. Oh, and shockingly it hasn't taken me ages coming up with the list. Merely a month- a few games a day were being added...

    Not necessarily the PSP dear funnyman... I'd say more the PSOne... Oh, and I agree.

    Thank you awesome Vince Twelve! And may I suggest Dwarf Fortress too, provided it doesn't eat away all your game designing time that is.

    Thank you very much dear Greywolf... BTW, really love your blog/site thing mate. Impressive.

    Roys dear, thanks for the kind words. Now, I can't say I disagree with DF being sort of a strategy game, but it does feel so unique, I just felt it would do better under ...err... unique games. Heh.

  19. The original Silent Hill was my favorite in the series as well, but I also enjoyed the one on the PSP. I know playing Silent Hill 2 is different than the PSP, but I still liked Origins. I scored it an 8 out of 10, but you already know that from reading my review on my blog.

  20. Indeed, Origins sound quite promisin, though admittedly anything PSP related will have to wait for after I grab my GP2X :)

  21. You left the incredible Freespace 2 Source Code Project out of your mods section.


  22. umm...since when was mono ever "An adventure/RPG hybrid bred in the Japanese tradition"?

  23. And many other mischief maker, and many others. Not every game made it... Still, more lists and solitary frebies will be regularly added to the blog, as has been the case these last few years...

    Uhm, since I felt that way dear anonymous :) It's a metaphor...

  24. WTF missing many good games on there. Poor list in the end.

    There's a really good 101 list thats making the rounds. best check that out.

  25. Your reasoning and eloquence are astounding...

  26. I find it hilarious that people expect every single good free game to be on there. It's pretty obvious that it's your own personal favourites. You can't please everyone can you Gnome? :-)

  27. Tempo is from Spain, easy to get that and Latin America confused. :P

  28. Holy Feck! I turn around for a moment there's over a hundred most fabulous games on the lair, all there for free and I've even played some of 'em!

    Truly Gnome, you deserve a Knighthood, canonisation, the Order Of Merit and a bevvy of vestel virgins for your dedication and generosity!

    In the words of the youngsters, you're the shizzle my nizzle!

  29. Hey! How did I miss Wizball in that list the first time??!??!!!? See ya next year! Bye!!

    *zips away to start playing*

  30. Hi, nice list.
    Jut let you know that most of the games in this list can be downloaded from www.g4g.it

  31. Well Tom, truth be said, I don't quite aim to please everyone. For some all I care to do is fart in their general direction. After all the fathers smelled of elderberries...

    Ooops, didn't know that Patrick. Thank you. Shame on me... tsk, tsk. I'll fix it asap.

    The Shizzle in the Nizzle?!?! Why, that's utterly amazing Father. Thank you, thank you and hope you enjoy them. Quite a few are coming as commercial games on the Wii you know...

    (waves at Blue Gnome as Blue Gnome bounces away towards the sunset)

    Be careful! Don't forget to take breaks!

    Thanks for the tip firesword. Lovely site. And you're Italian too!

  32. The stench of your fart can't be worse than mine. Can it?

  33. you forgot tremulous

  34. I wouldn't know (or want to find out) dear Funnyman.

    Haven't forgotten it killerkiwi -as it has already been mentioned somewhere in this blog- just didn't pick it. Anyway, thanks for the tip!

  35. Dwarf Fortress !!!

    BTW Nice Post gnome !!!

  36. Thanks Nikica! And DF is indeed brilliant!

  37. this is the greatest posting i've read this year as well. thanks for the great list!

  38. Thanks for the kind words kreg.

  39. I've been searching for good freeware games for ages, and you come up with this list that has about 50 games I have never seen. I guess gnomes can smell a freeware game from a mile away...

  40. Wow... um, Gnome, can you sell me a few hours, because I have a feeling I'm going to spend a lot of time on these games...

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Uhm, sure.. here. Have an hour for free. It's our introductory offer, it is...

  43. I'll just skip over the fine print and sign my name here...

  44. By the way Gnome, A Tale in the Desert isn't actually free. It's just a 24hour trial and you have to pay afterwards.

  45. Oh my! Sorry about that, didn't quite notice it. Ooops...

  46. As usual, an excellent compilation...well done, Gnome!

  47. Dear, dear Possum! How are things? Oh, and thanks :)

  48. So I just found your site and well... I love you, kind sir. Nobody has so much cool stuff in one place, for free.

  49. Why, Impunity dear, that's so very kind of you. Really. Hope you stick around for a while and... uhh... cheers!

    (Mother, it's not you, is it?)

  50. The Sam and Max game looks pretty good! Thanks for the list though, I'm gonna have to start working through them. BioShock is a pretty good play too!

  51. Glad you liked it! I'm actually already working my way to a new one!

  52. hmmm, among the free games there is a mayor fps game missing.
    cant be intended...???
    where is Alien Arena?

    greatest and most beautifull free fps around. weel, that is my opinion
    at least... :o)

  53. :)

    Thanks for dropping by and -please- do check my previous free game compilations... I'm sure you'll find what you're asking for.


  54. Awesome looking games, will try out the ones I have not already played.

    Dead Link - Prodigal
    Looks like it should be: http://www.prodigal-game.com/

    Dead Link - Final Vision
    Only page with a link to download that works I could find.

    Dead Link - Ninjah

    Dead Link - Jet Set Willy Online

    Deal Link - Monty's Christmas Special

    Dead Link - G-Force

    Dead Link - MegaMek

    Dead Link - The Secrets Of Manes
    Looks like they moved their content around so this is not the right link for that site (http://www.megagames.com/freeware/secrets-manes)
    But all their download links are dead, so use this.

    Dead Link - Empyreal Nocturne

    Dead Link - OnEscapee
    Download does not work, can use:

    Download Broken - Last Scenario

    Broken Link - Ark 22

    Broken Link - Star Wars: Bloodlines

    Download Broken - Zangband

    Broken Link - Dark Signs

    Broken Link - Chalk

    Broken Link - Dungeon Runners

    Broken Link - Planeshift

    Broken Link - Mondo Medicals

    Broken Link - Gesundheit

    Link I would change - Cave Story
    has far more downloadables and more info on the game.

  55. I really can't thank you enough for you amazing work Jonathon. It will soon be implemented in a way you (probably) can't imagine.

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