The 50 Best Free Games On PC

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50. Passage [Official site] (2007)

Developer: Jason Rohrer

Passage is a simple, 2D game in which you walk from left to right, and as you do your tiny sprite man experiences all the stages of life: growing old, chasing love, finding a wife, not being able to fit through one-square gaps because the wife makes you too wide…

The simplicity of its metaphors aside, Passage was released in 2007 at a time when “indie games” and “art games” were just beginning to gain traction. It helped jumpstart both, by showing a way – albeit a limited one – that games could communicate through their mechanics without cutscenes or plot or anything borrowed from other mediums. It’s now one of a handful of games regularly accepted into museum exhibits worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art’s videogame design exhibition.

Notes: Creator Jason Rohrer has gone on to make a number of interesting games, but some of his most interesting are those designed – but not necessarily ever made – for the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Sleep Is Death is my favourite Rohrer game. It’s a two-player game that allows for collaborative storytelling, in which one player sets a scene with characters and objects and then invites another to interact with it. The storyteller then responds to the player’s actions in real-time through a simple turn-based system.

Where can I download it: Official Site

Read more: Alec’s massive interview with Jason, Part 2.


  1. Gothnak says:

    The free games that move with me pc to pc are:

    Angband -The best RPG roguelike imo, been playing it on and off since 1992.
    Forge – An open source version of Magic The Gathering with ALL the cards and full AI play with awesome quest or drafting gameplay. I even use it to train for real games of MTG.
    Steel Panthers World At War (The Depot free version, not the overpriced Matrix version) – The best turn based war game on the market, even if it is rather long in the tooth.

    • klops says:

      ADOM is the roguelike for me and would go easily on my list of top games, free or not. My oldest highscore entry is from year 2002 and I must’ve started it some five years earlier. Brogues and stonesoups interest me in theory but I don’t want to learn one again, since there is already too much games.

    • asmodemus says:

      Tales of Maj’Eyal is simply amazing. I’ve always wondered if the odd name has kept it from being quite as big as some of the other Rogue games but for my money it’s the best and I’ve played most of them.

      It has graphics, a storyline, really cool character systems, generous death options rather than a single life and many more quality of life improvements! I believe there is also a free version although the Steam one is dirt cheap if you’re into that.

  2. robby5566 says:

    Man, I don’t know what kind of code you’re using to present this list, but it’s pretty awful. The arrows and page number jump around – sometimes they’re under the image, sometimes above, sometimes just on it. Twice now it’s completely disappeared and I have to do a hard refresh to be able to continue on. I’m just gonna stop reading the lists until they’re actually usable.

    • MiniMatt says:

      I know it really doesn’t help to say “works fine here” but as an effort to narrow down any problems it… works fine here (Chrome, desktop Win 7)

    • shoptroll says:

      Yeah I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of having sub-pages for each item. I’m sure it makes it easier to link individual items from say a Steam Curator list, but man I miss having only to click through 5-6 pages to see everything.

    • int says:

      Use left and right arrows on your keyboard.

    • Person of Interest says:

      My an(ti)ecdote: the RPS slideshows are the best I’ve used on any article-centric site. They have functioning keyboard shortcuts, pre-loaded content for instant switching to the next item, and no ad interstitials.

      The RPS image lightbox, on the other hand…

    • Sin Vega says:

      I am also very much an unfan of this, one game per page is horrible, there’s no link to the complete list, I’m not clicking 50+ times just to keep reading, and even when you know the number of an entry you have to do some backwards counting from 52 or 53 or something to figure out what page it’s on.

      I’m glad to see this updated, but honestly, the layout needs a total rethink.

    • Neutrino says:

      I’m having the same issue. Win7, Firefox 42.0

  3. Agnosticus says:

    What about Expendabros?

  4. Nauallis says:

    I love the mention for the Marathon Trilogy (especially after growing up in household that used exclusively Macs in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s), as those games & Bungie were an integral part of my childhood.

    I also find it hilarious that there’s no mention of any of the MOBAs! That’s awesome!

    • elderman says:

      Yes, the Marathon Trilogy are still great games. And if you like the original trilogy, you should also give Marathon Rubicon X a try, and the AlephOne scenario Eternal. There are a dozen Rubicon levels that still make me smile when I remember them: there were some very good ideas there.

    • malkav11 says:

      If you know of a MOBA that’s straight free instead of free to play or a mod for a paid game (neither of which are allowed on the list per the rules of the article), I’d be curious. I sure don’t.

  5. Kefren says:

    I’ve completed the original Desktop Dungeons a few times. I am currently having my first playthrough of the updated, paid version. It is nice, but I think I actually prefer the free original – it was simpler, and didn’t feel like there were so many distracting meta-things to focus or click on. It’s still good and worth buying, especially if you are new to it, but for a huge fan of the original it just doesn’t hit the same spot. I mainly bought it to support people who had given me many hours of free entertainment!

    Since there were quite a few Twine recommendations, I had my first go at making something in it, turning part of one of my books into an interactive version:
    link to
    It was officially announced on a book blog today: link to

  6. Colthor says:

    To save searching, you can get the full CD versions of the three freely-released C&C games from:
    link to
    (They used to be on EA’s site somewhere, but I think they’ve vanished.)
    I replayed Tiberian Sun a few years ago, and the story is complete nonsense but the game holds up really well.

  7. DantronLesotho says:

    I’m surprised Iji didn’t make it to this list; it’s a great game: link to

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Iji routinely gets no love here, and that’s a crime/shame/shrime.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        In fact the last time this list came up, there were at least a half-dozen different comments, some with reply chains, complaining of exactly that. It’s a shining gem of a game that needs more love.

        Best part? Remar’s supposedly working on an updated version to improve compatibility with modern systems, so I might even get to play it again someday soon-ish!

    • Brendan Caldwell says:

      It was number 53.

  8. colorlessness says:

    Sorry, lists-as-slideshow were tolerable at 10-ish items, but they’re just not readable at 50+.

  9. gpown says:


    It had movement mechanics that could be only compared to N, and added the same flair to its shooting. Brilliant game, too bad the community is pretty much dead, but I spent a good few years on some Realistic Mode and knife-only servers.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Dwarf Fortress is always my answer to why I am skeptical of AAA releases. The game is free and I’ve played it many times as long as any other release since I found it.

    But yeah, not for everyone.

  11. Aseliot says:

    No Path of Exile?

  12. Dare_Wreck says:

    Terry Cavanagh also made the even simpler, more challenging Super Hexagon. If you like the look, feel and sound of VVVVVV, you’ll probably like that too.

    Not so, in my case. I really enjoyed VVVVVV, but Super Hexagon does nothing for me. With few exceptions, I generally get no enjoyment out of score attack games. Being that VVVVVV and Super Hexagon are two very different types of games, I don’t know if I agree that the above statement would be true for most people.

  13. Zankman says:

    Too many “muh artsy puzzler games with ugly graphics and odd themes”, not enough Soldat, Little Fighter 2 and Notrium.

    Not including the latter is a crime.

    Interesting list, still.

    Still haven’t ever tried this Spelunky; from the gameplay I’ve seen, it doesn’t look that interesting. I wonder why it is such a big hit…

    • lesslucid says:

      Little Fighter! Little Fighter 2! What awesome games those were! I had so much fun playing LF1 multiplayer with 2 siblings and one keyboard… even through the ridiculous amounts of keylock that produced…

  14. Oozo says:

    A very solid list, and I guessed #1 correctly (and couldn’t agree more, of course). It really also is a testament to a time that started roughly around 2007/8 where the indie explosion made us collectively feel like everything would be possible, I guess… (I mean, a lot turned out to possible, but that raw energy and the fact that you felt like you could discover something new every day without feeling overwhelmed the way you can these days was really neat, in a way.)

    For that alone I would have maybe added:
    – something by Messhof and especially Cactus — don’t know, Cactus arcade or Norrland?
    Cave Story. I know that RPS is not championing it all that often, maybe simply because it feels like something that really reached us from a very professional, console-dominated era. But still, it’s just so wonderful and accomplished, in a way that not many of the others on this list are (that is not to belittle them — that rough nature makes for a lot of the charm).

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      it really was a special time when i first found rps and freeware/flash games where reported on side by side with “normal” games. It really seemed like anything was possible.

  15. DingDongDaddio says:

    Boy, I grew up on freeware PC gaming and nothing I played is on this list. I was hoping it would help me remember a few!

    Where’s Liero for cryin’ out loud! Soldat!? Cave Story at #51!?

    My personal #1 is the original La Mulana, but I’m not sure if that’s even available anymore.

    • Zankman says:

      The issue with Liero, IMO at least, is that it sounds great in theory but doesn’t actually play that well.

      Soldat, tho, is a big omission, as are my other two favorite freeware games, Notrium and Little Fighter 2.

      • DingDongDaddio says:

        See, now someone is talking some sense! Notrium was great, and boy oh boy was I obsessed with Little Fighter 2. That was a dream game for my Dragon Ball Z loving youth and probably still my #1 beat-em-up style game, paid or free.

        • Zankman says:

          Notrium’s amusing place in the history of Survival games, in a way being a precursor to the nowadays popular genre, alone warrants being on this list.

          LF2 is just an awesome little game – I’ve spent countless hours playing with a huge cast of friends, both trying to beat the Story Mode and just mucking about in Versus (great addition).

          I’ve also got a lot of mileage out of it just by goofing around with Mods and running a AI league…

          … Wait, mods? I must also mention the awesome total conversion mod for Naruto! It even added new mechanics.

          Indeed, a fantastic beat ’em up and solid fighting game – all for free.

          It’s spiritual successor Hero Fighter, eh, a bit too messy and feature-heavy, not to mention shackled to a browser and F2P gimmicks.

          If you like DBZ, fighting games and freeware stuff, I must mention Lemming Ball Z (3D).

          Have you heard of it?

          If not, check it out!

      • klops says:

        Doesn’t play that well? Does not play that well? Do es not play that well? What madness?! Liero plays perfectly! Aiiiee!

  16. stadja says:

    Hooooo ?
    I think we can’t play Masq anymore…
    or can we ?

    When I got in the page I just have something like (can’t use this plugin)… any idea ? Someone ? That game looks very cool :)

  17. Sui42 says:

    This list is objectively wrong because it’s missing Crypt Worlds, which is one of the best comedic games ever made (free or not free):

    link to

    Also where are games by Kitty Horrorshow? She’s one of the best altgame devs around, and while Anatomy (probably her best work) is paid-for, CHYRZA is absolutely magnificent, and free:

    link to


  18. yabonn says:

    Dark Mod?

  19. PanFaceSpoonFeet says:

    What was at number 56?

  20. noodlecake says:

    I want to like Open Transport Tycoon but I can’t get my head around doing all the railway stuff at all.

  21. Dirk says:

    How about…
    Trilby – The Art of Theft

    I enjoyed it immensely and can just see where Tom Francis got his inspiration from for Gunpoint. ;)

    link to

    • Turkey says:

      Weird that there aren’t any Yahtzee games on the list. The Trilby series was a pretty big deal back when AGS was a thing.

  22. Jazzavac says:

    One game (actually 10+ games) I would really recommend is the Submachine series. I don’t even think it has ever been featured on RPS. Yes, it did start out as a generic flash room escape game but since then it has evolved into something entirely unique and crazy. Call me crazy but I would put it into the point-and-click hall of fame next to legends such as Monkey island or The Longest Journey.

  23. satan says:

    Don’t think I play any free games regularly… I drift back to Heroes of Ardania (browser based, turn based rpg set in the same universe the Majesty fantasy kingdom sim games are in – every few years because that’s the most rewarding way to play it.

  24. Person of Interest says:

    I feel like Candy Box 2 is a logical “What else should I be playing” for the Candy Box entry.

  25. Spacewalk says:

    I’m not seeing Fraxy anywhere on the list. This is a work in progress right, like the Mafia 3 review. Can’t wait to see the finished list, with Fraxy in the top ten.

  26. Alevice says:

    “Where so many real-time strategy games eventually decided to jettison the base-building stage entirely, Desktop Tower Defense found a way to make it tactically interesting and enormously engrossing.”

    UMMM, do you realize that Tower Defense existe way before DTD? You canthank warcraft 3 for it and mobas. And hero arenas and Footman wars

  27. welverin says:

    Let me Guess, Ultima 4 was 56 and Martian Dreams and Savage Empire were 57 and 58?

  28. fuggles says:

    Spirit engine 2 was at 57, right?

  29. gergivt says:

    I clicked through to the top, expecting Ur-quan Masters (Star Control 2) to be in the top 5, if not #1. The fact that it isn’t on this list at all is a travesty.
    link to

  30. Ketchua says:

    As it usually happens with these kinds of things, I’ve found a glaring omission:

    Under #29: Bernband, you’ve missed the most crucial “what else”. Hernhand. It’s Hernhand. They’re companion pieces.

  31. Ooops says:

    Not saying there’s anything wrong with this list, because subjectivity and stuff, but my personal number one was not on it (and I think it never earned a mention on RPS at all):
    A Mini Falafel Adventure. It’s a little metroidvania with gameboy-like visuals, cute humour, great boss fights and chiptune/disco music. Oh, and you’re playing as a falafel ball.

  32. Scurra says:

    My contribution to the list of “what were you thinking to miss this?” is Treasure Adventure Game, which is a fun side-scrolling puzzle-platformer that made me forget all about Cave Story.

  33. April March says:

    This list is absolutely brilliant. Very few games I don’t agree are worthy of being there.

    I’ll add to the dissenting voices that Soldat and Crypt Worlds should be there. Soldat was a brilliant thing if you were in the age where you had a lot of time for gaming and little money to buy games. I was especially happy when I learned to effectively use the shotgun and was able to counteract the chainsaw-wielding maniacs. And Crypt Worlds has so much in common with thecatamites’ work that I’m honestly surprised it doesn’t show up there. (Crime Zone should’ve been there too, though I agree Murder Dog 4 is the superior entry.)

  34. remon says:

    It’s a pitty Aurora wasn’t even mentioned, one of the best 4x out there.

  35. malkav11 says:

    This list demonstrates why I generally don’t pay a lot of attention to free games these days. Sure, there’s a few things on there that I know for a fact are great (even one Twine game, My Father’s Long Long Legs), like C&C and Marathon and Desktop Dungeons, but so many are weird, aimless experiential pieces that I guess are probably awesome if that’s your bag but…it’s not mine.

  36. Fartango says:

    To contribute to this list: Warning forever, and the original release of Cave Story.

  37. Fartango says:

    Can anyone identify this game?

    link to

  38. Stopsignal says:

    Hey! Thanks a lot for posting about Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead! So great to see it here, it’s one of my favorite games- I even started a tileset for it that you can find in the forums, though I can never finish it. One day!

    For anyone mildly interested in it, do yourself a favor and try it. And then say hi on the forums! If I hooked you in, tell me later there, it shouldn’t be hard to find me!

    Again, really surprised to see it. It’s great!

  39. MattM says:

    You Have to Burn the Rope. One of the nice things about free games, is that they can be small or even tiny. If all you have is one joke, then you can tell it and end your game in less than 10 minutes. I’d have been bugged if I had dropped 5 bucks on YHTBTR, but as a free experience, its more memorable than a plenty of lesser paid games. I feel like qwop is in the same category for me.

  40. KDR_11k says:

    I do think that Cho Ren Sha 68k (vertical shmup) is good enough to make this list.
    link to

    Also I’m surprised nothing on the Spring engine made the cut. Sure, it’s mostly Total Annihilation derivatives but who’d say no to that?
    link to
    link to

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Cho Ren Sha was my gateway drug, the first bullet-hell I ever played, and what a start. I played it religiously for… probably months, honestly. I’d love to go back, I am fairly confident I could finally 1cc it, but alas, it does not cooperate well with my current laptop.

      Anyone who even THINKS they might get some fun out of the genre, give Cho Ren Sha a try.

  41. Gus the Crocodile says:

    I can only assume that Room of 1000 Snakes isn’t in the top ten because you were paid off by these other sneaky free-game developers. No matter. They will be eaten by the snakes.

  42. cpt_freakout says:

    Great list! Shame about all the “why isn’t this #1” posts but hey… Surprisingly (or not, I guess, since I do read this website) I’ve played quite a few of these, so I’m excited to play the ones I haven’t.

    One day, I’ll finish Shut Up and Jam!: Gaiden, one fateful day. Also, I remember everything I play by thecatamites – such a wonderful talent. Anyway, thanks for thinking this one up!

  43. Da5e says:

    Needs some of x_x’s work – Blue Wish Resurrection+ and Eden’s Aegis are splendid shmups.

  44. z-key says:

    I like the idea of updating the best games for pc series, perhaps annually. Is it too much to want a “best platformers for pc” article?

  45. Killybilly says:

    There is a huge, huge, omission in this list. That would be Track Mania Nations Forever (TMNF). This site is where I first learned about the existence of that game back in the day, and everyone here loved it. I played it a LOT and made sure everyone I knew that were into games at all knew about it. How quickly they (RPS) forget!

  46. headless97 says:

    OpenRA (Source port of Red Alert)
    Trackmania Nations

  47. bonuswavepilot says:

    Booo slideshow!

    (Nothing against the content of said list, I just hate this method of presentation. What actual advantages does it have for presenting a list over, say, a list?)

  48. b136 says:

    Seriously RPS, you should play Cave Story

  49. UmbraDrake says:

    So glad to see Space Station 13 on here, I really am! The amount of intrigue, co-operation and just downright insanity is stupidly good.

  50. cokolwiek says:

    Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, anyone?

    • Stijn says:

      I was hoping to see that one on the list, and somewhat surprised to discover it wasn’t mentioned – it was an excellent game I put countless hours into. Huge community, as well, though I don’t think there’s much left of it nowadays.

      Which may be a reason to exclude it – it’s a multiplayer game after all, and multiplayer games aren’t much fun if you have no one to play against. Still, it was (or is) an excellent, excellent game, and still one of the best prototypes/examples of the class-based FPS that’s so popular now.