The best free games are on PC, and if you want to know what the best 50 are then you’ve come to the right place.
RPS Feature No free-to-play, just free.
RPS Feature Winning By Failing
I spent half my evenings this week advancing through Advanced Warfare. Call of Duty games are uniformly about forward progression, but some of their most memorable moments comes from points of scripted failure: missing your chance to grab a gun as a Russian soldier in the first Call of Duty, or the nuclear blast in Modern Warfare 1. You learn something about the realities of those scenarios in both moments.
Advanced Warfare squanders its one point of necessary failure: the first mission’s unfortunate end incites action from both the player and from Kevin Spacey, but there’s little that’s real about it. You lose an arm, you gain a robot arm. As a player, you learn nothing. Failure in videogames can be so much more, both as a way of generating interesting play experiences and in making less abstract the knowledge we hold about the world around us.
Here are some games that I think do failure better, and what those failures taught me.
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
The above image of Masq isn’t a spoiler, as much as it might look like one. This free game will take you 15 minutes to play, but it branches so often and in such wildly varying directions that you could play it a dozen times and never encounter this particular moment of conflict. That’s what makes it great: it’s pure narrative, told via mostly motionless black-and-white comic frames, but choose-your-own adventures are thrilling when the choices matter this much.
Odd Timing on this. On the day I finally delete the Masq executable from my desktop, figuring I can always download it again, I get a mail from Chris Evans, noting that he’s interviewed its creator for his Evo-Gamer. Javier Maldonado talks about his influences (“David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Latin-American Soap operas”), his training (“My background is as a comic writer and I went to Film School, so I am a storyteller at heart that happened to know some basic programming”) and where he may be going next (“I’m proud of Masq, but we may have to come up with more family-oriented titles before exploring more adult themes again.”) You haven’t played Masq? Oh, c’mon. Go give it a shot. PCG’s Tom Francis noted that “The level of meaningful freedom here puts Deus Ex to shame” and the man isn’t entirely devoid of intelligence. It’s one of the most complicated Choose Your Own Adventures the world has ever seen; the first choice, of course, is choosing to play the bally thing. Oh – and sex and violence and serious discussions about fashion show financing.