Good old browser games – if you haven’t dipped your toe into them particularly recently, you might suspect that they’re relics from the internet’s early days, a way to get some free gaming under your belt if you didn’t have an actual console. Well, there are actually quite an impressive range of experiences out there in your browser.
That could mean single-player time sinks, or massively multiplayer RPGs that span continents, some with text-based systems and others with impressive art and graphics. Regardless, you can bet on finding a range of great fun in these games.
We’ve listed some of the most fun, unique and compelling options out there for you in this feature, to help you find the perfect way to eat up some time, or indeed to help you discover your next obsession.
Fallen London recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, which is quite the milestone for a text-based role-playing game of its sort. It’s a text-based mystery adventure that’s totally unique for each player, set in an alluring, scary Lovecraftian London.
It’s great fun to drop into every so often, checking in once or day or however much you like, to see what odd things happen to your character next, and to explore the many stories that you can happen across.
Spelunky is an undisputed great in all of gaming, not just for browser games. It’s a randomised exploration game that sees you plumbing the depths of a cave system in search of treasure, which you’ll find plenty of.
An HD version of the game followed this low-fi edition, but it’s just as fun to play the original and is just as open to speedrunning and replayability. A real classic.
A simple premise is at the core of 10 bullets – you control a turret that has 10 shots to make, and you can make them whenever you like. Each bullet you fire can set off chain reactions when it hits a flying ship, so it’s just a matter of trying to create the most chaos you can with your ammunition.
It’s a great little “one more try” game, that encourages you to keep seeing what tactics work best and to be patient with your shots. That makes it a great way to fill a few minutes of idle time.
Chances are you’ve played 2048 at some point – the simple maths game went massive a few years ago. Well, say it quietly, but it was ripping off the identical concept but far superior design and art of Threes! Most commonly played as an app, you can nonetheless have a great time with this simple game in your browser for free.
It’s devilishly simple, but getting seriously good at it is no mean feat, and certainly, plenty of our brain cells have wasted away trying to get to higher and higher numbers over time.
Another genuine classic of the online gaming world is Runescape – it’s old enough now that generations of players have passed through its ranks. A massive multiplayer RPG, Runescape gives you total freedom to shape your character, profession and quests.
It’s amazing how long it’s lasted, and developer Jagex has continually reinvented it over the years, making it more and more welcoming for first-time players. There’s no time like the present to dive in!
A Dark Room
A Dark Room is like an enigmatic take on a classic clicker game – you can’t do much at a time, so it’s all about leaving it open in a tab and coming back to convert actions every so often. It’s careful with its story details, meting them out slowly over time.
You play a stranger stranded in frontier lands, building up a small community over time but always under threat from animals and the weather.
There’s nothing quite like a quick golf game, but Wonderputt takes the formula and reinvents it through interesting transitions and inventive level design. You’ll play through a long series of holes in an evolving world that is reminiscent of Monument Valley and MC Escher’s drawings.
It’s great fun, and not too taxing at all.
You might think that calling Line Rider a game is stretching it, but you get out whatever you put into it. It’s a classic bit of internet fun that lets you draw out a course for your little sledder to follow.
Get drawn into it and before you know it you’ll have massive, complex patterns for it to play through. People have even synced up their tracks to famous music for added credit.
AI Dungeon 2
The power of artificial intelligence is hard to overstate, and so too is its potential to radically change loads of processes in our everyday lives. It’s also got some fun uses, though, as showcased by the second version of AI Dungeon, which writes a custom and random role-playing text adventure for you to play each time you open it, according to a few parameters.
You might not find every iteration a rip-roaring story success, but this is worth experimenting with purely to see what it throws up and before you know it you’re likely to be enveloped by a world completely unique to you.
One of Google’s range of Chrome Experiments, Cube Slam is a simple reimagining of the classic Pong game – you’ll move a paddle to play tennis against opponents. It’s got a great, simple blocky art style and is fun and responsive to play.
Plus, with a load of difficulties to progress through, you’ll have lots of room to improve and hone your skills over time.
This is another classic internet game – GeoGuessr drops you onto a random spot on Google Street View, potentially anywhere in the entire world. Your job is simply to place a pin on Google Maps to estimate where you think you are.
It’s endlessly fun, and the random element means that no two games are the same. Sometimes it’ll be easy for you to work out your location, while other times you’ll have absolutely no idea.
A gaming classic ported into Adobe’s Flash player and available to play online – that’s the easy sell for Doom. It’s one of the most influential (and fun) first-person shooters of all time and is really simple to play by modern standards.
There’s not much more to say, beyond the fact that if you’ve never played the original DOOM, and especially if you enjoyed the 2016 update for modern consoles, you’ve got to give it a try.
We close out our list with a game so famous that it basically introduces itself – QWOP. You have only those four buttons on your keyboard to try desperately to control an athlete attempting a straightforward sprint.
If you’ve never seen it played, trust us when we say that it’s about a million times harder than it sounds. Borderline impossible, but reliable funny to watch and compete with friends on, QWOP is a piece of internet history that you can still try for free any time you like.