Video games are lovely, aren’t they? They can do everything from immersing you in a beautiful, vast paradise filled with life and magic, to getting your brain ticking as you work to solve one more puzzle.
It doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby either, especially on PC. Steam has several titles that are completely free to add to your library, download, and play whenever you want. By free, we mean no strings attached, such as an online requirement, signing up to a client that you may typically see with games marked as Free-to-Play, or multiplayer only games via matchmaking. Many developers make their games for the sake of sharing their creation and allowing more people to experience the games that they want to make.
To celebrate those developers, we have compiled a group of some of the best games that you can play on Steam without paying a cent.
This one may be familiar to fans of horror games. Initially released in 2004 and made available for free in 2017 on Steam, this Japanese adventure game is a surreal experience that offers about four hours of fantastic, dark ambiance.
Created with RPG Maker, you control Madotsuki, a hikikomori (a reclusive adult) who is stuck in her apartment and unwilling to go outside when awake, with only a TV showing a test card and a games console for entertainment. However, as she sleeps, she begins to see things that are more than just the world around her, and it’s up to you to guide her through this twisted reality.
It’s an excellent game that anyone who enjoys a supernatural theme to their games will be sure to love. Due to its age, it will take up minimal space on your system at under 100mb too.
Fistful of Frags
There’s a large number of shooters on the store that are based on the Source Engine, mods from Half-Life 2 that have different flavors of game. These include zombie survival and even a source version of the N64 Rare classic Goldeneye, and generally, most of them are free to download and play with your friends.
Fistful of Frags is one of the best available. It’s a little slower than your typical arcade-style first-person shooter, but it fits with the western theme, offering up some well designed wild west maps for you to take down some gringos and prove that you’re the real desperado willing to do what it takes to take down your fellow competitors.
It also works on local servers, so if you are hosting a LAN, it’s a great free option that everyone can play without needing an internet connection, using Source’s built-in server browser, so no matchmaking required!
Everlasting Summer & Narcissu 1st & 2nd
In recent years, the number of visual novels being hosted on Steam with official translations has steadily increased. There’s a misconception that all of them are dating simulators where the fan-service, usually highly sexualized manga characters often put at the front of their marketing, is what draws the players in. Some higher profile visual novels, such as Clannad and Higurashi When They Cry Kou have proven that you don’t need constant pictures of cleavage in your game to make it a powerful and fun experience. You need to tell a good story.
If you’re still apprehensive, that’s probably to be expected. It is a genre that is alien to most western gamers. That’s where Everlasting Summer and Narcissu come in.
Both are relatively short compared to your standard visual novel, but they are both fabulous free options as a gateway to the genre, with compelling narratives and interesting characters. It may take a little time to get to grips with the concept of merely picking dialogue options, but you can’t go wrong with either game if you want to “try before you buy” some of the more accomplished titles. It’s as close to an interactive book as games come.
Doki Doki Literature Club
It would have been easy to include Doki Doki Literature Club as part of the two games above, but this visual novel is worth playing for different reasons. It’s one that benefits you the most when going in completely blind as to avoid ruining what becomes a beautiful experience.
Without offering any spoilers, your childhood friend Sayori brings you into the school literature club, where you meet Natsuki, Yuri and Monika, girls with different styles in their look, behavior and their writing style as you create and share poetry. It does, of course, develop further from there.
It starts relatively slow but it is well worth persevering with and clocking in at about 3-4 hours, it’s also relatively short and so not a huge time sink if you’re not looking to invest in a full-size visual novel.
Be warned though; it’s not for the faint of heart.
As you may be able to tell by the title, this game was an official crossover between Broforce and The Expendables to promote the release of the third movie. This does not matter too much because the game is excellent and is well worth your time.
Essentially an 8-bit style action platformer, what’s great about The Expendabros is that it’s not just a shallow, rushed representation of either product. It’s a completely free, short but fully fleshed game that combines Expendables characters with Broforce’s extremely silly but hugely entertaining foundation to make a game so over the top that it gives the films a run for their money, so you get blow most of the map up while looking like a total badass.
You can even play it with up to three friends in split-screen co-op! If nothing else, it’s a freebie that serves as an excellent extended demo of Broforce, which itself is a great game and worth picking up if you enjoy the action platform style. Even if you know nothing about the movies, give it a go.
So far, every game featured in this article has been one that is either intense or one that requires you to provide it with your full attention. Floating Point, on the other hand, is a little different.
It’s a game designed to be more of a way to help you relax and take your gaming easy, and it does a great job of it. You control a floating ball, and your objective is to use the grappling hook that comes out of it to swing into the objectives on a large level full of platforms.
The relaxing element is that there’s no timer, no set direction in which you have to swing, and no restrictions on the pace at which you can fly through the objectives. The physics engine used treats the swing realistically, so it offers the flexibility to go at your speed.
It’s casual, and sometimes, a causal experience is just what you need to help you enjoy your evening.
AdVenture Capitalist, originally a game on Kongregate and release on Steam in 2015, is an easy game to describe what you do. It’s known as a clicker game, and it’s what you think a clicker game might be. You are a capitalist, and you are tasked with creating a portfolio of business that earns you more money. The way to do that? By clicking. A lot.
However, what is not quite as easy to explain is why playing it, when it is a game that involves nothing more than efficiently timed button presses, is so very addictive. Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of successful button pressing, timing and ordering the most efficient way to increase your revenue. Maybe it’s the charm that it evokes that makes you want to come back as you look to expand operations for your businesses to the moon, or the feeling of accomplishment you get when finally completing some of the tougher Steam achievements (and they WILL take you some time).
Whatever the reason may be, it’s something that for many becomes obvious very quickly. It’s only a small download, so it’s worth a try if the premise intrigues you.
Cry of Fear
One of the more renowned freebies on Steam, Cry of Fear is as close to a full release in Steam’s free offerings as it gets. Originally a Half-Life mod, it was released as a standalone game in 2012 and boy does it bring the spooks.
A psychological horror first-person shooter, you play a young man in the midst of a town filled with nightmarish creatures and delusions. Attempting to keep your sanity, you must navigate around this dark Scandinavian landscape looking for answers to the questions that haunt this hollow settlement.
With multiple endings and the option to play singleplayer or in co-op with a friend, Cry of Fear is an excellent choice for those looking to get their delights in frights for free.
Puzzle games are one of the more abundant genres when it comes to free games on Steam. Easy to make and simple to design for, it’s easy to find something that you can enjoy without cost.
For something a little different from your typical puzzle types, Picross Touch uses the classic picross formula to create a great collection of puzzles without charge. Given a grid and some numbers that correspond to the number of filled consecutive tiles, your task is to create the picture by clicking on the tiles that correspond with these numbers on each grid. It’s relatively simple to get to grips with, but can be very rewarding when completing the bigger, more challenging grids.
With over 300 puzzles included with the free version, and much more available for a small fee if you want to invest, Picross Touch is great value for your time.
Are you are the type that likes topping leaderboards with the best times so that you can brag to friends at how quick you are? then this neat little first-person parkour platformer is well worth your time.
Made by a student team in just 15 weeks, FrostRunner has a lot going for it. Plenty of levels, a variety of terrain, a grappling hook that allows you to slingshot yourself across the map, and collectibles for completionists out there, the content is surprisingly plentiful for a game made in such a small amount of time.
The game probably won’t take you long to beat, but its speed running nature makes it a great little competitive game for those wanting to challenge their friends, or even the public leaderboards without spending anything.
Relic Hunters Zero
Shooting bad guys with a variety of guns in pixel art style is a great idea for a game. Add in local split-screen multiplayer and make it free to download for everyone, and you’ve got yourself a little gem of a game. In this case, the little gem is called Relic Hunters Zero.
This ace little game is an isometric shooter that looks great in pixel styling and is great fun, especially when playing with a friend. If you’ve played one of Enter the Gungeon or Nuclear Throne, you’ll know the type of gameplay to expect. For everyone else, it’s a run and gunner as you take down enemies, hunt relics and unlock more characters to use as you take the fight to the game’s villain, Duncan Commander.
What’s even better is that the game’s source code is available to the public, so mods can be added and will almost infinitely extend your playtime. Or maybe you even want to give it a shot at making a level yourself. Of all the games featured here, it’s the game that demonstrates the passion of the developers the most. It shows in the developer Rogue Snail’s work, and we’re glad to showcase that
All of the games featured in this article can be found by using the search feature on Steam, and have meager requirements to play. We hope you enjoy these free games!