The best free PC games in 2022
Spring! Time for sunny skies, cleaning the house, and dabbling with free PC games in our spare time as we wait for the year’s biggest releases to arrive in a few months. There’s never really a wrong time to kill a Sunday afternoon with some free games. But this is a perfect one. Free PC games these days offer a wide variety of experiences. You can play a visual novel with characters you grow attached to the inside of an hour, go on a short, memorable adventure, or get hooked on a daily word game.
You can also be a frugal PC gamer and spend all year playing free-to-play PC games without buying big new releases. And bite-sized free games can be a great way to fill in time between games like Elden Ring and your next big meal. It’s waiting for the inevitable Steam sale to grab them at a bargain.
The best free games: Spring 2022
How exactly should you spend those rare snippets of free time, though? You’ll find plenty of options below, including many free PC classics and our favorite free games of the last few months.
It’s a collection of timeless free PC games organized by genre. This guide to the best free games is updated monthly with suggestions from the PC Gamer team members. Below that, we have our favorite free-to-play stuff that we’re dipping into right now and a boatload more recommendations if you’re looking for the actual suitable game to play on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
If you’re looking for more free games to add to your permanent game library, check in every week on which games you can grab at no cost on the Epic Games Store and all the temporary freebies right now available on other sites.
The best free PC games right now
- Quordle – A more puzzle-y hard mode version of this year’s word game sensation Wordle. You get 9 guesses to figure out four five-letter words simultaneously. Just complex enough to make you work for the solution without eating up too much time.
- Heardle – Another game inspired by Wordle, but this one will not test your vocabulary. It’s about listening to snippets of songs to identify the track and artist instead. It pulls from popular streamed songs, so you’ll have a fair shot.
- Townscape – A delightful town-drawing game, where you place roads and buildings on top of the sea to create an aesthetically pleasing little city. You can get it on Steam or play a free version of it right in the browser.
- Baseball – A massive sports betting simulation that nearly defies explanation, but we did try. It’s still an absolute wild mess, and we love it.
Best free PC games: Story & Adventure
Deltarune: Chapters 1&2 – This sort of sequel to Undertale is packed with memorable characters, catchy tunes, and dynamic dialogue.
The Doll Shop – Blending horror with romance, The Doll Shop transports you to a small village, which is being buried under a relentless snowfall. It tells a sinister story involving creepy handmade dolls. The art is sublime, and the ending is especially memorable.
The Supper – The Supper is a dark story of revenge that brings to mind Sweeney Todd. You play as a peg-legged tavern owner who has to serve three exceptional dishes to a trio of horrible pirates, who should have checked the Food Standards rating first…
Lockheart Indigo – This is a sci-fi detective game that feels a lot like a JRPG. You’ve arrived at a vast mansion to solve the murder of its former owner. But locked doors and suspects stand in your way.
Eternal Home Floristry is the tale of a hitman who gets taken in at a flower shop while recovering from his injuries. The game’s ability to tackle tough topics through the act of gentle flower arrangement is remarkable.
The Herbalist – A wordless adventure about a traveler searching for a mysterious herb. You wander around its strange world, trying to interpret symbols in the hope of discovering the plant you need.
Off-Peak – Stranding you at an otherworldly train station, Off-Peak encourages you to explore, talk to the locals, and luxuriate in its strange atmosphere. It’s got an incredible sense of place, despite feeling like nowhere on Earth, and as you poke around its nooks and crannies, the true nature of its world is revealed piece by piece.
Haunted Cities – There are three volumes worth of Haunted Cities to savor. Despite the name, these aren’t horror games – they’ve just inherited much of the atmosphere of games such as Silent Hill.
Emily is Away – Party like the early-’00s in this narrative game set in a chat client. You’ll get to know fellow high school student Emily through snippets of online conversations about life, love, and indie rock music. Emily is Away Too is worth checking out if you enjoy this paid-for sequel.
Olav and the Lute – An enigmatic adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic world, with a cracking central mechanic. Rather than combining objects with other objects, you’re affecting the world with a lute by plucking at its color-coded strings.
Best free PC games: Horror
No Players Online – In the spooky No Players Online, you log onto an old FPS server, but you’re the only player in a futile game of Capture the Flag.
We Are Broken – An interactive visual novel where you must talk your way out of being eaten by a vampire. We Are Broken conjures a dark and cruel world with cutting visuals and music that makes your skin crawl.
Sentient – This one’s a little Saw-esque. You’re stuck in a room and forced to obey instructions from an old speaker. Being trapped is horrible enough, but what cranks up the creepiness factor here is the dog-flap-sized hole looming in the corner of the room, darkness shrouding whatever, or whoever is inside.
Bleakshore – This chilling adventure uses the fuzzy, lo-fi aesthetic of PS1-era 3D graphics to create an impressively eerie atmosphere as a shadowy figure stalks you across the landscape.
Faith lures you into feeling secure—if a little jumpy—with its retro aesthetic before it transcends its limitations in one shockingly scary moment.
David Lynch Teaches Typing – What begins as a friendly typing lesson from film director David Lynch slowly descends into a surreal, disorientating nightmare. At one point, you have to touch a gross twitching bug. Great work, kiddo!
House of Abandon – This story of a person playing a text adventure takes a sinister turn. Originally standalone, it became the first episode of eerie, atmospheric adventure Stories Untold.
Chyrza – Chyrza’s brand of horror is that unsettling strangeness you get with ruined alien desertscapes and mentions of a strange and terrible pyramid. But it’s not just Syria.
Best free PC games: Action & Platformers
1Boss1Battle1Button – This challenging rhythm game pits you against a scary Picasso-faced monster. Your only hopes of survival lie with a single button. Pressing it in time with specific beats lets you jump, crouch, and dodge out of the way of oncoming attacks.
N 2.0 – In this ultra hardcore platformer with straightforward controls and a minimalist aesthetic. The focus is entirely on quick, precise control. And lots and lots of practice.
The Last Tango – Rhythm espionage survival. You play as two spies, dancing through a variety of deadly locations. They’ll pirouette past traps, dodge under attacks, and defeat enemies with an elegant twirl. And a gun.
Eggnogg+ – This is Nidhogg, but free, with different moves, and more tongue-in-cheek. Expect hyperactive duels in a series of arenas.
Cuckoo Curling – A fun four-player game that combines the rules of curling with Connect Four. An easy game to pick up and play with friends, you can play Cuckoo Curling in local or online multiplayer.
First Cut – Flashy fighting games are all well and good. But something is satisfying about the one-on-one sword duel, as evidenced in Square’s classic Bushido Blade. First Cut is that but in 2D, essentially, offering feudal Japan-themed fights against some stunning pixel-art backdrops.
Best free PC games: Strategy
Dwarf Fortress – A complex game of colony management that’s still in development 18 years after its original inception. The incredible depth of its simulation doesn’t just add depth and challenge. It allows for emergent stories to arise as you play, giving your dwarves a life of their own.
Tiny Islands – You’re drawing maps of little islands in the sea here by placing beaches, houses, even waves as random cards are dealt out to you. But placement is everything, as every icon has its own rules.
Brogue – ASCII roguelikes have a reputation for being impenetrable. Despite staying true to the genre, Brogue works hard to feel approachable. The controls make navigating its dungeons a breeze, and the elegant shading makes its symbols atmospheric and readable.
Terra Nil – Terra Nil begins at the ultimate end of civilization, letting you breathe life back into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In this relaxing, therapeutic anti-builder, you construct devices to cleanse the Earth and regrow green plants and trees.
Best free PC games: Chill and relaxing
Horizon – You’re stuck inside your flat, thankfully with the company. Instead of friends, your companions here are loads and loads of birds. Don’t look a gift parakeet in the mouth. Just sit back and explore your apartment, examining every nook and crevice for your feathered friends.
Bernband – You’re an alien in an alien city, going for a nice walk. Flying cars BladeRunner past as you cross a bridge. Someone’s rapping in the corner of the car park. Every crowd hubbubs away. Despite the four-fingered hands and alien aviary, it feels like an actual city.
Lieve Oma – Lieve Oma takes you on a relaxing excursion through an autumnal wood on the hunt for mushrooms. As you scamper around, your granny follows slowly behind, teaching you about which mushrooms are okay to eat and teaching you her humble life lessons.
Forest Are For Trees – Walking through the forest takes on new meaning in this mind-expanding exploration game, which is small and possibly infinite all at once. It’s a walking sim, where you roam around an eerie woodland. But something funny happens when you make contact with a tree. Inside every tree, there’s another forest full of ghostly trees.
Best free PC games: Puzzle
Transmute! – Play as a wizard who can transform into different objects. You might turn into a key to open a lock or a boat to sail the open sea. And you’ll do so to unlock a gorgeous, friendly fantasy world.
Mirror Isles – No list of puzzle games is complete without a PuzzleScript game from Alan Hazelden, and Mirror Isles is one of the very best. It’s a top-down, Sokoban-style puzzler where you have to hop between islands by using magic mirrors to swap places with your reflection.
Cube Escape – There’s a strange atmosphere to developer Rusty Lake’s series of locked-room puzzle games. Getting out of each one will test your brain. But you’ll be even more taxed trying to figure out what’s happening in their bizarre universe.
Corrupt – What starts as a relatively simple block-pushing game ends as one where you’ll reshape the world by using magic to reprogram the state of the environment.
Counterfeit Monkey – Words are great, aren’t they? They hold power over the world—literally, even, in this text-based puzzle game. You come equipped with a letter remover, which allows you to change the items around you by deleting a single letter from their names.
Naya’s Quest – If you were wondering: Yes, it is bastard hard, just less stressful on your reflexes. It’s an isometric puzzle-platformer about a girl and her pilgrimage to the world’s edge.
The Republic-Times – You’re the editor of a newspaper in a totalitarian state in this game from the creator of Return of the Obra Dinn. Each day you must choose which stories to run and how much space to give them, impacting your paper’s popularity and the government’s approval with the general populace. Smart and cynical.
Best free PC games: Comedy and Oddity
Everything Is Going To Be Okay – Vividly animated creatures deal with existential horror and pain—and are alarmingly confident about it—in this cathartic collection of minigames, videos, and quizzes. It’s overwhelming, just as life can be overwhelming. But it’s refreshing for a game to deal with that fact.
Pet the Pup at the Party – You’ve run out of small talk at a wild house party, and before anyone notices how awkward you are, you must find a pooch and pet it.
Head Over Hooves: My Heart Bleats For You – An apocalyptic dating sim where you must make a goat fall in love with you. Then sacrifice it to save the world from eternal damnation.
Alfonso’s Bowling Challenge – This sports game swerves away from its premise quickly, building on its strange version of bowling until you’re making breakfast and chopping hair with your bowling ball.
Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, And The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist – This team-up of The Stanley Parable creator William Pugh and stand-up comedian Simon Amstell takes you on a hilarious journey behind the scenes of a game falling apart at the seams.
The Book Of Beasts and Buddies – An interactive monster manual filled with curious creatures. Each page throws you into a brief Pokémon-inspired encounter. Through interacting with them, you can gather your findings for the bestiary.
Calm dog Teaches Typing – There are plenty of educational game parodies, but only one features a chihuahua-looking thing as the teacher. Suppose you learned to type by having a teacher shout at you. You’ll appreciate the gentler methods of Cool dogs.
As creator Robert Yang says, “Stick Shift is an autoerotic night-driving game about pleasuring a gay car.” It’s part of an anthology with Hurt Me Plenty and Succulent, covering eroticism, politics, etc. Stick Shift is funny while also offering food for thought.
Skeal – Recommending Skeal is a tough job because the absolute best experience is to go in with zero ideas of what to expect. To that end, it’s a downhill skiing experience that becomes transcendental the longer you ski and the more reveals you trigger as the jape unfurls.
Best free PC games: Classics
StarCraft – These days, Blizzard sells a shiny remaster, but if the original’s good enough for South Korea. It’s good enough for us. There’s a reason that even today, it’s an esports sensation. This iconic RTS remains a triumph of tight strategy and intense competition, with an incredible depth for devotees to get lost in.
The Dark Mod – A tribute to the Thief series, this standalone game lets you download a massive variety of user-made stealth levels, from tightly contained ones like Thief’s Den to the more open type of Return to the City, plenty of spooky ones like The Creeps.
The Operative: No One Lives Forever – The classic stealth FPS, never re-released thanks to licensing hell. Its clever humor and charming 1960s setting hold up nicely, as do the arsenal of goofy, Bond-esque gadgets at your disposal. That includes lipstick bombs, sleeping gas perfume, and a briefcase rocket launcher.
The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall – 1996’s Elder Scrolls sequel was huge and ambitious, letting you explore High Rock and Hammerfell. Many series staples, like joining the Mages Guild, started here.
Beneath a Steel Sky – This point-and-click adventure features art by Watchmen’s Dave Gibbons. It is a twisty sci-fi story and a goofy sense of humor. One of its neatest ideas is how you can stick your AI pal Joey’s electronic brain into different mechanical robots to solve puzzles.
The MS-DOS Archive.org library – A collection of thousands of classic, free PC games playable in your browser. The MS-DOS collection on Archive.org contains more than 4,000 games. All emulated and easy to play in just a few seconds. Wolfenstein 3D, Prince of Persia, Jazz Jackrabbit, Carmen Sandiego… you could spend a lifetime of lunch breaks here. But then you might starve.