It’s a wonder that we spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on gaming systems when there’s so much good, free fun to be had. From simple puzzle games to full-fledged commercial games enjoying a second life in open source user-driven communities, there are scores of opportunities for wasting away the day on addicting free games. If you have some time to kill, check out our roundup of awesomely free and dangerously addictive games below.
Bejeweled (aka Diamond Mine)
Bejeweled is the granddaddy of puzzle games and has enjoyed longevity across numerous platforms. From web browsers to smartphones and pub arcades, Bejeweled is responsible for millions of hours of lost productivity across the globe. The premise is simple: link chains of similar jewels to remove them from the board. Yet the gameplay is persistently addictive—and best of all, it’s free.
Bookworm (aka Pathwords, Wordsworth, Bespelled )
Bookworm is similar to Bejeweled but with a verbal twist for word nerds. Instead of linking chains of like jewels, you connect letters to spell words. It’s part word search, part puzzle game and it’s a whole lot of fun. Available for free on MSN Zone as well as socially on Facebook (as Pathwords) or Apple’s Game Zone (Wordsworth), Bookworm is a blast on your own or with a friend.
The classics never go out of style, but unfortunately they sometimes go out of print. Starsiege Tribes was one of the most highly acclaimed multiplayer online games with a hardcore following. Part first person shooter, part tactical strategy game, the hype of a Tribes sequel died when the owner of the game abandoned Tribes 2, leaving all of its fans high and dry. Luckily, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and TribesNext emerged from the community. You can now play Tribes 2 online against players across the globe using the TribesNext free patch—even better, Tribes 2 itself is free as well.
Similar to the Starsiege Tribes revival, FreeCiv is a user-driven homage to Sid Meier’s Civilization. The game was an instant classic when it was first released and has since grown more slick and sophisticated. But purist still love the old school allure of the original Civlization and Civilization 2, thus FreeCiv was born. FreeCiv is an open source empire-building strategy game “inspired” by Civilization and free to download and play.
Desktop Tower Defense
Desktop Tower Defense is the granddaddy of free online tower defense games, and it’s still one of the best. Tower defense games remain one of the most addictive subgenres of strategy games and the style of play has taken off thanks to smartphone gaming. The touchscreen is incredibly intuitive for defending your base, your sheep or whatever it is at stake from invading bugs, aliens, penguins or what have you. The entire experience is nail bitingly suspenseful and supples plenty of habit-forming gratification.
If you’ve made it through this list and still have time for friends, family, careers, sleeping and eating, then we commend you for your willpower. But if your life has fallen apart because you can’t tear yourself away from these addicting free games, then all we have to say is that you’ve been warned.