Underappreciated Free Games

by Stephen Fluin 2009.02.23

The world of free gaming is awash in games in varying states of quality and completeness. One way of categorizing them is to break them down into several groups.

Simple Clones

Example Simple Clones
  • Tetris
  • Connect Four
  • Minsweeper
  • Sudoku

There are hundreds of clones of simple games. These games are typically high quality and often offer improvements on the original or paid version. The problem with these games is that they lack anything new. If all you are looking for is to play a game of tetris, then maybe this is great for you, but you won't be able to compare your score with others or share the experience because there will be minor differences which will prevent you from sharing the experience with others because it is unlikely that anyone you know will have spent any significant amount of time playing the same version.

First Person Shooters

Example First Person Shooters
  • Nexuiz
  • Saurbraten (Cube)

The status of these games is a little bit of a mystery. Often they are of high quality and offer more maps, more customization, and more options than retail FPSes. Despite the quality of the game, the online community and the quality of online never reaches the level necessary to sustain popularity.

The game engines may be extremely high quality, but often the maps, campaigns, and scenarios lack a certain level of polish. Comparing the textures and details of the layouts between the retail and free games reveals a huge difference.

Innovative Gameplay and Reimagined Genres

Example games in this category
  • Globulation
  • Battle for Wesnoth
  • 10,000 Light Years in Space

These games all are non-mainstream games that have a lot to offer in terms of unexpected depth of gameplay, and creative approaches to old problems.