Update: Want to play one of the world’s first first-person shooters? You can now, directly in your browser. Read on to the back of our list to find out more!
The days of needing a souped-up PC to play the best online games are long gone. Whether you’re on Windows, OS X, Linux or something else, all you need is an internet connection and a browser to play the thousands of great games on there. From text-based adventures to Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) with impressive 3D graphics, you’re spoilt for choice.
You do, however, need to bear in mind some compatibility issues. The biggest of which is that Chrome doesn’t support Unity, a 3D game engine that’s compatible with Firefox, Opera and Safari. But often the same game will be available as an app in the Chrome Web Store, so let the games begin!
Gabe Carey also contributed to this article
- Playing on a Mac? Also check out the best Mac games
Whatever your feelings on golf, there’s a place in everyone’s heart for a spot of Crazy Golf. And this intricately designed course features tiny ski slopes and herds of sheep who mow the grass to reveal a new green. The puzzle box design instils a sense of wonder, where will the next hole pop out from? There’s only one way to find out… Four!
If Frank Zappa made video games, he would’ve made this. Created by Berkeley developer Jim Crawford it recalls the surreal humour of the Jeff Minter and Ron Gilbert. It all starts normally enough, you’re a frog defending fruit from an oncoming hoard of hungry bugs. But the health bar is labelled ‘Indignity Level’, fractions are being scored but none of it adds up. This is just the start, we won’t give too much away but there’s a trip to Bug Mars, a dabble in the Bug porn industry and an entire level devoted to the early history of boxing. Make sure you have the sound turned up to get the whole story.
Life in the West
Kanye West has caught a lot of flack over the years for his ridiculous antics and ostensibly skyrocketing confidence. While you may even be familiar with his sometimes incomprehensible stream of tweets, it’s unlikely you’ve seen The Stanley Parable developer Galactic Café’s take on the famed hip-hop artist’s social media presence.
Life in the West, though barely a game, will have you grinning from ear to ear upon realizing that not only are your keyboarding skills effectively useless, but typing out tweets as, well, undeniably Kanye as "Man… whatever happened to my antique fish tank?" results in Final Fantasy combat music that’ll leave you reaching a controller.
Game of Bombs
Bomberman on the original PlayStation was one of the best crafted and addictive multiplayer games ever created. Game of Bombs seeks to emulate this virtual crack. And to get the multiplayer experience you’ll no longer need to fish around a drawer of knotted cables for a MultiTap, just go to their website and play a gigantic version of Bomberman online with players from around the globe. The joys of the modern world!
Die 2 Nite
This text-based (don’t let that put you off) online multiplayer zombie game is full of little in-jokes. Upon starting up you’re greeted with the cheery message "Be positive! You’re going to die. Every time." In the top right is actual server time and when that hits 23:00 the zombies will come out to play. During the daylight hours, you and the other players must work together to build defences for the following night reminiscent of Minecraft.
If you haven’t played any of Czech developer Amanita Design’s games then you are missing out on some of the quirkiest, funny and elaborate point-and-click puzzlers of modern times. The third game in this space-aged series is currently in development but you can play the one that started it all back in 2003 completely free. Chapter One of Samorost 2 is also online. And be sure to check out their other games Machinarium, Shy Dwarf, and Botanicula.
It’s Pong on steroids in 3D. Players are pitted against a docile looking bear called Bob who is trapped in a giant television screen. The action is set along to a brilliant synth pop soundtrack that recalls classic Kraftwerk. As the levels progress more obstacles and power ups will appear, there’s a mind-boggling multiball, fireballs, mirrors, shrinking paddles and deathballs. Perhaps the most innovative part of this game is that you can play against real people. Instead of Bob the Bear there’s a real person on the screen via their in-built camera.
Be prepared to invest a lot of time into this one. And this isn’t your average top-down tower defence game, this looks more like Zelda crossed with Crash Bandicoot. Collect supplies, build bases and explore dungeons, you know the score. It can be installed as an app from the Chrome Web Store or played online in any browser using HTML5.
Abobo’s Big Adventure
Described by the developers as ‘The Ultimate Tribute To The NES’ many of the jokes will probably only ring true if you are of a certain age. But that’s not to say this isn’t for everyone, there are toilet jokes too! Written by the team behind comedic website I-Mockery, it stars Abobo who is actually a standard recurring mid-boss in classic 80s beat-em-up Double Dragon. His son is kidnapped and he must battle his way through various NES-themed levels to rescue him. It’s all done with warm affection to Mario, Zelda, Contra and Mega Man.
Like tanks? Like deathmatches? Then Tanki might well be the browser game for you. Graphically it’s like a much upgraded Quake, with several Deathmatch arenas, some snowy, others full of luscious green plants. The aim, in all however is the same: blow up as many tanks as you can. There are tons of turret upgrades, leave enemies cold with the freeze gun or pummel them repeatedly with the dual shot and rail gun.
Controlling the tank is a little fiddly but ultimately rewarding. The turret moves separately from the base so it’s possible to move one way while shooting in a completely different direction like an actual tank can. There are several games modes including Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag. Graphically it’s impressive and looks close to a high resolution version of a PS2 or Dreamcast game.
A lot of popular Steam games and console titles owe their popularity to sites like Miniclip and Newgrounds, hosts to countless free-to-play titles from small studios with marginal publishing budgets. Few of these success stories ring as truly as Superhot, a first-person shooter developed in Unity where time comes to a standstill when you do giving you plenty of time to form coherent strategies. In a sense, Superhot blends elements of both popular FPS games with turn-based strategy mechanics for a unique browser-based experience.
Browsing the web isn’t the only thing that’s improved with the intervention of Google Chrome; web-based games have gotten better as well. Whether you’re on a Mac, a PC or even a Chromebook, Unity-based Rad Soldiers will run smoothly in a normal browser window.
The turn-based shooter game starts off as expected. You choose a character avatar who is then accompanied by a soldier with a whimsical unsoldier-like name, such as Hipster Dave. Once you’ve gotten enough practice, you can even play online with friends. Rad Soldiers will then pit you up against your buddy in a shooter that may be unusually slow, but it’s also incredibly smart.
Spelunky HTML 5
Like Superhot, Spelunky made its way from humble beginnings. Originally developed by Derek Yu as freeware and remade for the Xbox 360 in July 2012, the game was ported to HTML 5 by Darius Kazemi (and made available as a Chrome app) shortly thereafter. Because it was created in GameMaker, Spelunky may not be impressive visually, but its randomly generated environments and brutal permadeath system qualify it as a modern classic.
The goal of the 2D platformer is collect as much loot as possible in a series of underground tunnels. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Inhibited by obstacles like traps and enemies of various species, Spelunky is as challenging as it is addictive. Luckily, by default, you’re equipped with a whip and your own two feet with which you can besiege enemies. And, if that’s not enough, you can always be resourceful and use surrounding objects as weapons. Good luck.
A free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Runescape might not look like much, but it’s actually a huge deal. Documented by the Guinness World Records, Runescape is considered the world’s most popular free MMORPG, with over 200 million registered players, as well as the most frequently updated game.
Like many MMOs, the latest version of Runescape – namely Runescape 3 – takes place in a medieval setting, complete with its fair share of dragons, queens, goblins and even chickens. It’s not the most glittery example of fine art in terms of visual appeal, but for a game that’s been around for over 15 years why would it be?
As long as you’re equipped with some recent edition of Java, you should be set to start fighting, trading and even playing mini-games with other players in the world of Gielinor. Be careful, though, as Runescape is widely known for being highly addictive.
If you recently played the new Doom game and are wondering where developer id Software got its start, look no further than Wolfenstein 3D. Though it wasn’t the first title to come from video game superstar duo John Carmack and John Romero, Wolfenstein 3D played an important role in heavily inspiring an entire genre of video games: namely the obscenely popular first-person shooter (FPS).
In fact, although it’s a far cry from, well, Far Cry, Wolfenstein 3D is often considered the first true FPS by purists. Kill Nazis and see how gaming has improved since 1994 in this important snippet of history. Experience Wolfenstein 3D for yourself completely free of charge, courtesy of the Internet Archive.