The World’s Best Free-to-Play Games

Posted by Lisa Galarneau on May 24, 2014 in Free to Play -- Share:

The world has really opened up for gamers these past few years.  Free-to-play games offer all the basics for free: you deliver the cash (if needed) once you’re enchanted, when you’ve had the chance to get to know what you’re playing.  A number of online games have shifted to free-to-play models in recent years.  It’s no longer necessary to shell out $50 for a game plus fees for monthly subscriptions.  Aion and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, for example, used to follow the traditional model, but now offers free to play as a first option.

On Big Fish, as you probably know, all games are free to play for one hour trial runs.  Other games offer up gear, character customization and other enhancements for cash, but basic gameplay is always free.

Do be cautious, though, especially if your little ones are playing, upgrades and other digital bling can take a bite out of your pocket eventually.  I have woken up a couple of times to find that my kid has spent $40 or more, without even realizing it.  This usually takes the form of gems or other cash that must be purchased in order to evolve gameplay.  If you give the kid the credit card, make sure he or she knows what those in-game purchases mean!

For the casual player:

 
Wonderputt

The cutest mini-golf sim you’ve ever seen.  The graphics are adorable and gameplay is whimsical and engaging with puzzles and action elements.

 
Sushi Chop

An evolution beyond Cooking Mama and other cooking-inspired action games.  If you’re a fan of games like Fruit Ninja, this could be a great option for you.  Next!  Order a sushi making kit and try your skills out in real life.

 
Bush Whacker

Perfect for the frustrated gardener.  Show those bushes your black thumb!  This game reminds me a lot of classic Legend of Zelda, with humorous elements to keep you laughing as you whack.

 

When you’ve got more than a little time to spare:

Rooms of Memory

A hidden object search game in beautiful settings.  This one is great for tuning your cognitive abilities:  you’re given lists of items and need to find them within 5 minutes.  Useful skills to develop for next time you need to find your keys and wallet!

 
Twisted Lands: Shadow Town

A suspenseful adventure puzzler set on a deserted island.

 
Star Wars: The Old Republic

If you’re a Star Wars fan, we needn’t say anything more.

 
Elsword Online

Cute, but ferocious play.  Safe for the little ones.

Age of Wushu

A martial arts role-playing game with social elements.  Features a huge Asian lore world to explore.

 
Aion

This fantasy role-playing title from NCSoft has been around for some time, but it’s now free to play.

 
Dragon’s Nest

An accessible online role-playing game with anime styling.

 
Midnight Castle

Midnight Castle is a mystery adventure that features both hidden object and strategy elements!

 
Fairway Solitaire Blast

A great option if card games or solitaire is your thing.

 
Do you have some favorite free-to-play games?  Let us know!

Written by

Dr. Lisa Galarneau is a socio-cultural anthropologist, futurist and games researcher. She's been playing video games since 1981 (Pong!) and loves adventure-style games, RPGs, online games, simulations and anything novel. Her love for games has been passed onto her gamer kid, and she spends a lot of time observing and pondering the future of games.

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