Kill your productivity: Stuff's top 30 free browser games
That important piece of work you have to finish off? That dodgy garage door you were meant to fix? That costume you were going to make for the school play?
Yeah, none of that's going to happen, because we've rounded up the finest browser games floating around in the digital ether, and best of all, they're all free. Sort of.
Some of the games under consideration here are truly gratis, with maybe an ad banner on the page or, in some cases, a pre-roll advertisement every few levels.
Some are free but require an email address so that news about interesting and useful products can be delivered direct to your inbox. And by interesting I mean Viagra and by useful I mean please God make it stop.
Some are freemium - they’re free to try out but all the really sweet add-ons (weapons, cars, whatever) require some sort of payment.
I’ve included games from most of these categories but drawn the line at anything that requires a credit card impression before you start playing.
Most run in your browser using Java or HTML 5. A few require an initial download of game content before playing. I’ve included one or two of those: but in general anything requiring a substantial install has been ruled out. Instant action, and a small hard disk footprint are our watchwords here.
Oh and fun. Above all, fun.
READ MORE: The 200 greatest games of all time
The best browser games: Spelunky
Originally a tasty slice of PC freeware, Spelunky more recently became a darling of the PS Vita indie scene. It’s easy to see why: the mix of traps, monsters, route-finding and secrets, and fast-paced classic platforming action across randomly generated maps, is intoxicating stuff.
The original was in 2012 reworked for the browser, and remains one of the very best examples of browser-based gaming around - although you might not agree when your cute little adventurer is suddenly shot out of the air with a poison dart or clubbed to death by an irate caveman yet again.
29. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
The best browser games: HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy
In order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its release, the BBC “remastered” this classic text-based adventure game by putting it in browser-playable form - meaning a whole new generation of players can die in lots and lots of different ways. Based on the first of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker’s Guide novels (reading it may provide you with some much-needed clues), it even supports game saves, so you don’t need to complete it in one sitting. Which is just as well given how tough it is.
28. Robot Unicorn Attack Evolution
The best browser games: Robot Unicorn Attack Evolution
Adult Swim’s endless runner isn’t a huge departure from the countless other endless runners you might have played on your phone or tablet, but succeeds by virtue of its quirky charm: you are a robot unicorn in some kind of dreamland, racing, jumping and rainbow-dashing (yes, that’s a thing) sideways for as long as possible before collision with an object sends you up in a shower of sparks, flames and chrome-plated horse-parts. The Erasure soundtrack only serves to slather another layer of campy charm on to proceedings.
The best browser games: Coma
Coma is clearly inspired by indie classic Limbo, sharing a similar art style and even the “find your lost sister” plot-starter – but even if you’ve played through the latter, it’s worth spending some time with the former.
And you won’t have to spend much, either. This Flash-based platform-puzzler can easily be completed in under 20 minutes – by which time you may be a little sick of the keyboard controls, which aren’t quite as accurate as a control pad. Still, a diverting and quite beautiful little game.
26. Kingdom Rush
The best browser games: Kingdom Rush
A tower defence game in which you have to build fortifications to fend off waves of ever-stronger bad guys. There’s a fantasy setting, which means archers, knights, wizards and so on are your staples as you attempt to hold back hordes of goblins, orcs, ogres and bandits, and as you progress you gain stars enabling you to upgrade your towers to counter the increasing threat levels. If you like your strategy games fairly casual and cutesy (not to mention free and not too time-consuming) Kingdom Rush fits the bill like a suit of tailor-made armour.
No Man's Sky