Being a college student I am getting pretty used to being broke. As much as I would love to go out and buy every new big release it is simply unrealistic on my budget. Because of this I often turn to free content on the web, specifically free flash games. Here is a list of ten of my personal favorites that I have come across browsing free games over the years. While they are nowhere near as impressive as Mass Effect 3 or other big releases of the year they are totally worth spending half an hour to check them out.
Let me start with the game I have probably spent the most time with: Pandemic 2. In the Pandemic series you play the role of new-born pathogen trying to eliminate the human race. You start out by choosing whether you would like to play as a bacteria, virus, or parasite and from there you build on your disease by “evolving” or enhancing your resistance to particular elements and building up symptoms that will be seen in the infected. This RPG will have you spending hours trying to infect and effectively destroy the entirety of the world time and time again. Both the original Pandemic and the sequel are worth checking out but the sequel ultimately smoothed out several aspects of game play and streamlined several features. Just a heads up, try to infect Madagascar as quickly as you can. They have the tendency to close up there borders rather quickly making it impossible to eliminate humanity in its entirety.
One chance is a another take on pandemics, but this game focuses more on decisions and the resulting consequences. Out of all the flash games I have played this one by far has the strongest story. You play the role of a scientist who has recently discovered a cure for cancer which unfortunately turns deadly and starts to kill off the human race. You are then given six days to do what you see fit whether that be fight this pandemic you have created or spend your last days with your family and many other things in-between. The game has a strong I Am Legend vibe and is structurally very reminiscent of Every Day the Same Dream, another flash game worth checking out that was almost on this list. The title of the game is One Chance because you literally have only one chance to save humanity; there is no replay button upon completion of the game and upon reloading the page you will simply be staring at the last thing you saw in your first play through. The developers of the game wanted to explore the concept of permanency in this game to give more weight to your actions and make the consequences that much more real which is why you aren’t able to go back through a second time (unless of course you go back and delete your cookies and what not, which should do the trick if you wanted to start a new).
Don’t Look Back is a minimalist style action platformer with excellent flavor. While the game doesn’t directly address it, the story is based on the Greek myth of Orpheus in search of his recently departed and beloved Eurydice and his journey to the Underworld to reclaim her. This game is able to maintain that perfect balance of being challenging but not frustrating to the point of rage quitting (a tendency I admittedly am prone to). While most games like this have the tendency to for game play to get stale this game stays fresh from the beginning to the end while telling a fantastic and classic story. it’s a quick play definitely worth your time.
While I understand that Dane Cook annoys more people than he makes laugh he was right about one thing: all guys want to be part of a heist and The Heist 2 lets you live out that fantasy. The Heist 2 is technically a car or driving game but it has so much more built into it that it feels like something else. You start out by hiring a team member and then robbing a convenience store. From there you are able to upgrade your escape vehicle and weapons as well as hire more people for your team (all of the NPCs you can hire have awesome facial hair by the way) and start working up towards bigger and more impressive jobs. Each job starts out with you robbing said establishment and completing a series of tests. The skills of your team will determine how well each test goes. And depending on how each of these tests go determine how many cops will arrive. Once you leave the establishment you shoot your way through the cops and make your way to the get away vehicle. For this section of each job you only really control when you leave the job site and everything else kind of happens automatically. Once you get into your escape vehicle though you are in complete control of your getaway. While the format of the game can seem repetitive especially with the lack of variety during the driving sequences the RPG aspects between each mission allow for enough variety to keep the game fresh through out your play through. While I am not a big fan of browser driving games this one is definitely able shine through my bias.
Who knew digging up dirt could be so awesome? Motherload is a Dig Dug inspired arcade game having you play as a miner on Mars mining for resources. As you get deeper and deeper under the Martian surface you are faced with more and more dangers ranging from earthquakes to explosive gas pockets to hellish supervisors ; ) forcing you upgrade your vessel to be able to withstand such hardships. Motherload has a fun and intriguing story that will have you pursuing the many secrets that lie beneath the surface. While an apparently simple and straightforward game, game play is addicting, fun, and exhilarating. There is something so satisfying about making it back up to the surface with a giant load and only seconds left before your fuel runs out. Also don’t stop exploring until you know you have beaten the game. It will be pretty clear once you do.
Coma is by far one of the best looking flash games I have ever played. Developer Thomas Brush was able to give the game a really cool dream-like style not only with the astounding visuals but with a strong soundtrack as well. In Coma you play as a Pete, a boy exploring this strange world in search of a means to rescue his sister from the basement. While the game might start out feeling a bit fetchy in the sense that you keep running back and forth between two points it quickly expands out of this and starts incorporating puzzles and more intricate mechanics. The story is original but a little bizarre with many interpretations including some rather strange and unsavory views but all in all it is strong and drives you to the end. After playing all the way through it becomes rather apparent that it was a strong inspiration for Playdead’s Limbo both visually and in a narrative sense.
Anyone who has been to a free online game site knows there is a vast abundance of zombie games. Most of these games have you hacking and blasting the brains out of zombies but one of my favorites from the genre has the roles reversed and you are the one playing the zombie. Sonny is a turn based RPG with surprisingly high production values. The story starts with you on a boat where you were supposed to have died but instead came back as a zombie. In all honesty it is the same plot as Wolverine’s or Alex Mercer’s where you are trying to figure out who made you the way you are and your quest for revenge. The story is adequate but it’s the addictive game play that has me loving this game. Out of all the games on this list I believe it has the longest play time, the story taking me somewhere between three to four hours to complete. There is also apparently an awesome sequel to Sonny which I have yet to check out which can be found here.
The Majesty of Color is one of the more philosophical games on this list. In the game you take on the perspective a recently awoken and now self-aware giant squid or kraken type leviathan. While the antagonist of the game is a giant monster the game is much more about choices and consequences than about mass destruction (which is still an option) than most other monster games. It’s hard to go into too much detail about the story without giving things away but you are presented with several situations and your response to each situation dictates what happens next. A single play through takes at the most five minutes, but at the menu screen it tracks and tells you how many of the five endings you have discovered thus encouraging you to go back through and find them all. The Majesty of Color is a game that stands out to me from the rest due to its unique style and story progression, presenting a genre and style of game that I would love to see more of in the future.
The Organ Trail combines two things together to make an awesome game: nostalgia and zombies. In all honesty the Organ plays identically to The Oregon Trail except with options about scavenging and fighting off zombies rather than fording rivers and whatnot. The game is well designed creating and putting you in realistic situations to be found in a zombie apocalypse compared to other bottomless clip, shoot em’ up zombie games. You aren’t able to just hang out in one spot shooting down all the zombie you would like, you have to conserve your limited ammo as well as keeping track of the remainder of your fuel and food. While the game might be a rip off it is still a fun and well designed game. Plus its really nostalgic since it feels so much like The Oregon Trail which really isn’t a bad thing.
Most people by now have played and experienced the addicting game that is Robot Unicorn Attack and become temporarily obsessed with its simple game play and catchy and irritating theme song. For those who absolutely can’t stand to hear Erasure hum “harmony” one more time or simply are looking for a bit more intense version I recommend checking out the heavy metal version game. Game play is still exactly the same it just has tweaked visuals and audio for a “heavier” experience. While repetitive and not very deep, it is just so dang addicting!
This list is less about the ten best flash games on the web but rather ten games that I have found particularly entertaining or have stood out to me the most out of the hundreds I have played over the years. I would love to hear what other’s people’s lists would consist of and what some of your favorites are so feel free to post them in the comments below!