The best free games to play while you’re stuck at home

Tired of looking at things without thinking? Also, keep your hands busy with these free games to play during lockdown.

Already finished with Le Lotus Blanc? Afraid that The island of love is over and now you have nothing to do for an hour a day, six days a week? Want to do something with your hands but struggling to run your weekly D&D games on Zoom?

Well, my friend, have you heard of video games?

One of the big problems with gambling is that it is an expensive hobby. Consoles alone can cost several hundred dollars and, depending on the alert level, may not be available at all. Then there are the games themselves. While indie games can be pretty cheap, the biggest and most expensive games usually start around $80 and can go up to $120. That’s a lot of money to spend on something you’re not sure is good.

Fortunately, some of the funniest games to pass the time are completely free. I’ve rounded up some of the best that are available on a variety of screens – consoles, computers, phones – as well as a few that don’t need a screen at all.

(A fair warning that some of these games involve in-app purchases, so if you’re frantically scrolling through this to find a game for someone who is not the credit card holder, keep that in mind!)

Mobile Games

Two Dots (free for iOS and Android, in-app purchases)

The premise of the original dots seems simple: connect the dots vertically or horizontally and create a square for more dots. Two Dots complicates things by adding power-ups, objectives, and campaigns so that there is some sense of progression. There are many, many worlds and levels to play, with one world added every three weeks – that’s 3875 since the game was released in 2014. Log in!

Old Friend (iOS and Android, in-app purchases)

Take off your seatbelt, because you absolutely don’t need to buckle up for this wholesome game from the Dunedin Runaway Play studio, the one I wrote about earlier this week. The player is in charge of a dog sanctuary, based on the actual Tennessee Old Friends Sanctuary which houses senior dogs. During the game, you adopt old dogs – which are also based on real dogs – and take care of them. If you feel fuzzy and warm reading this, imagine how you’ll feel playing it!

Pokémon Unite (Nintendo Switch, available on iOS and Android in September, in-app purchases)

Pokémon Unite is a battle arena game where you play as a Pokémon and battle other Pokémon, and that’s probably all you need to frantically type the name into your search bar or scroll through it entirely. Our Podcast Manager Te Aihe Sold This Game Better Than I Ever Could Last Week game room bulletin: “I flew across the map as Charizard and Fire Blast turned the enemy team’s Pikachu into a crunchy – that’s all I want in a video game.”

Console games

Genshin Impact (Android, iOS, Microsoft Window, PS4, PS5, In-App Purchases)

Want to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but don’t have the hundreds of dollars to buy a Nintendo Switch and a copy of this game? Genshin Impact is the next best thing. This open-world action role-playing game allows the player to roam around a fantasy world, complete quests, obtain materials, and generally get lost in a place that is not locked. If you’re looking for a visually stimulating game with a rich and robust open world – that won’t break the bank – then look no further.

Fortnite (honestly, pretty much everywhere, in-app purchases)

If you still need me to tell you what Fortnite is in 2021, then you probably shouldn’t be playing it. But if you’re curious, Fortnite is a super addictive battle royale game. Essentially, you’re dropped on an island with 99 other players and must find weapons and other gear to become the last one standing. Games are short, crisp, and fast (especially if you’re bad like me). Pop stars sometimes do concerts in the game and no, I don’t know how that works either.

Among Us (as above, in-app purchases)

Want a game that will make you suspicious of all your friends? So look no further than with us! The pitch of the space elevator is that it’s the Mafia board game, but with aliens. A small group of online gamers are gathered on a spaceship. A small handful of these players are the impostor, while the rest are teammates. Teammates keep the ship going, Imposters sabotage and kill teammates while trying not to get themselves killed. Fingers are pointed, covenants are broken, and games are short, so you can go through them multiple times a night. If you have any other questions, I’ve put together this handy little guide here.

Computer game

Minesweeper Deluxe (PC, in-app purchases)

Sometimes these lists are just utilities. Yes, you can play minesweeper. No, you don’t need to take out your old computer to do this. It’s just the, readily available for you to waste hours of your life. Disclaimer: No real swiping is involved in this game.

Catan Universe (browser-based, also for Nintendo Switch, iOs, Android)

Now you don’t have to see the whites of their eyes to hate someone who steals your grain, you can do it online! Yes, Catan Universe is a browser-based Settlers of Catan. If this brings back flashbacks of cardboard hexagons flying across tables, I apologize. But if you’re a big fan of this classic board game, there’s no better alternative to get your settlement fix.

Sort Court (browser-based)

Expand your kingdom beyond your bubble with this simple yet surprisingly addictive game where you play as the king of a kingdom. You can rule the kingdom with an iron first, take the high road, or just be an absolute asshole. This indie game revolves around you, simply approving or disapproving of your subjects’ wishes, leading your kingdom down one road or another. Distinguish the good from the bad, or indulge your whims! All you do is click ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and reap what you sow.

real life games

The floor is lava (your house or another two-storey dwelling)

Put ‘Pompeii’ by Bastille, because it’s 79 AD and Vesuvius is erupting! You know the chorus. The floor is lava – you walk from one side of the room to the other without touching the floor. Touch the ground, you lose. Don’t touch the ground, you won. Easier if you’re a kid, but if you’re an adult, no one’s stopping you.

Explore the neighborhood (your neighborhood)

This idea comes courtesy of The Spinoff Group’s creative director, Toby Morris, who found a way to keep his kids interested during their daily walk. “Every time you come to an intersection, you choose which direction to go with rock paper scissors (kid one wins so you’re gone, but if kid two wins you go right),” says- he. “Everyone gets a waiver card that can veto a decision once. If you win three rock paper scissors in a row, you win an extra replacement card. The walk was twice as long as usual but everyone had a good time.

Who do we love? (your group of friends via Zoom)

Love, like a bottle of pinot gris, is a dish best served chilled (yes, pinot gris counts as a “dish” at level four.) Just wait for a lull in conversation with trusted friends , then ask this healthy question: “Who do we love?”

Everyone goes around and lists a person, group, system or thing they like and why. No debate is engaged. At the end of the round, everyone feels a little better giving off the good vibes. (Love can also be replaced with “appreciated”, or if you’re in a relationship and with the right crowd, you can replace it with “hate” or “grind my gears”. Nobody judges you but your front camera. )

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