The Top Ten Free Games of 2008

While 2008 saw some truly great games released in virtual and physical stores, some of the most intriguing game experiences of 2008 were absolutely free. These were games that may lack the polish, depth, and wealth of options of their full-priced cousins, but instead packed some fresh air, new ideas, and simple fun into easy to play game outings.

Here then is our own list of ten great free games of 2008 (click to see the 2007 Top Ten List). We’ve compiled this list based on both the popularity and the critical reception of the many free games released in 2008, as well as our own personal bias. These are fun, interesting, and challenging games, each of which can be played in your browser without additional downloads, and each of which is well worth your time to check out.

Once again, given the diverse nature of the free games on this compilation, we decided not to list them in order (but, rather, alphabetically). Enjoy!

6 Differences
Genre: Hidden Object
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

Let's start things off with a simple yet elegant game. 6 Differences is a twist on the popular hidden object games - two animated images are presented, and six differences need to be spotted. What truly sets this game apart are its beautiful visuals and melancholic soundtrack. A wonderful game to spend a coffee break with.

Bowja The Ninja
Genre: Adventure
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

This point-and-click adventure is just dripping with charm and style. Its beautiful hand-drawn images seem to revive the days of 16-bit, its puzzles are quirky and fun, and its storyline is ripe for a summer blockbuster. Bowja the Ninja on Factory Island (and its sequel) is a great throwback to the games of yesteryear.

Dino Run
Genre: Action
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

The age of dinosaurs is at an end. A giant meteor is heading straight toward earth. Extinction is imminent. What's a poor dinosaur to do? Well... run, of course! Dino Run is exhilerating - your task is to race through each level as fast as possible, literally out-running the blast-wave of the meteor impact. Scientists may throw up their hands at the implausability of this scenario, but it sure is fun.

Genre: Too weird to categorize!
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

Take the exuberant style of Katamari Damacy, mix in a dash of dance coreography, then add even more surrealism, and you might get close to describing Doeo. From its infectious soundtrack to its imaginative animations - this game is pure joy. You owe it to yourself to have a look... we dare you not to smile while playing this game.

DogFight 2: The Great War
Genre: Arcade
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

A video game classic - the 2D airplane dogfight - revamped with modern audiovisuals and wonderful playability. We spent way too much time trying to get through all of the game's missions, which include simple dogfights, reconnaissance missions, and bombing runs. Very challenging... and very fun!

Even More Bloons
Genre: Puzzle
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

If you haven't heard of the insanely popular Bloons series of games, you're in for a treat. Your task is simple - use a limited number of arrows to pop the on-screen balloons. Bombs, trampolines, helium jars, and other puzzle elements need to be incorporated to attain your goal. Bloons mixes up two classic games, Bust-A-Move and Scorched Earth, to create some truly challenging puzzle boards.

Fantastic Contraption
Genre: Puzzle/Simulation
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

Fanastic Contraptions lets you build an incredible machine that twists and turns and moves and shakes its way across the level toward an assigned goal. The game sports a solid physics engine and intuitive controls. It's fun to try out weird and wacky combinations of gears and belts, just to see what might happen.

Factory Balls 2
Genre: Puzzle
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

A deliciously simple puzzle game by designer Bart Bonte. Your task in each stage is to use available tools to create a little ball creature, complete with googly eyes, to specification. It's a quick diversion, like many of the designer's games, but it's a blast while it lasts.

Genre: Physics Puzzle
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

A neat twist on the physics genre. The Meeblings are tiny creatures with very specific properties. Some can attract other Meeblings like magnets, others repel them, others still can destroy obstacles. Working together, you must transport a group of Meeblings to a goal. Simple and elegant.

The Majesty of Colors
Genre: Experimental
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

2008 was a year filled with experimental games that tried a different approach to gaming. Titles such as Passage and You Have To Burn The Rope made headlines, our personal pick in this category is I Fell in Love with the Majesty of Colors. The less said about this game, the better... it's a minimalist design that hints at what games may come.

Want even more free games?

We hope you enjoyed our selection of great free games of 2008. For even more games, be sure to stop by and check out some of the following sites from time to time: The Indie Games Blog , The Independent Games Source, Gamezebo or Jay Is Games. And for an extensive list, drop by 1Up.Com's 101 Free Games of 2008. - there is enough gameplay in these games to keep you busy for months.