The Top Ten Free Games of 2007

It’s the holiday season, and major game companies have started to release many of their biggest and most expensive titles of the year. While there are sure to be some gems among the general blaring of marketing hype and hyperbole, we felt that this might be a good time to reflect on some of this year’s quieter releases: games that are simple, elegant, fresh, and, best of all, absolutely free.

We’ve scoured the net for this year’s freeware game releases and have compiled a list of ten outstanding free games. Games were selected based on popularity and critical reception at a number of review and discussion sites, as well as a healthy dose of our own personal bias.

Given the diverse nature of the free games on this compilation, we decided not to list them in order (but, rather, alphabetically), and hence not to crown a “best overall game”. Each of the games on this list is virtually guaranteed to entertain and is well worth checking out.

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

Good puzzle games are rarely complicated. Bloxorz is an elegant little game based on Richard Tucker’s rolling block maze. You are simply required to roll an oblong block to the maze exit, but the particular geometry of the tumbling block demands careful planning. Later mazes are enhanced by switches, bridges, teleporters, and more.

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

In Fold you play the part of a small ant-like alien who can create anomalies. These anomalies act like gravitational force-fields, allowing you to hover over dangerous chasms, fling yourself into the air, or walk upside down along a ceiling. Fold is a delightful game with a very unique artistic style.

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

A new game in Eyezmaze’s funny and imaginative Grow series is always a treat, and Grow Island might just be the best of the bunch. The “real world” setting of the game makes the puzzle’s solution more logical than other Grow games, and the existence of a (very different) alternate ending extends its playability even after the primary goal has been found.

Knytt Stories
Genre: Platformer
Install: EXE Installer - Click to Download.

Knytt Stories is a platform game with a Zen-like atmosphere. Control a tiny (and we mean tiny!) hero as you run, jump, and explore a vast world filled with a myriad different gameplay elements. Download additional levels from the game’s bustling online community, or even create your own with the Knytt Stories editor.

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

Launchball is an educational puzzle game created for the London Science Museum. It plays like the classic “The Incredible Machine”, but uses realistic technology such as heat, light, and electricity. Connect machines to batteries or heat water to create steam power, all in an effort to transport a small metal sphere to the maze exit.

Makibishi Comic
Genre: Puzzle/Adventure
Install: Plays in your Browser - Click to Play.

Makibishi Comic is a surreal Japanese adventure filled with off-beat humour and some truly bizarre locations. The unique visual style and sound design fit the game’s strange settings perfectly, and the puzzles are imaginative (if sometimes very abstract), involving anything from rotating entire planets to using a magical clock to switch between day and night.

Stranded 2
Genre: Adventure/Simulation
Install: ZIP File - Click to Download/Extract.

You find yourself lost at sea and shipwrecked on a deserted island. Can you find food, water, and other means of survival? You will need to explore the island, craft basic tools, and hope the wildlife doesn’t get to you first. The charm of Stranded lies both in its open-ended design, as well as the lush visuals that bring the island to life.

Sumotori Dreams
Genre: Physics Simulation
Install: ZIP File - Click to Download/Extract.

Okay, perhaps this is not among the best games of 2007, but Sumotori Dreams is a wonderful experiment in minimalist design. Picture two drunken sumo wrestlers, desperately trying to stand up for their final bow without tripping and falling over each other (and breaking the furniture), and you have an idea of what Sumotori Dreams is all about. In this day of bloated software it is also worth pointing out that the entire game fits into a tiny 96 kilobyte download!

Genre: Arcade/Action
Install: ZIP File - Click to Download/Extract.

The winner of a recent Shmup-Dev competition, Varia is an abstract arcade blaster that offers excellent audiovisuals, well balanced gameplay, and interesting enemy and boss designs. Varia also features a rather clever weapons system that allows you, among other things, to steal your enemies’ weapon characteristics. Varia is an old-school shmup, so beware that fast fingers are a definite requirement.

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

Yin and Yang live in parallel white and black worlds. Yin is black and can only move through white space. Yang is white and can only move through black space. Each, however, can manipulate the other’s environment by opening/closing passageways and even altering the level’s gravity. Yin Yang is a charming puzzle game well worth a look.

Want even more free games?

We hope you enjoyed our selection of the Top Ten free games of 2007. But if your appetite has not been sated, be sure to stop by and/or TIG Source for continuous updates on the latest and greatest in independent freeware and shareware games. And for an exhaustive (and exhausting!) list, be sure to check out Adrian Werner’s complete listing of all notable 2007 freeware game releases. That should keep you busy on those cold winter nights!