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The best online games you can play right now

Pete Clark
1 Nov 2018
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Cure your boredom with our pick of the very best free online browser-based games

We’ve all been there. It’s 4.30pm on a lazy Friday afternoon in the office and you’ve done all your work for the week. Leaving early isn’t an option, so you have to find something to do for the next 30 minutes or so. Enter the saviour that is online browser-based games.

Whether it involves putting, bursting as many balloons as possible or working your way up to become the most famous penguin on the iceberg (RIP Club Penguin), the perfect procrastination tool for you is out there somewhere.

To help you find just that, we’ve whittled down all of the online games in existence (of which I can assure you there are many) to find the best 20.

Here’s our pick of the best online games you can play right now.

READ NEXT: The best PC games you can buy

The best online games you can play right now

1. Frog Fractions

In this author’s humble opinion, Jim Crawford’s Frog Fractions is the greatest free online game ever to grace the world wide web. Released in October 2012, it is described as a spoof of the ‘edutainment game genre’. To begin with you control a frog, and the aim is to pluck bugs out of the sky in order to defend the fruit that has been amassed by the friendly amphibian. As time goes on, you can spend points on upgrades to improve the frog’s abilities in the game. Without wishing to give too much away, you will also experience riding a dragon through an asteroid field to Mars and running for president in the context of a music simulator game. Play it through and you’ll understand, I promise.

The best bit about it? Absolutely no knowledge of fractions whatsoever is required to complete the game.

Its sequel, Frog Fractions 2, was crowdfunded by a Kickstarter in 2014, with an eventual release in December 2016. But you could only access it by first completing a multi-segmented alternative reality game developed by Crawford, of course.

Play it here

2. Wonderputt

Wonderputt, if not the greatest free online game ever, is almost certainly the most aesthetically pleasing. It’s a simple concept - you must putt your way around 18 holes in as few strokes as possible, so it’s basically crazy golf. “But golf is the opposite of entertaining” I hear you lament. Fear not, for the entertainment here is derived from the beautiful way in which the course transforms itself to reveal new sections and challenges. Expect to encounter ski slopes, skyscrapers and Stonehenge on your way around the course.

Wonderputt is truly a unique online gaming experience, and although it doesn’t have much replay value, you’ll definitely appreciate the thought and effort that’s gone into it.

Play it here

3. Aggressive Alpine Skiing

At the other end of the spectrum, Aggressive Alpine Skiing is one of the simplest, yet most effective concepts out there. One of the OG flash games you can find on the internet, your task is to get to the bottom of the slope unharmed. Sounds easy, but that’s before you consider that you most avoid multiple stationary obstacles, as well as a (very much unexplained) gunman trying to shoot you down from a gondola.

The game’s frenetic pace takes some getting used to, but you’ll soon find yourself hooked. You’ll also have some way to go before surpassing ‘Neddy’s’ top score of 2,147,483,647. Mine’s 3,870 at the moment.

Play it here

4. Robot Unicorn Attack

An endless running game that found fame on classroom computers across the land, Robot Unicorn Attack also helped to (briefly) restore the popularity of English synthpop duo Erasure. Its iconic soundtrack helped it to become one of the most popular and most played games ever featured on Adult Swim, garnering one million plays within the first week of its release. The gaming website has made official merchandise, and it has also been released on the App Store and Google Play. Three follow-ups, entitled Heavy Metal, Christmas and Evolution also arrived in due course.

With infinite replay value, this game is the one for you if you dream of living in harmony, harmony, harmony (oh yeah).

Play it here

5. Bubble Trouble

Bubble Trouble sees you, and potentially a friend, battle to clear all of the bubbles and get yourself out of trouble. You must destroy the bouncing spheres by splitting them again and again with a line from your harpoon gun, without letting them touch you at any stage. You can collect items dropped to gain upgrades and score bonus points by eliminating all the bubbles before the time runs out.

The best aspect of this game, though, is the playable character. Think Hellboy meets Keanu Reeves in the Matrix trilogy. It sounds weird, but trust me - it’s a strong look.

Play it here

6. Bloons Tower Defence 5

For a brief time, Bloons Tower Defence became the game of choice for commuters across the land. Its latest iteration, Tower Defence 6, is only available on iOS and Android, which bears testament to its popularity. The main objective of the game is to prevent the ‘bloons’ from reaching the end of a predetermined course. You must choose various types of towers and traps to place around the course in order to defend against the bloons, and progress to the end of the game.

The original Bloons, also produced by NinjaKiwi, is arguably an even better game. In short, you’re an unbearably cute little monkey that throws darts in order to burst as many balloons as possible. Hours of fun/mindless distraction are sure to ensue.

Play it here

7. Fancy Pants Adventure 2

In the competitive world of side-scrolling flash games, Fancy Pants Adventure 2 surely takes the crown. It features the imaginatively named ‘Fancy Pants Man’ as the playable character in his second outing of the series. You must guide our squiggly-haired hero through open levels which feature enemies such as spiders, snails and mice armed with guns.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the Fancy Pants Adventures is the 2D, hand-drawn design of the playable worlds. Combine this with ultra-responsive and engaging gameplay, and you have a winning formula. No wonder console and iOS versions followed in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Play it here

8. Wolfenstein 3D

The original and still the best first-person shooter video game available online. Wolfenstein’s rudimentary 3D graphics were trailblazing at the time, but the game still holds up today. It’s historically-themed, too. You’ll step into the shoes of Allied spy William “B.J.” Blazkowicz as he escapes from the Nazi German prison know as ‘Castle Wolfenstein’ and carries out a series of crucial missions against the Nazis. Caught playing by your teacher/boss? Just claim you were doing historical research!

If shooting up bad guys a la Inglorious Basterds is your thing, Wolfenstein 3D will fulfil your every gaming need.

Play it here

9. Doom

Continuing this veritable nostalgia trip, I give you Doom. Need I say more?

Click the link and you'll find every single map and level from the classic 1993 first-person shooter, which, if you didn't already know, happens to be one of the most influential games in history. Doom set the precedent for almost every first-person shooter game you'll find today, subsequently spawning all manner of copycats in the process. To put it simply, anyone who's after a history lesson in video games should start by studying Doom in depth.

Play it here

10. Slither.io

Slither.io is glorious in its simplicity. This massively multiplayer game sees you take on the role of yet another unbearably cute animal (they’re becoming a running theme on this list) in the form of a glow worm. The latter faithfully follows your mouse around the screen, collecting titbits of food as it goes to help it grow in size. Your task is to become the biggest worm on the entire server (which is highly unlikely to ever happen). The game surged in popularity following promotion by YouTubers such as PewDiePie, and has ranked at the top of both the App Store and Google Play charts.

Play it here

READ NEXT: The best upcoming games for Xbox One, PS4 & PC

11. Tanki Online

This is essentially a deathmatch involving tanks. What more could you ask for? With several arenas to choose from, your goal is to destroy all the other tanks, whilst theirs is to destroy you. You can choose from a wide range of turret upgrades, including a freeze gun, or beastly dual shot and rail guns.

Actually manoeuvring the tank takes some getting used to, as the turret moves completely independently of the main body, but once you’re there you’ll never look back. This is one the best games on our list in terms of graphics, too. It really feels like you’re playing a PS2 or Xbox game.

Play it here

12. RuneScape

It would be an insult to leave the iconic fantasy game out of this list. Released in 2001, RuneScape is recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest and most-updated free MMORPG (for the uninitiated, that stands for massively multiplayer online role-playing game) ever created. The beauty of RuneScape is in its endless possibilities. Rather than following a linear storyline, players instead set their own goals and objectives within the open world.

A new standalone game replaced the original in 2016, but you can still play the latter here.

Play it here

13. Bloxorz

The beauty of successful puzzle games is in their simplicity. Think about Tetris and Portal. Although the two may seem disparate, the objective of each could not be clearer. Pile up the bricks in the former, and jump through your portals to escape in the latter. In Bloxorz, your objective is to get the block to fall into the square - that’s it. It’s not quite as simple as it sounds though. As each level throws up a new layout and thus a different challenge, as the game gets progressively more difficult. You’d do well not to tear your hair out at times, but ultimately Bloxorz is one of the most addictive, yet rewarding games out there.

Play it here

14. Cut the Rope

Speaking of addictive, yet rewarding games…

Cut the Rope joins the group of titles on this list that I’m sure you’ll already have heard of. The wild success of the 2010 original has spawned five sequels, three of which are available on iOS and Android. This game also fits into the ‘puzzle’ category, but with more of an emphasis on physics and motion. The objective is to feed candy to the adorably named ‘Om Nom’, collecting stars as you go. In each level, the candy hangs from one or several ropes, which you must cut with a swipe of your mouse, manipulating the edible prize around all manner of obstacles in the process. Cut the Rope has a very friendly interface, and is really easy to get the hang of, so you’d probably do better to just give it a go, rather than read my attempt to explain it.

Play it here

15. MotherLoad

Can you dig it? Yes you can! Tipping the hat to old arcade favourites such as Dig Dug and Boulder Dash, Motherload sees you explore the substrata of Mars, in search of a fabled cache of rare and valuable minerals. You must navigate the dangers of Martian soil, including hidden gas pockets, earthquakes and other surprises. As time goes on, you can purchase upgrades for your mining pod – Motherload’s reward system is really what makes it one of those games where you just have to keep going back for more.

Play it here

16. GeoGuessr

GeoGuessr is the perfect game for gathering a group of friends around your computer screen in order to argue with each other about what the correct answer is. You’ll be placed in a semi-randomised location somewhere in the world on Google Street View, and your task is to place a marker on a world map as close as possible to where you think you are. In just one round of play, this author thought that Nicaragua was New Zealand, Brazil was Australia and Germany was the far east of Russia, so it’s not as easy as you might think.

GeoGuessr also features a ‘challenge mode’, where you can play against friends to a time limit. Bravo to Swedish developer Anton Wallen for producing a game that is both educational and genuinely fun.

Play it here

17. OpenLara

Out of nowhere, Lara Croft seems to have made her way back into the public consciousness this year. The release of a huge blockbuster and an excellent new game have well and truly returned the spotlight onto the character made famous by Angelina Jolie. OpenLara allows you to play the original Tomb Raider unlocked in your browser. As an engine remake, it does not recreate the entire game, but does feature some of the classic levels, such as the City of Vilcabamba, complete with underground cave systems, bloodthirsty wolves, and ferocious bears. Although the controls seem somewhat archaic today, OpenLara provides a great nostalgia trip for anyone who was a fan of the original game. The ability to play in either first or third-person is a nice touch, too.

Play it here

18. Stick RPG

Some may call it a budget 2D rip off of the early GTA games, others (myself included) call it art. Stick RPG is the simplest of the simple open-world RPGs. You're placed in the shoes of an unnamed wiry-framed protagonist, and you have to, well, live your life.

Available activities include studying at university, bulking up at the gym and getting into bar fights down the local, all with the eventual goal of self-improvement. After gradually attaining wealth and power you can eventually become the dictator of Stick World and cruise down its three roads in your new sports car. If you ever needed to a way to kill some time, it's this.

Play it here

19. Sports Heads Football

Although it seems to have stopped receiving its usually annual update, Sports Heads Football is still a great way to mindlessly while away time. Like many other football games on Mousebreaker, you play through an entire season (which takes at least a couple of hours) and in this case, you’re objective is to beat other Premier League teams in one-on-one matches to put points on the board. Think of it as a tuned up version of Super Slime Soccer.

The unlicensed player names also provide a bit of comic relief. If ‘Wine Runey’ and ‘Cristiano Rollover’ aren’t legends of the actual beautiful game, they certainly are of this one.

Play it here

20. QWOP/CLOP

So bad that it’s good, this horribly difficult game holds a special place in the heart of any browser gaming aficionado. You are Qwop, the sole representative a small nation’s under-funded Olympic team. So underfunded, in fact, that unfortunately you’ve somehow managed to completely lose control of your muscle and joint functions. You must use the QWOP keys (purely a coincidence) not to finish the 100m final in a good time, but just to complete it. In numerous attempts, this author’s PB was an uninspiring 3.9m, so you should have a job on your hands.

If diving straight into the cauldron of the Olympic arena is too much for your frayed nerves, then perhaps you should try CLOP. This is the same concept, but with a unicorn running in the opposite direction, because why not?

Play it here

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