Be thankful, friends: we live in a the new era of free-to-play gaming. If you’ve still been paying for video games, ok, that’s fine. Some people like that. And of course, some games are worth paying for. Just keep in mind that they aren’t all worth it, and on the flip side, some free games are so good you’ll want to throw your money at them.
There was a time when I believed that free games were all addictive, shameless, low-graphics money grabs. But F2P is maturing. They know we know better than to play a game with a “pay to win,” model, so they have to be clever in how they tempt us to put our real money into something we’re already getting for free.
As adult gamers, we have no problem finding an amazingly addictive, incredibly free video game on which to waste all of our precious free time. As parents, however, things are a little more complicated. When choosing a game, we need to consider how comfy we feel with what our kids will be exposed to. How will they deal with violence? Trolls? Bad language in general chat?
Whatever level of tolerance for violence your family has, there’s definitely a fun, well-produced game out there for you if you look hard enough. Here are a few to get you started in your search.
As a Blizzard fan, I realize I might be a little bit biased. But trust me, this game is insanely awesome. The lack of a chat option makes this good, clean fun. Check out our preview here.
Kids will love the fast-paced flashy flair of this virtual card game. The only con is the potential for opponents to take forever – and ever – aaaand evaaar – to finish their turn. If young ones are turned off by waiting for their turn against real people, there’s an option to play against an A.I. “innkeeper” instead.
We love the idea of this game – build your own castle! See if your best laid traps and bosses can foil real-life players who want to steal from your horde of stuff! Fight you way through some other guy’s keep!
Part ARPG (read: “hack and slash”) and part strategy, this game’s unique angle is enough to keep you coming back for more. Challengers will attempt raids on your castle even after you log off, so logging back on is full of fun surprises (you can even watch replays of people attempting to circumvent your strategically laid obstacles).
There is a bit of cartoon violence in this game, and your character uses weapons to fight bosses as you battle through other peoples’ castles. If you don’t want your kids playing hack and slashers, keep moving. If you don’t mind your kids doing a little bludgeoning, you may have found your family’s next time sink.
Racing against other real people to see who’s the smartest can be challenging, but it can also really motivate you to make those synapses fire faster. This oddly addictive browser game pits you against other players trying to get from the assigned Wikipedia page to a chosen end page in the fewest clicks. Just through the few rounds I tried, I learned a ton.
Kids may become frustrated at the little time it takes opponents players to win the round, but if a game were easy, would it be worth playing at all? Besides, a new chance to win will come around in four seconds, so defeat is short-lived.
Older kids who are already used to hyper-sexualized comic books and video game good guy versus bad guy violence will not be shocked or traumatized by anything here. The one problem is that it’s an MMO, so interacting with other players may present its usual set of issues.
That being said, this free-to-play ARPG (or “Action Massively Multiplayer Online game – ugh acronym overload) is definitely worth a look for families who love the DC Universe (or comicbook nerds in general).
Reprisal is an homage to the old 16-bit game Populous, which most consider to be the first “god game.” Just like Populous, players in Reprisal take control of a tribe which they guide through the world conquering different islands with various challenges. Visually simple yet graphically pleasing, this game will take you back and pull kids in.