Top 10 Permanently Free Single-Player Games Available on Steam

Tags: #Steam ,   #DokiDokiLiteratureClub ,   #FreeGame ,   #Gaming ,   #gamingcommunity

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-05-16 06:00:08

PC gaming has many advantages, although it was much better before the GPU prices went sky-high. Going back to the positives, digital distribution services often give us triple-A games for free. Yet, there's always a limited window of opportunity to acquire them. Thus, if you miss it, it may never come back. Luckily, there are still plenty of permanently free single-player games on Steam that you can get at any time. To be perfectly clear – these aren't those greedy free-to-play experiences. Instead, these top ten games offer the same functionality as the commercial releases. Of course, there are no blockchain games here, as Steam doesn't support them.

10. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Chris is the character you'll love in the Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Year of release: 2018
Genre: Interactive adventure
Additional paid content: No
Our take: It's part of the Life is Strange universe but also a stand-alone experience
Game info

We love Life Is Strange games, as they feel like interactive indie movies. These titles are often sold cheaply, but only The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is permanently free. While even the publisher Square Enix brands it as a demo, that's not the case. Instead, you can take it as a stand-alone experience set in the world of Life is Strange 2.

Here you'll meet Chris, a nine-year-old boy who often escapes unpleasant reality. Despite the heavy subject, this is a heartwarming story with gameplay suitable for everyone. This means you can explore environments and do missions that impact the story. Unfortunately, you'll complete this game in only a few hours, but you'll enjoy every minute. Also, Life Is Strange 1 and 2 offer their first episodes for free, so try them if you like Captain Spirit.

9. Shadow Warrior Classic

Shadow Warrior will test your skills
Year of release: 1997
Genre: FPS
Additional paid content: No
Our take: The best free single-player FPS on Steam
Game info

Despite using the ancient Build Engine, Shadow Warrior is a fantastic experience. Initially released in 1997 for MS-DOS, this title combined simple FPS gameplay with crude humor. In that sense, the game is similar to Duke Nukem 3D yet still has many original elements. Our hero Lo Wang has an impressive arsenal that blends traditional ancient weapons with modern guns and some truly bizarre ones.

As the name suggests, this release keeps the original graphics in all their pixelated glory. Yet, they have a certain charm, especially as the level design holds well. Unlike Duke 3D, Shadow Warrior is a very challenging experience. Even on lower difficulty levels, you'll die a lot, as health packs are scarce. Yet, if you like a challenge and enjoy old-school FPS, get this one. There's also a Redux version on Steam which adds expansion packs and improves graphics, but it's not for free.

8. The Expendabros

Don't believe us - believe Dolph Lundgren!
Year of release: 2014
Genre: Action
Additional paid content: No
Our take: Fun while it lasts
Game info

The Expendables movie series was all about mindless violence involving some of the biggest action stars, led by Sylvester Stallone. Therefore, they make perfect settings for The Expendabros, a tie-in with "The Expendables 3 ". It's hard to ignore a game where you control Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Schwarzenegger, and other legends while doing massive destruction. Furthermore, every character has unique special attacks and weapons.

However, the game is the best in a four-player cooperative where you'll easily massacre whole armies! Even though ten missions may sound like a lot, you'll reach the end in two hours. Yet, as the gameplay isn't very deep, that's not a massive issue. The Expendabros has some beautiful pixel art graphics, so you'll appreciate it even more if you love a retro look or have a slow PC.

7. Trackmania Nations Forever

Don't get sick while watching this user-created level in Trackmania Nations Forever!
Year of release: 2008
Genre: Arcade racing
Additional paid content: No
Our take: Excellent choice if you love racing against time 
Game info

There aren't many free single-player racing games on Steam, but luckily, we have Trackmania Nations Forever. Yet, this is all but a traditional racer. In single-player, you have 65 tracks, and it's all about you versus the clock. To progress, you'll need to win medals, with all golds necessary to reach the final challenges. This is purely an arcade racer, and it's effortless to play even on a keyboard.

What makes this title endlessly fun is the ability to construct your tracks or download other users' creations. Finally, there's also multiplayer, where your opponents are shown as ghosts, so they can't hit you. So, is there any catch here? Well, after five online races, you'll have to watch one. Yet, that doesn't sound like a dealbreaker to us.

6. Cry of Fear

Cry of Fear is a dark, weird, and scary experience
Year of release: 2013
Genre: Survival horror
Additional paid content: No
Our take: Scary and weird - play in the coop if you can
Game info

While horror movies may scare you beyond belief, survival horror games will test you even more! In Cry of Fear, you are in the seemingly deserted Scandinavian city, trying to escape all the madness and terrifying creatures. Initially, this was a Half-Life modification, so you can expect a first-person perspective and gunplay. Yet, you can't be trigger-happy as resources are minimal. As your inventory is tight, you'll also have to make massive compromises.

Since the creatures you'll face are so quick, trying to escape them is challenging! This title enjoys playing with your mind, putting you in some weird and scary situations. Many of them don't make sense at all, and nothing will change unless you reach the proper ending. Yet, this is what the game wants – to make you feel desperate, hopeless, and confused. In that sense, it's totally unpredictable and will shock you with some gruesome scenes. If that's too much for you, there's also a co-op campaign for up to four players.

5. Crusader Kings II

Learn about the gameplay, and see if Crusader Kings II is for you
Year of release: 2012
Genre: Strategy
Additional paid content: Yes (Numerous expansion packs)
Our take: Immense depth will keep you occupied for months
Game info

Paradox Interactive is famous for its complex strategy games, and Crusader Kings II is one of its best works. This title takes us to the later part of the middle ages as you need to form a dynasty and help it survive. This is an incredibly deep experience, as waging wars is just one part. This means you also need to take care of diplomacy and manage your allies and vassals. There are many options here, so you can send someone a gift or even order assassination.

Crusader Kings II is one of the best free Steam games, and there's no catch. All the original content is available, and you can even enjoy multiplayer with up to 32 people. Yet, Paradox hopes to make money by selling you tons of additional content, significantly expanding an already massive experience. While this game isn't for everyone, those who love the genre will rack up hundreds of hours!

4. The Sims 4

It's EA, but the game is really free!
Year of release: 2014
Genre: Simulation
Additional paid content: Yes, almost a hundred DLCs
Our take: There are no paywalls, but you'll be tempted to buy some DLCs
Game info

EA doesn't have a terrific reputation, but there's no catch here. Thus, The Sims 4 is free, and you can permanently add it to your collection! While it is a decade old, this title remains immensely popular. As before, you control the lives of one or more characters, shaping them however you like. Compared to previous games, it's more in-depth, with lots of content to keep you occupied.

While EA hopes you'll upgrade to the Deluxe edition and buy some of a hundred DLCs, that's unnecessary. Furthermore, you can use fan-made content and mods to enhance the experience. If you have any love for simulation games, The Sims 4 will keep you busy for years. Plus, the hardware requirements make it playable even on old office laptops.

3. Path of Exile

The gameplay in Path of Exile is simple but so addictive!
Year of release: 2013
Genre: Action RPG
Additional paid content: Yes (microtransactions)
Our take: The best free alternative to the Diablo series
Game info

A word of warning - Path of Exile can be overwhelming. Just one look at the absolutely massive skill tree may scare some people away! Yet, this is your typical Diablo-inspired title. Basically, all you do is run around, kill monsters, and collect tons of loot. However, that's alright, as the gameplay is so smooth. Enemy variety is excellent, and bosses offer unique challenges. Finally, the graphics hold well, reminding us of Diablo II.

While Path of Exile is a free-to-play game, you won't ever have to spend money on it. This means that you can only purchase cosmetic stuff, making your appearance unique. While it's primarily a single-player experience, you can form a party with other players and go on an adventure together. Even though the enemies will become much stronger, you'll also gain more rewards by defeating them. Some people spend thousands of hours playing this game!

2. Doki Doki Literature Club!

Doki Doki Literature Club! will trick you, and you'll enjoy it, in a way
Year of release: 2017
Genre: Visual novel
Additional paid content: Yes (DLC fan pack)
Our take: You don't like visual novels? Well, you have to play this one. Avoid spoilers!
Game info

Another visual novel on our list? Yes, Doki Doki Literature Club! looks way too stereotypical with all the fluffy dialogue and cute anime girls. Yet, soon you'll notice that something is wrong. At first, you might not even pay much attention but know that it will hit you hard sooner or later. Here we're not talking about the shocking events in the game but how it messes with your mind! A few titles in history did it successfully, and how could anyone expect it from the cute visual novel?

Saying anything else would diminish your gameplay experience, as it will be quite unforgettable. This is the title to notice, even if you don't care about visual novels. It's so unique that you'll have it engraved in your mind forever! Yet, despite its colorful graphics, this is not a game for children or those easily disturbed. There's also the expanded version, but you are not missing much without it.

1. Open TTD

A game you can play forever - Open TTD!
Year of release: 2004
Genre: Simulation
Additional paid content: No
Our take: Massive, evergrowing, and evergreen simulation!
Game info

Transport Tycoon Deluxe is the best simulation game ever and one of the best single-player games on Steam, end of the story. In this legendary title with a brilliant soundtrack, you build your transport company, starting from the middle of the 20th century. As technology develops and cities and industries evolve, you'll need to constantly adjust. In 2004, fans started expanding the game, making massive improvements in every segment. For example, AI is much more intelligent, maps are way larger, and there are new industries, vehicles, and more. While OpenTTD initially required Transport Tycoon Deluxe to run, this is now a stand-alone release.

As this is one of the most active open-source projects, this remake keeps improving. Furthermore, you can download tons of mods and basically keep playing forever. Even though this is a full-fledged single-player experience, OpenTTD also has multiplayer for up to 255 players! While some interface solutions are archaic, this is still an iconic game that will never go away!

Although free single-player games on Steam are a rarity, all these titles we mentioned are well-worthy of your time. Heck, they often beat similar full-priced releases while not incorporating paywalls. They also cover different genres, so we're sure you'll find something for you. Finally, none of them is hardware-demanding, so you can enjoy them even on Steam Deck.

Have you played any of these single-player games on our top ten list? Did we miss mentioning some other free releases?   

Cover photo: Roberto Pastor/SketchUpSources



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DecentTerminator Says:

OpenTTD will forever be among my top games. It's incredibly deep and I can't get enough of it.

July 29 at 09:43:06 AM

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