If you’re reading this guide, post-2020, then 1 – I hope things are better and 2 – Adobe Flash has finally gone past its end of life date and it’s officially dead.
This is quite sad for anyone old and sentimental enough (like me) to reminisce on all the games that Adobe Flash made possible. However, let us now cast our gaze to the present and the future.
Adobe Flash wasn’t the only technology available to us for web game creation. HTML 5 gave us that ability too.
In this guide, we’ll explore fifteen of the best web-browser based games. You’ll find that the majority (if not all) of them are created with HTML 5.
Best Games That Can Be Played From Your Web Browser
Gaming Linux distros like Ubuntu Game Pack still support Adobe Flash. What made/makes Flash games so popular is their portability and light-weightiness. The same descriptions can be applied to current era web-platform games.
You can play them from your phone, computer, tablet, and even your smart-TV, just as long as you have a web browser that’s connected to the internet.
Mind you, this isn’t an article created to memorialize flash. Rather, it’s a testament and an example of what we can expect from cross-platform gaming in the future.
So if you’re stuck and bored at work, on the train/bus, in a long line or a shopping trip that you didn’t really consent to, then the games in this guide, should make time go quicker for you.
Originally, we had hoped to put Unfair Mario on this list, but unfortunately, it requires you to have Adobe Flash Player. However, you can still play it if you have an Adobe Flash enabled browser.
Super Mario HTML5 emulator recreates the original Super Mario Bros. From the music to the graphics. The difference here is that it looks great on a high definition screen. The textures appear smooth and the colors really pop.
As soon as you load the web page, you’re plugged directly into the game. Controls are simple enough. You use the WASD keys to maneuver Mario (or Luigi) across various obstacles and enemies.
You can use the shift key on your keyboard to either launch fireballs (when you get that ability) or hold it to sprint. That’s why Super Mario Bros is such a good game to remake in HTML 5. It has a very simple premise. The easy to master controls give it an almost unmatched pick-up-and-playability.
The Koji Kondo composed score is also intact. The developers did an awesome job of translating the original game into HTML 5. The controls and animation feel fluid and responsive.
It might take some time to acclimate yourself to the game’s movements depending on what device you’re playing it on, but once you get the hang of it, it’s smooth sailing from then on.
The original Spelunky came out in 2008. Since then it’s had numerous ports and re-iterations. Thanks to its source-availability and it’s simple mechanics, it’s almost been ported as much as Skyrim or GTA.
This makes it one of the most successful indie games of all time. Considering this, it’s very surprising that it hasn’t got more sequels.
In fact, Spelunky 2 was slated for a 2020 release date. But we’re not sure if that’s going to happen (or has happened) but till then, you can still replay the first one, which is playable from your web browser.
For users who are running a Chromium-based browser, you can even install it from the Google Chrome Web Store and access it like an extension.
For those of you unfamiliar with Spelunky, it’s a randomly generated action adventure where you take control of a nameless Indiana Jones-type character as he explores various caves and tombs to uncover precious treasure.
What makes Spelunky so replay-able and addictive is its difficulty and challenge. The controls are also easy to master. In addition to this, as we’ve mentioned before, each level is randomly generated. Which means each playthrough is unique.
So you’ve beaten it once on your PC or console, but can you beat it again on your browser? The graphics on the browser version have obviously been downgraded to accommodate as many devices as possible.
It’s a little more pixelated but the gameplay, as well as the soundtrack, is preserved. So if you’re playing this for the first time, you’re not doing yourself a disservice by playing the web browser version. There’s a reason why Spelunky is ranked as one of the best roguelike games of all time.
If your answer to both these questions is ‘yes’, then you’ll enjoy BrowserQuest.
Isn’t it lovely when a game’s title tells you exactly what it’s about? In BrowserQuest you can embark on various adventures as a single player or in a group. You can chat and interact with other players in the BrowserQuest world.
It’s a great way to meet new people. Movements and actions are initiated through simple point and click. So in most cases, all you need is your mouse to play.
In BrowserQuest, you begin as a simple villager. The more you explore the world around you, the more items, and achievements you unlock and earn.
BrowserQuest allows you to access your achievement window at any time by clicking on the trophy icon. You can use this screen to assess just how far you’ve come in the game.
The game is powered by WebSockets technology. Which is how and why you can see players running around you in real-time. It’s like being connected to a single computer.
If you like games like BrowserQuest, check out our list of the best role-playing games of all time.
Slither.io is like an advanced multiplayer version of Snake. You control a worm-like creature and navigate it around the map consuming pellets and the souls of defeated players. The object of the game is to have the longest worm ever.
Once you start a new game, you’ll find that your worm is in constant motion, and follows where your cursor is pointed. You can change your worm’s direction by moving the cursor.
Although the game’s mechanics are simple, you’ll have to learn them on your own or find some help files on the internet. There is no in-game tutorial. You’re just thrown into the deep end.
The game functions on an easy enough premise that it doesn’t really require a tutorial or help files– unless you’re trying to find some tips on how you can beat other players.
All you have to do is collect as many pellets as possible while avoiding any collision, as well as try to get other players to crash into your worm so you can defeat them and collect their pellets. You have a boost function which allows you to speed your worm up.
It can be used to escape from danger, put you in the path of enemy players, or reach a cache of pellets before any other player does.
Slither.io is one of the best-looking browser games on this list. It’s also one of the freakiest looking. Orbs (pellets) come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Of course, each orb increases your size by a varying degree. The bigger and angrier looking the orb is, the more length and/or girth it gives your worm.
The game allows you to switch between a high- and low-quality graphic mode. Which is quite accommodating. Control and navigating your worm through the field can take some time to get used to. The worms aren’t very good at turning or changing direction suddenly.
But it’s this challenging gameplay that makes this game so addictive.
Maybe first-person shooters are more your speed. If you’re itching to play an online multiplayer FPS but you simply don’t have the hardware to play games like Call of Duty, then you should give Krunker.io a spin.
From a comparison standpoint, Krunker’s graphics aren’t worth writing home about. This is perfectly understandable though. In most cases, what people expect from most web-browser games is pixelated 2D animation.
Stylistically and graphically, Krunker looks like Minecraft. All objects, including player models, appear as if they were built with blocks. Despite this, the game looks good out of the box.
Some of the edges in the game may appear a little rough, but how rough depends on your device’s graphical processing abilities. However, you can change your performance settings.
You can alter the resolution, set a frame cap, change the aspect ratio, modify the texture settings, set the particle distance, modify how shadows are displayed, etc.
The game is completely free to play. You can host your own server or join a free-for-all at almost any time.
The amount of work gone into developing this game is astounding. Since the game can be accessed from your browser, plugging into matches is super easy. The controls are smooth and responsive.
As with any other game, you might find yourself dying over and over again until you finally master it. If you’re used to playing Dark Souls-like games, then this shouldn’t be an issue for you.
Threes is a tile puzzle game where you merge separately numbered squares into singular numbered squares whose value can be divided by three. It’s hard to explain on paper, it’s one of those things that has to be experienced to be understood.
Nevertheless, you can merge tiles by pushing them against the border of the four-by-four grid. Only tiles whose value will equate to addends or multiples of three can be merged. For instance, you can merge a tile whose value is one with a tile whose value is two. This will give you a single tile of three.
Or you can merge three sets of one. You can’t merge an addend or multiple of three with another addended or multiple of three unless it’s a twin. For instance, you can merge two sets of threes but you can’t merge a two with a twelve.
Once again, it takes a bit of time to get used to it. But if you like casual math-based puzzle games like Sudoku, you’ll take to threes like a fish to water.
Town of Salem has an interesting concept. It’s an online social deduction game in the vein of Werewolf (aka Mafia). The game consists of two main teams – the informed and the uninformed which are divided into four different alignments.
It is up to the uninformed to figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth on the side of the informed. It’s strictly a multiplayer game.
The game allows a minimum of seven players and a maximum of fifteen to participate in a match. At the start of each game, you’re randomly allotted into an alignment. You are either a town member, part of the mafia, part of the serial killer, arsonists, or neutrals.
Members who are part of the town alignment must figure out which players are a part of the mafia, arsonists, or serial killers before being killed.
However, members who are part of the serial killers, arsonists, or mafia alignments must secretly kill off members of the town and neutral alignments and avoid getting caught.
What makes Town of Salem so good is that you don’t have to memorize overly complicated controls or gameplay. It’s simple enough for non-gamers to join in and play.
#8 Line Rider
Line Rider is another inventive and charming web-browser game. It will have you expressing both your creativity and logic to transport a sledder across the screen. To transport the sledder you’ll need to draw one or more lines.
The game doesn’t have a fixed objective. You do not win or lose by any standard that the game sets for you. Except your own. You’re encouraged to be as creative as possible. It is essentially an interactive toy. Line Rider has a thriving online community you can share your creations with.
The game allows you to pick between brushes, pencils, and straight lines. There’s also an eraser that allows you to undo and eliminate lines. Once you’re satisfied with the track you’ve created for the sledder, you can press the play button at the bottom.
If your track obeys the loose laws of physics in Line Rider’s world, the sledder will proceed forward unimpeded. Or they’ll fall to their doom.
You can rewind, pause, and stop them along the track. You can create bookmarks or flag certain positions too. If you’re happy with your track, you can save it and share it.
We feel as if text-based games don’t get as much love as they used to. These days it’s all about explosive graphics and how many pixels you can fit on a screen. These days we seldom discuss the impact that games like Oregon Trail, Zork and Rogue have had on gaming today.
And if we do have conversations about these games, it only seems to occur within the confines of niche forums. Text-based adventures are suited to web-browsers. They are usually not demanding on system resources.
They’re light-weight and extremely accessible. They’re interactive choose your own adventure books.
Fallen London is one of the few games on this list that was exclusively released for web browsers. Before it was re-named Fallen London, it was known as Echo Bazaar.
Fallen London has a very unique story. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic Victorian-Gothic version of England where you play as a new arrival. Your objective is to rise through Fallen London’s social ranks.
Your social standing in the world will be dependent on the decisions you make. Fallen London has an impressive world-building with some of the most bizarre and unique storytelling we’ve ever encountered. It’s an experience second to none.
Elvenar is a beautifully built strategy game accessible from any browser. It was developed by InnoGames, a company based in Hamburg Germany that specializes in developing rich textured mobile strategy games such as Forge of Empires, Tribal Wars and Grepolis.
Elvenar is completely free-to-play (as with all the games on this list). The game is a mix between a medieval city building sim and a strategy game. Your main objective is to build a city with a thriving economy and happy citizens.
Elvenar is set in a giant world map where you can scout other civilizations, cities, and areas for information and resources. You do this all the while maneuvering through Elvenar’s global politics.
It’s up to you if you want to play as the diplomat, trader, or the warlord. The graphics are mostly hand-drawn.
The animation and graphical style is quite reminiscent of other strategy games such as Age of Empires. You just have to admire how much effort and attention to detail InnoGames put into Elvenar.
The menus are beautifully built. The animation is fluid and responsive. The game is easy to understand and it guides you through the early stages. The only thing that may deter you from playing this game is how much commitment it requires from you.
The original Dark Orbit was a large popular free to play Flash game. It was originally released back in 2006. It was developed by a German video game development studio by the name of Bigpoint GmbH. Another studio located in Hamburg, Germany.
Dark Orbit Reloaded is basically an HTML 5 port with added features. Before the development and subsequent launch of Dark Orbit, the developers engaged with the community, asking them to give them feedback on what they liked about the original Dark Orbit and what they didn’t like.
They then integrated the best features into Dark Orbit Reloaded. DarkOrbit Reloaded’s core gameplay is unchanged from its predecessor.
Just like Dark Orbit, it is a point and click space shooter. It is a massively multiplayer online game where you play against enemy NPCs as well as other players.
It also has a mesh between strategy and adventure. For instance, you can embark on missions that involve objectives such as finding and killing pirates. With Reloaded, the developers set out to make the game more accessible to new gamers.
After registering, players will be prompted to choose between three factions; Mars Mining Operations, Earth Industries Corporations, and Venus Resources Unlimited.
The amount of quality and effort put into Dark Orbit is truly amazing. From the 3D graphics, models to the soundtrack. It’s a great game to get lost in, with plenty of lore to keep you engaged.
Because of the limited resources, most browser game developers must work with, they need to be creative with what they have. If you are smart enough, you can basically create a game using simple web and map tools.
For instance, have you ever played around with Google Street View when you were bored at work? Have you ever treated it like a first-person exploration game, akin to Grand Theft Auto? Or am I just weird?
GeoGuessr is a great example of taking an internet tool like Google Street View and creatively turning it into a game. As the name suggests, the objective of the game is to guess where you are using a host of visual clues and semi-randomly pulled images from Google Maps (for paying customers) or Mapillary (for non-paying customers).
The locations you’re given are algorithmically generated. They’re usually limited to streets and roads. You can move about in the image, just like you can in a normal Google Maps Street View situation. Once you’re ready to make your guess, you can place a marker on the game’s world map.
GeoGuessr will then reveal the approximate location and you’ll be rewarded points based on how close or far your guess was. The game also has leaderboards where you can compare your score with other players.
There are also various game modes which include grouped challenges with time limits. This would be a free to play game if Google didn’t charge for their API. However, non-paying customers can play up to one game per day, using Google Street View.
#13 The Wiki Game
Educational games are so underappreciated. Many of us have found ourselves scouring Wikipedia at three O’clock in the morning, trying to ease our insomnia by looking up facts about something as obscure as the planetary capital of Mars (it is Solis Lacus by the way).
The Wiki Game gamifies your almost compulsive search for knowledge and facts. In the Wiki game, you’re given two random articles. You must try to travel from one article to the other by clicking on the links on the original article and on the link of each article you land on.
It’s basically an exploration of the six degrees of separation theory. For players looking for a greater challenge, there are various game modes you can participate in. There’s 2-player Challenges, One-Cant-GO Rules, Time Trials, 5-Clicks-To-Jesus, and Clicks To Hitler.
The Wiki Game tests your general knowledge and your ability to organize and sort information. It doesn’t require much except an internet-connected browser and a brain.
#14 Paper Minecraft
Have you ever wanted to try Minecraft but just never had the hardware or time and commitment to learn how to play it? Paper Minecraft is a simplified 2D version of the world-building game, Minecraft.
For those interested in a more simplified version of Minecraft to help you eventually become acclimated to the real thing, then this game is perfect for you.
There are three game modes; Survival, Peaceful, and Creative. Survival mode is arguably the most enjoyable and challenging. You’ll need to gather resources, craft, and build tools to help you defend yourself against dangerous animals. You’ll also need to gather food and water to stay healthy.
To build your settlement, you’ll need to cut trees, mine, and collect as many resources as you can.
Creative mode is a lot more lenient. You can simply create towns, cities, and settlements and then explore them without having to gather resources to stay alive. In addition to this, you can also explore other gamers’ settlements and worlds.
Before you start a new game, you’ll be required to pick the game mode, the world type, your character’s skin, and if you want help or not in the form of chests. Paper Minecraft is also available from the Google Chrome Web Store.
If you find that you like Paper Minecraft, why not give the real thing a chance. If you like Minecraft in concept but not in practice, there are a host of great Minecraft alternatives out there.
#15 Street Skater
Street Skater (not to be confused with Street Sk8ter) has one of the best soundtracks we’ve ever heard from a browser-based game. It’s an endless run game not dissimilar to Google Chrome’s T-Rex cactus jump game. However, its mechanics, animation, and graphics are a lot more complex.
The game was developed by SmashingPixels. The object of the game is to collect tokens and points while avoiding any obstacles. Your avatar is a young skateboarder. The controls are easy enough to understand and memorize. There are only three after all.
If you’re playing the game from your PC’s web browser, you’ll need to use a spacebar to ollie the skateboard (jump), double space bar to perform a kickflip (which acts as a double jump) and shift button to perform manual tricks which net bonus points.
The graphics are a mix of 2D, 3D, and cel-shaded animation. It’s quite charming until you crash into an obstacle and watch your character explode into tiny pixelated. Overall, it’s a fun casual game.
In this guide, we covered fifteen of the best web browser games and essentially proved that you don’t need a super-powerful graphics card to enjoy gaming in the 21st century.
We tried our best to include as many genres as possible. If you feel that we’ve missed one or two, please let us know down in the comments section. Which one is your favorite browser game and what browser do you like to use for gaming? We’d love to hear from you. Nevertheless, thank you for reading.