Best free games for kids: 20 great titles for girls and boys

PCs are naturally more complicated than tablets. Whereas even very young children can decipher a touchscreen, figuring out how mice, trackpads and keyboards may take longer.;

However, if your kid is old enough to take advantage of the best laptops for kids, our selection of the best free PC games for kids will skew a little older. This doesn’t mean there won’t be games for your five-year-old here, though. Note that several of these games are browser-based, though none require plug-ins. For these games, we’d recommend using the Google Chrome browser.

Best Free Games for Kids

1. Cube Slam

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Pong was one of the earliest home videogames. Cube Slam is Pong in your browser – only in 3D, and you get to play against a bear (or a friend – but the multiplayer option is flaky).

You face your furry opponent, moving the bat left or right to deflect the cuboid ‘ball’, aiming to smash the bear’s shields. Win enough times and the game introduces power-ups, invisible balls, and extra blocks on the table that make the ball bounce around unpredictably.

Play Cube Slam online

Best Free Games for Kids

2. Quick, Draw

For children who enjoy doodling, Quick, Draw should prove fascinating. The idea is to sketch – against the clock – something recognizable enough for Google’s Neural Network to identify.

In each case, you’re told what to draw. But this game isn’t about drawing photorealistic objects. Instead, you must quickly figure out the key visual clues that describe something. Which is probably a good thing, unless you can scribble a realistic rhinoceros in 20 seconds.

Play Quick, Draw online

Best Free Games for Kids

3. World’s Biggest Pac-Man

Pac-Man’s one of the most recognizable gaming icons around, and the original game is simple enough that even young kids can get to grips with it. However, its single maze quickly becomes dull – hence our recommendation to instead play World’s Biggest Pac-Man.

This online effort has hundreds of thousands of mazes, which you venture between by sneaking out of exits. Other than that, the original game’s compelling mix of munching dots and avoiding a quartet of spectral pursuers remains intact.

Play World’s Biggest Pac-Man online

Best Free Games for Kids

4. Forget-Me-Not

This indie hit takes the basis of Pac-Man and a slew of other ancient arcade games, and then smashes them into an endless bout of modern neon craziness.

Again, the basics are simple enough for any kid to understand: march about mazes, grab a key, and make for the exit. But the game’s chaotic nature (the maze’s denizens appear as intent on blowing each other up as taking on the player) ensures it’s relentless raucous fun.

Download Forget-Me-Not for PC, Mac, OpenPandora and MorphOS

Best Free Games for Kids

5. Little Alchemy 2

It would be a stretch to call Little Alchemy an educational game, but textbook smarts may help you crack the logic at the core of this match-and-discover puzzler.

You begin with a handful of building blocks, which when combined create new things. Sometimes, discoveries are obvious – add water to more water and you get a puddle. But some are more whimsical and funny, like when metal and a pigeon become a plane.

It’s ideal fodder when your kids want to play games, but you’d prefer them to relax and think for a bit.

Play Little Alchemy 2 online. The game is also available for Android and iOS.

Best Free Games for Kids

6. Contre Jour

This lovely physics puzzler began life on mobile, but its landscape-warping nature works well in the browser.

The aim is to get trundling protagonist Petit to a glowing exit. This involves click-dragging malleable hills to influence Petit’s movements, or using catapults and dangling tentacles to fling him about.

Petit’s endearingly grumpy demeanor, combined with great-looking visuals and clever level design, makes for a family-friendly puzzler sure to have kids scratching their heads figuring out all the solutions.

Play Contre Jour online. The game is also available in paid form on various mobile platforms

Best Free Games for Kids

7. Escape Goat

The clue’s in the title here – a leaping bovid wants to reach the exit. But doing so requires brainpower, plenty of dextrous jumping, and the occasional help of a friendly mouse.

Mostly, you’re aiming to reach and butt switches that shift rocks and create tunnels in cunningly designed single-screen challenges. But planning’s often required to collect keys, and not get squashed when walls start moving.

Oddly, when you send the mouse on a mission, you can teleport to its position. Quite why the goat can’t teleport straight to the exit, we’ve no idea. Goats never were the brightest creatures.

Play Escape Goat online. The game is also available in paid form on Steam.

Best Free Games for Kids

8. Spelunky

This side-scrolling dungeon crawler as a distinctly Indiana Jones feel, and this is probably why it became such a huge indie hit on handhelds – but it began on PC. These days, there are various ways to play early incarnations of the game for free.

Although this version is a bit rougher around the edges than modern variations, it remains compelling. You explore caves, jumping around, picking up bling and beating up monsters. Each game is unique – caves are randomly generated, and a single error can bring your quest to an abrupt end, with you impaled on spikes or killed by snakes. So tread lightly and look before you jump.

Play Spelunky online, get Spelunky 1.1 for Windows, or download Spelunky 1.3 for Windows and Mac

Best Free Games for Kids

9. VVVVVV: Make and Play Edition

One for kids who are a bit older and twitchier of thumb, this take on gravity-flip platformer VVVVVV is a special free edition. Like the paid release, it features a little chap who darts about and can leap from ceiling to floor by tapping the jump button.

His aim is to escape from a maze comprising dozens of single screens full of spikes and roaming enemies. This free edition includes maps created by fans – and the means to build your own.

Download VVVVVV: Make and Play Edition for Windows, Mac and Linux

Best Free Games for Kids

10. Super Crate Box

This one’s also in the twitchy thumbs category, and finds a little pixelated chap leaping about, trying to grab crates. All the while, he must blast creatures spilling into the screen, lest they hurl themselves into the flames below and emerge from the top furiously angry.

The game is fast-paced, entertaining, and has plenty of weapons and arenas to unlock. And although it’s a shooter, we can’t imagine many parents will be too concerned about their kid taking a cartoon bazooka to a conga of green monsters.

Get Super Crate Box for PC, Mac and Linux on Steam

Vic Hood
Associate Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.