It’s time to gather your thoughts and get ready to commit many hours of daylight to being at school, listening to teachers and mingling with friends. But that also means having less time to unwind by playing games… or does it?
We’re here to present you with a few options you could easily deploy on a school computer. We’re not talking about educational games or scientific simulators. Instead, it’s about a few ways to relax or spend free time left after you’ve already completed the task during an IT class. We’ve got some single player classics, an online multiplayer, and even something to spark your creativity.
Fallen London is the precursor to the well-known Sunless Sea and Sunless Skies. The game is set in Victorian-era London stolen into a vast underground cave and twisted into a weird, mildly unsettling reflection of its earlier shape. Monarchy still exists, but the true rulers are the enigmatic Masters of the Bazaar. Which is appropriate, given there is a premium currency to be aware of.
As for how this game works, it’s a mostly text-based RPG filled to the brim with stories, arcs and odd jobs for your character to pursue to improve stats and earn some currency. The game’s writing has a good balance of gloomy and humorous, and choices are a huge, important part of the game. It’s easily playable on desktop and mobile browsers alike, so you can access the game anywhere.
A Dark Room
|Online text-based RPG
Another text-based adventure, although one with a much more minimalist presentation. All you get is text in a single-color background and a bit of mood-setting music and noise. The game begins with a single prompt, but as time goes by, things start happening, and more options appear one by one. Time is an important element of the game, as many things happen on a timer.
You can only gather wood or check traps only so often, and sometimes you’ll get visitors and messages that, perhaps, your trap was destroyed by something scaly. It won’t get your blood pumping, but it’s a methodical, text-based colony-builder with quite a bit of horror embedded into its mood. And unlike Fallen London it doesn’t require registration, you can just start playing.
Celeste Classic & Celeste Classic 2
|Maddy Makes Games
Did you know that there is a free-to-play, browser-based version of the platforming darling Celeste? There is! Two of them, even, Celeste Classic and Classic 2. Both are playable on Maddy Makes Games’ Itch page. The graphics are simpler than its paid version, but the principles are there, and Celeste’s gameplay is excellent regardless of the number of pixel you’re looking at.
The idea is simple: you control a character with a straightforward control scheme (left-right, jump, dash) and have to make it through increasingly difficult, but self-contained levels, gradually moving closer to the top of a perilous mountain. Unless you’re really good at platformers, you might not be able to reach both games’ end before the next class, but who knows, you should try anyway.
This one is something of a classic. The BattleOn family of games has been kicking around for over two decades, and has expanded to encompass a few different games, but the core product, and one that’s been going strong on thousands’ of people’s browsers is Adventure Quest, a fantasy-themed singleplayer RPG with a fair bit of character progression and turn-based combat.
We should also add that while AQ can be played for free with only a registration, there is a premium option available, providing easier access to higher-grade gear, a higher level cap, and access to certain locations unavailable to regular adventurers. The premium experience isn’t essential to gameplay, but it’s worth knowing before you give the game a try.
Unlike most other games on the list, this one not only is multiplayer, also works best if you’re playing with friends, but it’s a great option if your IT class was short and you all could use something fun to do. Gartic Phone is the love child of the game of telephone and Pictionary, and an excellent game for an online party, be it a Just Talking stream on Twitch or a Discord hangout.
The idea for the default mode is simple: each participant creates a short prompt which will then be drawn by another player, and when that’s done, yet another player must guess the original prompt. After everybody got a chance to draw and guess, Gartic composes a neat animated slideshow everybody gets to see. Watching everybody’s fun, weird, and silly ideas is a ton of fun.
This one is a fun way to flex these ol’ brain muscles. GoeGuessr’s premise is extremely simple, but endlessly replayable. It uses Google Maps, and when you start a new game you’re dropped, in Street View, somewhere in the world. Your job is to use what you see to figure out where in the world you are, dropping a pin on the handy world map.
It’s a bit of detective work to find your location, too. Perhaps you look at the architecture to narrow down the region, or look at a billboard to check the language? Maybe you notice a sail in the distance to conclude you’re near a coast? The free version imposes some time restrictions and only has a single mode, while unlimited playtime and additional modes are paid-only.
It’s debatable whether QWOP is a game or a torture software, but it’s undeniable that when you fire it up someone is going to have a lot of fun.
“QWOP” is not only a bizarre title, it’s also the full control scheme, letting you move an Olympic sprinter’s thighs and calves. If it sounds easy, hello, we hope you’ll get a ton of fun with QWOP and we’re happy we could introduce you to it.
Jokes aside, QWOP is a famously impenetrable game designed by the man who is behind the infuriating glory of Getting Over It with Bennet Foddy. The seemingly simple task of crossing a 100m line is complicated by the fact that the sprinter doesn’t know how to walk or stay upright, so you’re fighting with controls, gravity, and your inevitably mounting frustration. But it IS very fun.
Although Vampire Survivors is available on Steam, it also has a completely free browser version you can play for free, no registration required.
The browser version is nominally the demo of the full game, but despite being limited compared to Steam, it’s still more than enough to deliver a ton of fun in a short amount of time, and it even has a bit of the full version’s progression system!
It’s also a game that’s easy to get the hang of. Your character attacks automatically, your job is to maneuver around, gather drops, and develop builds through items and upgrades. Vampire Survivors is strangely engaging, looks a lot like old-school Castlevanias, and most runs tend to end in an exciting swarm of enemies converging on your location. Death is a matter of time.
|Dark Realm Studios
You might be familiar with Plague Inc. Evolved, but did you know that it’s a spiritual successor to Pandemic and Pandemic 2, games which spawned their own memes back in the day and made an entire generation wary of messing with island nations.
It’s far from the freshest apple in the basket, but despite its age it remains as fun as ever, and perfect for a quick game between classes.
The premise is simple: you pick a pathogen and unleash it upon the world, evolving it over time to develop new symptoms, build up resistances, and form new transmission methods. The goal is equally simple: leaving no human left alive. It takes quite a bit of effort and careful planning, however, because certain regions are quick to close their borders to prevent spread.
If you’d prefer to spend time doing something more relaxing, perhaps a puzzle game, you should check out UnpuzzleX, a nice little game about disassembling a jigsaw puzzle, piece by piece. Of course, it’s not quite as simple: pieces can only move in certain directions determined by their types and connections to other tiles.
For example, pieces with arrows can only be flicked in the depicted direction, while tiles marked with orange symbols can be freely smashed into. As usual with puzzle games, the complexity grows with every cleared stage, but friendly colors, calming music, and simple designs make UnpuzzleX and its siblings a very pleasant way to stretch your braincells.
The Impossible Quiz
Don’t let yourself be deceived: The Impossible Quiz is not a quiz at all, it’s a vicious puzzle game which gets more and more abstract with every “question” you answer.
Where UnpuzzleX is mostly pretty chill and relaxing, The Impossible Quiz seems to thrive on causing frustration. And, admittedly, it’s a very fun frustration, because when you figure out the given puzzle, it does come as a relief.
There are several installments of the game, and they are all appropriately impossible. Sometimes you need to trick the app itself or think laterally. Other times, you might need to figure out a pun answer. The point is: it’s never just a trivia, or a straightforward solution. To make things even more impossible, you have limited lives, and sometimes there’s even a time limit. Good luck.
Agar.io is certainly a game. Deciding what kind of game it is, however, is more difficult.
You’re controlling a big circle with a life mission of eating smaller circles. Initially that means consuming random dots hanging out on the map, but eventually you’ll grow enough to eat other players’ circles. It’s effectively a game of eat or be eaten, with geometric shapes as protagonists.
There are several modes to choose from, including a free-for-all and team deathmatch, so you can mix things up. There’s even a simple skin system letting everyone customize their circles. There certainly is place for skill in Agar.io, but the core gameplay is very simple, which works to the game’s benefit: it’s very easy to pick up, eat a few dots and circles, and unwind for a moment.
Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup
Returning back to the Rogue-like areas, if you’d like something quite close to the game which created the genre, take a look at Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup.
Your mission is to descend into the vast dungeon, retrieve the Orb of Zot, and come back out. Of course, the journey will be dangerous, and uncertain, as DCSS uses a mix or hand-made and randomly generated levels.
There’s also, of course, a progression system, but you begin each run by selecting from a list of species and backgrounds, which define your starting skillsets. Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup uses graphical tiles to make its dungeons easier to read, but it’s an optional setting, in case you’d prefer something more traditional. Either way, it’s an excellent, complex, old-school roguelike.
Admittedly, Townscaper is less of a game and more of a city-building toy, reacting procedurally to any new blocks you decide to plop onto the grid or previous structures.
The buildings reshape to create balconies and plazas, deleted blocks might be replaced with metal supports, and everything is presented in pastel colors and rounded shapes. It’s about as friendly as it could get.
And the best part is that you can play this for free in your browser. It’s technically just a demo, but the main difference between that and the full version available on Steam is the grid size, understandably smaller than the full version’s. It won’t give you an adrenaline rush, but Townscaper is just pleasant, and discovering the rules of the procedural generation can be quite satisfying.
Cave FRVR is a game about steering a landing craft through increasingly complicated caves.
The problems ahead include falling rocks, homing missiles, lasers, and dwindling fuel reserves. On the flipside, the ships (many various types) are upgradeable, both in a linear manner and through randomly discovered gear, like better engines.
To spice things up, there are also special challenges, which not only teleport you further down the caves on completion, but also give a good chance for a better gear or rare power-ups. Between simple gameplay idea, tangible progression, various challenges and task to complete, and relaxing music, Cave FRVR is a great game for a quick play session.
Now let’s look at a game which lets your creative, or maybe sadistic, side shine.
The task is simple: you’re designing a slope for a kid on a sled to slide down. That’s it. Line Rider uses a simple, but sensible physics system to measure speed, momentum, angles, etc. which decides whether the kid will clear the loop-de-loop you created, or just stops at the bottom, sad and disappointed.
With enough trial, error, and determination you can create really complex, long, dynamic routes filled with jumps, ramps, and risky falls. There isn’t really an end goal in sight, other than making sure the kid gets a fun ride…or crashes and falls off the sled in a funny way. It’s up to you, really. The point is, it’s a neat, simple game which makes it fun to play with its physics.
|id Software, Inc.
Let’s close the list with some nasty demons in need of being removed from the premises.
There is little need to introduce Doom. Not only was it wonderfully revived in 2016 (Doom, and Doom Eternal from 2020), but the original has been launched on virtually everything with electronic elements. And that includes your friendly internet browser of choice. Indeed, you can play Doom for free without issue.
It’s probably the oldest game on the list by a good margin, but despite its age, it remains a great FPS, if you can get used to getting around with mouse controls. And admittedly archaic, but also still charming retro graphics. There are several levels available, which is more than enough for a quick Doom session between classes. Now go and teach these demons about Mars diplomacy.
Look out! They’re behind you!
Okay, that was a false alarm.
Hopefully, you’ve found just the kind of game you’d want to spend your recess with, or always keep running on a muted tab on your laptop, even though you know you shouldn’t. Of course, we can’t guarantee all games will be unblocked, or that your school will never block them if they catch students playing too much. However, there’s a good chance you won’t encounter any problems.