PC gaming has a reputation for requiring an expensive machine, loaded with the latest hardware. You can certainly go down that route, but there are plenty of great games worth checking out that you can play on nearly any machine.
There are countless classic games you can still play on your PC but we’re not touching on that here. Instead, we’re focusing on newer games that don’t require beefy hardware.
1. Into the Breach
When it was released in 2012, FTL was an instant hit. In 2018, developer Subset Games returned with Into the Breach, a tactical mech game that keeps the punishing difficulty FTL was known for while advancing the studio’s storytelling chops.
To help tell that story, Subset Games enlisted the help of writer Chris Avellone, who you may know from his work on Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Neverwinter Nights 2 and the legendary Fallout 2. Part tactics game, part combat puzzle, Into the Breach is not to be missed.
2. Stardew Valley
If you loved the old Harvest Moon games but wished they had more dungeon diving and combat, Stardew Valley is the perfect game for you. Quietly released in 2016, the game was an instant hit and has only gained in popularity in recent years.
Stardew Valley is now available on nearly every platform, but it still feels most at home on the PC. The good news is you don’t need much in the way of hardware to run it.
You’ve probably heard of Undertale at this point, but if you haven’t, it’s a charming game that is a mix of Earthbound-style humor and storytelling with a unique combat system. Attacking is similar to the timing-based attacks found in RPG’s like Nintendo’s Mario & Luigi series, while defense is more like a bullet-hell shooter.
You can play through the game multiple times for different endings, and there is plenty to see on the way.
Have you always wanted to run a factory? No? Well that doesn’t matter, because even if you have no interest in factories, Factorio can still have you hooked once you dive into the game.
As the name implies, Factorio is a game about automating factories to produce items to create other factories and so on. The game has the “just five more minutes” quality that the Sim City games had at their best. Make sure to set aside more time than you plan on when you sit down to place this.
5. Enter the Gungeon
If you’re looking for the endless replayability of a Rogue-like with the frenetic action of a shooter, Enter the Gungeon may be your new favorite game. You’ll shoot your way through procedurally generated levels, finding new, more powerful weapons along the way.
You’ll need them too. This game is tough as nails, and it stays that way no matter how well-equipped you may be.
Moonlighter isn’t the first game to let you play as a shopkeeper, but it might be the best. During the day you do your normal business, putting items on sale, recruiting assistants, and upgrading your shop. At night, everything changes.
Will, the main character of Moonlighter, secretly dreams of being a hero. When you’re not busy running your shop, you’re raiding dungeons for all the loot you can carry.
7. Blazing Chrome
Blazing Chrome takes the best parts of the older Contra games and SNK’s Metal Slug games, throws them in a blender, and then puts sunglasses on the results to make it extra cool. The game offers up non-stop action, relentless difficulty, and plenty of retro charm.
If you’ve worn out the cartridges on your old-school side-scrolling shooters, you’ll want to buy Blazing Chrome immediately.
8. Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire takes two additive types of games—roguelikes and card games—and combines them to make one super-addictive game. This single-player deck builder will appeal to fans of card games and computer games alike.
With more than 250 cards, 150 different items, and 50 combat encounters, there is plenty of game here. Make sure to set aside some time, because you’ll be spending a lot of it with this game.
9. West of Loathing
Kingdom of Loathing was a web-based RPG that lampooned MMORPGs at a time when there were more of them in the world than just World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV. West of Loathing takes the humor and charm of that game and turns it into a single-player experience.
If you think modern RPGs take themselves too seriously, you need to play West of Loathing.
10. Baba Is You
Baba Is You starts out simple, letting you swap the rules of how the game world works. You have nouns like “wall,” “rock,” and the titular “Baba.” Combine these with verbs like “push” or “win” to complete the level.
Eventually, the game becomes devilishly difficult, and you may find yourself suddenly thinking of the solution to a puzzle while you’re brushing your teeth. Even better, it will run on basically any computer released in the past 10 years.