Platformers have been a thing since at least the 1980s, and the fact that they’ve survived until today is a testament to how good they are when done right. They tickle your brain by having you figure out how to reach your goal without falling or dying, but there’s usually more than one way to go about solving the puzzle.
There are a lot of iconic platforming game series out there, from Super Mario to Rayman to Crash Bandicoot. But sometimes money is tight, and a free platformer can scratch the itch just as well as anything popular. Many of them are actually pretty darn good, too.
8 I Wanna Be The Guy
I Wanna Be The Guy’s story is pretty simple and tongue-in-cheek. You, as The Kid, want to become The Guy. To do that, you must reach the current Guy and defeat him to become the new Guy. Needless to say, the game doesn’t take itself very seriously at all. But don’t let your guard down, because this platformer was made to be extremely difficult.
If you try I Wanna Be The Guy out, be prepared to die a lot. The game sets up many traps that you’ll inevitably fall for a fair few times. And even when you think you’ve got its tricks figured out, it can surprise you at the last moment. I Wanna Be The Guy will keep you on your toes at all times, and though it can be frustrating, it’s surprisingly fun, and you’ll feel quite accomplished when you do beat its levels.
7 Neon Beats
Neon Beats is a charming game that incorporates rhythm into its platforming. You control a neon cube and have to jump, bounce, and swing your way to the end of every level without hitting any spikes or falling. Each level has different music, starting simple at the tutorial and gradually becoming catchier.
The beats affect the timing of obstacles in the level, like when each platform moves and when they disappear and reappear. You have to sync with the beat if you want to make it to the end. The game is also visually pleasing with its different colored environments against a black background. It’s a must-try if you’re into the idea of rhythm affecting your gameplay.
You may find the game’s name strange, but BirdGut perfectly describes its story. You play as a bee who was unfortunately eaten by a bird. It turns out there are other bugs inside the bird, but they all seem to be brainwashed and forced to work. You have to find a way to free yourself and the other insects from inside this strange bird.
Along with this quirky story come pleasant hand-drawn graphics. There are spikes, lasers, saws, and other things that definitely shouldn’t be inside a normal bird. BirdGut’s strange and unpredictable setting and story are what make it a fun and memorable experience from start to finish.
5 Fall Guys
You’ve most probably already heard of Fall Guys, but this is your sign to check it out now that it’s free to play. It has a variety of levels, each with different objectives and obstacles. It’s chaotic by itself, but add in a lot more players and the levels become a hilarious time of being slapped around and falling while trying to reach the end.
The game’s colorful and cartoony graphics mean you have a lot of fun options to choose from when you customize and dress your own Fall Guy in. Whether you’re playing against friends or complete strangers, it’ll be hard not to laugh, even when you lose.
4 Drop Alive
Drop Alive is possibly one of the cutest platformers you can play. You play as a water drop inside a house, but she wants to be part of a river outside instead. You have to navigate many areas both inside and outside the house to reach the river, avoiding obstacles along the way.
However, you’re not a water droplet the entire time. You’ll have to decide when to change between liquid, solid, and gaseous forms to reach the goal in every level, using the surrounding environment to do so. The game is challenging, but not to the point of frustration, and its hand-drawn graphics and sweet music provide a wholesome experience.
If you feel like trying out a platformer that’s got mechanics you don’t see in every platforming game, you might enjoy Nohra. You play as a monster named Lupu who’s trying to escape an abandoned laboratory after being dormant for years. Though there’s nobody in the facility anymore, the security machines are still running and will try to stop you.
Nohra has some gameplay aspects that are both unique and crucial to beating the game. You can slow down time as you platform, allowing you to avoid what could otherwise be a deadly end. Also, your dashes in this game are very important. You must master chaining them together cohesively to avoid getting hit by the machines. These innovative elements are done well and make Nohra really fun to play.
2 Micro Platformer
If you’re not into platformers where everything’s trying to kill you as you jump around, Micro Platformer was basically made for you. It’s got extremely simple graphics, practically as minimalist as you can get, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its difficulty is as simple. It has different difficulty options, and the higher ones promise to really give you a run for your money (or lack thereof, since it’s free).
But if you like things a little easier, it has lighter difficulties, too. Micro Platformer is a game for all platform game enjoyers. You can take your time getting through every level without anything coming after you. Or, if you’d rather challenge yourself, there’s a timer to keep track of how fast you can beat levels.
Many platformers boast chaos and difficulty as their standout features, but Himno is quite the opposite. It’s a relaxing experience where you traverse procedurally generated maps using different methods, such as sliding, wall-jumping, and utilizing moving platforms. Its soundtrack and visuals make it very calming, and there’s no pressure to do anything in it.
There are no enemies and no risk of death. It’s just you exploring new maps at your own pace while collecting little balls of light. Having no plot or stakes is exactly what makes Himno a game that’ll probably last longer than most other platformers. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the world as it opens up for you you.
NEXT: Best Free RPGs