So you have an old, underpowered PC…
Even if you have a hand-me-down computer from the Paleolithic Era, you can still enjoy a hearty helping of fun games.
Check out this collection that will keep you playing for hours without giving your PC a stress-induced heart attack.
We start with a game that puts you smack-dab in a pixelated zombie apocalypse and makes you the only person who can stop it.
Atom Zombie Smasher
The enemies in Atom Zombie Smasher might appear as harmless, purple dots, but they’re actually deadly foes.
Use a chopper to evacuate as many civilians (represented by yellow dots) as you can before they come into contact with the zombies and transform into brain-hungry monsters. The more civilians you save, the higher your score—and the better chance you have to keep the undead at bay.
As you play, you earn more tools for your arsenal, including artillery, infantry, snipers, roadblocks, mines, and an orbiting cannon. You must take those zeds down, even if it means leveling the city.
In Terraria, you craft tools to chop trees and dig holes, gather materials to construct elaborate structures, and wield weapons to fight off monstrous hordes.
If you’re getting a Minecraft vibe, you aren’t far off—but wait, there’s more! Zombies, skeletons, and spiders are so last year. It’s time to fight off giant floating eyes, werewolves, and demented clowns—and that’s just the stuff you’ll find on the surface. Dig deeper to find what horrors truly exist.
Weapon selection is also different from Minecraft. With access to everything from bombs to spears to magic attacks, you could play for a year straight and still be surprised by what you can wield.
Hotline Miami is violent, bloody, and a damn good time. It may be hell on your patience, but it won’t be a problem for your PC.
The whole game plays like some gangster’s demented dream set in the mid-1980s. You’re never really sure where you are, what’s happening, and why you’re compelled to kill everyone, but you get to don a mask that gives you special abilities, run into hostile situations, and finish off anything that moves.
Be warned: With one-hit kills, you can expect to meet an untimely demise time and time again. Prepare to scream at your screen and buy new keyboards frequently (because you’ll be Hulk-smashing them often).
Being a spy for hire can be a messy business—and it’s twice as bad when you play a double agent. In Gunpoint, you get a Batman-style tool belt of fun gadgets to help you out.
Two competing weapon manufacturers are framing each other for murder. Both have hired you to break into various complexes to erase tapes, plant evidence, and be an all-around sneaky guy. You decide whom to help and what to say, and the story has plenty of branching paths that lead to different outcomes.
Collect more money by completing missions. Then go on a shopping spree for new gadgets and upgrades to jump higher, rewire buildings, and incapacitate guards with ease.
To the Moon
To the Moon is a beautiful, sad, and moving story of fulfilling a dying man’s last wish to visit the moon. A team of scientists virtually travel through the man’s past to discover why this desire is so important to him. When the scientists run into his now deceased wife, they begin to unravel a story of love, hardship, and sorrow.
The music, dialogue, and story create a memorable package that you’ll feel in your gut long after the game ends.
Diablo III requires a hefty machine, but the very similar RPG Torchlight II is your weak PC’s best friend.
Choose a class and delve into dungeons, caverns, and crypts to uncover the source of the paranormal happenings around town. Now you can get on with the usual stuff: Kill monsters, collect loot, and level up for more awesome abilities.
Just because Torchlight II scales well, that doesn't mean it compromises on the graphics front. It still looks great even at lower settings, thanks to its cartoony art.
Fez might not be demanding on your PC, but it is extremely demanding on your mind.
Take a trip through a world that seems two-dimensional until you don a magical fez that lets you spin the environment 90 degrees for a whole new perspective.
Suddenly, new areas appear just behind the scenery, ripe for exploration. Now all you need to do is collect fragments of the Hexahedron artifact that will restore the glitch-ridden world.
FTL: Faster Than Light
You don’t need a futuristic spaceship computer to captain one.
Take the helm in FTL: Faster Than Light, a roguelike (meaning random map generation and permanent death) game full of everything from distress signals to asteroid fields, with plenty of space pirates in between.
You’re on the run, jumping from galaxy to galaxy, with some vital information to defeat the daunting rebel fleet. Your decisions regarding the ship, your weapons, the crew, and upgrades will determine whether you arrive safely or end up blasted into space dust.
Simplicity isn’t Braid’s strong suit, unless you’re talking about the graphics. But that shouldn’t deter you from diving head-first into this brainteaser.
Time is both your enemy and weapon: It creates dastardly puzzles that hinder your progress, but it also keeps you alive in the face of danger. Bend it to your will to save the princess, who is trapped by the big, evil monster.
The game’s art, music, and puzzle-platforming are superb, and ideal whether you have a couple of minutes to spare or you’re looking for a long and enthralling session.
Super Meat Boy
Many sharp and dangerous obstacles face our tenderized hero as he jumps up walls, darts through swinging blades, and flies over massive gaps, leaving a trail of blood splatter the whole way.
Fans of old-school platform games (such as the classic Mario titles) will get a kick out of the split-second maneuvers and precision required to succeed. Push on through even if you stink: Deaths set you back only a fraction of a second, and you get to watch all your untimely demises play out at once when you finish. It’s quite a sight to behold.
Good Old Games
Once you run out of games to play on your crummy PC, dive deep into the gold mine of PC gaming history at GOG.com, a digital distributor of classic games.
GOG has an impressive collection of games at unbeatable prices. It focuses on classic games from the past two and a half decades that optimally run on modern machines and operating systems, and they’re completely DRM (digital rights management) free.
Because these games are old, they tend to be more forgiving on slower hardware, which is perfect for the gamer on a budget. Wait for a great sale and build a stockpile of classics for countless hours of fun.