There are some superb games available for Windows 8, but most of them aren’t free. So what do you do if you want some no budget gaming – and is it possible to top up your Gamerscore without paying for an Xbox Live title?
We previously looked at ten superb Windows 8 games that you shouldn’t miss. This time we’re going to take a look at eight titles in the Windows Store that are available free and waiting for you to install. These are all touch optimised games that won’t hurt your wallet. Some of them might even give your Gamerscore a boost…
The games selected below have been chosen based on the amount of free play you can get out of them – we’re not looking at trial or “lite” versions. Not all are 100% free – some might have in-app purchases or require a premium upgrade to unlock later levels, but on the whole these are some of the top free titles for Windows 8’s modern mode.
A remarkably good game for a free title, Six Guns is an Xbox Live title that offers single and multiplayer action. Starting off with a single player tutorial, it’s sort of an arcade version of Red Dead Redemption, with a selection of RPG style bonuses for you to collect between missions.
Your tasks in the game involve combating bandits, rescuing girls and generally being the classic stranger in town who is called upon to save the day. Your character, Buck Crosshaw, has a horse and a gun soon after the game begins, and completing missions generates credits and XP.
The style and depth of the game make it a surprising choice as a freebie, and achievements can be unlocked in single and online multiplayer mode.
Although not an Xbox Live title, Soulcraft should nevertheless be one of your first Windows 8 gaming downloads.
The game begins with the option to use the existing character or create a new one. Several character slots are available, but only two can be used with the basic game – you’ll need to upgrade to a Gold account (you create your account when the game launches for the first time) in order to remove adverts, gain extra slots and enjoy other bonus features in the game. Note that omitting to do this doesn’t impact your enjoyment of Soulcraft.
Missions yield bonuses and XP, enabling you to improve your weaponry and gain better attacking and defensive abilities. New weapons, outfits and other bonuses are available to purchase with in-game cash, as well as in-app upgrades. Bosses and hordes alike are impressive, and all require different strategies to defeat them – exactly what you would expect from a game of this type!
As polished as a desktop or console RPG, Soulcraft is a superb example of Windows 8 metro games.
This free Mahjong style game is fast and frenetic. It’s also singularly responsible for me losing hours of my life when I was supposed to be working (researching this article notwithstanding).
Supported by a small advert when your progress through the levels is brought to a halt, the idea is to match the symbols on the cubes to remove them from play before the clock runs down, eventually ending up with no cubes to complete the level. On the way there are bonuses for speed and special cube pairs that will award a time bonus, remove a random number of cubes from the current game and even turn them all into crystals for you to easily dispose of.
Various achievements are also available, such as Lighting Match and Time Tile Tiger, with each adding 15 to your Gamerscore.
Like Taptiles, I’ve spent far too much time playing Jetpack Joyride, both on Windows 8 and on Windows Phone 8 (although it is also available on Android and iOS).
The aim of the game is simple – wearing the top secret jetpack of the title, you must guide your character through the defences, avoiding lasers, missiles and electric zappers while collecting coins, tokens and vehicles to aid you in your escape. Although coins are important and spin tokens give you the chance to win bonuses (including an extra life or a head start on your next attempt), the real measure of success in Jetpack Joyride is distance – the further you go, the better your score.
Coins, meanwhile, can be spent on upgrades such as different jetpacks and vehicle improvements such as coin magnets that make collecting easier. Lots of fun, Jetpack Joyride is an Xbox Live game, with achievements such as Gold Digger (collecting 20 coins while dead) and Romeo Alpha Delta (reaching 5 km in distance within the game while flying) among those waiting to be unlocked for Gamerscore points.
Going back to games such as 720° in the old arcade cabinets and through the more recent skateboarding titles, I’ve been allergic to this sport in all its forms ever since I fell off a board in 1979.
Endless Skater has challenged my skateboarding perceptions, however. This seemingly simple game makes good use of a Windows 8 tablet’s gyroscope (or indeed an Xbox 360 controller, also supported) to enable you to perform increasingly complex stunts as your skateboarding dude travels through various urban courses.
There are bonuses to be unlocked in this game, although they do rely on you to be able to stay on your board for a reasonable length of time rather than crashing into steps/cars/bins/etc. Still, there is plenty in this game to engage even the worst skateboarder (that would be me) and the depth of play (new moves, two gaming modes and various items to collect) is considerable for a free title.
Ad supported and proad of it, Awesome Zombie Sniper is pretty much what you would expect from a game with such a title.
I’ll be honest- it can be frustrating, with survival rates very low when you first start. Several in-game achievements (not Xbox Live) can spur you on, however, and with a sniper rifle with zoom lens, health packs and ammo littered around the zombie-infested streets, you should soon get to grips with the gameplay and become familiar with the simple task: kill zombies before they kill you.
Here’s a hint for Windows 8 tablet owners – touch controls are very tough; unless you like a big challenge on a brand new game, fall back on the mouse and keyboard WASD control standard.
A fun shooter for a popular brand, LEGO Hero Factory Brain Attack is essentially a two player game that can be enjoyed in single player mode.
The aim is simple – clear the various in-game locations of enemy units, collecting bonus items as you go to upgrade and using them within the mission if things get a bit difficult.
While perhaps not the greatest game in this list, it has its own achievements for you to unlock as you progress and is definitely well regarded by fans of the LEGO Hero Factory brand.
If you’re looking for a basic shooter with good graphics and a hi-tech back story, this is the free game you’re looking for!
Let’s face it – zombie apocalypse or not, the undead are everywhere. It should come as no surprise, then, to find them twice in this list.
With Xbox Live integration, Samurai vs Zombies Defense is a left-right scrolling tower defense game in which your samurai defeats zombies with his narrow selection of moves. Most of your movement in the game is left and right as the samurai advances and retreats; he has an automatic attack whenever an enemy is in range. You don’t get to do much slicing except when the odds are uneven and the nuclear option of a 360° katana strike triggers. As you level up, later waves can be attempted with automated companions.
Various bonuses are available, along with in-app purchases (although the game is ad-supported) for currency that offer some advanced enhancements. Full of character thanks to the overall visual design and soundtrack, Samurai vs Zombies Defense is a fun, casual diversion with optional depth if you want something more demanding.
Whats Your Favourite Free Windows 8 Game?
Who would have thought 12 months ago that there would be this many great games for Windows 8 that you don’t have to pay for? It’s almost as if the doom-mongers were wrong…
Seriously though, this selection of games will give you some great gaming experiences, they might even enable you to improve your Xbox Live Gamerscore, and they don’t have to cost you anything. Not only that but they’re a great selling point for a dedicated Windows 8 device. If you’re looking for more “modern” games, please see our Best Of Windows 8 page for other suggestions.
Of course, we might have missed one. So what’s your favourite free Windows 8 game? Let us know in the comments!