The Best Free Steam Games From 2023


One person could never hope to experience every video game, even if they could play at breakneck pace while taking minimal pit stops. This assertion also applies to free computer games, if it was even possible to find every single one from every year that computers have existed.

One thing a person could do, though, is try a selection of free games from the past year on Steam, the PC digital storefront owned by Valve. It's me, I'm that person. Hello, hi.

Ever since I've had a computer and access to the internet, I've been motivated to acquire as many video games as possible for free. Piracy is cool and all, but what do you know about freeware, abandonware, open-source games and homebrew? Even obscure free-to-play MMORPG games with garbled English weren't beneath a younger version of me.

These days, I use my Steam Curator group as an excuse to keep tabs on new free game releases. Steam hides the full chronological list of their free games pretty well, instead opting for a more simplistic storefront layout when you click the "FREE GAMES" button on the main store page. If you're curious about what I believe to at least be a more comprehensive list, I'll link it here.

Using that resource as well as this helpful Mastodon page that chronicles new Steam releases as they happen, I was able to put together a list of my favorite free games on Steam from 2023. If you looked at how many free games were released on Steam this year, it should hopefully be obvious that I did not play all of them. I also have a particular bias and taste when it comes to video games, so here's a massive OPINION WARNING for those who might need it. That said, I'm hoping this turns out to be a well-rounded and pragmatic ranking that, if anything, gives people insight into some new games that they hadn't heard of before.

18. Hyperhell

What you see is what you get, and what you get is a tongue-in-cheek twin stick shooter with a grating aesthetic but some meat on the bones when it comes to gameplay. I did not personally fall in love with the game and I don’t think I would recommend it to the average gamer. However, I do still think there’s some merit to the experience despite the intentional crudeness. Combat is genuinely a frantic experience, you feel as immersed as you can be while sprinting past a JPEG of an office plant with no transparent background. A certain type of person would probably enjoy this more than me.

17. -256

If you thought walking simulators died out in the 2010s, I’ve got some bad news for you. While this genre qualifier may come off as derisive, a patient and open-minded player can find some nuggets of enjoyment within this type of game. -256 doesn’t waste time getting into the “action”, click a couple of things on the virtual laptop and you’re whisked away into a pixelized vaporwave universe. Your new life as a hotel worker has you setting restaurant tables, tidying up rooms and cleaning puddles of blood off the ground.

If this doesn’t sound very exciting, I get it. I think the main appeal of -256 is the visual style. Other aspects like the monotonous tasks and repetitive music will wear thin quickly, so it’s good that this one doesn’t overstay its welcome.

16. Rainbowcore Hypernova

A free one-on-one fighting game with a three button control scheme and overall chaotic design philosophy, what could possibly go wrong? I’ve played my fair share of fighting games, I’m no expert but I can spot a good one when I see it. Rainbowcore Hypernova does some things right, I have to give props for creative visual and sound presentation as well as a solid roster of characters that play to different strengths. You get a training mode with an acceptable amount of features, local vs. mode, arcade and online play.

I just feel like the simplistic controls and sluggish flow of combat keep it from being something worthwhile. Fights take longer than they should and the game doesn’t feel as snappy as others in its weight class. If you aren’t familiar with any of the other free fighting games on Steam, you’re probably better off trying something like Schwarzerblitz, Ultra Fight Da ! Kyanta 2 or even the completely bizarre Brief Karate Foolish. There's also another game further down the list that you might be interested in, too!

15. Trolley Delayma

Everyone’s favorite philosophical “thought experiment” got turned into a puzzle game, except instead of being forced to swear allegiance to deontology or utilitarianism, our hero sets out to find a magical third way of solving problems by leveraging their technocratic smarts in an attempt to save everyone. Heavy-handed sarcasm aside, this is a genuinely creative puzzle game with a unique concept. Most of the solutions in the early levels come down to “divert the cart to an endless loop”, but you’ll encounter some more intricate puzzles as the difficulty spikes about halfway through the 20 levels.

The gameplay reminds me of Pipe Dream from the old Windows Entertainment Pack, you’re in a race against the clock to piece together the most optimal pathway in order to stave off the oncoming threat. Check it out if you’re itching for a simple brain teaser that isn't exactly like what you’ve played before.

14. Blood Orange: Definitive Edition

Here’s a horror game about underwater exploration and photography that deals with themes of interpersonal relationships and the human psyche, all presented on the RPG Maker engine. Blood Orange was originally made for the Thalassophobia Game Jam in 2022. I’m not intimately familiar with game jams, but I can at least tell you that they are limited-time game development contests with specific criteria. Thalassophobia Game Jam, or rather, THALASSOPHOBIA GAME JAM as it is stylized, ranked its submissions in four categories. Blood Orange was #4 in writing among 14 possible entries, but didn’t place higher than 10th in any other category. As far as I can tell, it’s the only one of these games that made it to Steam.

If you’re curious, thalassophobia is the fear of vast, unimaginably deep bodies of water. I think Blood Orange does a good job of portraying this feeling given the format, though it’s not always the main focus. It has some of the best pixel art design that you’ll see on this list. It’s just a tad sluggish, especially at the beginning, and the payoff isn’t going to knock your socks off. If you’re curious about other games like it, I’ll link the full list of the THALASSOPHOBIA GAME JAM(!!!) participants here.

13. Dungeon Mage

I nearly missed out on this game. I'm glad I didn't publish this article without including it, there's not much else on here like it. It may appear to just be a generic hack & slash RPG with pixel art on first glance. While I can safely say that there's more than meets the eye, it may never truly break free from that stereotype for other players. Once you familiarize yourself with the game mechanics on offer, you'll quickly find out whether or not this is your type of game.

You'll be fighting monsters, breaking inanimate objects and collecting whatever loot you can scrounge up. Combat is very deliberate; you are rewarded for anticipating enemy actions and finding the right moment to strike, rather than blindly swinging away. You build up soul points through killing enemies and sacrificing collected items to open up more dangerous levels. Certain items you collect will let you fight against mini-bosses inside a room in the main hub area. This game isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I still appreciate the effort from this small developer to create a reasonably fun dungeon crawling experience for free. The community-driven philosophy is also a commendable decision. That type of design choice should help carry this game into the future, blossoming into something greater than what it currently has to offer.

12. Tiny Survivors

What are we supposed to call games that are like Vampire Survivors? Action Roguelites? Survival Roguelites? Roguelite autobattlers? Rogue survivor-likes with automated battles? The previously mentioned smash-hit indie success story from 2022 has spawned more copycats than you can count on two hands, including such games as Boneraiser Minions, Halls of Torment and Brotato, to name a few. Tiny Survivors is yet another game like this, but it’s the first one I’m familiar with that is completely free instead of merely dirt cheap.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, a Vampire Survivors-like is a game that has you control the movements of a character from a top-down perspective as they fight waves of enemies on their own. You upgrade their gear and traits between rounds and keep going until it’s too much to handle or, by some miracle, you reach the final stage. This one plays most similarly to Brotato, where you’re stuck in a confined space and you deploy weapons directionally around your character. I guess if three or five dollars is too much to spend on a game to see if you’ll like it, well, now we’ve got the perfect solution for that.


This is my pick for the best free horror game on Steam from 2023. TELEFORUM is a found footage-type of game based around a haunted VHS tape. It features multiple branching story paths with outcomes that are dictated by your dialogue choices. While there isn’t necessarily a wrong way to play the game, replay value is found in searching for the right combination of actions to unlock a “true” ending while hunting for all of the achievements. I thought the visual presentation, sound design and writing were all well done.

If I had any criticisms, I’d just say that the horror elements of this horror game left a bit to be desired funnily enough. The VHS component of the presentation adds to the experience in ways that other pretentious pieces of media that don’t understand VHS technology fail to capture. I just wish they would have leaned more heavily into the found footage video pieces to ramp up the horror. I unlocked about two-thirds of the achievements in under an hour, so this comes as an easy recommendation if you have a little bit of time to kill.

10. Hypersomnia

If you can get into top-down 2D shooters, you’ll find that this late entry into the 2023 freebie field has the core of a great online multiplayer game. A complex control scheme and diverse arsenal ensure a steep learning curve if you want to compete with the best, but it can also be fun to just wail around in a lobby with some friends of equal skill. The tutorial will get you started on learning to out-think opponents, but it’s up to you to actually develop those skills. I enjoy some of the intricacies like hiding your weapon to sneak through tight spaces, using angles to shoot or throw grenades around a corner and even using magic spells to throw opponents off-kilter.

The down side of Hypersomnia is that it doesn’t appear to have a robust player base, at least not yet as of writing this review. I wasn’t able to find a single-player or bot match mode either, so the experience can only go as far as other people are willing to take it. There’s massive potential here, I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see how it gets fleshed out in 2024 and beyond. It also gets major brownie points from me for being open source!

9. Franzen

We’ve been spoiled with 16-bit styled RPG releases over the past couple of years, with games like Sea of Stars and Chained Echoes receiving high praise from both gaming press and fans. Those games feature the kind of beautiful pixel art that many people appreciate from old-school JRPGs, but the actual gameplay systems were tweaked a bit to cater to a modern audience. If you’re looking for a faithful old-school JRPG adventure that respects your time and has its own visual flair, might I suggest Franzen?

Scumhead is also responsible for other free gems like the Shrine series and Lycanthorn II, with their gritty dark fantasy through-line extending to this RPG Maker project. This one draws some clear inspiration from Final Fantasy VI, but contains more mature themes and even less of a focus on grinding for experience. Don’t be put off by the RPG Maker tag, this is an intelligently made game that’s well worth your time if you still pine for the days of the Super Nintendo.

8. You Have 10 Seconds

Bite-sized platformer that’s perfect for short bursts and squeezes everything possible out of the concept. Ideal on the Steam Deck, I had lots of fun. Phew, got the review done just in time!

7. Duels of Fortune

If you're still searching for that new free fighting game on Steam to "get good" at, this might be your go-to choice. While still only in Early Access, Duels of Fortune already boasts an impressive amount of content for the lack of a price tag. It has almost every gamemode included in Rainbowcore Hypernova, with some bonuses like challenge modes, boss fights and even a full-fledged story mode that has not quite been released yet. Combat is much more responsive and satisfying than Rainbowcore Hypernova, Street Fighter fans will probably get a kick out of the quick fights and how easy it can be to pull off devastating moves.

I don't recognize any of the sixteen characters on the roster, they appear to be generic designs or maybe pulled from other indie projects that I'm not familiar with. There's a wealth of customization options, each character has multiple costumes and color variants. Something about the presentation still feels low-rent, but I can forgive this to a degree with it still being in Early Access. One thing I can't forgive is the lack of online play, a factor that may ultimately kill interest in an otherwise well-made game. It's also worth noting that there's no voice acting, making fights feel hollow or lacking in impact. Regardless, this should be one for fighting game fans to keep track of in 2024!

6. I Wanna Maker

Here’s a game that totally caught me off-guard. I’m not very well-acquainted with I Wanna Be The Guy: The Movie: The Game, an ultra difficult precision platformer that inspired countless fan game spin-offs. If you’re familiar with kaizo romhacks or more conventional games like Celeste, Super Meat Boy or N++, you probably know what to expect. You’re going to die, a lot, but you’ll learn a thing or two along the way. I had fun with Super Meat Boy as a teenager, but this genre has never really grabbed me otherwise. That said, I had a great time with I Wanna Maker, at least on the campaign levels that I’ve gotten through so far.

If it’s not already obvious from the title, this is the Mario Maker equivalent for the series where you can design your own custom levels and share them online. I’m not terribly interested in that part, but I have to admit that it’s cool to get a fully featured design suite in addition to several curated levels, all for free. This is very much worth your time if you have enough patience to enjoy this type of platformer. Only about one percent of players have even gotten past the second world according to the achievements, so hopefully some more people will be trying this out in 2024.

5. Watermelon Game

This is an unofficial version of the popular Suika Game, a sleeper hit on the Nintendo eShop that took two years to be localized into English. It’s a straightforward arcade-puzzle game that draws obvious comparisons to Puyo-Puyo and Tetris. Drop different kinds of fruit in an attempt to merge the same kinds together for points. Don’t let the board fill up, or you lose! If you manage to merge two watermelons, they will clear off the board granting you more space to work with. It sounds dead simple, but you’ll find that the board starts filling up before you even realize it’s happening. Like Tetris, you can usually point to one or two mistakes that kill a run as they happen, but at the same time there’s an unmistakable luck component based on which fruit comes up next.

Watermelon Game on Steam opts for a more simplistic hand-drawn look than the cartoony stylizing of the original. They recently tried to update the look and faced a backlash in the comments, so it has been walked back for now. In any case, it’s easy to see why this kind of game gained massive appeal and you shouldn’t pass this version up if you’re curious about it! It’s probably the best game on this list to just mute the audio and play your own music, listen to a podcast or operate heavy machinery.


If you feel like mainstream FPS games have grown stagnant and you get some enjoyment out of the ever growing “boomer-shooter” genre (I still kind of despise that term), I’d recommend that you spend an hour or two on FISHGUN. The closest comparison I can find for how it handles is the very popular game ULTRAKILL, but suffice to say that this game goes even further off the rails into absurdity during its short runtime. Your character zips around the map with dashing and jump maneuvers, laying waste to scores of spawned enemies while pillaging their remains for movement and weapon modifiers. Oh yeah, and your weapon is a talking fish.

The opening level acts as a solid tutorial and you’ll pick up a couple more mechanics along the way in subsequent levels. Most levels culminate in a challenging boss fight that will test your skills that have built up from dealing with previous areas. One of your augmentations gets shuffled when you die, ensuring that you most likely won’t stick with an overpowered build for the entire game. FISHGUN also comes with a survival mode if you just want some endless horde shooting to chill out with. This was one of the more memorable gameplay experiences for me in 2023, even outside of just free games. I just wish that it was a tad longer.

3. Handshakes

Simplistic puzzle games were among my first obsessions as a child. I loved Chip’s Challenge on Windows 95, even though I was terrible at it (and still am, for the most part). I always thought the block pushing cave puzzles in Pokémon went underused as the series matured. This is all to say I’m delighted to see that new ways of presenting this old format are still being discovered in the 2020s, we have a prime example here in Handshakes.

Use two different hands to push blocks around the playfield, find the optimal way for them to get together and shake. Simple, fun, wholesome. The challenge ramps up in a steady and logical manner, I never hit a wall that made me want to ragequit. There’s a certain charm to the overall presentation; whatever “it” is, this game has it. 30 levels is plenty of content for a free puzzle game like this, but if you want more, keep an eye out for the upcoming sequel Handshakes: Hands On. Sometimes, less is more!

2. Moonring

2023 was the year that I finally gained an appreciation for roguelikes, at least the traditional hardcore kind. What is a roguelike? Some people would tell you it’s any game that features procedural generation and a permanent-death system. Old-school fans would balk at this idea, claiming it also needs turn-based movement on a grid to be considered a true game like Rogue, the 1980 dungeon crawling adventure responsible for this interminable debate.

Does Moonring count as a roguelike? Despite the lack of procedural generation I’d say close enough, but I’m bracing for impact as I type out these words. It is, undoubtedly, a great old school RPG and love letter to the Ultima series from Dene Carter, a creative mind behind the Fable series. It features a colorful art style, deep backstory and well thought-out systems that come together to create one of the best experiences of its kind from the 2020s. This kind of game should cost money, but it doesn’t, so you should reward the creator for this practice and give it some of your time.

1. Juice Galaxy

Here is the free Steam game released in 2023 that I had the most fun with. It checked all of the boxes for me: memorable and distinct visual style, fun exploration in an unpredictable surreal atmosphere, creative combat and movement systems, imaginative writing, no tedium. If you are the type of player who wants to feel like an overpowered god after putting some time in, look no further. You will start out waddling around whacking stuff with a weak melee weapon, but before long you’ll have enough jump power to leap between planets.

It’s a pretty short adventure as it stands, it only took me about two and a half hours to get all of the achievements. As far as I can tell, this was only one of a couple of Early Access games that I looked at for this list. This implies that there’s more content on the way, and I’d certainly hope so. This is an incredible base for a video game that deserves to skyrocket in popularity when it gets finished. These kinds of experiences are what the medium of video games should be about. While others fetishize the increasingly accurate simulations of real life in a virtual space, I will remain content to sail off into the depths of human imagination beyond this confinement.

Other Notable Free Games


This is a beautiful game about creativity and socializing buried beneath an arcane menu system and head-scratching control scheme, at least on the non-VR desktop version. I typically love games like this, but Resonite just didn’t click for me in my short time with it. I’ve poured over 1,000 hours into Tower Unite, a similar open-ended sandbox game with building and social elements. I enjoy the intuitive presentation of the “condo” system in that game; it’s easy to pick up but with some out-of-the-box thinking, you can put together truly stunning builds. Resonite seems like it has the potential for even greater heights creative-wise, but unfortunately the on-boarding experience is hostile if you’re trying to learn on your own. Even something as simple as changing how the character looks made me feel like an out of touch old person. I’d still recommend that people check this one out. Someone with different sensibilities, more patience and a VR headset will probably enjoy it!

Counter-Strike 2

Five years after Counter-Strike: Global Offensive moved to a free to play model, Valve made the perplexing decision to replace it with Counter-Strike 2 in September 2023. Of course, this isn’t actually the second Counter-Strike game, both Counter Strike: Source and Condition Zero released between the original and Global Offensive. So what exactly do we get in this revamped re-release? Counter-Strike 2 takes advantage of the Source 2 Engine and all of the benefits that come with it, shipping with some remastered maps and minor gameplay tweaks. I’ve never been particularly good at any version of Counter-Strike so I’m not qualified to give an opinion about the updated features. I do, however, find the preservation aspect of this release to be on the frustrating side of things. You can still access the old Counter-Strike Global Offensive community servers using a Steam beta version, but for how long? What purpose was there in replacing the old version to begin with?

The Finals

As far as free-to-play online PvP FPS cash shop games go, I guess you could do worse. This late release in 2023 has gained a lot of traction with nearly 100,000 reviews on the Steam store at the moment I'm writing this. I can understand the appeal and I might be able to gain a better appreciation of it if I spent more time grinding out matches, but I just can't see myself getting much enjoyment out of these types of games anymore. If you like The Finals, great, I’m happy for you. I see it as yet another stepping stone away from what used to make online multiplayer video games instantly recognizable, novel experiences. It does barely enough to distinguish itself from other games of this ilk. The destructible environments are a nice touch, but what else would you point to as a “defining” feature of The Finals? I’m left puzzled about what makes this worth investing time in over other games like, say, Valorant, Apex Legends, Call of Duty Warzone, etc other than the simple fact that it’s the latest and greatest thing. Bleh.

One-armed robber

Here comes another party pooper review about a new multiplayer game that a lot of people seem to like. I don’t know, it’s not that I hate this game, it’s just that there’s barely a game at all to hate. This is essentially a low quality bootleg version of PAYDAY that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You and possibly a team of other thieves infiltrate a building to steal what’s inside while either not alerting security or staying alive against swarms of cops. I legitimately thought that my sound was muted when I booted this up, continuing all the way up until I had gotten into a game and shot my first bullet at an NPC security guard. Those NPCs have totally braindead AI, so the developers decided to counterbalance this by spamming them at you to artificially increase the difficulty. The one-arm gimmick forces you to switch off your weapon to pick stuff up or do whatever it is that you do with an arm. In practice, this is just annoying and adds nothing thematically to the experience. This might be good for a laugh with some Discord buddies, but otherwise I’d recommend steering clear.

The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog

Here’s a confession: I’m not very familiar with the visual novel genre. I do know that it gets a bad rap from certain video game players, and probably deserves at least some of that criticism. Despite this, I’m sure there are worthwhile visual novels out there that aren’t just an excuse to lust after cartoon characters. I commend SEGA for taking the Sonic franchise in a bold new direction. They certainly haven’t shied away from that in the past, for better or worse. It’s also cool that this was released for free; they could have charged a few dollars for it and it would’ve been popular, but this move ensured that there would be a diverse conversation about the game while organically growing a new sect of fans.

Pineapple on pizza

I feel obligated to mention this game because it amassed over 20,000 reviews during 2023 and currently sits at an Overwhelmingly Positive rating. Steam250 rates it as the 96th best Steam game of all time at the moment that I am writing this. I must be taking crazy pills, because I hated this game. I did not understand it, I wasted 0.1 hours of my life trying to understand it. Yes, I made it to the end. The grand twist that everybody raves about straddled the line between lame and offensive. Dark humor is not an excuse for bad humor. Yes, I understand that they were trying to convey the concept of a flavor, or at least the distaste of it, through a video game. No, I do not think it was executed well. I don’t even like pineapple as a pizza topping, so I should be on their side! If there's some kind of greater internet-culture context required to “get it”, I don’t have it. Am I so out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.


I did not have much fun playing this one. I think it just comes down to not liking excessive platforming in first person video games. I loved the DOOM reboot from 2016, but the sequel DOOM Eternal was an instant turn off for how much Tomb Raider-style jumping was required to proceed. Grimhook looks like a well made game, it sounds like a well made game, but the actual gameplay experience felt like a house of horrors. I only made it about halfway through this 30 minute glorified tech demo before I had to put it down in frustration. I usually have a high tolerance for repeating sections in games, but I ran into one too many of these moments in a short amount of time to continue on, which is kind of sad. I guess my brain just won’t let me get into this specific kind of game for whatever reason. I’d recommend trying it out for yourself, you might like it more.

Arkanoid - Eternal Battle: F2P Battle Royale Edition

This one takes the cake for most verbose title among 2023’s free Steam games that were on my radar. As should be self-explanatory, this is a free spin-off of the commercial Arkanoid - Eternal Battle that only comes with the battle royale game mode. You might not think of 2D arcade games when you hear the term battle royale, but the concept has been tried in other places with some success, such as Tetris 99 on the Nintendo Switch. Your goal here is to get the highest Arkanoid score as quickly as possible to stay alive in a field of 25 players. AI opponents ensure that you’ll always be able to get into a game even if the popularity dies down, or never takes off to begin with. I found the ancillary visual elements to be pretty distracting during gameplay and the top-4 player boss fight mode killed any momentum that may have been building for my potential enjoyment. I have to imagine that there are better ways to get a block breaker fix, both free and premium, but this is certainly one of the block breakers of all time.

Eukarion Tales: Origins

This action RPG received a decent amount of positive feedback on the Steam Store, enough to pique my interest when I found out about it. There isn’t a ton of substantive and unbiased information about this game in English, it appears to be an old Flash game created by an Italian studio that was subsequently re-released on Steam in August 2023. I can give it some slack for being a genuine retro game and I love to see games like this getting a new lease on life. Unfortunately, Eukarion Tales: Origins is held back by imprecise mouse controls and unprofessionally translated text. You might enjoy the short adventure if you can forgive a certain level of jank. I found myself wanting to switch over to Diablo II pretty quickly into the experience.

Also Check Out





Dream Team Basketball

Grapple Tournament (VR Only)


Life Eternal

Phantasy Series Reference Opus

Project Adder

Raw Nerve


Methodology and Reasoning

One great aspect of Steam that makes life a little easier is the integrated review system; it helps me get a quick impression for a game while shopping around on the store. I basically ignored anything with a red thumbs down in my searches throughout the year.

If you disagree with this way of doing things, I challenge you to find an actual good game among the pile of negatively reviewed freebies, never mind something better than what I picked. I'm of the opinion that a free game would have to be either low quality or exploitative to motivate large numbers of people to complain about it, though I'm willing to be wrong.

I also made a conscious decision to ignore school-published games released on Steam. It may seem unfair, but unfortunately it's difficult for me to take a clearly labeled student project seriously as an experience that stands on its own. It just seems too similar to an unfinished game jam project or conceptual demo to be worth consideration, knowing that prospective developer likely just sees it as a learning experience. Again, I’m willing to be challenged about this belief.

Lastly, I should mention that certain developers try to sneak demo versions of their commercial games into the freebie list as a ploy to grab attention. I don't necessarily begrudge them for doing this, but I did choose to ignore the more obvious examples for the list.

If you want to discuss this article or free Steam games in general, follow me on Mastodon or Bluesky!