FOSS Games are actually pretty good!

Mon 04 December 2023

There's a lot of talk about gaming in Linux these days, and that's exciting, because it's drawing attention to Linux's capabilities. While the games being spoken of are mostly proprietary (and pretty awful, from a software-freedom perspective), it's good to see people getting interested in Linux, even when for only pragmatic reasons.

But beyond the attention-grabbing AAA titles, there are many FOSS games worth checking out.
Admittedly, I am not much of a gamer, and never have been. I'm hoping to draw attention to the possibilities of FOSS gaming, but what will follow is hardly exhaustive. But I have tried to gather the names a few FOSS games on Android I've enjoyed burning time with, and a few desktop games I've heard of or played with occasionally that are worthy of more attention from the gaming community:

First, let's take a look at Android:


This game really surprised me. The graphics are very slick and polished. It looks like it belongs on the formal Play Store (along with scads of hideously annoying ads). But there's none of that here. Just a simple and elegant 3D game with really great graphics and straightforward gameplay.


This Alto clone ate through way too much time until I deleted it from my phone. It's a simple 2d side-scrolling ski jump game, and tapping the screen is the only control (to jump). Like so many games today, this is pretty easy, and easy to "veg out" to, but unlike proprietary games on the Play Store, it's not there to push ads into your eyeballs.

Anuto TD

This is a take on the common "Tower Defense" genre of mobile games. It has a hand-drawn style, and all of the sound effects are recordings of someone's voice (cute idea, but I usually turn that off after a while ;)
This game has also eaten through a lot of my free time, as it starts off pretty easy, but the difficulty ramps up in surprising waves.


What is there to say? Almost everyone has played 2048 at some point. This is one of several implementations on F-Droid


A 3D minesweeper clone. What it lacks in stunning graphics, it makes up for in forces-you-to-think. While the visual presentation isn't 3d, it is set up as a 3d minesweeper (two levels deep). Once you learn the mechanics, it's not any harder than 2d minesweeper, but it's fun to learn.

Super Retro Mega Wars

This is isn't a single game, but several retro games in a kind of emulator. Not my favorite genre, but worth trying out.

Honorable mentions:

These are games I haven't personally played, or haven't played much, but look pretty cool:

Desktop FOSS games:


At first brush, this looks like one of many clones of that big mining game originally made in Sweden but purchased by a big company in the Pacific Northwest. While it can definitely be played that way, Minetest is incredibly extensible, and functions as a kind of game engine for many types of voxel games (some of them being very close clones of that big-name mining game.


A cross-platform re-implementation of a 2009 version of that well-known cubic mining game. I haven't played this yet, but it looks intriguing, and has garnered some interest from some mid-tier (*cringe* for even saying that) YouTubers from what I can tell. Also has an accompanying FOSS server.


The Meme, the Myth, the Legend. The original. Made you feel good about spending hours getting Linux working on your PC in 2000


A ${surprisingly_agile_portly_italian_plumber}-Kart clone


The only thing I can say for certain is that this game seems to have a pretty passionate following. I have not tried it yet.

Endless Sky

This one comes highly recommended by a FediFriend (see the thread linked above), who said it's addictive. :)


A modern clone of the original space battle & trading game. Very enjoyable, if you're into that genre.


The Game That Time Forgot. The original internet-multiplayer video game. If you were alive in 1992, you wished you had a Sun Workstation at home so you could play this game all the time. Seriously lacking a modern unix client, the best client "COW" is an old-fashioned X11 program and is a bit flickery on modern computers. I've found it sometimes helps to run it through cpulimit to slow it down.

Note: This article has a Part II !

Category: Tech Tagged: Computing FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) Linux Non-religious post UNIX