21 votes

What are some good ultra-low-spec computer games?

So my TV is broken (so no Xbox) and my laptop is a potato. Well, not a total potato, it has an i54210 1.7ghz CPU with integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics. It's a Linux machine, but since Proton I fully expect to be able to play many low spec games.

I'm looking into some low spec games. I got Papers Please and liked it a lot. For something meatier I was thinking Baldurs Gate Enhanced, but I fear that I might have a hard time with the outdated mechanics. I had a hard with the original Fallout for that reason... I loved it back in the day, but it was just too clunky for my current tastes.

44 comments

  1. [3]
    scissortail
    Link
    Ultra low spec, you say? I've enjoyed what little I've played of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and hear Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is damn good. If you're a fiend for complexity there's always Dwarf...

    Ultra low spec, you say?

    I've enjoyed what little I've played of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and hear Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is damn good.

    If you're a fiend for complexity there's always Dwarf Fortress.

    And for something a bit less ASCII, I really enjoyed playing VVVVVV.

    11 votes
    1. Krash
      Link Parent
      Roguelikes in general is fantastic for low-spec computers. Brogue is very good entry-level roguelike! Another hidden gem is Warsim: The Realm of Aslona (5€ on Steam). Think of it as a text-based...

      Roguelikes in general is fantastic for low-spec computers. Brogue is very good entry-level roguelike!

      Another hidden gem is Warsim: The Realm of Aslona (5€ on Steam). Think of it as a text-based city/empire management.

      5 votes
    2. Chobbes
      Link Parent
      Also nethack! Nethack is great and free!

      Also nethack! Nethack is great and free!

      4 votes
  2. [3]
    kfwyre
    Link
    Dicey Dungeons and FTL should run on just about anything. They’re also both excellent. For something a little different, check out OpenTyrian. It’s a source port that lets you play the cult...

    Dicey Dungeons and FTL should run on just about anything. They’re also both excellent.

    For something a little different, check out OpenTyrian. It’s a source port that lets you play the cult classic scrolling shooter Tyrian. It was a game that was ahead of its time and has still held up well. I go back and replay it every couple of years.

    10 votes
    1. WhyCause
      Link Parent
      I'd just like to second the motion for FTL. I bought it the day it came out (in 2012), and I still play it almost every day.

      I'd just like to second the motion for FTL.

      I bought it the day it came out (in 2012), and I still play it almost every day.

      5 votes
    2. lou
      Link Parent
      I played this game before, but I never gave it the attention it deserves. It is on my list!

      FTL

      I played this game before, but I never gave it the attention it deserves. It is on my list!

      5 votes
  3. [7]
    knocklessmonster
    Link
    Rollercoaster Tycoon is a great one to revisit, and OpenRCT2 extends it without making things difficult to use. Factorio is CPU heavy, rather than graphics heavy, and optimized to shit so it won't...

    Rollercoaster Tycoon is a great one to revisit, and OpenRCT2 extends it without making things difficult to use.

    Factorio is CPU heavy, rather than graphics heavy, and optimized to shit so it won't kill your computer.

    I'm not far, but I've found Fallout on Steam to run pretty well, somehow better than the GOG version. It's even better via Proton, as Wine seems to be better with old software than even Windows.

    Celeste as well.

    Depending on your distro you can also get recent versions of many open source games, or even via Flatpak like 0AD, Red Alert, Warzone 2100, Doom (the base wads are easy to find if you don't want to pay, or just FreeDoom), Heretic, Hexen, Quake, Duke Nuk'em, etc are all available via flatpak and either for sale from your marketplace of choice (usually) or with ISOs available on Archive.org. If RTSes are your thing beyond Warzone 2100, there's also OpenRA which provides support for Red Alert, Tiberian Dawn, and Dune 2000, as well as setting up the files for you to play these games.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      autumn
      Link Parent
      Warning: Factorio is a huge, lovely time sink. My partner and I played co-op at the beginning of the pandemic and sank a good 100 hours into it. I did nothing else during my free time, haha.

      Warning: Factorio is a huge, lovely time sink. My partner and I played co-op at the beginning of the pandemic and sank a good 100 hours into it. I did nothing else during my free time, haha.

      6 votes
      1. knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        Definitely. When it gets me, I'm stuck playing for hours.

        Definitely. When it gets me, I'm stuck playing for hours.

        4 votes
      2. [2]
        lou
        Link Parent
        The game is running quite well so far! I feel that it needs more dedication than I was willing to have, but it's certainly something I could lose myself in!

        The game is running quite well so far! I feel that it needs more dedication than I was willing to have, but it's certainly something I could lose myself in!

        2 votes
        1. spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          if you get stuck, /r/factorio is the most welcoming & noob-friendly video game community I've ever seen.

          if you get stuck, /r/factorio is the most welcoming & noob-friendly video game community I've ever seen.

          1 vote
      3. lou
        Link Parent
        I looked it up. Seems like a game for engineers? :P

        I looked it up. Seems like a game for engineers? :P

        1 vote
    2. admicos
      Link Parent
      Also OpenTTD

      Rollercoaster Tycoon is a great one to revisit, and OpenRCT2 extends it without making things difficult to use.

      Also OpenTTD

      5 votes
  4. Bonooru
    Link
    Celeste is the best platformer I've ever played. Fantastic level design, tight mechanics, phenomenal music, great story (and it looks like there's a native linux version).

    Celeste is the best platformer I've ever played. Fantastic level design, tight mechanics, phenomenal music, great story (and it looks like there's a native linux version).

    7 votes
  5. [7]
    Adys
    Link
    Stardew Valley :) Also, this: https://www.decisionproblem.com/paperclips/index2.html
    6 votes
    1. [2]
      lou
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Got it! I like the chill vibe, but it seems it can get quite complex as well. Reserved for when I'm feeling mellow ;)

      Stardew Valley :)

      Got it! I like the chill vibe, but it seems it can get quite complex as well. Reserved for when I'm feeling mellow ;)

      1 vote
      1. Grendel
        Link Parent
        I've got to throw in my voice to Universal paperclips. It sounds odd but it's an awesome game that is really fun. I don't know if you could really say that it has a "story" strictly speaking, but...

        I've got to throw in my voice to Universal paperclips. It sounds odd but it's an awesome game that is really fun.

        I don't know if you could really say that it has a "story" strictly speaking, but it does have a direction that's interesting and thought provoking.

        It takes under 3 (possibly 2) hours to play and is worth it :)

        3 votes
    2. [4]
      lou
      Link Parent
      You know, one thing I don't like about games like Minecraft or Stardew Valley is that lots of things require visits to a wiki to figure out. I rarely enjoy games that require me to "study". But I...

      You know, one thing I don't like about games like Minecraft or Stardew Valley is that lots of things require visits to a wiki to figure out. I rarely enjoy games that require me to "study". But I do wish to enjoy them.

      1 vote
      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Minecraft doesn't really require visiting the wiki anymore, since it has a pretty comprehensive recipe guide in crafting menu now.

        Minecraft doesn't really require visiting the wiki anymore, since it has a pretty comprehensive recipe guide in crafting menu now.

        5 votes
      2. [2]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        You could play with a friend that already knows everything.

        You could play with a friend that already knows everything.

        3 votes
        1. lou
          Link Parent
          Oh it's so nice of you to think I have friends :P But yeah, I do, but they don't play these kinds of games :P

          Oh it's so nice of you to think I have friends :P

          But yeah, I do, but they don't play these kinds of games :P

          1 vote
  6. [4]
    vord
    Link
    While I can't speak to how well they all work on Linux, here are some titles that should play well, hardware wise, that I love: Most of the Source/Source 2 titles (Portal 1/2, Halflife 2, Left 4...

    While I can't speak to how well they all work on Linux, here are some titles that should play well, hardware wise, that I love:

    • Most of the Source/Source 2 titles (Portal 1/2, Halflife 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Counterstrike)
    • Dorf Romantik (very chill game)
    • FAR: Lone Sails
    • Atom Zombie Smasher
    • Bastion
    • Raptor: Call of the Shadows
    • Freelancer (and the most popular mod: Discovery
    • Age of Empires II
    • Don't Starve
    • Minetest
    6 votes
    1. [3]
      Eidolon
      Link Parent
      Do you play Discovery?

      Do you play Discovery?

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        vord
        Link Parent
        I did for some time, but not currently no.

        I did for some time, but not currently no.

        2 votes
        1. Eidolon
          Link Parent
          I haven't played Discovery in a very long time, was just curious how it was doing.

          I haven't played Discovery in a very long time, was just curious how it was doing.

          2 votes
  7. skybrian
    Link
    It’s doesn’t take that long to learn to beat it, but Compact Conflict is a Risk-like game that I like because you can play a game in a few minutes.

    It’s doesn’t take that long to learn to beat it, but Compact Conflict is a Risk-like game that I like because you can play a game in a few minutes.

    5 votes
  8. [4]
    lou
    (edited )
    Link
    So here's what I thought of some of the games suggested here: Stardew Valley and Factorio are wiki games. They seem like great games and I appreciate the suggestion, but I have limited brain space...

    So here's what I thought of some of the games suggested here:

    • Stardew Valley and Factorio are wiki games. They seem like great games and I appreciate the suggestion, but I have limited brain space right now for things that will make me study. The only heavy" game I for some reason have the energy to play (when I'm able to use the Xbox) is Path of Exile. Sorry, guys :(
    • Celeste: lovely game. Didn't play much, but will play it again for sure.
    • Rimworld: didn't actually play it yet, sorry @drannex :(. But it does look like a fascinating wiki game. That doesn't mean I won't play it, but it requires a certain brain energy I'm lacking as of now.
    • FTL: love that game. Even more so being such a big fan of Star Trek and space opera in general. You can play it like a wiki game, but the quick rounds make it easy to learn the ropes. I do wish it had more of a story, but that's okay. Of all the games suggested, this is the one I'm most likely to remain playing for a very long time.

    I also tried some other games:

    • Papers, Please: I already knew that game very well, and it ran perfectly from Steam. It must be hard making bureaucracy entertaining, but this game does it remarkably well! It also could run on a potato.
    • Age of Empires 3: the original one, not the more recent remastered version. This game aged incredibly well, even the graphics look nice and sharp still. The one thing I don't like so much is how much of the screen is occupied by the "toolbar" at all times. The UI is very dated.
    • Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition: awesome story and ambiance, but I'm not old enough to know the ins and outs of the intense D&D turn-based combat. Everything was going well until my party of four was repeatedly killed by a wolf, old-school style. I'm not sure I even wanna learn how to be good at this game. Not saying it's bad, but maybe I'm not the target audience.
    • Starcraft 2: I'm positive this 2010 game could run well in the lowest setting on my machine, but there's absolutely no way to play it without going through Battle.net, the epitome of bloated software. So it is basically a slideshow.
    • Starcraft 1: not the remaster. It's free and runs perfectly fine, but loading the monstrosity that is Battle.net on Linux just to get to a lightweight 1998 game is atrocious... maybe that's because the game is free, but I couldn't find the old Battle.net-free version on alternative sources ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    By the way, I'm using bottles to create and manage the wineprefixes, and lutris to launch the games. I had to learn a thing or two, but right now it is working like a charm. Thanks, @knocklessmonster!

    4 votes
    1. drannex
      Link Parent
      Thanks for the list! I'll have to check out FTL! Really hoping you fall in love with Rimworld eventually!

      Thanks for the list! I'll have to check out FTL!

      Really hoping you fall in love with Rimworld eventually!

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      knocklessmonster
      Link Parent
      For Starcraft you could try to get Stargus working. I've never played on this engine, but Stargus is a plugin that imports Starcraft to the Wargus RTS engine.

      For Starcraft you could try to get Stargus working. I've never played on this engine, but Stargus is a plugin that imports Starcraft to the Wargus RTS engine.

      2 votes
  9. [4]
    drannex
    Link
    I'm sure Rimworld would run pretty well on that. Warning the game is dangerously addictive. I have to fully uninstall it every time I finish playing so that I don't spend months hyperfocusd on it....

    I'm sure Rimworld would run pretty well on that. Warning the game is dangerously addictive. I have to fully uninstall it every time I finish playing so that I don't spend months hyperfocusd on it.

    I ran it on a low-end now 12+ year old X220 years ago so I would imagine it would still run well on yours.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      lou
      Link Parent
      Rimworld is having some issues with Linux, but I had a look and seems really great!

      Rimworld is having some issues with Linux, but I had a look and seems really great!

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        drannex
        Link Parent
        Strange I have had no problems running on Linux throughout the years. Seems to run the same on Linux and Windows from what I could tell (I can't remember if I ran it through Proton/WINE at any...

        Strange I have had no problems running on Linux throughout the years. Seems to run the same on Linux and Windows from what I could tell (I can't remember if I ran it through Proton/WINE at any time either).

        4 votes
        1. lou
          Link Parent
          There was an issue with the font used in the UI. It's resolved now.

          There was an issue with the font used in the UI. It's resolved now.

          1 vote
  10. [2]
    Bearskin
    Link
    I imagine that would handle The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and there's a number of ways to get it running on Linux. Easy to throw 100+ hours into it if you can overlook the dated graphics.

    I imagine that would handle The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and there's a number of ways to get it running on Linux. Easy to throw 100+ hours into it if you can overlook the dated graphics.

    3 votes
    1. knocklessmonster
      Link Parent
      I'll throw my hat in here and say OpenMW may be the best Linux experience, but there's also an argument that it's a different game because of the changes and improvements. I've been playing OpenMW...

      I'll throw my hat in here and say OpenMW may be the best Linux experience, but there's also an argument that it's a different game because of the changes and improvements. I've been playing OpenMW since 0.46, and currently run 0.48's RC, and haven't noticed anything huge except for a spawn bug that was fixed in 0.48.

      Also, same year, you can get Arx Fatalis, and the FOSS Arx Libertalis engine.

      4 votes
  11. Luna
    Link
    If you like Super Monkey Ball-style games, Neverball (and its golf-themed spinoff, Neverputt) runs great on older systems. Popcap games (Bejeweled, Plants vs Zombies, etc.) are also great picks,...

    If you like Super Monkey Ball-style games, Neverball (and its golf-themed spinoff, Neverputt) runs great on older systems. Popcap games (Bejeweled, Plants vs Zombies, etc.) are also great picks, and as others have said, Source-engine titles (Half-Life, Portal, etc.) are very well optimized for older hardware.

    Source: Ran all of these on my old i5-3210M (Intel HD 4000 iGPU) laptop from 2012-2016 on Ubuntu (back when you had to run Steam under Wine).

    3 votes
  12. Pistos
    Link
    Some free/FLOSS games: Battle for Wesnoth 0 A.D. TuxKart / SuperTux Kart Minetest roguelikes (in console/terminal) browser-based games, esp. old games (from the 90s, 2000s)

    Some free/FLOSS games:

    • Battle for Wesnoth
    • 0 A.D.
    • TuxKart / SuperTux Kart
    • Minetest
    • roguelikes (in console/terminal)
    • browser-based games, esp. old games (from the 90s, 2000s)
    3 votes
  13. [5]
    lou
    (edited )
    Link
    Somewhat tangential question, since I believe I still have both WoW and Starcraft 2 on CD, among others: if I get a Windows game from a source other than Steam, is it possible for me to add such a...

    Somewhat tangential question, since I believe I still have both WoW and Starcraft 2 on CD, among others: if I get a Windows game from a source other than Steam, is it possible for me to add such a game to Steam and play it on Linux using Proton?

    2 votes
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      I will toss out there that Lutris is probably a better path to running non-steam Windows games on a laptop/desktop. Their scripts iron can out a lot of problems that even Proton can have.

      I will toss out there that Lutris is probably a better path to running non-steam Windows games on a laptop/desktop. Their scripts iron can out a lot of problems that even Proton can have.

      4 votes
    2. [2]
      knocklessmonster
      Link Parent
      proton-caller that'll do it. You can also use something like Bottles which only officially supports being installed via Flatpak, but works by configuring wine environments.

      proton-caller that'll do it.

      You can also use something like Bottles which only officially supports being installed via Flatpak, but works by configuring wine environments.

      3 votes
      1. lou
        Link Parent
        I'm now using bottle to install the games and Lutris to launch them. It's nice!

        I'm now using bottle to install the games and Lutris to launch them. It's nice!

        1 vote
    3. babypuncher
      Link Parent
      Yes, just add it like you would any other non-Steam game. Then make sure to tick the box that forces the use of a compatibility layer and choose the version of proton you want.

      Yes, just add it like you would any other non-Steam game. Then make sure to tick the box that forces the use of a compatibility layer and choose the version of proton you want.

      2 votes
  14. Uni_rule
    Link
    If I goes on sale I could not recommend the Valve Complete Pack enough. I would also recommend Duck Game.

    If I goes on sale I could not recommend the Valve Complete Pack enough.
    I would also recommend Duck Game.

    2 votes