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The best games for laptops

A person gaming on the new Acer Nitro 16 gaming laptop placed on a desk.
Acer

Gaming on your laptop didn’t used to be a serious option outside of very simple games. Newer laptops have a lot more power inside for gaming, but can’t quite keep up with the latest and greatest of games on PC and consoles. Plus, you typically are restricted to a keyboard and touchpad that makes more intensive games uncomfortable or too difficult to enjoy. Since you won’t always have access to a separate mouse or standard controller, you might need some games that still play great on your laptop without needing any accessories.

These are the best games you can either play with nothing but the keyboard or minimal mouse use to avoid any hand cramps.

Balatro

Balatro
84%
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Strategy, Indie, Card & Board Game
Developer
LocalThunk
Publisher
Playstack
Release
February 20, 2024
We’re still helplessly obsessed with Balatro, and that’s in no small part due to how easy it is to play on every platform it’s on. Laptops in particular make taking this hit poker roguelike anywhere for a few hands. The basic idea is to make traditional poker hands — pairs, straights, flushes, etc. — which are then given chip values and multipliers. You need to earn a set number of chips to beat each round in a given number of hands to move on and earn money to buy Jokers. Jokers are what add the roguelike elements by altering the value of different cards or hands to change what type of hands you want to go for. It’s turn-based, round-based, and easy to pick up and play. Just try not to let it consume you too much.
Balatro - Official Launch Trailer

Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors
80%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Adventure, Indie, Arcade
Developer
Poncle
Publisher
Poncle
Release
December 17, 2021

Despite looking like a mobile ripoff of Castlevania, Vampire Survivors ended up being one of our favorite games of 2021. Since then, this cheap and content-packed game has only gotten larger and more engrossing. The best part is, of course, how easy it is to control. Every character has their own unique ability and attacks, plus you pick up a range of tools as you play, and yet you never need more than one hand on the keyboard to move your character around thanks to the auto-attack nature of the game. All you need to worry about is positioning and collecting all those gems and items to power yourself up. Even when the game gets completely flooded with enemies and particles, the simple pixel graphics make sure it won’t get too taxing even for your laptop.

Vampire Survivors - Early Access Trailer

The Binding of Isaac: Repentance

The Binding of Isaac: Repentance
96%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Shooter, Role-playing (RPG), Adventure, Indie, Arcade
Developer
Edmund McMillen
Publisher
Nicalis, Inc.
Release
March 31, 2021

This will be the last roguelike on the list, but we couldn’t leave off the final version of the game that reinvented the genre for the modern era. The Binding of Isaac: Repentance represents over a decade of iteration and support for not only one of the first roguelikes to hit it big but one of the first indies as well. Its first form was a flash game that controlled only using the keyboard, and that remains up into the latest version. All you need is your four directional movement and attack buttons, plus another few for abilities and items. Speaking of items and abilities, there are thousands of them in this version that all interact with each other to ensure no two runs are ever the same, though it can be a little frustrating not knowing if an item will end up being terrible until you pick it up and find out.

Isaac Repentance

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight
86%
E
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Mac, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Platform, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Yacht Club Games
Publisher
Yacht Club Games
Release
June 26, 2014

Shovel Knight looks like a long-lost SNES game and plays just as good as you remember those classic games. It takes inspiration from Mega Man and DuckTales primarily, but if you grew up on the 16-bit console, you will find tons of callbacks and homages to other influential games of that generation. You take control of the unlikely shovel-based hero on a quest to save your lost partner Shield Knight by adventuring through multiple stages to topple the evil Order of No Quarter. This was already a fantastic game when it launched, but Yacht Club kept supporting it with entirely new campaigns where you play as new characters that make it more than a complete package. As a platformer, you don’t need anything but a keyboard to have a blast in this awesome adventure with a killer soundtrack.

Shovel Knight - Official Trailer #1 (Official)

The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
60%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows)
Genre
Shooter
Developer
Modern Dreams
Publisher
Sega
Release
October 29, 2013
What better game could there be to play on a laptop than one where all you need to do is type? Typing of the Dead: Overkill takes the classic formula of arcade shooters like House of the Dead and turns it into the best possible game to teach you typing. Instead of aiming a light gun or your mouse at zombies to shoot them, you need to type whatever words appear below them to unload your bullets into them before they get too close and deal damage. The graphics are made to look like those primitive arcade experiences, so no worries about performance on your laptop, and you will only be held back by your own typing abilities.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill Gameplay

Tetris Effect: Connected

Tetris Effect: Connected
93%
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Meta Quest, Meta Quest 2, PlayStation VR2
Genre
Music, Puzzle, Indie, Arcade
Developer
Monstars, Resonair
Publisher
Enhance
Release
May 14, 2020
Is there any platform Tetris isn’t perfect on? I don’t have to explain this quintessential game to you, so you already know that it is a perfect fit for a keyboard. Tetris Effect: Connected is one of the finest games in the “series,” and it actually takes the game to a new level. Yes, the basic rules of dropping your tetrominoes into a well to clear out rows are still the same, but the music and visual effects this game layers on top of the experience elevate it to an almost meditative level. You might not ever expected to hear it, but this Tetris campaign is a must-play. Alongside the normal endless modes where you’re free to play as long as you can, there are also some multiplayer modes to try out, including a great co-op mode.
Tetris Effect: Connected Announce Trailer | Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Windows 10 PC

Editors' Recommendations

Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
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