Best Laptop Games For Low-Spec PCs

Gaming on a laptop or PC is easier today than it’s ever been, thanks to years of hardware improvements and a steady stream of digital games. While that's great news for anyone running a powerful GPU, many of us have to operate on a limited budget.

Gaming on a laptop or PC is easier today than it’s ever been, thanks to years of hardware improvements and a steady stream of digital games.

While that’s great news for anyone running a powerful GPU like the RTX 3080, many of us have to operate on a more limited budget.

Thankfully, there are plenty of amazing games that are capable of running on the most “potato” PCs and laptops out there.

In this list, we’ll be highlighting the best laptop games for low-spec PCs that will keep you entertained without overloading your system.

Included is a variety of recently released indie titles along with PC staples that have stood the test of time.

Make sure to check back for new games in the future as we’ll be updating this list throughout 2021 and beyond.

Related:The Best Gaming Laptops (2021 Reviews)Best Upcoming Indie Games 2021 (And Beyond)Best Action Games On PC 2021

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Among Us is an online multiplayer game designed to be played with 4 to 10 players. In it, 1 to 3 players are randomly assigned the role of Imposter while the remaining ones try to complete various tasks throughout the space ship.

If you’re playing as an Imposter, your job is to turn the other players against each other as you take them out one by one. Inversely, the Crew’s job is to work together until they can sleuth out the traitors or complete their tasks.

It’s not a complicated game by any means and can run on just about any device, including less-powerful laptops and PCs. If you don’t have a full group of friends to play with, you can always try looking on discord and reddit or just join a random lobby.

If you’re more of a fan of single-player affairs, then a game like Welcome to Elk may be more your speed. Categorized as an Adventure game, it sees you playing as Frigg, a young carpenter from a big city who arrives in Elk, a remote island inhabited by an eccentric cast of townsfolk.

Frigg soon finds herself wrapped up in the lives of the locals, who each have a unique tale to offer. For this aspect of the game, developer Triple Topping decided to use real firsthand accounts from people they know.

This adds an additional layer of depth to the game’s story and makes it easier to relate to certain characters. On the gameplay side of things, Welcome to Elk uses engaging mini-games to represent the various tasks you’ll be completing.

Disco Elysium is a story-driven RPG that sees you playing as a detective sent to investigate the murder of a man found hanging from a tree. Previously, the game was only playable on mid to high-end machines, however, developer ZA/UM has done us all a favor by patching the game to support a wider range of hardware.

Set in the fictional city of Revachol following a failed communist revolution, the game offers a dialogue-heavy commentary on the lasting effects of political turmoil while serving as a backdrop for the mystery you’re trying to solve.

Hunting down clues and potential leads give you plenty of opportunities to poke and prod around NPCs’ personal beliefs and biases while dealing with your own insecurities. This is where the game’s RPG mechanics come into play, allowing you to acquire an array of unique skills suited for different playstyles.

A Monster’s Expedition is the latest entry in a series of loosely connected puzzle games published by Draknek & Friends. Just like previous outings, the game features some of the most fantastic puzzle designs we’ve seen in recent years.

Its premise is fairly straightforward: you play as a backpack-wearing monster on a quest to learn as much as you can about human culture. Your journey will take you across a vibrant and open-world comprised of different interconnected islands.

In order to progress between islands, the game tasks you with unlocking the hidden path that connects them. This usually boils down to knocking down trees and rolling logs across simple 3D environments, something just about any PC can handle.

Aside from generating some of the best fowl-related memes to date, Untitled Goose Game offers a humorous, albeit simplified stealth experience centered on one unruly fowl. In it, you control a maniacal goose who likes to annoy humans.

The game features an open-world in the form of a series of interconnected sandboxes. Environments are packed with random items that can be interacted with in unique ways, mainly for the purpose of upsetting any nearby humans.

While UGG may not offer the most extensive or robust stealth gameplay, it’s good for a few laughs. The game also benefits from the addition of a co-op mode that sees a friend controlling a second goose.

Slay the Spire is a card-strategy game modeled after 2D roguelites, in which each playthrough is different. Each run has you selecting from multiple playable characters with unique starting conditions that affect how the game plays out.

The goal is to ascend a series of levels within a spire while encountering numerous enemies and rewards depending on the path taken. Along the way, you’ll be able to rest at campfires that offer healing and a chance to manage your deck.

You’ll also encounter shopkeepers that will offer to buy and sell cards, chests with random loot, and various choice-based encounters. If you’re a fan of deck-building games or just strategy in general, chances are you’ll enjoy playing STS.

Amid Evil is a retro first-person shooter created in the same vein as classics like Unreal Tournament, Doom, Quake, and Heretic, with many considering it a spiritual successor to Heretic specifically.

Set in the ancient past, the game casts you as “The Champion,” a highly-skilled warrior who’s been chosen by the gods to wield a holy battle-axe. This axe can do a ton of cool things such as fire elemental projectiles, cast spells, and even deliver a nice blow to an enemy’s head.

The story sees you called upon by the Elders to enter an interdimensional portal in order to seek out a mysterious force that’s begun ripping apart different worlds. It’s a somewhat tough game that relies on fast reflexes and constant movement but runs buttery smooth on low-end PCs.

Probably the most popular game on this list, Minecraft is a must-play for anyone who enjoys open-world survival games or simply the ability to build anything in your imagination.

By now, most will be familiar with the formula: you break blocks for resources and use them to construct various tools, weapons, furniture, etc. A big part of the game’s popularity stems from its minimal hardware requirements.

In addition to console and mobile devices, Minecraft can run on just about any laptop or PC. Additionally, you can install certain Minecraft mods that make the game less taxing on older machines.

When discussing the best PC games with low spec requirements,  Celeste is one that comes to mind. The universally-acclaimed 2D action-platformer manages to strike the perfect balance between gameplay and story, despite its high default difficulty.

Thankfully, developer Matt Makes Games has included several options for players who just want to experience the story, including a dedicated Assist Mode. In it, you play as Madeline, a girl looking to escape the struggles of everyday life by climbing a mysterious mountain.

Players advance the story by completing a series of hand-crafted platforming levels that revolve around precise jumping and dashing. For those who love a good challenge, Celeste features hidden collectibles scattered throughout levels along with remixed ‘B-Side’ stages that boost replayability.

Into the Breach is a turn-based strategy game developed and published by Subset Games, best known for their breakout hit, 2012’s FTL: Faster Than Light, with the two sharing many similarities.

The game takes place in a far future where humanity must fight against an army of monsters known collectively as the Vek. Gameplay has you engaging in turn-based battles using soldier-operated mechs that can be equipped with a variety of weapons and armor.

Similar to FTL, the game is broken up into a series of missions with procedurally-generated scenarios and environments. Turn-based combat and simple yet vibrant pixel graphics make Into the Breach suitable for low spec machines.

Opus Magnum is a puzzle-based programming game that has you taking on the role of an alchemist. You’ll create potions, poisons, and more using a transmutation engine that allows you to manipulate and rearrange the atoms of various elements.

Each challenge presents you with multiple components, represented by mechanical arms and tracks, which can be combined in order to create a unique structure for specific tasks.

The game starts relatively simple, assigning you to make basic concoctions that require minimal brainpower until eventually ramping up. Precious gemstones and deadly weapons are later introduced, requiring you to make more complex structures.

Arguably the most gorgeous low-spec PC game, Cuphead draws inspiration from challenging run-and-gun titles where memorizing enemy attack patterns was less of a strategy and more of a necessity for survival.

The game does an excellent job of luring you into a false sense of security with its charming hand-drawn characters and environments before revealing its true, sadistic intentions.

In it, you take on the role of Cuphead as he seeks out different bad guys in order to repay his debt with the Devil. These lengthy battles put your platforming skills through the wringer and test your endurance, but are worth it for the visuals alone.

Not many games manage to blend Lovecraftian horror with dungeon crawling as masterfully as Darkest Dungeon, a turn-based RPG that tasks you with recruiting, training, and guiding a team of heroes through hellish environments littered with physical and psychological dangers.

Each of the 16+ character classes included come equipped with unique skills and flaws that can be combined in exciting ways and often lead to devastating outcomes for both party members and enemies.

Challenging turn-based battles are made more intense thanks to features like permadeath and an affliction system that assigns to characters some mental issues such as paranoia, masochism, fear, and irrationality.

What better a game to highlight than the one-man passion project, Stardew Valley, developed by Eric Barone, aka ConcernedApe. Inspired by the beloved Harvest Moon games, the game is presented as a 2D farming sim with some light RPG mechanics and vibrant pixel art graphics.

In it, you create your own character and set out to bring your grandfather’s old farm back to life by gathering seeds, planting crops, and selling them for a profit. Eventually, the game opens up and lets you explore other areas such as ranching, wine-making, baking, etc. 

A day/night cycle encourages you to plan out activities ahead of time, which includes exploring mines, talking to NPCs, tending to crops, or just hanging out at the local bar. The citizens of Stardew have distinct personalities that really make them come to life, allowing you to make friends, rivals, and even get married.

Categorized as a 2D roguelike, Dead Cells focuses on combat and exploration across procedurally-generated dungeons. Each run sees you gathering materials to craft better gear as you hunt down formidable bosses and minions throughout a sprawling 2D labyrinth.

Upon dying, players are returned to the starting area with slightly more resources than their previous run. This is at the heart of Dead Cells’ gameplay loop, which encourages you to take risks and push yourself further despite the possibility of dying.

The game includes an array of different weapons and perks to unlock, which carry over between runs. A fun fact about Dead Cells is that despite its pixel art graphics, the game is technically rendered in 3D but uses a 2D perspective to trick you into thinking you’re playing a side-scrolling platformer.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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