Top 20 Best ASCII Games for PC (Linux/ Windows/ Online)

Terminal-based games or commonly known as text-based games, are a thing of the past. They were popular when people didn’t have outstanding visuals like Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty, or God of War. ASCII games for PC were the only medium for playing graphical games. These games were fun and straightforward to play. Developers back then developed most of the ASCII-based text games for the Linux operating system. You can play these games on Windows and on your web browser too.

You might not believe me, but some of the text-based games are very addictive. Moreover, you can dive into the world of simple coding and have a wonderful experience with classic coding games. American Standard Code for Information Interchange art games has always been a favorite gaming genre of mine. Today I want to introduce the wonders of the text game. We will discuss some of the best games on Linux, Windows, and browsers. 

What is ASCII?

ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is a character encoding method for digital inter-device communication. ASCII was first introduced in 1963. The ASCII is a code for computers, telecommunication devices, and other electronic devices. ASCII was developed from telegraph code, and it was first used as a seven-bit teleprinter code.

Most of the modern-day digital character encoding is based on ASCII and varients of the code. We also know it as US-ASCII. ASCII codes are one of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) milestones. 

The Best 10 ASCII Games for Linux

Installing text-based games for Linux may end up in a time-consuming task. It often requires additional files to download and run some codes from the build source. We have filtered those that are not worth your time and listed only the top Linux text games.

Things to do before installing ASCII on Linux OS

While installing some text-based games, you might need to install the Simple DirectMedia Layer if you don’t have it pre-installed. You can do it just by typing these simple commands given below:

sudo apt install libsdl2-2.0

sudo apt install libsdl2_mixer-2.0

1. Curse of War

Curse of War best ASCII Games for LinuxCurse of War is a fantastic strategy-based game for Linux OS. For beginners, the game might seem a little confusing, but as you play the game, you’ll start enjoying it. I would recommend checking the rules of the game from the official Curse of War game website.

In Curse of War, you need to gather resources and build up an army. You can send your forces to battle. When you put down your flag on a place, your army will take care of the rest. You also need to take care of resources for your army. If you have never played text-based games, then Curse of War could be the start.

How to install Curse of War:

You can find Curse of War in the official depository. Type in the following line of commands to install the game.

sudo apt install curseofwar

Highlights of the game:

  • The primary goal of the game is to build an army.
  • You need to place your troops strategically.
  • You can find all the rules on the game website.

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2. ASCII Sector

ASCII Sector Games for LinuxASCII Sector is a space exploration action game that you can play on Linux OS. You can explore the ASCII coding space of the ASCII Sector. There is a dash of combat in the game, too. It may not be the best combat game, but it is fun. There is a variety of missions, quests, and bases. ASCII Sector also has a leveling mechanism. You can earn points and upgrade up the spaceship. ASCII Sector also allows user customization. You can custom make maps or play on other player’s maps.

How to install ASCII Sector:

First, you need to download the archive file of ASCII Sector from the website. Next, open your terminal and input the following commands. Replace “Downloads” with your PC’s game file location. You can ignore it if it saves your file in the home directory.

cd Downloads

cd asciisec

chmod +x asciisec


Highlights of the game:

  • ASCII Sector features both space and ground missions.
  • You can upgrade or buy a new spaceship from the in-game store.
  • You can download maps and quests for free.
  • Players can quickly write stories and put music to create unique missions.

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3. DoomRL

DoomRL text-based gamesWe all are familiar with the classic sci-fi game Doom. We know it for its detailed graphics and fantastic game story. But if you are looking for a scaled-down experience, then try DoomRL. This rogue-like action game will not disappoint you. It is a tiny free ASCII game. You can get hours of gameplay on your Linux PC with DoomRL.

How to install DoomRL:

You need to download the game file from the official game website. Next, unpack the file in a folder on your PC. Next, type in the following commands in your terminal.

cd Downloads // navigating to the location where the unpacked folder exists

cd doomrl-linux-x64-0997

chmod +x doomrl


Highlights of the game:

  • DoomRL features fantastic background music and intuitive sound effects.
  • You can gather resources and objects to help you with your quests.
  • You can choose different difficulties to play DoomRL.
  • The game awards players with badges and in-game rewards for completing specific tasks.

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4. Empire

Empire text-based gamesEmpire is a real-time strategy game for Linux OS. You need to have an internet connection to play this game. Empire allows you to compete with other players online. You can check the guide before playing Empire. It can be challenging for beginners. You can choose from different fractions in the game. It offers military, diplomatic, and economic goals for you to achieve.

In Empire, the rectangle represents a country. You can expand your city by using military force and destroying other cities. You can also choose the diplomatic way. Similarly, other players can also invade your map. Overall, Empire is fun to play a text game.

How to install Empire:

You can install Empire by typing the following codes in your terminal.

sudo apt install empire

Highlights of the game:

  • Empire is a real-time online strategy game.
  • There is no time limit or fixed goal in the game.
  • Empire covers all the aspects of real-life war scenarios, including political, economic, and military powers.
  • You need to play the game if you want to perform well in the game.

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5. Nethack

Nethack text-based games for LinuxNethack is a single-player dungeon crawler game that offers the best gaming experience. It is quite the popular free text-based game you can play on your Linux devices. Nethack features about 45 levels for you to complete. It also contains a vast collection of weapons, scrolls, magic potions, and treasures. Nethack offers exploration alongside enemy killings.

How to install Nethack:

Type the following command in the terminal to install Nethack.

sudo apt install nethack

Highlights of the game:

  • Nethack offers around 45 levels for you to complete.
  • Despite being a text game, the graphics are of high quality.
  • The game offers a vast collection of objects and elements.
  • It offers the best dungeon exploring experience.

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6. Bombardier

Bombardier Games for LinuxBombardier doesn’t require any strategy or planning. It is one of the simplest free ASCII games for you to try. In Bombardier, you control an aircraft containing bombs. In every cycle, the helicopter passes over a city, and you need to destroy the buildings. The game displays a funny message when you destroy a city. Bombardier is indeed a fun-to-play game.

How to install Bombardier:

sudo apt install bombardier

Highlights of the game:

  • Bombardier is a simple game to play on Linux OS.
  • You control an aircraft and destroy buildings in the game.
  • The game runs on a separate tab on the Linux terminal window.

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7. Angband

Angband rouge-like gameAngband is a rouge-like game 2020 for the Linux operating system. This single-player game offers all the vital information on a single screen. Angband is a clean dungeon exploration game. It offers multiple choices of the race for you to select and play as. The options include Dwarf, Elf, Hobbit, etc. the goal is to defeat the Dark Lord. So, try your best to level up your characters. Angband is also the best text-based game for Windows 7.

How to install Angband:

sudo apt install angband

Highlights of the game:

  • Angband comes from hundreds of preloaded dungeon maps for you to play.
  • There is an option for choosing the character race in the game.
  • The characters of the game represent classical mythology.

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8. GNU Chess

GNU ChessChess is the best strategy game to exercise your brain. How can you not enjoy playing a game of chess? GNU Chess is the best ASCII chess game to play on an Ubuntu PC. It is complex than regular chess and requires some practice. You also need to understand algebraic notation to master GNU Chess. GNU Chess is for professional-level text gamers.

How to install GNU Chess:

Enter the following codes in the terminal to install and play GNU Chess.

sudo apt install gnuchess

Highlights of the game:

  • GNU Chess runs on the Fruit chess engine & UCI chess protocol.
  • You can play a match of GNU Chess either with the computer or a human.
  • You must know Algebraic notation to master GNU Chess.

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9. Pyramid Builder

Pyramid BuilderPyramid Builder is a cross-platform game. The goal of the game is to make pyramids to help improve the civilization to grow. You take the role of the supervisor in the game. Your task is to direct workers to farm, build, or transport gigantic stones to build the pyramids. The art style of Pyramid Builder is genuinely remarkable.

How to install Pyramid Builder:

Go to the official website of the game and download it. Next, unpack the game and type the commands in the terminal.

cd Downloads

cd pyramid_builder_linux

chmod +x pyramid_builder_linux.x86_64


Highlights of the game:

  • You get to build pyramids in this game.
  • The art style of the game is fantastic.
  • It is a very relaxing game to play.

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10. Ninvaders

Ninvaders games to play on a Linux terminalNinvaders is one of the best games to play on a Linux terminal. It is a simple arcade. You need to defend your base from invaders. You need to stop them from attacking you. Ninvaders offer both challenges and tons of joy. You will get hours of fun gameplay from the game.

How to install Ninvaders:

sudo apt install ninvaders 

Highlights of the game:

  • Ninvaders feature excellent interactive gameplay.
  • Your only goal is to defend yourself from the horde of invaders.

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The Best 5 ASCII Games for Windows

Here is the list of the top 5 American Standard Code for Information Interchange games for Windows. 

1. Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress single-player text-based games for Windows
text-based games

Dwarf Fortress is a single-player game for Windows. It is very much similar to NetHack for Linux. Dwarf Fortress puts you on an adventure like never. The game has three modes that you can choose to play. The modes include Dwarf Fortress, Legends, and Adventurer. Dwarf Fortress places you in a randomly generated dwarf world filled with terrain and creatures.

The primary goal in Dwarf Fortress is to build a place for the dwarfs to work and prosper. Fortify your base and defend it from enemy invasion. You can play this fantastic game on Windows, Linux, and Mac PC. Explore, recruit troops and make the village the best in the game.

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2. Imperium

Imperium open-source exploration gameImperium is an open-source exploration game that you can enjoy on any Windows PC. It features warfare and economic strategies, which make it an outstanding text-based MMO game. You need an internet connection to play Imperium. Unlike other text games, Imperium has no fixed goal to complete. You can play the game in single-player mode. But you get the most out of Imperium in the online multiplayer mode. It offers both real-time and turn-based gameplay. They divided imperium into different rectangular galactic sectors. Up to 253 participants can join the game on a single match of Imperium. You don’t need a high graphics computer to play Imperium. But I recommend at least an 80 column or more display for a better gaming experience.

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3. Intricacy

Intricacy open-source puzzle game for Windows PCsIntricacy is an open-source puzzle game for Windows PCs. This ASCII puzzle game runs directly from the command line. In this game, players need to pick locks or solve intricate puzzles to move forward. Completing these puzzles in certain limitations is both exacting and enjoyable. Intricacy is a turn-based puzzle you can play with your friends. You can play the game on Windows, Linux, or OS X operating system. It offers small tutorials to help you play the game.

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4. MyMan

MyMan open-source text-based gamesMyMan is an open-source text-based game that is like Pac-Man. The game produces simple text-based graphics and texts to interact. If you have played Pac-Man, you will feel at home playing MyMan. It is a raw backend game and requires no external libraries. There are different variants of the game. You can download the game for free and play the game on Windows PC.

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5. Goblin Hack

Goblin Hack text-based gamesGoblin Hack is one of the best ASCII graphics adventure games that offer rogue-like gameplay. You can enjoy the game for free on Windows PC. The game offers a simple interface that is appealing to gamers of all ages. Goblin Hack lets you go beyond your imagination and brings out the creativity in you.

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Best 5 Online ASCII Games to Play on a Web Browser

1. Hello Rogue

Hello Rogue is a simple rogue-like online text game that you can play on any web browser. The game takes inspiration from Zelda’s lock & key mechanism. You will find all the necessary info to play the game on the official website. You can also download Hello Rogue on Linux, Windows, and macOS.

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2. Fisharium

Fisharium is an ASCII fish tank mini-game that is fun to enjoy. The game offers attractive ASCII graphics. The controls of the game are very simple. Follow the onscreen instruction or press different keys to interact with the game. Fisharium is a free-to-play game. You can also download the game for your PC.

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3. Good Rogue

Good Rogue is a rogue-like game that is designed in 80s style. The game has simple control commands. You can play the game on any browser for free. It is also available in a downloadable file. The game tasks you on an adventure in the depth of 26. You need to collect resources and escape up to depth 1. I enjoyed playing Good Rogue. I hope you will also find it amusing.

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4. D I S P A T C H

Dispatch is a dark sci-fi game that you can play on your PC browser. It is one of my favorite survival horror games. The game features a runner who is tasked to retrieve a vital data black box.  The controls are simple. You can use only the keyboard to play Dispatch. You need to bring the data box alive safely.

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5. The Ever-Changing Case of the Unpaid Rent

The Ever-Changing Case of the Unpaid Rent is a detective mystery game. The game requires only a mouse to play. You can play this fantastic browser game for free. You need to find the Why, How, and Who of every case the game presents before you. The Ever-Changing Case of the Unpaid Rent is the perfect game brainstormer for people of all ages.

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Final Thoughts

Text games are an essential part of gaming history. They are simple and fun to play. You don’t need high-end gaming PCs to play any of the text-based games. In this article, I tried to cover all of the best ASCII games for you to play in 2021. I hope you will find this article helpful. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

Fardeen is a tech expert and enthusiast who graduated from a reputable university. With his passion for technology and commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest advancements, Fardeen has become a valuable resource for anyone seeking guidance in the ever-evolving digital landscape. His dedication and eagerness to share his knowledge with others make him a valuable asset in the technology industry. Fardeen's skills and expertise could be harnessed to pursue a career in technology or even start his venture to help others harness the power of technology.

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