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14 Games to Play on a Laptop Without a Mouse in 2024 (Top Picks)

Laptops are fantastic for entertainment, but a missing mouse can put a damper on your gaming mood. This article dives into the exciting world of games that can be conquered entirely with your keyboard.

We’ll explore a variety of genres, from the nostalgia-fueled classics to hidden gems designed specifically for keyboard controls. So, grab your laptop, settle in, and get ready to discover your next keyboard-controlled adventure! From Darksouls II to Skullgirls, here are the best games to play on a laptop without a mouse.

1. Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II, a sequel to the infamous action RPG Dark Souls. Similar to its predecessor, the game is challenging. Enemies hit hard, and death comes swiftly for careless players. You’ll encounter a vast array of weapons and armor to personalize your playstyle. Mastering these tools and understanding enemy patterns are crucial for survival.

The story unfolds through item descriptions, cryptic dialogue, and environmental details. Players are encouraged to piece together the narrative through exploration and careful observation. The game features sprawling environments filled with secrets, shortcuts, and hidden areas that reward exploration. Upon dying, you lose a portion of your souls (currency and experience) and your health pool diminishes slightly. Retrieving your lost souls adds another layer of challenge.

Players can interact with others through co-operation or player versus player mechanics, adding another dimension to the experience. While retaining the core gameplay, Dark Souls II boasts improved graphics, sound design, and a denser world with more intricate level design.  

2. Celeste

Celeste is a critically acclaimed 2018 indie platformer with a focus on narrative and challenging gameplay. The protagonist, Madeline, tackles the metaphorical climb up Celeste Mountain, which represents her journey battling anxiety and depression. Throughout the ascent, Madeline encounters other characters, including a manifestation of her self-doubt named Badeline.

Madeline possesses a unique mid-air dash that can be executed in eight directions, offering precise movement and creative platforming solutions. The game presents progressively challenging levels that demand mastery of Madeline’s abilities. The mountain holds collectible items and optional B-side chapters that cater to players seeking an even greater challenge.

The game combines a captivating story about self-discovery with rewarding and demanding platforming challenges.

3. Hollow Knight

Games to Play on a Laptop Without a Mouse

Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania style video game released in 2017. The game combines elements of platforming games and exploration-heavy titles like Metroid. You’ll encounter new abilities that grant access to previously inaccessible areas, encouraging backtracking and revisiting older locations.

You play as the Knight, a nimble warrior venturing through the depths of Hallownest. The focus is on exploration and combat. You’ll encounter a variety of enemies and challenging bosses throughout your journey. Again, you will uncover new abilities that enhance your movement and combat options.

4. Spelunky

Games to Play on a Laptop Without a Mouse

Spelunky is a challenging 2D platformer with a twist. Each time you play, the caves are completely different, offering a fresh experience every run. The game is known for its unforgiving difficulty. You die in one hit, and losing means restarting the entire level from the beginning.

You control a spelunker venturing deep underground, collecting treasures, encountering enemies, and dodging traps. Similar to roguelikes, death is frequent, but you can unlock shortcuts and gain knowledge to improve on future attempts.

However, be warned: Spelunky is notoriously difficult. It’s a game that requires patience, perseverance, and the ability to learn from your mistakes. If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding platformer experience, Spelunky might be the perfect game for you. But be prepared to die… a lot.

5. Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors is a game that blends elements of roguelike and time survival genres. Each gameplay session is unique, with procedurally generated elements and permanent death. You progress by unlocking new characters and upgrades with the resources gathered in previous runs.

Your objective is to survive for as long as possible against increasingly difficult waves of enemies until dawn arrives. The game features a top-down perspective with simple graphics. Your character moves automatically, and you focus on strategically choosing and evolving your weapons and abilities. As the night progresses, the number and intensity of enemies significantly increase, creating a dense hail of bullets and effects on the screen.

6. Civilization V

Civilization V, released in 2010, is a turn-based strategy game in the long-running Civilization series. The game falls under the 4X genre, meaning players aim to “Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate” (or achieve victory through other means). You’ll guide your civilization from its humble beginnings to become a global power. Civilization V progresses in turns, allowing you to strategically plan actions like city development, unit movement, and research.

There are multiple paths to victory, including domination through military conquest, cultural influence, technological advancement, or achieving a space race triumph. Overall, Civilization V offers a deep and engaging strategic experience, challenging you to build an empire and achieve global dominance through various means.

7. XCOM 2

Games to Play on a Laptop Without a Mouse

XCOM 2 is a turn-based strategy game set in a world under alien occupation. You lead a hidden resistance base, managing resources, researching technologies, and training soldiers. Missions involve objectives like rescuing civilians, sabotaging alien operations, and gathering intel.

The game is known for its strategic depth and difficulty. Soldiers can be permanently killed in missions, adding a layer of emotional investment and consequence. Resource management and tactical decisions heavily influence the success of the resistance. 

8. The Walking Dead

Games to Play on a Laptop Without a Mouse

The Walking Dead refers to a series of episodic graphic adventure video games based on the popular comic book of the same name.  The story unfolds in multiple downloadable chapters, creating a sense of anticipation between releases. Gameplay focuses on narrative choices, exploration, and character interaction rather than intense action.

Inspired by the comic book’s world, it takes place amidst a zombie apocalypse. Though the initial season features Lee Everett, a convict, subsequent seasons explore the narrative from other perspectives. Players make crucial decisions that significantly impact the story’s progression and the fate of characters. These choices often involve moral dilemmas, forcing players to prioritize survival in a harsh world.  

9. Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium is an award-winning open-world RPG with a unique twist. You play as an amnesiac detective tasked with solving a murder. Your character’s internal struggles and thoughts are personified as “skills” that you can develop and interact with throughout the game. These skills represent aspects of your personality like logic, empathy, and even your own body parts like the “Esprit de Corps” (morale).

Unlike traditional RPGs, Disco Elysium focuses heavily on dialogue and exploration. Instead of combat, you navigate the world by interacting with various characters, gathering information, and piecing together the mystery. Your choices in dialogue and the development of your “skills” will influence the narrative and shape the kind of detective you become.

10. Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire is a game that blends two popular genres: roguelikes and deck-building card games. You embark on runs through a procedurally generated dungeon, the Spire. Each playthrough offers a different layout, enemies, and challenges. As you progress, you build your deck, acquiring new cards and strategically crafting a combination that overcomes enemies.

11. Tetris Effect

Games to Play on a Laptop Without a Mouse

Tetris Effect isn’t your standard Tetris game. Tetris Effect goes beyond the classic puzzle gameplay. It boasts stunning visuals and an evolving soundtrack that reacts to your actions. As you play, the backgrounds, music, and sound effects all transform, creating a truly immersive experience.

Over 30 unique stages are available, each with its distinct theme, music style, and graphical flair. Imagine playing Tetris underwater with calming music and bioluminescent effects, or in a fiery world with intense music and visuals.

While the presentation is amped up, the core Tetris gameplay remains. You still rotate and place Tetriminos (the falling shapes) to clear lines. A unique feature is the “Zone” mode. Entering the Zone slows down falling Tetriminos and lets you clear lines strategically without the usual time pressure. The game offers various modes beyond the classic Marathon mode. You can tackle challenges, compete against others, or simply relax and enjoy the audiovisual experience.

12. Super Mario World

In Super Mario World, players control Mario (or Luigi) navigating through side-scrolling levels. The objective is to reach the end of each level by overcoming obstacles, collecting coins, and defeating enemies. Similar to earlier Mario games, but introduces new elements. Players can ride a friendly dinosaur named Yoshi who can help them reach higher areas and defeat enemies.

13. Street Fighter II 

Games to Play on a Laptop Without a Mouse

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, released in 1991, is a legendary 2D fighting game that revolutionized the genre. Players choose from a roster of iconic characters with unique fighting styles and engage in one-on-one battles. You can deplete your opponent’s health through punches, kicks, throws, and special moves to win the round and the match (typically best two-out-of-three).

While it doesn’t directly contain any violence or real-world fighting, it simulates combat scenarios.

14. Skullgirls

Skullgirls is a 2D fighting game with a unique twist: tag-team battles. You can choose to fight with one, two, or even three characters against your opponent(s). Each character boasts a distinct fighting style and special moves to unleash powerful attacks. Building a team composition that complements each other’s strengths is crucial for victory.

The game’s lore revolves around a mystical artifact that grants wishes, but corrupts those with impure desires. A monstrous entity emerges when a wicked soul claims the power of the Skull Heart. The narrative revolves around the pursuit of the Skullgirl and the characters’ motives for seeking her.

Overall, Skullgirls caters to fighting game enthusiasts seeking a fresh take on the genre with its tag-team battles, coupled with an engaging story and remarkable visuals.

Final Thoughts

So, the next time you find yourself without a mouse, remember that the world of gaming doesn’t have to be off-limits. From strategic turn-based battles to captivating narratives and mind-bending puzzles, there’s a keyboard-friendly game waiting to be discovered. So, explore different genres, experiment with accessibility settings, and most importantly, have fun!


Q. Are there any online resources to find keyboard-friendly games?
A. Absolutely! Online gaming communities and forums can be valuable resources for discovering hidden gems.

Q. Can I use a keyboard and a trackpad together?
A. Yes, you can definitely combine the keyboard with the trackpad for games that require both movement and selection. However, the effectiveness of this method will vary depending on the specific game and your comfort level.

Q. What if I’m new to keyboard-only gaming?
A. Don’t worry, everyone starts somewhere! Begin with simpler games.

Q. What are some good keyboard layouts for gaming?
A. While personal preference plays a big role, some keyboard layouts are considered more ergonomic and suitable for gaming. Mechanical keyboards with tactile or clicky switches can provide better feedback, while minimalist layouts like tenkeyless (TKL) or 60% keyboards offer more space for mouse movement (even if you’re not using one!).

Q. Can I use a controller instead of a mouse?
A. Yes, depending on the game and your laptop’s capabilities, you might be able to connect a USB controller or even utilize Bluetooth connectivity for wireless controllers. While not all games offer native controller support, some allow you to remap controls to make them work with a gamepad.

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