There aren't too many open source, online, massive multiplayer games for Linux. But Isleward is one. With some wonderfully enticing 16-bit style graphics, and a top-down retro Rogue-like exploration gameplay style, it's a difficult game to resist. And you can instantly play it, for free, because the developer hosts a server ( where you can simply create an account and start playing. However, unlike almost every other game we can think of with an enticingly free account creation and play portal, you're also completely free to download the code to Isleward and run it yourself from your own Linux machine. It might be a little harder to get friends to join, but you'll stay in control of your own data, and of course, you're free to make and contribute whatever modifications you wish to the game engine.

Like nearly every RPG, you start the game by creating a character  – first by giving it a name, and then a "spirit." There are currently three to choose from: an owl for spellcasters, a bear for physical types, and a lynx for the nimble and dextrous. After this, you enter the game world, and there's a small introductory tutorial to ease you into the controls and principle mechanics. You move with the WASD keys, and you can map out a path quickly while your character is in motion. Certain locations, such as the inside of an Inn, are occluded until you enter them. A pane in the lower part of the game window gives you a "nethack" like description of your surroundings, which is helpful as you often can't work out what the pixels represent. If you need to attack anything, you select it with the cursor and press Space to auto-attack when the target is in range, which usually means when it's in the adjacent square. All of this is played out with other people also in the game, which adds to that old-school feeling, familiar to anyone who played early Ultima games. There's still a lot of development needed, but it's already a lot of fun, and thanks to being open source, anyone can contribute.

Project Website

Isleward can be played online, through a browser on hosted on your local machine, and even with an Android app. And it's open source!

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Big Shot: OpenShot Video Editor Version 1.0 Released

    Video clip editors have been in short supply under Linux. Jonathan Thomas is now trying to fill that gap with the first stable version of the OpenShot Video Editor.

  • FOSSPicks

    This month Graham looks at Bespoke, Waydroid, OpenShot, pedalboard, Onivim 2, Mr. Rescue, and more!

  • Get Started with Fedora

    Fedora might look foreign at first, but after a few minutes of finding your way around, you can feel right at home. To help jump start your journey into Fedora, let's take the grand tour.

  • FOSSPicks

    This month Graham looks at Firefly Synth, Faircamp, Gnome Web, GPlates, Flowblade, CorsixTH, and more!

  • FOSSPicks

    Sparkling gems and new releases from the world of Free and Open Source Software

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More