A decent freeware CRPG is a rare beast indeed, usually to be encountered in the deepest caverns of cyberspace (where the particularly kinky & nasty porny web bits also reside) and in the south-eastern parts of the great Rio Amazonas, unless of course one is looking for the more popular and quite populous Rogue, NetHack or MUD variants. Or MMORPGs of course. Oh, and better let's not forget all those classic games gone freeware, but you get the point. Freeware RPGs are to preserved and showcased and that's what I'm about to do (sort of), after of course you hunt for some more of them here and here. Without further ado then, here are the games:
The Ruins of Cawdor, Sierra's final installment in the highly innovative online graphical MUD series that began with The Shadow of Yserbius, has now been patched, upgraded, generally messed around with, turned into a WinXp single player hack 'n' slash dungeon romp and released for free. Still addictive and good looking as ever, mind you.
The Warrior's Tale, a game inspired by Bard's Tale and another fantasy dungeon exploring RPG experience, is a fine example of traditional homegrown freeware game production. Download it and lead your party of 6 (no, not that kind of party, it would look silly) to victory against the viciously vicious, abominably nasty and irritatingly demonic Moloch.
Exult, on the other hand, is more of a brilliant storytelling experiencing in a rich and detailed universe than a turn-based killing fest. Actually, I could even argue that when Exult reaches its final version and its full power is finally unleashed, it will be one of the best CRPGs ever created. Ever. Why? Well, simply because it will be a complete WinXP compatible reworking of the utterly fantastic Ultima 7.
Ark 22 will be less familiar an RPG for PC gamers, as its roots are the cutesy console action RPGs of the 16-bit era. SNES ones to be more precise. If you still enjoy the Zelda games of the 90s, then you 'll definitely enjoy this one. Quite an addictive little thing too.
Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Legend of Zelda Retrospective DVD, Lone Wolf online, Decker, freeware gaming archive