Match-3 meets the RTS in this free browser game

(Image credit: Tom Sykes)

Free browser game little BEETLE bottle BATTLE (punctuation the developer's own) takes the classic match-3 concept and turns it on its head. While one of your goals is still to match three of various things together, you might want to stop and think before you shove those castle tiles, or those forest ones together, as every action will have a knock-on effect—and I'm not just talking about the other tiles.

There's a strategy layer that kicks in after you've matched enough tiles. The castle, forest, mountain and field tiles become locked in place, before little people appear on top of the world. Using resources gathered in the match-3 phase, you'll deploy friendly blue units to claim enemy castles, or to gather more resources from the land, while the enemy will dispatch their red troops to take yours out, or to take their castles back.

After a time, the board will refresh (aside from any castles you've taken, which remain from phase to phase), and the game will switch back to the match-3 part of the game. It is a bit odd, having to deliberate so much over simple match-3 moves, as they're usually made in a zen-like state, but it adds an interesting quirk to the classic formula. And you'll need to deliberate, because your units won't cross rivers, while they'll move more slowly over mountain tiles. So, you'll need to match tiles, but while moving them to advantageous positions, if you're to stand a hope of conquering the board.

It's an original melding, I think you'll agree. An inventive, odd, and slightly laboured combination of two genres that, so far, have had very little to do with one another.

For more great free experiences, check out our roundup of the best free PC games.

Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.