I am a known supporter of smaller indie games and developers. Now, lately, a lot of games have hit it big on the market (comparatively at least), such as Super Meat Boy, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and the big one: Minecraft. Despite all of these "blockbuster indie" titles, there are still plenty of great smaller, lesser-known titles that you probably have never even heard of, each of which deserving every bit as much praise as the former games. I’m going to recommend a handful of fun, quirky, and cheap titles that will help you fill that time between the blockbuster titles you get every major season.
BIT.TRIP Series Platform(s): PC, WiiWare
The BIT.TRIP franchise has been around for some time, however it has been limited to the WiiWare platform over the past years. Last year, Gaijin games finally broke the singular platform release by creating a PC version of the popular BIT.TRIP BEAT, a pong-style music game where you bounce small dots that each make a unique sound from one end of the screen to the other. The game starts out rather simply, but by the time you get to the final stages, it gets extremely intense, throwing a huge variety of rhythms at you. BIT.TRIP RUNNER mixes it up a little, turning the game into a constantly side-scrolling platformer, where you must dodge and destroy barriers hampering you from reaching the end of the stage. This one gets difficult early on, since you quickly get several different moves you must juggle in order to reach the end of each stage. Both are extremely satisfying and fun retro-styled games that have hours and hours of gameplay, and are easily replayable multiple times before they get old. Each of them cost $9.99, a very good price for a very good title.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Platform(s): PC, Playstation Network, XBox Live Marketplace
This new take on the Tomb Raider franchise takes the treasure hunting brunette on an adventure with an odd Mayan statue-turned-real-man to destroy an ancient evil awakened by the discovery of an mystical artifact. The game deviates from the normal Tomb Raider rhetoric, with an almost isometric view with dual-joystick shooter controls. I must admit, I have an easier time playing games like this on a controller, but the PC controls were well-done regardless, and I know plenty of people who prefer a mouse-and-keyboard layout for the top-down shooter genre. Overall the game is fun, with plenty of interesting puzzles that put many of your skills and abilities to use. There isn’t a lot of fluff in the game, which isn’t a bad thing, the story doesn’t really hamper the gameplay experience at all, and the co-op mode actually plays very differently from the single-player, making it a more challenging exercise and keeping replayability high. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light goes for $14.99 on your favorite digital distributor, and it’s well worth the money.