It's good to be the small guy
Indie games have blown up in the last few years. People love the innovative game play, cheap prices, and underdog mentality when it comes to a game made by a tiny team of developers.
Move over, AAA titles, the indies are taking over. These are all worth playing even if you've never heard of them...but I guarantee you know this first one (next slide).
What started as a Swedish developer's idea has spawned into a phenomenon for children and adults alike. It even has its own convention! (Minecraft website here.)
Venture through randomly generated landscapes. Dig down into caves and lava pits, or build atop jungle trees and mountains. Construct a fortress or a home with a modern flair. You can even build a functioning computer if you've got the smarts.
With all of Minecraft's mechanics, you have nearly infinite possibilities—and plenty of ways to lose hours of your time. It's the quintessential sandbox game.
Kerbal Space Program
Rocket science isn't so hard—actually, it's mostly fun! Of course, it helps to have an unlimited budget and cute, expendable little creatures as your test pilots.
Use a vast array of items and technologies to build the perfect—or ugliest—spacecraft. It will take more than a few tries to get it into space, though.
Create a whole space program complete with satellites, mission staging, and a trip to the Mun (Kerbal's version of the Moon).
It's already robust and addictive, and it's still in alpha. Get in on the ground floor for cheap! (Our full look at this version is here.)
Natural Selection 2
Aliens versus Marines: It's a sci-fi story as old as time. Natural Selection 2 does it right.
Play as an armored, weapon-wielding marine, or a quick, vicious, and rapidly evolving alien, in a delicately balanced battle that can change on a dime.
The game is a first-person shooter with some base-building attributes. A single commander will take control of each team to give orders and place buildings that players must build and defend—teamwork is key.
Read our full review of Natural Selection 2 here.
You've heard of Portal and the mind-bending puzzles and tricks to it—but then you load up Antichamber and enter a whole different dimension.
It's as if Salvador Dali had made a puzzle game where nothing is as it seems, and sometimes the only way forward is to go back. New paths appear just because you weren't looking at them. Colors and mirrors shift and change to give you new direction.
You don't need drugs to get a trip— Antichamber will suffice. Just try to find all the bits of your mind when it's blown! (Antichamber website here.)
Monaco: What's Yours is Mine
Whether you love the classic Ocean's 11 or the recent remake, Monaco will fit right into your wheelhouse.
This quirky, fun, multiplayer heist game puts you into a key role for various thieving tasks. You'll have eight characters to choose from, each with a wonderfully cliche skill right out of the heist movies.
Check out our full review here and break into the fun.
Hotline Miami will have you smacking, shooting, and dying your way to victory. Or at least a restart.
The story can be tough to follow, jumping around from weird to bizarre, but that's part of its charm. You're tasked with killing ruthless, well-armed mobsters in various ways, all blood-spattered. Hope you aren't squeamish!
It's violent, graphic, and pretty damn addictive. Everything dies instantly—including you—which means you'll be restarting a lot to try new tactics or just go in again, guns blazing. Get through it and let me know what your takeaway of the story is, because I'm still puzzled. (Find a look at Hotline Miami 2 here.)
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Indie games aren't all fun and frolic. They can also scare the living daylights out of you.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent puts you in some pretty spooky situations: an old, dark mansion with screams off in the distance, fog-filled corridors—oh, and that big, terrifying monster that stalks you everywhere.
But you can just kill it, right? It is a video game. Wrong you are: Your only defense is to run and hide in a dark area until he gets bored of looking for you. That. Is. Scary. (Website here.)
Atom Zombie Smasher
In the zombie apocalypse, the heroes will be those that keep a calm head, act quickly, and bomb the hell out of the "zeds." Atom Zombie Smasher puts you in the hero's shoes.
Get a top-down view of various cities where you have to rescue survivors (yellow dots) with a helicopter while keeping zombies (pink dots) at bay with bombs and traps.
Use all the tools at your disposal intelligently, and you may be able to stop the zombie outbreak from washing over everything. (Website here.)
FTL: Faster than Light
All right, so this one makes our lists a lot—because it's just that good!
Captain your own spaceship, and make quick decisions that could cut your journey short in an instant.
The opportunity to take in-depth command of the ship as well as the situation, where every part you buy and choice you make directly impacts the game, feels more like a grand experience than a cheap indie game.
Read the full review here.
If you were hyped up by the decade-long wait for Diablo 3 and then disappointed by the end result, Torchlight II is your remedy.
It's got everything a good dungeon-crawling RPG has: Tons of items, a level-up system that grants more badass powers, and lots and lots...and lots of dungeons. It's even got a pet to take your stuff to town and sell it for you—no need to interrupt the action with a full backpack.
This indie gem is filled with humor, Easter eggs, great visuals, and lasting game play. Read PCWorld's review for more details.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
Harken back to a simpler time, when men were knights, and wars were fought with swords, hammers and arrows. It was a messy time, too.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare puts you in the iron-clad boots of some of the Dark Ages' bravest warriors, in massive, multiplayer battles. Use catapults to attack castles, push battering rams through doors, or just start a massive brawl.
This one isn't for the kiddies, though: It has blood and dismemberment galore, which usually gets a startled gasp, then eruptive laughter. The game can't help but be funny, fun, and addictive. (Website here.)
10 strategy games that will sharpen your tactics
Enough fooling around. Time to put your planning and tactics to the test in these ten strategy games.
Click here to check them out and become a master of strategic planning.