Indie games offer cheap entertainment for students

Austin Loukas

Cody Bauman, Staff Writer

After a long summer, gamers are ready for some new releases to feed their desire for digital bliss. With a new semester here, though, money can be tight. This is where the realm of independent and downloadable games comes into play.

These bite-sized games are normally smaller experiences when compared to big titles such as “Call of Duty” and “Madden.” Nevertheless, they can bring just as much enjoyment for a fraction of the price. Perfect for college students with a limited budget looking for a way to kill the time.

Indie games are games made by small, independent developers and are normally self-published. These independent developers can sometimes comprise teams as small as one or two people. While the teams may be small, that doesn’t necessarily mean quality has to be sacrificed. Games such as “Braid” and “Bastion” are highly regarded as “must-plays” for even seasoned gaming veterans.

Here are some of the best indie games currently available, listed by console…

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iOS

“Cthulhu Saves the World” (RPG, $1.99)

“Cthulhu Saves the World” is a game which many old-school gamers will appreciate for its throwbacks to the RPGs of yesteryear. Meanwhile, new gamers will enjoy it for its tongue-in-cheek humor. This game is a spoof of all the great 16-bit RPGs of the Super Nintendo era and that’s what makes it so much fun. It manages to feel new and different while still having that same air of nostalgic familiarity about it.

“Infinity Blade II” (Action, $6.99)

“Infinity Blade II” is an action game that shows what an iOS device can do. It runs off the Unreal Engine, which is the same game engine used by such titles as “Gears of War,” “Fable.” On top of this game being gorgeous, the deep and intriguing fighting mechanics makes this one shine as a labor of love.

Also check out…

“Bastion” (Action/RPG, $4.99) *iPad only*

“Plants vs. Zombies” (Tower Defense, $9.99)

“SQUIDS Wild West” (RPG, $1.99)

“Super QuickHook” (Adventure, $2.99)

“Tiny Wings” (Casual, $0.99)

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Xbox 360

“Braid” (Platformer, $10.00)

“Braid” is considered to be the very title that broke indie games out of their niche audience, and for good reason. This game showed that one programmer (in this case, a man named Jonathan Blow) could not only create a well put-together and executed game, but also weaves a story of intrigue.

When “Braid” was originally released back in 2008, it was Metacritic’s highest-rated Xbox Live Arcade game and was also among the top 10 Xbox 360 games of all time. With perfect and near-perfect scores on websites like Giant Bomb and GameSpot , “Braid” turned heads. It quickly became a must-play for any gamer worth with his or her weight in gold coins.

“Braid” offers a fun ride, keeping the gameplay fresh enough to continually lure players back for more, even as the difficulty steadily increases.

Also check out…

“Cthulhu Saves the World” (RPG, $1.00)

“Limbo” (Platformer, $15.00)

“Plants vs. Zombies” (Tower Defense, $15.00)

“Shadow Complex” (2-D Shooter/Platformer, $15.00)

“Spelunky” (Platformer/Adventure, $15.00)

“Super Meat Boy” (Platformer, $15.00)

“Trine 2” (Puzzle/Platformer, $15.00)

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PS3

“Journey” (Adventure, $14.99)

In “Journey,” players take the role of a wanderer trudging through the rugged desert towards a giant mountain as it emits a giant beam of light. As players travel, other wanderers may help them out or show them secrets, but the nature of these wanderers is not revealed until the end of the game.

This element of mystery, and its conclusion, is one of the aspects of “Journey” that will make players reconsider how they view their entire play-through experience.

Also check out…

“Braid” (Platformer, $9.99)

“Limbo” (Platformer, $9.99)

“Super Stardust HD” (Arcade/Shooter, $9.99)

“Wipeout HD” (Racing, $19.99)

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PC

“Bastion” (Action/RPG, $14.99)

“Bastion” is the epitome of what every game wants to be. It seamlessly melds together tight gameplay, an interesting story, provocative music and an eye-popping art style to make a game that is more than the sum of its parts. Every facet of this game lends to another element and just heightens the whole experience to a new level, which is something that truly separates this game from the rest of the pack and lets it shine as one of the best indie games ever made.

“Spelunky” (Platformer/Adventure, Free)

“Spelunky” is a “rogue-like” platformer that puts players in the shoes of an Indiana Jones-esque explorer searching deep caverns for treasure, dames and ancient secrets buried away from the rest of the world. In “Spelunky,” the player only gets one life, with just four hits to that life per play-through. Even with your limited life, the game doesn’t hold any punches. Arrow traps, bats, ghost, cavemen and more do everything in their power to bring this short game to a close that much quicker.

Something “Spelunky” manages to do very well, though, is almost never make dying an aggravating experience. The levels are randomly generated and as players progress, they slowly learn how to deal with each type of monster and trap as well as how to spot some of these devious death-dealers before they even have a chance to trigger them. This game’s difficulty only adds to the reward.

Conquering each bite-sized level makes every death feel like it was a step into the right direction towards ultimate victory.”

Also check out…

“Audiosurf” (Arcade/Rhythm, $9.99)

“Binding of Isaac” (Action/Adventure, $4.99)

“Braid” (Platformer, $9.99)

“Cave Story+” (2-D Shooter, $9.99)

“Cthulhu Saves the World” (RPG, $2.99)

“League of Legends” (Action, Free)

“Limbo” (Platformer, $9.99)

“Plants vs. Zombies” (Tower Defense, $9.99)

“Sequence” (RPG, $4.99)

“Super Meat Boy” (Platformer, $14.99)

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PRO TIP: All PC games in this article can be found using Steam, a free download service for video games that routinely has sales and special events where almost everything in-stock is discounted.