If you've had quite enough of your blockbuster Call of Honours and your World of Duty's, you might want to give the blossoming indie scene a try - it's full of some of the most inventive and entertaining games doing the rounds at the moment. If you've ever, ever, ever criticised games for being samey and repetitive then you are now contractually obligated to play at least four titles from the following list:
SpaceChem is a drug for puzzle fans. The idea is to create a circuit to guide elements from a spawning point to their destination, but with about a zillion other things to consider at any one time it's much more difficult. The puzzles are absolutely devious, too, and actually getting to the end of the game is almost a Herculean feat, but the satisfaction derived from finishing each individual circuit is virtually unmatched. We love it.
Dismissed by some as a weak Left 4 Dead clone, Killing Floor is actually more like Left 4 Dead mixed with a wave-based survival mode and a levelling mechanic. It's bold, rough, and silly, but there's hours of fun to be had. Don't expect it to pop up in any 'are games art?' features, but if you're looking to blast away hordes of monsters with a few mates then you should get stuck in.
Team Bondi made adventure games cool again in 2011, but you could always check out some other fantastic examples of the genre before the PC version of LA Noire shows up later this year. Machinarium, which we whole-heartedly recommend, has you solving puzzles with a squat little robot in a delightful hand-painted world.
Minecraft is a global sensation - the game recently sold its 2.5 millionth copy. Minecraft is still being developed (it's now in beta) and over the last year the indie building game has gone from being one of the most creative and unique games of all time to one of the most creative and unique games of all time with even more spangly bits in.
Flotilla is a high stakes space combat game. Campaigns are short and sweet, but also deadly and dangerous - you fight a universe of enemies by taking turns to move fleets of spaceships around in 3D space, but missteps are severely punished and it's very easy to lose. Despite all that, however, Flotilla is actually a surprisingly calming game to play - death is never the end, and clicking on 'New Game' comes naturally.
After Minecraft came Terraria, which takes the former's build-it-yourself sandbox mentality and mixes it with a Metroidvania adventure game. Yes, we know that's quite hard to understand. Let's try that again: Terraria is kind of like a 2D Minecraft, with a similar focus on building but far more of an emphasis on discovery and combat. If you've always liked the idea of Minecraft but wanted it to have a little more structure, Terraria might be right up your alley.
Anyone who grew up playing 90s platformers owes it to themselves to play Super Meat Boy, one of last year's standout indie hits. Levels are short but incredibly rigorous, leaving you running the same gauntlets over and over again until you finally get lucky/skilful (delete as appropriate) enough to finally get to the end. You'll need a gamepad, mind - we use a 360 controller and it works great.
Some of the most addictive games in the world let you build up an empire, and some of the other most addictive games in the world let you level up your characters with new items, weapons, and abilities. Recettear lets you do both. Sometimes it strays a little too close to some of the JRPG stereotypes it's aiming to spoof, but for the most part Recettear is a charming example of how the genre isn't as dry and tired as you might think.
World of Goo is all about building solid structures out of wobbly black globules. Wobbly black globules, you might be thinking, are not naturally good as the bedrock in construction. You'd be exactly right! But that doesn't stop World of Goo from being both brilliant and devious.
Torchlight loves Diablo, but that's okay - we all love Diablo. Two of developer Runic Games' key staff even co-founded Blizzard North, who made Diablo. Torchlight, as you might have guessed, plays quite a bit like Diablo - you click on a load of nasty monsters with your mouse until everything is dead, sometimes pausing to manage your health and mana. It's an absolute joy to play, too, and has an intelligent aesthetic which ensures the game looks good while functioning well on pretty much any computer ever made.