It’s that time of the year again. Gamers are suffering from a lack of triple-A gaming blockbusters, but if you're feeling thirsty, we say you're not looking hard enough
There’s plenty to play if you sniff around, so we've sought out a selection of indie titles to placate your gaming taste buds until next-generation heavy hitters like Titanfall and Destiny land with a bang.
Nidhogg (PC, US$14.99)
Craving for something beyond ultra combos and health bars in a beat 'em up? You’re looking for Nidhogg.
Developer Messhof distills the essence of a 2D fighting game with simple controls, a retro art style, and battlegrounds that vary in shape and size.
Two players are pitted against each other in a 2D arena and have to reach their respective end zone while fending off the opposition with the help of a sword.
Your opponent has to be disarmed before you can dive in with the killer blow, and to avoid the same fate you'll have to master evasive manoeuvers, throwing your sword, and even use your fists if it comes to it.
Outmanoeuvre. Outfence. Everything about Nidhogg is exhilarating and no bout takes longer than 10 minutes - a great time waster during coffee and lunch breaks.
The Banner Saga (PC, US$24.99)
Set in a Viking world where humans and horned giants called Varl co-exist, you step into the boots of various heroes, uprooting your caravans to combat a looming new threat.
Gameplay comes in two parts. First, you'll be managing your food supply while keeping morale up through tough decisions in random situations. Results from your decisions could gain you supplies via morally-questionable situations, or a permanent loss of a party member. No pressure then.
The second part is a turn-based combat scenario similar to X-Com: Enemy Unknown and Final Fantasy Tactics. The gameplay utilises a strength and armour mechanic that rewards the cautiously aggressive strategist.
Did we forget to mention that it’s gorgeous to look at? Because it is.
The Banner Saga blends George R.R. Martin's style with the medieval-influence of Disney’s Eyvind Earle, resulting in one hell of an interactive ride.
READ MORE: Banner Saga review
Broken Age (PC, US$24.99)
Broken Age - a production of famed developer Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure - might rule the roost again with its diverse narratives, engaging dialogues and creative puzzles.
It tells a tale of two individuals; Shay, who has been mollycoddled by a motherly spaceship AI and wants to escape from the melancholy, and feisty Vella who refuses to be sacrificed to a monster against her will. Can't blame her really.
Featuring the vocal talents of Elijah Wood and a surprisingly toned-down Jack Black, Broken Age features gorgeous visuals that’s part George Kamitani and part Maurice Sendak. It’s truly a throwback to the days of LucasArts’ adventure gaming age of yore, blended with modern sensibilities.
READ MORE: Broken Age: Act 1 review
Steamworld Dig (PC and 3DS, US$8.99 and US$9.99 respectively)
Take a huge pile of Metroid and Castlevania, mix it with the 2D tunnelling action of Mr. Driller, add a sprinkling of randomised elements from Spelunky, and boom - you've just created Steamworld Dig.
Set in a Wild West-tailored world filled with robots, you set out to dig and claim your uncle’s gold mines with your trusty pickaxe. You’ll come across random minerals that are worth some cash for upgrades, including teleporters to make backtracking easier, and puzzle-laden obstacles that lead to better rewards.
Go deeper, and the path gets harder and darker to tread. That means you can’t dig recklessly, unless you want to ruin your escape route and die deep, deep underground all on your own (we wouldn't reccomend it).