The stream of indie games seams to increase by the minute, from big and lengthy developments, to games created in hours. Much of this output is also free, and without commercial marketing constraints there are some truly bizarre experiences out there.
A combination of money and resources mean the 2D scene is alive and well, from the beautiful Braid to short and tough mini developments like Sword Calibre. Some of these bring something new to 2D gaming, and many are resolutely retro in style and gameplay. Either way, what’s on offer is very different to most commercial releases.
There are 3D games too. Classic 1990s 3D engines, like Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake (the standard bearers for their respective generations) are still producing fun today: Bizarre story telling from cult developers with Judith, joyful uber street violence like Urban Brawl, and probably my favourite experience of the last year: Gravity Bone. If you want something that looks a bit more modern, college creation Glasshouse is an interesting 3D puzzle game, with presentation and graphics that are incredible for a free game.
Another genre that’s produced a plethora of indie releases is the “physics based game” (which generally mean your success involves using gravity in some way). Crayon Physics is the most obvious example, but there are others like FlickerStrings, Numpty Physics and the excellent And Yet it Moves.