Every few weeks we here at Kotaku make a selection of some of the best indie games that Xbox Live has to offer. These are our latest favorites.
You'll be able to find the list here for reference, or in the "Kotaku's favorites" channel in the Indie Game section of Xbox Live's Games Marketplace.
Cell: Emergence (400 MS points): Cell: Emergence is weird. The story involves disease fighting nano-bots and a dying little girl (it kind of plays like a SHMUP version of Trauma Center), but it's never quite clear what is really happening. The game gives you little information about how to beat each level, but it usually boils down to "shoot the thing that looks bad."
The camera also takes some getting used to, as it is behind your "ship" at all times, occasionally moving to keep it in view. With all of that being said, Cell: Emergence is a really polished shooter that looks great and is fun to play. It's definitely worth playing if you like a little more substance in your indie games.
They Breathe (240 MS Points): They Breathe is proof that you don't need realistic graphics or complicated gameplay to tell a horrifying story. The player controls a frog who is constantly diving deeper and deeper into a body of water. As you keep swimming downwards, more frogs appear. They all have trouble breathing, and you have to push them into air bubbles to supply them with enough air to get to the surface. The backgrounds eventually reveal that you are diving down into a flooded forest, and that there is something sinister that made it this way. The visuals may be a little cartoony at first, but They Breathe gets very unsettling fairly quickly. The game also has a PC version, available here.
Gravitas (80 MS Points): In Gravitas, the player gets a ship and is placed on a random field with a handful of planets of varying sizes. The object is to shoot the other ships on the field by utilizing the gravitational pull of the planets. The graphics are nothing to write home about, and there is no story to speak of - but this game is simple and addicting. The game has four player local multiplayer, or you can play with up to five other AI-controlled ships. The more ships on the map, the crazier the game gets, with shots flying all over the place. If you have at least three friends who like to play addicting games, Gravitias is absolutely worth the $1 asking price.
Balloon Guard (240 MS Points): Remember when you were a kid, and you used to play that game with a half-inflated balloon where you had to see how long you could keep it off the ground? Balloon Guard is a platformer version of that game. You play a clown who is trying to protect the balloon princess from dying a horrible balloon-death at the hands of spine covered blocks, pits, and other assorted dangers. You do this by keeping the ballon in the air, or at least directing her away from peril. The game may be really, really kid-friendly, but it's also very difficult at some points, and clearing a level is oddly satisfying.
Grey Infection (80 MS Points): In a future where everything is run by supercomputers with seemingly impenetrable firewalls, one hacker is able to break through. The hacker's "hello world" is left in the form of "particles" which make every machine only display in black and white. Your job is to destroy these particles. Each particle has a different effect on the level (certain ones will make platforms appear, others will make platforms disappear, etc.), but you don't know what each particle does exactly until you shoot it, making multiple playthroughs of levels almost completely necessary. The platforming controls are a bit stiff, but the puzzling is tricky and rewarding.
Defy Gravity Extended (240 MS Points): The original Defy Gravity was released a little more than a year ago, and was available only through Steam. Defy Gravity Extended adds more levels, content, and a price decrease. In Defy Gravity Extended, the player controls a "gravitymancer," who possesses a gun that can shoot gravity and anti-gravity wells, which attract and repel the player, respectively. You must utilize these wells to get through different puzzles. This game is Portal-esque in gameplay, and offers a challenging and fast-paced platforming experience. If you played the first Defy Gravity and never picked up the sequel, now's the time to get it!