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2008's best games cost less than $20

ECHOCHROME
On PSN | Out Now (US) / 2008 (UK)

Though developed for PSN by Sony's own JAPAN Studio, EchoChrome has its roots in a little project called the OLE Coordinate System. It's a captivating journey into an MC Escher-inspired world, seeing you manipulating the structure of each level to guide a doll-like character to its goal.

In a similar vein to Fez, EchoChrome's boundaries are dictated by what you can see - spin a series of pillars around and they become a single pillar, or twist the world to bring two distant platforms into contact and form a single walkway. Both intriguing to watch and hypnotic to play, EchoChrome is a simply brilliant puzzler. Cost? Try $9.99, which ought to mean £5-£10.

PUZZLE QUEST: GALACTRIX
On PC / XBLA | Out 2008

If you've ignored Puzzle Quest then you ignored an alarmingly good mesh of RPG-lite exploration and... well, Bejeweled. The casual webgame adored by millions of bored housewives forms the basis of Puzzle Quest's severely addicitive action, and Galactrix propels the series into new territory - both in setting and in structure. We're sure it'll be at the same great price too, say 800 to 1200 Microsoft Points (roughly $10-$20 or £6-£10).

Now tiles are hexagonal, and can be moved in six different directions - a fact that ought to set the heads of Puzzle Quest fans spinning at the possibilites. With the same RPG stylings (missions, parties, upgradable weaponry, etc.) Galactrix is basically a Bejeweled-powered Elite spin-off. What could be better?

ROBOTOLOGY
On PC / XBLA | Out 2008

The image below illustrates the star of Robotology, the new project from N and N+ dev Metanet Software. The idea is straightforward - a 2D physics-based platformer starring a robot with a grappling hook - but what Metanet is suggesting sounds, frankly, awesome. N+ costs just 800 Microsoft Points (approx $10/£6) on XBLA so expect the same for Robotology.

The dev's blog posts may occasionally be impenetrable, what with the discussion of C++ techniques and so on, but the concept already sounds solid and exciting. You can download a very (veryearly prototype, which uses the N framework, and it's already basic fun. When finished, we reckon Robotology will be one of 2008's greatest games.

For more independent games, check out the Indie Games blog or The Independent Gaming Source.

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