Available on: PC
Part Dark Souls, part Castlevania, all adorable and awesome. Rogue Legacy is the perfect gateway to the Roguelike genre, where death spells the permanent end of your precious player character. But fear not--your progeny will continue the fight, as you work your way through the perilous rooms of a constantly shifting castle. Unlike the similarly excellent Spelunky, Rogue Legacy gives you the joy of progression via upgrades like new classes, boosted stats, and blueprints for crafting sweet loot. And with New Game+ always awaiting you after each hard-fought victory, there's really no good reason to stop playing.
Available on: PC
If you ever found yourself wondering what Minecraft would be like if all of the Minecraft Steves of the world were replaced with the psychopaths from Borderlands, the answer is Rust. Developed by the people who put together Garry's Mod (it's more than just Garry, btw), the game is set in a desolate waste where you need to scrap together any resources you can to survive. The catch? You're playing on servers full of other people who would rather bash you on the head with a rock than point you in the direction of water. But don't let the brutality turn you away--there's great fun to be found in Rust if you're willing to put in the time.
Available on: PC, Mac, PS4
If the words "Metal Slug" bring a pleasurable sensation to your eardrums, then Mercenary Kings will no doubt make you go numb with joy. This 2D run-and-gun indie game hearkens back to the likes of Contra and the aforementioned Nazca Corporation series, providing an action-packed experience with a unique twist: crafting. Using Mercenary Kings' crafting system, you can upgrade your guns and armor to become more efficient mercenaries.
Available on: 3DS
Man, if only real sports were like Inazuma Eleven, maybe we wouldn't have gotten kicked off our little league baseball teams. This is the sports game for people who hate sports games. You control a boy named Mark Evans, grandson of a famous soccer player, who must recruit local kids to form a soccer team and compete in matches. Except this all plays out in JRPG fashion, giving a bit of an Earthbound feel to the game during its overworld and battle components, with a little bit of virtual soccer thrown in for good measure. Pretty neat stuff.
Available on: PC, PS4, PS3
Your goal in Don't Starve is simple: don't starve. Also don't be killed by wolves at night. Also don't get stabbed to death by Pigmen. Alright, so it isn't as simple as not starving, but you get the idea. You're dropped onto a weird island with nothing but your wits, and forced to survive for as long as possible. It has some crafting elements that'll likely remind you of Minecraft, but the dark tone and stellar, minimalist art style set it apart, making for a wholly unique game that'll give you a few dozen hours of fun.
Far Cry 3
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Far Cry 3 is pretty close to the perfect realization of the open-world FPS. Its sprawling, beautiful, verdant tropical island allows for countless activities, including hunting and hang-gliding, and also destroying pot fields while a Skrillex song plays or carelessly careening off a cliff in a jeep The point is, with the ludicrous amount of content in Far Cry 3, an hours-to-dollars ratio would roughly equate to infinity hours per dollar. Because that Skrillex song will loop forever. And you will never get tired of it.
Available on: PS Vita (other platforms coming in 2014).
Remember back in the '90s when all you cared about was Tony Hawk games and those miniature skateboards you'd use with your fingers? Now you can relive those days by playing OlliOlli, a totally tubular (but really goddamn hard) 2D skating game on the PS Vita. OlliOlli condenses all of its action into intensely brief levels averaging a minute or so in length. Your goal? Pull off as many trick combos as possible without faceplanting on the pavement. Trust us, it's harder than it sounds.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
For a game whose characters cannot speak, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons sure conveys a lot of emotion. This downloadable puzzler tasks two young brothers with traveling into the wild unknown in search of a cure for their dying father. It's an emotionally touching tale that explores surprisingly mature themes and will no doubt leave a lasting impression. Of course, it's rather enjoyable to play, too. You control both brothers simultaneously, each with one of your gamepad's analog sticks, and must use their unique strengths to solve puzzles. Even the simplest obstacles require a good deal of thought once you have to use two characters to overcome them. By its end, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons proves to be the sort of experience you'll talk about in the same breath as indie darlings like Journey or Braid--which is to say, yeah, it's totally worth your time and money.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
In no other game can you freeze time, walk up to a guard and plant a proximity barbed wire bomb on his chest, then unfreeze time and watch him blow himself up. Such is the beauty of Dishonored, a game about being as creative as you can with the tools at your disposal to reach your objectives. You play as Corvo Attano, an assassin framed for the murder of his Empress. Only by getting to the bottom of the political coup at hand can you hope to set things right--whether you do so by stealthily sneaking by enemies or cutting them to ribbons in rather creative ways is totally up to you.
Available on: PC, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360
In Spelunky, you will laugh and you will cry. You will save many a damsel in distress, and go on adventures that you'd never dreamed possible. Most importantly, you'll get rich--and/or die trying. This roguelike is all about amassing wealth while delving ever deeper into caverns full of things that want to kill you. Things like yetis. Bats. Man-eating plants. And, yes, even spiders. But once you're caught in Spelunky's alluring grasp, you'll never escape. Someday, when forced to choose between your beloved or Spelunky's glittering appeal, you'll no doubt succumb to the latter in hopes of feeling the elation that comes with nabbing yet another treasure.