Simplicity is often overlooked in modern games. Whereas early programmers had little more to work with than a few lines of code and a green-on-black screen, modern game makers can have armies of programmers, artists, and computers on their side. It doesn't take 3D visuals and realistic physics to make a good game, though, as indie game creators prove time and time again. This week's games are small in some ways, but enormous in others, and all have that special something that makes you treasure the time you spend with it.
Flood the Chamber (Windows, 6.3MB, free) - A tiny-pixeled platformer with the visual sense of Journey to the Center of the Earth and gameplay as punishingly death-centric as VVVVVV. You must work your way to the top of the single-screened level, avoiding traps and tapping checkpoints every time you see them. The water is rising, though, and while hitting spikes only sends you back to the last checkpoint, water ends your game. Make your moves carefully!
TimeStill (Windows, 2.6MB, free) - Platform games are trying all sorts of new tricks these days, and TimeStill is no different. Featuring a unique visual style, you control a ball that's trying to work its way across each stage. You can freeze time use the world around you to make it through each level, such as halting moving objects in their path to create a handy platform. Later levels are quite challenging and feature a lot of clever puzzles to complete. If you are having trouble with the visual style, press  while playing to disable it.
Probability Zero (Mac/Win, 13.3MB, free) - Combining downwards-moving platforming action, purchaseable/upgradeable abilities, and a whole lot of traps, Probability Zero is all about potential things you could do and the outcomes of the choices you make. Use the [Z] and [X] keys to jump and attack, while [space] opens up the shop menu where you can spend ability points. Randomly generated levels, a dynamic musical score, 20 talents to use, a dozen enemies to contend with, and some mild shooting aspects make this one a winner of epic proportions.
This Is How Bees Work (Mac/Win, 4.4MB, free) - A game about nothing more than creating a beautiful moment in time. Using the mouse, move your little rain cloud around in three dimensional space, clicking the [left] mouse button to drop water. Where water goes, flowers grow. Where flowers grow, bees go. And where bees go, trees appear. It's a sweetly-simple experience with no real objective, just an excuse to pleasantly smile and create a few pleasing bits of scenery.
Note: All games have been confirmed to run under Windows Vista and are virus-free. Mac users should try Boot Camp, Parallels, or CrossOver Games to play Windows titles, Linux users can use Wine. If you know of a great game we should feature, use the Submit link above to send it in!