'In The Pit' - Xbox Live Indie Games Showcase

If you don't have a 5.1 audio setup, this week’s title is not going to do you much good. But if you do, "In The Pit" is a great chance to use it for something other than hearing bullets whizz by your virtual head. Audio-only games have been tried before, but "In The Pit" is the first time I’ve seen it done with the full use of surround sound, and it’s far and away the most successful at spinning audio-only play into a full game experience.

You play as a sightless monster, thrown into a lightless pit. At first, life is good: Unconscious victims are tossed in for your consumption, you locate them by their breathing, and then it's monster brunch. "But as the game's story progresses (and the game manages a surprising amount of entertaining storytelling given its radio-drama restrictions) the challenge increases. You’ll need to catch up with pathetic little runners, maneuver behind would-be monster-slayers, lurk under water, and keep yourself from giggling too hard at the game's cheerfully over-the-top voice acting.

The game spins a surprising amount of gameplay variation from its basic principles, but fundamentally, it's a simple concept, executed with aplomb. Like a lot of Indie Games, "In The Pit" isn't trying to replace your $60 titles. What it does do is provide an experience that's both plenty of fun, and like nothing else you've played (with a little bit of wumpus-hunting thrown in for nostalgia's sake). Again, without a 5.1 system, it's almost unplayable. But with, it's an unusually atmospheric, immersive experience, without a single pixel's worth of graphics.