One thing I have noticed while participating in Game Jams is that there seem to be a lot of people using tools like Gamemaker to create their games. As Steam has a free version of it available, I figured that I would take it for a spin. The free version has a lot of restrictions on it, such as the number of sprites, sounds, and rooms that the game can contain so the free version is pretty limited but is enough to give you a taste for the tool.
While the idea behind Gamemaker is that you can create games without programming, this is not entirely true. Objects in the game support a number of events. When an event happens, it triggers a series of actions. While these actions are assembled through a drag-and-drop interface the actions are essentially function calls so the user is just programming in a simplified manner. The nice thing is that you can actually select a command that brings up a code editor and write C-like code to handle some more complex logic.
With the pro version supporting a native compiler option an support for a number of platforms such as iOS and Android, it seems like YoYo games is trying to attract more serious developers. The problem I have is that their editors are actually very primitive and from what I can tell, their tile support is very limited so for the bulk of the games I like to create there is very little this tool adds for the amount it would cost me. Still, if there is a decent enough sale, I would probably consider buying it.
As it is free to try, I would recommend anybody looking for a simple to use 2D engine give this a brief look. It is a lot more powerful than I had expected. I could actually see it being good enough for a large variety of games. As a coder, however, the key reason I would buy a tool like this is for editors tied to a powerful scripting engine. As the editors are somewhat lacking, going with a cross-platform library and tools such as tiled is probably a better (and cheaper) bet.