Looking to play some of the hottest indie games coming to market? With a booming indie scene across PC, consoles, and mobile devices, players are more spoiled for choice than ever – and playing on Xbox is no exception.
Xbox Live has played host to smaller gems from indie and AA devs as much as it has blockbuster titles, especially in recent years. Microsoft's ID@Xbox initiative was set up in 2014 to help small-size devs self-publish on the Xbox platform, and ensure an audience for games that don’t have the resources or publisher backing to push their work through more traditional channels.
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This fantastically named indie gem sees you as a prison convict in the depths of space, looting and shooting your way through a variety of cargo ships, luxury ‘dining’ ships, and military spacecraft. You can try to sneak your way to only the most important scrap parts or oxygen tanks, or go in guns blazing with interdimensional rayguns and exploding kitten bots.
It’s bombastic, and illustrated in a gorgeous comic book panel art-style, with 2D enemies floating in zero-gravity through the game’s surreal 3D environments – and some key map strategy and fun cutscenes alongside the onboard FPS sections. A varied and stylish space shooter you should definitely keep your eyes on.
Release: Summer 2019 (Xbox One, PC)
What better way to face your demons than with a drink? Night School’s follow-up to paranormal thriller Oxenfree looks at the lighter side of spirits, with two humans trying to out-drink Satan in exchange for their freedom from hell.
Like Oxenfree, this looks set to be a smartly-told coming-of-age story, using developer Night School’s fluid dialogue system, with a twist – this time the different drinks you choose will have different status effects and open up new dialogue options you otherwise couldn’t access. (A Brass Bull, for example, will up your confidence – perfect for trash-talking the imposing demons in your way.)
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Release: 2019 (Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4)
A point-and-click puzzle platformer inspired by auditory hallucinations? Creaks is both wonderfully old school and full of neat surprises, not least the stunning, scratchy sound design in a cavernous wreckage of walls, ladders, and various piles of junk – some more innocent than others. There’s a story twist we won’t spoil for you, but your protagonist’s clear anxiety becomes something of a plot point in itself.
There are mini-games between levels to reduce some of the tension, though the joy here will be allowing yourself to get slightly on edge. One for your headphones.
Release: Early 2020 (Xbox One)
Outer Wilds is an open-world (open-worlds?) exploration game that sees you travel across various planetary bodies in order to solve the galaxy's mysteries – while being caught in a time loop that resets your efforts every 22 minutes.
Quirky, sci-fi, with no combat but a lot of death – but all in the service of a greater mystery. (Not to be confused with Obsidian's sci-fi RPG, The Outer Worlds, which is also launching this year.)
Release: 2019 (Xbox One, PC)
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