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The Best Indie Games on Xbox One

Must-play indie games on Xbox One

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“Indie” is a term that gets harder and harder to define.

Generally, we take “indie” to mean a game from a small studio; something that hasn’t been developed or published by Ubisoft, Sony, Activision or the likes. But that line forever gets blurrier. The titles one person considers to be the best indie games on Xbox One might not be considered indie at all by another person.

That’s because it’s pretty much impossible to give a firm definition to what makes an “indie game” these days. Unravel, for instance, is a game made by Coldwood Interactive. Coldwood’s a Swedish development company that was founded by five people. That sounds pretty independent, right? But then Unravel was published by EA Originals, a branch of EA set up to publish and support smaller developers. Unravel surely isn’t an ‘indie’ game, then, with a big publisher attached to it. Or is it?

Generally, we consider an “indie” game to be one that’s been created by a small team or company separate from a large, AAA corporation. We’ve tried to be consistent in the games we’ve chosen on this list, even if some of them may have gone on to be published by bigger studios.

But let’s not get bogged down with semantics. Here are the best indie games on Xbox One; those made by smaller devs and published by smaller companies that deserve just as much love (or more) than the triple-As.

Superhot: Mind Control Delete

Developed and published by SUPERHOT Team

Becca said: “Superhot: Mind Control Delete is simply an amazing title. Back in 2016, SUPERHOT really was the most innovative shooter we’d played in years, and four years on, the series is still as exciting as ever. With new levels, cool weapons, more creative settings and excellent sound design and music, there’s nothing quite like it. Superhot: Mind Control Delete is what fans of the original have been waiting for – and it more than delivers. Pick it up now; play more, win more and uncover the secrets waiting for you.”

Read our full review to find out more about why Superhot: Mind Control Delete is one of the best indie games on Xbox One

 

Neon Abyss

Neon Abyss

Developed by Veewo Games
Published by Team17

Kim said: “With beautiful pixel art brought to life with bright neon colours and wonderfully absurd enemy designs, Neon Abyss is an absolute joy to play. Its bombastic soundtrack spurs you on through each dungeon and if you die – no, when you die – you’ll just shake it off, eager to jump back in. The sheer wealth of weapons and pick-ups available genuinely means that no two journeys through the abyss ever feel the same. The room layouts may look the same, but the chaos that happens within is completely different each time. Neon Abyss is undoubtedly one of the best Rogue-likes in recent years; gorgeous, meticulously designed and a hell of a lot of fun to play. It’s a shame a few bugs let it down, but hopefully they’ll be ironed out before long, then what’s left will be nothing but an exhilarating experience.”

Read our review of Neon Abyss

Neversong

Developer: Atmos Games and Serenity Forge

Becca said: “Neversong did nothing but impress as I made my way through its weird and wonderful world. There’s nothing quite like it, but if you’re a fan of games like Night in the Woods or Limbo, then Neversong fits into a similar category. It will send shivers down your spine one moment and have you cackling the next despite its macabre and serious tone. It’s obvious from its very first moments that love, time and tonnes of effort went into making Neversong the clever indie game that it is. Regardless of what type of gamer you are, I’d urge you to add this to your ‘must play’ pile.”

Read our full review of Neversong to find out more about what makes it one of the best indie games on Xbox One

Yoku’s Island Express

Developed by Villa Gorilla
Published by Team17

Kim said: “It’s rare an indie game is as endlessly joyous as Yoku’s Island Express. It’s a game without stressors; without any grinding annoyances that get in the way of your enjoyment. Devoid of any real combat, it’s a laid-back experience that lets you approach it at your own pace. Once I picked it up I found it very hard to put down, and for good reason. Yoku’s Island Express oozes charm and love from every pixel; it’s plain to see how much care Villa Gorilla, the game’s developer, has put into this. It’s a very simple idea, yet a very clever one. Two very distinct gameplay styles have come together perfectly to create something that anyone can enjoy. I challenge you to play Yoku’s Island Express without a smile on your face. Go on. I bet you can’t.”

Read our review of Yoku’s Island Express

Buy now on Amazon

Two Point Hospital

Two Point Hospital review

Kim said: “Two Point Hospital on console is simply a delight. Anyone who has fond memories of playing Theme Hospital will find themselves right at home here. Packed with challenge, wonderful humour and a flawless control scheme, it’s very hard to find fault with anything Two Point Hospital has to offer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have patients to tend to – and will you please stop dying in the corridors?”

Read our full review of Two Point Hospital to find out more about what makes it one of the best indie games on Xbox One

Buy on Amazon

Outlast 2

Developed by Red Barrels

Rich said: “By the end of the seven gruelling hours it took me to complete Outlast 2, I was sure of one thing: Red Barrels are a developer ahead of the game. They’re a developer to watch out for, whatever they do next. The production values of Outlast 2 are head and shoulders above those of its predecessor and the gameplay has been developed and refined to near perfection. Only the odd frustrating moment of trial and error sours the experience, but the rest of the game is so engrossing that you won’t let the thought of them linger in your mind. If you’re a horror fan you simply need to play Outlast 2. Just be sure to have a few clean pairs undies close by in case you have any accidents. You’re likely to.”

Read our review of Outlast 2

Buy now on Amazon

Moonlighter

Moonlighter 5-min

Developed by Digital Sun
Published by 11 bit studios

Kim said: “Sometimes simplicity is best, and Moonlighter absolutely proves that. Its combination of two tried and tested genres into one finely-tuned complete package is nothing short of wonderful. I’m itching to get back to that cathartic and enchanting loop of killing enemies, finding loot, and selling it on.”

Read our full review of Moonlighter to find out more about what makes it one of the best indie games on Xbox One

Dead Cells

Dead Cells 4

Developed and published by Motion Twin

Richard said: “Dead Cells is such an easy indie game to recommend. It’s a game that oozes charm out of every pore. A game that is challenging but does a good job of easing you in. And a game that is simply a joy to play because of its fluidity and the range of combat options available. Some might find it a bit repetitive if they die too often, but after a short break they’ll be back for more. Smashing multiple genres together with expertise, developer Motion Twin has created something rather special with Dead Cells. It only falls short of being truly great because of its awkward difficulty spikes.”

Read our review of Dead Cells

Guacamelee! 2

Guacamelee! 2 Unikitty

Developed and published by DrinkBox Studios

Richard said: “If you enjoyed the original Guacamelee!, this sequel is an absolute must. It’s not going to particularly surprise you in any way, but it’s certainly going to have you grinning from ear to ear as you play. Also, if you liked the original Guacamelee! but found its platforming and bosses a little too hard in the latter stages, you’ll find Guacamelee! 2 to be much more enjoyable. Those who didn’t like Guacamelee!, however, won’t really find anything here to change their minds. Guacamelee! 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it just makes sure it looks prettier while flattening out any bumps.”

Read our full review of Guacamelee! 2 to find out more about what makes it one of the best indie games on Xbox One

Tricky Towers

Developed by WeirdBeard

Brandon said: “WeirdBeard Games should be commended for creating such a simple, yet charming arcade puzzle game. Its single-player mode is useful for familiarising yourself with the game, but this is, undeniably, a multiplayer spectacle. Don’t take its cartoony appearance lightly; Tricky Towers could very well be the game that has you laughing and screaming with (or at) your friends for a long time to come.”

Read our review of Tricky Towers

Manual Samuel

Developed by Perfectly Paranormal
Published by Curve Digital

Richard said: “The demanding controls of Manual Samuel may get the better of less dexterous players, but  for those that can remain calm under pressure and don’t like to be beaten it’s an absolute blast. A mesmerising mixture of dark humour, beautifully drawn graphics and over-the-top characters, Manual Samuel is the most unique and refreshing indie game I’ve had the pleasure of playing in years. It’s a rare occurrence for a game so original and inventive like this to come along, so unless, like Death, you have no soul, I urge you to give it a try. I can promise you, it’s definitely not ‘feces’.”

Read our review of Manual Samuel 

20XX

20XX screen 2

Developed and published by Batterystaple Games and Fire Hose Games

Richard said: “If you’re a fan of platform games or roguelikes, 20XX comes highly recommended. And if you’re a fan of Mega Man it’s pretty much essential. It’s a good-looking game with plenty of content, but it is its gameplay that really makes it stand out. Precise and enjoyable, it gives the old-fashioned platform genre the shot in the arm that it needed by adding an ample dose of unpredictabilty and depth.”

Read our review of 20XX

Arcade Spirits

Developed by Fiction Factory Games

Kim said: “If you enjoy getting lost in a great story based around realistic characters, then you shouldn’t hesitate to play Arcade Spirits. Its story throws enough twists and turns to keep you captivated for its six to eight-hour runtime, and it’s hard not to get invested. It’s a shame the voice acting is inconsistent, but it’s not enough of a bugbear to ruin what is otherwise an excellent visual novel.”

Read our review of Arcade Spirits

The Witness

Developed by Jonathan Blow, Thekla Inc.

Jack said: “I’d love to write more about my time playing The Witness, but so much of it needs to be experienced first hand to truly appreciate what it has to offer. It isn’t a perfect game by any means, but it’s an unforgettable experience. The air of pretention is off-putting, and the conclusion doesn’t do the experience justice, but if you can look past that, The Witness is a masterpiece when it’s at its best – and it’s there a lot.”

Read our review of The Witness

Sayonara Wild Hearts

Kim said: “Sayonara Wild Hearts is an indie game best enjoyed without pressure. Put on some headphones, get yourself comfortable and let the game’s audio and visuals wash over you. By all means, try to get a good score while you’re at it, but the true beauty of Sayonara Wild Hearts is simply enjoying the exceptional music and getting lost in the visuals. Mistaking this for a simple rhythm game is to do it a disservice. It may be less than that in terms of gameplay, but it’s a hell of a lot more in terms of audiovisual accomplishment.”

Read our review of Sayonara Wild Hearts

Killing Floor 2

Killing Floor 2 Header

Developed by Tripwire Interactive

Aaron said: “Killing Floor 2 is an amazing example of how to take a gameplay element often pushed to the wayside in other blockbuster releases, and refine it to such a degree that hardcore fans of the experience can’t help but be impressed and have plenty to do. So while Killing Floor 2 might not have much to offer those who prefer doing their zombie killing on the set tracks of a story campaign, it’s an in-depth shooting gore-fest of an experience whose addictive gunplay won’t fail to keep you coming back for more!”

Read our review of Killing Floor 2

Buy now on Amazon

Bastion

Developed by Supergiant Games

Kim said: “I really cannot praise Bastion highly enough. There’s something about the dreamlike graphics and acoustic beats of the excellent music that keeps you entranced in this game. Though simple, the combat is gratifying, and a simple weapon/character upgrade system means that even the most inexperienced of RPG players can jump right in and enjoy this game to the full. Whether or not you’ve played Bastion in the past, you should definitely revisit it on PlayStation 4. It has a charm unlike any other game.”

Read our review of Bastion

Jackbox Party Pack 5

Developed by Jackbox Games

Kim said: “The variety on offer in The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is excellent. While it’s a departure from some of the Jackbox classics – FibbageQuiplashDrawful – it’s a fantastic and inventive range of new titles, all rounded off with another solid entry of the much-loved You Don’t Know Jack. It’s probably the best Party Pack so far, and will no doubt be the go-to collection whenever friends are over. If you’ve enjoyed anything that Jackbox Games has put out before, you’ll be sure to find something to like here. After a somewhat disappointing fourth entry into the series, Jackbox is back on top form. Any game that encourages you to come up with comedic raps is surely a win in my book.”

Read our review of Jackbox Party Pack 5

Minit

Developed by Jan Willem Nijman, Kitty Calis, Jukio Kallio and Dominik Johann and published by Devolver Digital

Kim said: “It’s always great to see an indie game try and do something different, and Minit does so with gusto: it takes a tried-and-tested formula and turns it on its head with one very simple mechanic. It makes a standard adventure game into a test of memory, of patience, of skill, and even though it’ll frustrate you, it’ll have you coming back for “just one minute” time and time again. It isn’t perfect, but considering that Minit was made by a team of just four, there’s plenty to be impressed with.”

Read our review of Minit

The Town of Light

Developed by LKApublished by Wired Productions

Kim said: “The real horrors of the world are those that are true, and The Town of Light‘s well-researched basis of 1930’s mental healthcare makes this far more affecting than any chase sequence in the likes of Resident Evil. It’s fascinating yet harrowing, and apart from watching a stuffy documentary, The Town of Light is perhaps one of the closest and most detailed examinations of that time period we’re going to get. What LKA has created here transcends being “just another video game”; it’s an incredibly important insight into a dark part of history that, thankfully, most of us are too young to have lived through.”

Read our review of The Town of Light

The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker

Doctor Dekker Header

Developed and published by D’Avekki Studios

Chris said: “The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is a fantastically compelling, suspenseful slow burn that shows just what can be done with a medium that, for years, has been misused and misunderstood. Look past its clunky parser and you’ll be in for one hell of a head trip.”

Read our review of The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker

Thimbleweed Park

Developed by Terrible Toybox

Jamie said: “If it’s anything at all, Thimbleweed Park is a brave game. It is a standalone adventure with no sequel tie-ins. It’s a self-contained story with interesting characters and an intriguing mystery to solve. And it’s unafraid to embrace its heritage and it’s not afraid of modernising to improve on the old formula. Possibly bravest of all, though, it’s an old-school point and click graphical adventure game. As a fan, it’s everything you could want it to be; *BLEEP* everybody else.”

Read our review of Thimbleweed Park

Virginia

Developed by Variable State

Richard said: “Whatever your view on interactive movies as games, I urge you to give Virginia a try. Its developer has been brave in creating such a thought-provoking piece of entertainment that goes against the grain in many ways, and now it’s your turn to be brave and embrace it. You may not quite understand it – chances are you’ll be slack jawed for some time after the credits have rolled – but I’m pretty sure it’ll leave you with a lasting impression. In the current age where the majority of films and games are happy to ask you to think and feel nothing, I think that speaks volumes.”

Read our review of Virginia

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

Developed by Eric Barone and Sickhead Games, published by Chucklefish

Jack said: “I have been seriously charmed by Stardew Valley; there certainly isn’t much about it that I dislike. I like its subtle tactical elements and time management that thread through all of the activities you can do. It’s without a doubt currently my favourite game this year, and I feel it might take something pretty incredible to knock it off. There’s a few that could do that, but I’m grateful to already have a game I enjoy this much, and it’s only March!”

Read our review of Stardew Valley

Buy now on Amazon

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

Developed by Yacht Club Games

Richard said: “Creations like Shovel Knight prove that games don’t have to have fancy graphics or cost lots of money to be engrossing adventures. Quirky, endearing, challenging and wholly entertaining, Shovel Knight offers a slice of old-school platforming action at its best. Fans of the genre should consider this title essential, and anyone else that feels like a break from the myriad of multi-million pound developments being released left, right and centre should seriously consider giving Shovel Knight a try. You never know, you just might love it!”

Read our review of Shovel Knight

Buy now on Amazon

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse

Developed by Revolution Software

Richard said: “Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is a good game that’s worthy of any point and click fan’s time. It never quite manages to reach the heady highs of Broken Sword 1 or 2, but it is undoubtedly better than the third and fourth entries in the series. With its familiar graphics and gameplay, Broken Sword fans will enjoy it in great measure, but may also be disappointed by its lack of a gripping storyline and some questionable puzzles. For those that have never played a Broken Sword game however, the game’s shift away from the Knights Templar means that this serves as a good introduction to the series, but they may be left puzzled by the overuse of many recurring characters (and a goat) that the game expects you to know.”

Read our review of Broken Sword 5

Buy now on Amazon

 

The Banner Saga Trilogy

Banner Saga 3

Developed by Stoic Studio
Published by Versus Evil

Jamie said: “While it’s got its problems, I’ll stand by calling The Banner Saga an epic. For the most part it’s wonderfully well-realised: it has a compelling and moving story that really drives the game forward, along with engaging and thought-provoking gameplay from start to finish. The combat is its only real downside (and a very minor downside at that) as it feels a little out of place; but probably only does so because there’s so much story going on outside of it, and so many consequences happening in what is an otherwise excellent and, indeed, epic game.”

Read our review of The Banner Saga Read our review of The Banner Saga 2

Buy now on Amazon

Steamworld Dig 2

SteamWorld Dig 4

Developed by Image & Form Games

Kim said: “While 2015’s Steamworld Heist was dubbed a sequel to Steamworld Dig, it was a very different style of game, swapping platforming and mining for turn-based strategy. Steamworld Dig 2 is the true sequel fans have been waiting for, building on the foundations laid by the original but making everything bigger and better. The gameplay is fundamentally similar, but a more in-depth upgrade system and a much bigger map to explore mean this is, in pretty much every way, a more refined — and much more enjoyable — experience.”

Read our review of Steamworld Dig 2

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