Usually, gaming fans don’t really take the time to look at indie games, focusing only on those AAA releases that are hyped up by their publishers. However, thanks to Xbox Game Pass, members have access to dozens of great titles they might have never even considered at no extra charge. In this selection, let’s take some time to look at some of the great indie games on Xbox Game Pass.
Starting off with a game everyone knows, we’ve got Among Us.
In this social deduction game, 4 to 15 players have to work together by performing several tasks that are spread across the map, in order to win the game. While most of the group are crewmates, there are also up to 3 impostors, who have a much different path to victory. The impostors’ goal is to kill all the crewmates before they can complete all the tasks, while at the same time trying to not blow their cover. There are also voting sessions, that can be used by crewmates to discuss who they think are the impostors, promptly kicking them out, in order to win.
There are 4 maps in which the deductions can take place: The Skeld, a spaceship, MIRA HQ, a headquarters building, Polus, a planet base, and The Airship, an airship based on the Henry Stickmin series, which was developed by the same indie studio as Among Us.
Among Us is probably every indie developer’s dream. The astonishing amount of success it achieved is definitely due to its amazing accessibility, everyone can play it. For me, playing Among Us with a full lobby of friends is one of the best experiences out there, because it builds up tension in a way I’ve never seen in a game before. Its addictive and entertaining premise will keep you glued to your screen for hours, questioning your trusting ability, and I think that’s very hard to achieve in a video game, making it one of the great indie games of all time.
Continuing our list of great indie games on Xbox Game Pass, we have a 2015 city-building game, Cities: Skylines. Cities: Skylines is an open-ended simulation where the player engages in several degrees of urban planning, from road planning to public services and taxation. Players have to control all of these aspects at the same time, in order to build the best city possible.
Starting with a small plot of land, the player has the option to build residential, industrial, and commercial zones, providing its inhabitants with basic services like power, water, and sewage, encouraging them to move in.
Players can also upgrade their city, after reaching certain population goals, unlocking new infrastructures like police and fire stations, as well as health and care facilities. Facilities with higher levels will improve the local area they are placed in, giving more benefits to the city. For example, a commercial store will increase in level if nearby residents are more educated.
If you are into simulation games, like me, then Cities: Skylines is a must-play. In my opinion, in the simulation genre, this is the game with the most depth, the kind where you can get lost (in a good way) for hours and hours on end. The game really shines when the player lets his creativity flow. It’s an addictive game with a surprisingly good amount of drama and challenges for you to solve. If you are a player who loves all the technicalities, or if you just want to build a huge metropolis without thinking too much about it, then this game is for you.
Turning our heads to the role-playing genre, we’ve got Darkest Dungeon.
In this indie game, the player manages a roster of heroes that explore many different procedurally generated dungeons, fighting the creature encountered along the way, in a turn-based combat system. There are fifteen character classes in Darkest Dungeon, each with its own stats and upgradable skills. With a couple of roguelike elements, if a hero dies while exploring a dungeon, that hero is lost forever.
A core feature in the game is the stress levels of the heroes, called the Affliction system. This stat increases with further exploration and combat, leading to certain debuffs to the hero when high levels of stress are reached, debilitating that hero’s ability to fight. The stress levels can also be tampered with by other aspects, such as witnessing the death of a party member or even adventuring into the dungeons without proper food or light sources.
Darkest Dungeon is a great RPG that features one of the most intense and immersive experiences available. The game’s simplistic but unrelenting design stands out in the ocean of available RPGs, creating a truly addictive experience. Darkest Dungeon’s Affliction system is a genius idea, implemented in such a way that introduces a surprisingly intricate strategy aspect into the game. Although not a game that can be described as a roguelike, it definitely has some roguelike features to it, mainly the sanity system, that makes the overall experience even richer.
Talking about indie roguelike games, we now have one of the best in the genre, Hades.
In this action dungeon crawler, the player controls Zagreus, son of Hades, as he tries to escape from the Underworld, with the ultimate goal of reaching Mount Olympus. During his journey, Zagreus is aided by other Olympian gods, who give him gifts.
Featuring a hack and slash combat system, Hades challenges the player through a series of rooms populated with different enemies, rewards, and challenges. In order to achieve said objective, the player has access to 6 different weapons, that can be unlocked by playing the game, with each weapon having a main attack and a special attack. Zagreus is also equipped with a dashing power and a magic ability, provided by the Olympian gods, throughout the run.
The game also features a manually customizable difficulty, by using the Pact of Punishment, a feature that allows for the player to add extra challenges or modify some aspects of the game, such as the health and the number of enemies. Hades is an extremely addictive game that no one should get bored of. It features beautiful artwork and an epic soundtrack, that combines perfectly with the exhilarating combat system and the brilliantly written narrative and characters. This particular Hades is one of the best roguelikes out there, and you should most definitely give it a try. You won’t regret it.
Finishing this selection of great indie games on Xbox Game Pass, we’ve got Outer Wilds.
This action-adventure game features a unique premise, where the player’s character explores a solar system that is stuck in a 22-minute time loop. At the end of the loop, the sun of this system goes supernova, restarting said loop. The player can continually repeat this cycle in order to gain knowledge about the system and its planets, which is retained at the end of each loop.
With a central focus on exploration, Outer Wilds gives the player a seemingly simple objective: uncover the truth behind this solar system and an extinct alien race known as Nomai, its previous inhabitants. In order to progress through the game and its different locations, the player has to solve logic puzzles that can only be completed through learning more about the Nomai, accomplished by speaking to other space explorers.
Despite not having equipment upgrades, the player’s character is equipped with a camera that can be launched long distances, as well as a signal scope, that is able to detect sounds and frequencies. The character’s health, fuel and oxygen levels are replenished when returning to the main ship.
As a big fan of exploration games, it’s surprising how wonderful and unique this game is. When it comes to space exploration, the options are literally endless, but Outer Wilds definitely delivers on its brilliantly crafted solar system. The game redefines what space exploration means, in a way that creates one of the most immersive experiences available. Its beautiful world, fascinating storyline, and captivating gameplay are just some of the reasons that support the greatness of Outer Wilds.
Now all of these great indie games have been dissected, it’s your turn. Make sure you try these out! What do you think of this selection? Have you played any of these games? Would you change anything in this list? Drop a mention in the comments down below!