Every console has its own collection of indie games, but the Xbox team supports its community in a unique and amazing way through the ID@Xbox program. And any chance Microsoft gets to showcase these amazing games, the results never disappoint.
Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 is no different, and among the dozens of games Microsoft brought with it to the show this year, these eight really stood out.
In this colorful, simple-looking multiplayer game, you control a little dot. Your objective is simple: stay alive by dodging everything. If you stay alive longer than anything else, you win. It sounds easy, and that's where all the gameplay variants and settings come in to play. You can add things like objectives to capture and shields that damage the other players while keeping you safe, or mess with the lighting so you see fewer objects on the screen as you lose players.
This is the ultimate party game; it's impossible not to scream with amused frustration when you get taken out and cheer when you win. Each session goes fast, makes everyone involved excited, and keeps you coming back for more. If you're looking for something simple and fun for when you have friends over, you should absolutely add this game to your watch list.
Buildings Have Feelings Too
This is worth a mention for the concept alone. As you can guess from the title, buildings in this game have feelings. More specifically, you are tasked with revitalizing a neighborhood based on a period in Belfast, Ireland's history through utilizing said feelings to build the perfect city. As you build warehouses, you can fill them with businesses like butcher shops, pubs, linen factories, and more. You can also build residences to draw in locals.
It's a standard city-management sim in a lot of ways, but it stands apart. It's not about just building a city with a balanced number of businesses, but about building up a failing neighborhood. You don't just build a city; you have to build a happy city. It's why the buildings have feelings ... and also legs and arms.
I'm a sucker for beautiful puzzle games, and this is most certainly one. The universe you walk around in tells you a tale in the form of statues you stumble across, and to get more of the story you have to get through the next doorway. To do that, you have to drift between light and darkness by walking through burning blue flames. In the darkness you have special abilities, but as you move you quickly drift from the darkness back to the light.
There are puzzle games, and then there's Sojurn. Personally, I can't wait to dive into this world.
There are a lot of unknowns with Stela. She's a woman who wakes up in what is described to me as a "dying world." Packs of violent bugs chase you through broken barns while mysterious creatures can attack you from under the snow. You're constantly moving forward, trying to survive at all costs.
The game, which is heavily inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, Ecco the Dolphin, and Playdead titles like Limbo, keeps with the same melancholy and slow feel. The difference between Stela and a recent title like Inside, however, is the depth. While most of the game is a two-dimensional puzzle-platformer, it has depth that factors into solutions. It challenges your brain to think outside the box while also sucking you into its mysterious foundation.
Dead End Job
What if being a Ghostbuster was considered something less than being a janitor? This game puts you in the shoes of a dumpy little man just trying to get paid, and he's doing so by eliminating ghosts and the things they possess.
The best part about this game is its absolute refusal to take anything seriously. The items you pick up along the way mostly seem random and aren't always as helpful as you might think. The ghosts have abducted humans and glued them to the wall. If you look hard enough, you'll even find Clippy as a ghost to track down. It's a genuinely fun experience, with some quirks that are bound to leave a smile on your face,
Oxenfree by Night School Studios was one of my favorite games from 2016. The horror title was creepy for sure, but it was imbued with a relatability that extended to both its story and its characters. It was also hilarious and sarcastic, which granted can only take you so far, but it worked wonders there.
The studio's follow-up, Afterparty, is an entirely different genre but it still feels quintessentially like Night School. As our two main characters explore Hell — yes, that Hell — they encounter all sorts of darkly comedic situations, like one where you have to beat a demon at Beer Pong. This is the kind of game where drinking unlocks completely separate dialogue options. It is sure to be a blast.
You're an avatar stuck in an XR RPG trying to recover memories you lost in the real world, but you the player are not actually playing an RPG. Instead, the game is a lot more action-shooter focused, as you quickly fight your way through what seems like an incredible story. It's a lot to take in, right? Fortunately, you've got a lot of time to sort it all out.
PC Gamers might recognize this quirky little pixel shooter from its quiet release last year, but its arrival on Xbox is a big deal for a couple of reasons. For starters, this is the first HTML5 game to have ever been ported to Xbox, which on a technical level is kind of a big deal. But it's also a really fun game, and bringing it to a ton more people is going to be great for everyone.
I only got to play this game for a few minutes, but it left an impression. You open up the game and there's a screen styled like a comic book page staring you in the face. The art style is eye-popping, but then there's the gameplay. You must lead a series of prisoners through a nebula, looting supplies and killing aliens along the way.
It's part space exploration, part shooter, part looter, part strategy escape game. You can try to loot an entire ship, but it's not recommended. So not only do you have to get the supplies you need, you also have to escape. There's a lot of game, but it all blends together in a fun, vibrant way.
So what do you think?
Any of these jump out as "must own" games to you? Sound off in the comments!
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