For whatever reason, Xbox One isn't renowned for its indie game library yet it definitely features some incredible titles. In this article, I'll take a look at 5 stand-out indies that released this year. Who knows; maybe you'll find your new gaming obsession!
8-Bit Armies Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
Real-time strategy games don't always fit well on console but 8-Bit Armies is here to prove that this isn't necessarily the case.
8-Bit Armies is played a lot like Halo Wars where you build up your base then command a team of soldiers and vehicles to go on an expedition to hopefully thwart your adversaries. Unlike Halo Wars, 8-Bit Armies is a much more focused experience that features oodles of configuration and difficulty options so you can ensure that your experience is as challenging and rewarding as you want it to be.
Both construction and commanding your army are handled intuitively. You simply tap shoulder buttons to bring up radial menus to build your base while soldiers are assigned to face buttons that you tap to get the attention of everyone who's assigned to that button then you choose where you want them to go. They attack automatically so there's no need to worry if they're sitting ducks. This spot-on gameplay combines with the lovely voxel visuals and awesome electronic soundtrack to make one immersive RTS experience.
8-Bit Armies may look like a goofy spoof of real-time strategy games yet it's an impressively in-depth and enjoyable game that both genre newcomers and veterans will appreciate. Plus, the controls are handled perfectly for console.8-Bit Armies gameplay video → 8-Bit Hordes Review 8-Bit Invaders Review
Slime Rancher Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
If you ever wanted to manage your own ranch that's inhabited by adorable and colourful slimes then here's a game for you.
Slime Rancher is a rather simple game as all you do is explore your surroundings while sucking up objects and creatures then releasing them back home at your ranch. Considering you have a limited number of unique items that you can carry at any time, you must constantly decide whether certain things are worth keeping or not. The most rewarding part of the gameplay is experimenting with what each slime is capable of back at your ranch. There, you can create pens for them to live in and you can feed them which makes them poop out plort crystals that you can either sell or feed to certain slimes in order to watch them evolve. However, if you mix up plort and slime types then it'll turn into an evil Tarr slime which eats other slimes and attacks you. If you handle things correctly, your slimes will produce valuable plort that you can sell in order to upgrade your ranch and open new areas which is superbly rewarding.
All of that being said, the gameplay can become rather tedious, especially if you don't enjoy experimenting and watching your ranch grow. Personally, I had a ton of fun at the start while learning the basics but my enthusiasm began to die down shortly after my ranch grew substantially as I found myself going through the same motions over and over again. The aspect that annoyed me most was travelling far away from the ranch and discovering loads of cool new things then only being able to carry a few of them back.
If you enjoy experimenting within your games only to watch the results of your experiments expand the game world then Slime Rancher is an ideal game for you. On the other hand, everyone else will find little to like about this cute sim.Slime Rancher gameplay video →
Hover Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
Here's a game that faithfully brings back the spirit of Sega's classic Jet Set Radio in an impressive and online-fueled way.
When I first booted up Hover, I was warned that I needed an Xbox Live Gold membership to play it online. I thought to myself, "Wait, when the heck did that expire?" then I promptly rejoined so I could enjoy it with others. I'm happy to say that I'm glad I did! Hover takes place within a massive world with a lot of verticality where you take on missions or explore in order to find collectibles and climb the ranks. The missions can be played competitively with online players and involve events such as races and a fun basketball-style game.
Controlling your character is handled beautifully as you can run to gain momentum then leap off walls, grind on rails, and most importantly; spray paint graffiti! Meeting the charming cast of characters while listening to the phenomenal music that sounds like its straight from a Dreamcast game is nothing short of awesome. My only complaint is that there are some performance issues and minor glitches but the overall game is so much fun that these downsides definitely don't add up to much. I couldn't recommend Hover enough.
If you're a fan of having good times while hanging out with and challenging virtual online pals then Hover is a must-buy game.Hover gameplay video →
Razed Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
You don't see many third-person challenge-based platformers. Thankfully, Razed is here to put your jumping skills to the test.
Razed has you control some weird polygonal fellow with talking shoes. You have to run in order to keep your sneakers charged and if you don't, you'll explode! As you progress, you'll learn some additional basic moves including jump, drift, boost, grip, strafe, and even shout. Being able to chain together perfectly timed jumps in order to avoid hazards and soar over large chasms is tough but once you clear a stage, it feels great. Along the way, you can uncover hidden upgrades that make your skills more powerful which is a rewarding bonus. That being said, no matter how much I upgraded, I still felt like the stages ended up relying more on memorization and experimentation than pure skill which is rather disappointing. Overall, it's still a rewarding and challenging game at its core.
The neon sights and off-the-wall premise of Razed make it stand out as a unique and enjoyable indie. However, its reliance on memorization makes mastering its stages eventually become more tedious than fun.Razed gameplay video →
Gonner: Blueberry Edition Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Although it debuted almost 2 years ago, this strange and tough roguelike is finally available for Xbox. The question is, do you have what it takes to string together awesome combos and impress your land whale friend?
Gonner has you play as Ikk who's on a mission to simply make his land whale friend Sally happy. Considering this is my first time playing Gonner, I'm not quite sure what's new in this Blueberry Edition. I can say that I enjoyed Gonner's minimalistic visuals, unconventional sinister soundtrack, and tight 2D gameplay. You basically run and jump around while shooting any enemies in your way. If you shoot them fast enough, you can complete combos which award you with glyphs that you can trade in for certain things like a second chance when you die or items at a shop. The game world is procedurally generated and it's incredibly easy to die so you'll find yourself starting from the beginning many times before you get the hang of things and gain the necessary skills to pass the first area.
Even though it sounds fantastic so far, I found the visuals to become extremely disorienting and muddled when there are many enemies in one place which caused almost all of my deaths. I wish your character stood out more because not being able to easily spot him when things get hectic is a huge problem. On the plus side, I enjoyed the unlockables that include different masks, weapons, and... backpacks? Experimenting with your favourite combinations of these is surprisingly rewarding, especially when you're able to make a lot of progress due to a new discovery. Nothing is more satisfying than finally taking down the incredibly difficult bosses.
If the idea of a 2D platform shooter roguelike with minimalist visuals appeals to you then Gonner: Blueberry Edition will be a welcome addition to your gaming library. Just keep in mind; easily frustrated gamers need not apply.Gonner: Blueberry Edition gameplay video → Gonner2 Review