There have been a lot of fantastic indies on Microsoft's Xbox One so far this year so let's take a look at 5 titles that stood out to me.
Curious Expedition Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Guiding a gang of explorers with historical figures at the helm is an interesting premise but is Curious Expedition treasure-worthy?
Curious Expedition is one of those games that takes a rather long time to learn how to play it effectively. It's essentially a race where you try and become more famous than your fellow explorers. You do so by uncovering maps and collecting treasures as efficiently as possible. Your health meter measures your sanity and the longer you travel, the more it depletes. However, it can be restored with food and alcohol so bring plenty of whiskey and your party of alcoholics will remain sane longer. That doesn't sound right... Anyway, navigating the hexagonal maps while fighting beasts, befriending the locals, and making tough decisions is an enjoyable formula but the gameplay is still rather flat and a bit too random, especially after you learn how to play it effectively as it quickly becomes quite a tedious affair.
Its premise may be unique and somewhat rewarding but the way Curious Expedition executes it leaves a lot of room for improvement.Curious Expedition gameplay video →
HyperParasite Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
Here we have a roguelike twin-stick shooter where you possess and control enemies. Wait, haven't I already reviewed this game?
That's right; last year, I reviewed Hellmut: The Badass from Hell which is a game where you control a strange entity that possesses enemies thus allowing you to control them and HyperParasite features basically the exact same gameplay formula. However, whereas Hellmut is a pixel-filled 2D indie, HyperParasite presents detailed 3D dungeons that really pop. Also, there's a fun collectability aspect as after you defeat certain enemies, you can use their brain and earned currency to unlock them. After you amass a wealth of unlockable characters, navigating the dungeons becomes much more interesting. Keep in mind; HyperParasite can be an exceptionally difficult game so make sure you have plenty of patience before diving in so you can learn some winning strategies for each possessed enemy.
HyperParasite is basically the same game as Hellmut: The Badass from Hell but it's still a ton of fun; if not, more so.HyperParasite gameplay video → More roguelike twin-stick shooters
Element Space Review Xbox One ★★☆☆☆
There have been loads of SRPGs inspired by XCOM yet Element Space is here to provide an interesting sci-fi drama take on the formula.
When I started Element Space, I absolutely loved it. Being a big fan of XCOM, the gameplay clicked with me right away. Commanding your army 1-by-1 in order to pick off enemy combatants while remaining carefully behind cover is satisfying stuff but as I progressed, Element Space began to show its ugly side. The first element that started to sour my opinion is the fact that battles end up taking way too long and they frequently recycle the same scenarios thus rendering combat monotonous. What's even more egregious is the bugs. More than once, the game completely froze and forced me to restart. Other times, characters would randomly slide across the battle map which completely disoriented me. It's also difficult to select what you want to do as the cursor has the tendency to focus on nearby things which are often not what you want to do. Overall, it's a pretty broken game but one that shows a lot of promise.
With so many superior games inspired by XCOM out there, Element Space's buggy and tedious battles simply don't measure up.Element Space gameplay video → Similar game: XCOM 2
Snakeybus Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Quirky indie games are always interesting to play so here's one that cleverly combines elements from Snake and Crazy Taxi.
Snakeybus is played by driving a bus in order to pick up people at bus stops. That being said, the word "stop" in this context is misleading as you must never stop. Once you do, you fail so it's best not to drive into any dead ends or slam up against any walls. Anyway, after driving through a few bus stops as goofy generic characters fly into your bus, you can drop them off at their destination which will expand your bus by attaching more busses on the back of it. Eventually, you'll be controlling hundreds of busses in a line and the challenge relies on your ability not to run into yourself. It's a crazy premise but one that works impressively well as it offers enjoyable gameplay as well as plenty of laughs. That being said, it gets repetitive quite fast but you can unlock a Clustertruck bus which is cool.
When it comes to arcade-inspired fun, Snakeybus is definitely a fantastic game but it falls a little flat once the novelty wears off.Snakeybus gameplay video →
Totally Reliable Delivery Service Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Indies with intentionally frustrating controls are a dime a dozen nowadays so does this goofy simulator deliver the goods?
Right off the bat, let me just say that Totally Reliable Delivery Service will not be that fun if you're planning on playing it solo. All you do is wander around a massive map while taking on delivery challenges and trying to achieve high scores for each. The controls are super-irritating as you use the shoulder triggers to grab things and the shoulder buttons to lift your arms. Of course, the characters are all floppy, too. This makes playing by yourself a fairly hollow experience but if you can get a friend to join you then Totally Reliable Delivery Service's gameplay becomes immensely more fun as you can work with your partner to think of clever ways to deliver the packages. For example, one player can carefully hold the package while the other drives a vehicle. It opens up a lot of possibilities.
As a solo game, Totally Reliable Delivery Service falls flat but playing it with friends makes for a fun-filled cooperative formula.Totally Reliable Delivery Service gameplay video → Similar game: Human Fall Flat